Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
United States Senate
476 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
March 10, 2005
Dear Senator Clinton,
I read in the newspaper today that you want Congress to spend $90 million to study whether television and video games are bad for kids. Please save our money and just Google “Columbine.” Ready for the unfortunate news? Yes, commercial-driven media is bad and not just for kids.
However, there is a redeeming outlet that Congress can support: public television. We learn the alphabet from Sesame Street, history from American Experience, and science from Nova. We discover fresh perspectives on POV and Independent Lens. Best of all, there’s no commercials cajoling us to buy beer, video games or erection pills.
Yet PBS is badly under-funded by Congress. Two years ago I produced a documentary for Independent Lens called “Guns & Mothers,” covering both sides of America’s gun debate, praised by reviewers as “fair-minded” and “incisive.” PBS could only afford to pay a fraction of the show’s very low budget. That’s why so many of my colleagues wind up making lousy reality television shows. Most of us would rather make quality programs for PBS. But we can’t make a living wage doing so.
Today, more Americans are picking up video cameras to tell their own stories, regardless of their age, ethnicity, politics or faith. PBS should be the outlet for this wonderful democracy of voices. Invest our $90 million there rather than in a study to tell us what we already know.