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Ken Burns Evokes Reagan’s Support of Public – Private Funding for PBS

Wilshire and Washington points us to this great piece by Ken Burns, arguably one of the giants on PBS who makes, it should be said, non-partisan, much beloved documentaries like War, The Civil War, and the upcoming Dust Bowl.  I don’t want to live in a country that doesn’t value such a thing. Leave it up to the private sector only and it morphs into Keeping up with the Kardashians in minutes.  Burns writes a great defense of PBS by citing the conservative icon President Reagan:

In the middle of filming The Civil War in the late 1980s, I had the good fortune to meet with President Reagan in the White House. When I told him I was a PBS producer working on a series about the Civil War, his eyes lit up. He told me stories of seeing the old Union veterans marching down the center of Dixon, Ill., on the Fourth of July when he was a boy.

Then he asked me how it was funded. I said I received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (something else Romney has vowed to eliminate) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes this funding. Those funds had, in turn, brought in corporate and foundation monies.

Reagan put both hands on my shoulder and said, “That’s it! We need public-private partnerships. The government primes the pump, and then the private sector has the motivation to get involved. Good work! I can’t wait to see the finished film.”

He later wrote me a kind note about how much the series meant to him.