MORE FAKE NEWS: No, Trump Won’t Kill Big Bird
One of the great games of the left is the Dependence Game. Here’s how it goes: first, you make somebody or something dependent on government funding. Then, no matter how little that person or program actually needs government funding, you claim that any cuts to government funding will kill that person or program, you heartless bastards!
One of the most obvious examples: Big Bird.
Every few years, there’s a national political conversation about cutting funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Since so many Americans watched Sesame Street, Americans think that if CPB funding ends, Big Bird will die a horrible death, much like a beautiful endangered eagle flying onto a red-hot solar grid. In 2012, Mitt Romney came under heavy fire for his suggestion that Big Bird might finally have to get out of the basement and earn himself a living. Now, Trump’s proposed budget cuts cash to the CPB. Here’s Forbes’ headline: “Trump’s Budget Won’t Kill Big Bird, But It May Make Him Endangered.” Here’s Mashable: “Maybe the GOP will finally get to kill Big Bird after all.” Here’s Politico: “Can Big Bird survive Trump?”
Big Bird now lives in a palatial nest over at HBO. As The Washington Examiner points out, “The program's parent company, Sesame Workshop, struck a deal with HBO in 2015 that gave the private cable network first-run episodes. PBS is still allowed to air the reruns.” Which means that Big Bird can move in with his other private sector muppet buddies ranging from Kermit the Frog to Beaker. Somehow, Disney and Nickelodeon have been doing just fine without public funding. Why would Oscar the Grouch be any different? And the Cookie Monster will be into the chocolate chips for a while longer, no matter what.
Jim Epstein at Reason explains that the rationale for public funding is largely to uphold regional radio and television stations. But with modern technology, that’s no longer a relevant rationale:
When the Public Broadcasting Act became law, maintaining a network of regional stations was the only way to insure that every American household had access to public television and radio content. Today, this decentralized system isn't necessary because it's possible to stream or download NPR or PBS content from anywhere in the world. As audiences moves online, the regional stations supported by the federal government are becoming unnecessary.
But as always, the leftist argument remains that once dependent on government, always dependent on government -- even if Big Bird is now a welfare queen.