It appears Republicans underestimated the formidable political muscle of Clifford the Big Red Dog. The House elected Thursday to restore $100 million in proposed cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, two days after Clifford, other children's television mascots and Democratic legislators held a rally for public radio and television on the Capitol steps. The rally was part of a high-profile campaign to thwart an ongoing movement led by conservative Republicans to give the public broadcasting entity both a trimming down and a programming makeover.
According to various news reports, voters flooded their legislators with calls and emails in the wake of Tuesday's rally, and the House tuned in: It voted by a decisive bipartisan majority, 284-140, to restore the $100 million. That amounts to roughly a quarter of the budget of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding for both PBS and National Public Radio. The House decision overrules a move by the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee, which had stripped the funding.
But while the battle may be won, the war ain't over: The good news for public broadcasting came on the same day that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting chose Patricia S. Harrison, a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee, to be its president and chief executive. And the victory over funding cuts in the House won't exactly allay fears that corporation chairman Kenneth Tomlinson is attempting to FOX-ify the nation's primary outlets for public news. But for the moment at least, supporters of public broadcasting can feel good about still having some bite left in their bark.