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Mr. Rogers' defense of PBS goes viral more than 40 years later

In the days since the first presidential debate -- when Big Bird was seemingly put on notice by Mitt Romney and his threat to cut PBS funding -- "Sesame Street" has been in the spotlight. Big Bird himself even made a cameo appearance on "Saturday Night Live" over the weekend. 

Another nod to PBS that's gone viral since the debate is this video of a young Fred Rogers of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" in which he appears before Congress in 1969 to defend PBS funding. It happened to be the first year "Sesame Street" was broadcast.

In the video, Rogers explains that when his program first came on the air, the budget was $15 per episode. Thanks to additional support from PBS stations, that budget increased steadily and allowed Rogers to spread a message not found on other childrens' programs.

"We've got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care," Rogers said. "And this is what I give: I give an expression of care, every day to each child to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, 'You've made this day a special day by just your being you. There's no person in the world like you, and I like you just the way you are.' I feel that if we and public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health."


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