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October 5th, 2012
10:38 AM ET

Levar Burton: Romney's PBS remark was 'an attack on children from disenfranchised backgrounds'

President Obama and Mitt Romney may be back on the campaign trail today, but people are still talking about the moment in the debate when the Republican candidate says that he would eliminate funding for PBS if he wins the presidency.

Romney's remark prompted a huge response on social media, with mentions of Big Bird going up %800,000 on Facebook right afterward.

PBS lovers, including actor Levar Burton, who hosted "Reading Rainbow" on PBS for 21 seasons, are outraged that the network is being targeted.

Burton sits down with Soledad on Starting Point this morning to explain how he reacted to Romney's remark and to explain why he thinks that the network should continue to receive funding.

"I couldn't believe that the man actually fixed his mouth to say that. I interpreted it as an attack on children Soledad, it’s an attack on children who come from disenfranchised backgrounds," Burton says. "PBS is the nation's largest classroom. It guarantees equal access to the wonderfulness that PBS has provided for 50 years and to callously, blatantly say that it’s on the agenda to be cut, it’s not okay."

Filed under: 2012 Race • Education • Mitt Romney
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. rose marie branson

    This is how I heard what Romney said about PBS...First, he started by telling Jim Lehrer that even though he liked him and Big Bird, he would defund PBS and Big Bird. Why even bring it's such a small potato $ item compared to all of the other problems this country's facing, and especially to a PBS moderator. It then set up Mitt's tone for the debate...rude, intimidating, and unnecessarily aggressive...all with a big smile...and the antithesis of Sesame Street. Then I thought...Big Bird!!! It's not just the program, but what Sesame Street represents as far as diversity, fairness, access, decent values, liberally sprinkled with how to read and write. Plus, for what it costs, it's been a great return on investment for the American taxpayer. All of the sudden I felt like BB, and if Romney would do that to Sesame's "neighborhood," what would he do to me, and lots of other regular people. It was like the banks pulling the plug on people's home mortgages, or Bain breaking apart companies and outsourcing”...again, all with a big smile, or indifference, whether from Wall Street, corporate, or Washington. So on a seemingly small issue, figure what it did to my last minute/sit-on-the-fence vote. And from what I'm reading re: the fallout of this comment, I may not be the only one.

    October 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mary

    Are you kidding me? An attack on children? Get real. The man said PBS would stop getting government funding, so what? He didn't say he'd take PBS off the air. Maybe PBS should stop reaching into all of our pockets and maybe sell some ad space on their network. Then they wouldn't have to lean on all of us year after year. I have 4 children who all have watched PBS at some time or another. Even if PBS went under we'd all still be doing fine without it.

    October 6, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse | Reply

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