Trump Is Cutting PBS Funding and Asking It for Favors

April 13th 2017

Thor Benson

It's might be an awkward Easter at the White House.

According to the New York Times, planning this years's traditional Easter Egg roll is a major test for First Lady Melania Trump. While the Times' story focuses on the complex effort to pull the annual celebration together, there's one specific detail that sticks out:

"Even Curious George and Elmo did not know for sure that the Easter Egg Roll was happening until late last month, when the White House first contacted PBS Kids to ask if it could provide costumed characters.


"The Easter Egg Roll has been crowded in past years with cast members from “Sesame Street,” but this year, there will be a lone emissary.

"'PBS asked us to participate with them, and we agreed to provide a ‘Sesame Street’ character,' said Elizabeth Weinreb Fishman, the vice president for strategic communications for Sesame Workshop. She declined to say which character would attend, referring questions to the White House."

If you're wondering why "Sesame Street" would be less than eager to cooperate with the White House, it could be due President Donald Trump's 2018 proposed budget, which includes cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. While Sesame Street Workshop no longer receives funding from Corporation for Public Broadcasting — since it moved to HBO in June of 2015 — it was still very critical of the proposal: 

Here's what they said

“PBS makes Sesame Street available to all Americans, and thereby continues to play a major role in helping less privileged kids gain access to preschool education that has proven an enduring value. While Sesame Workshop currently receives no direct funding from CPB or PBS, we stand firmly and passionately in support of the vital public investment that allows them to continue this important work.”

The Trump administration's planned cuts to the arts has done more than complicate party planning. 

Beyond the CPB, Trump's budget plans cut funding to other important art and education programs that many people rely on. As we've reported before, Trump has also proposed cuts to the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). Combined, these three programs combined make up roughly .02 percent of the budget. That's less than $1 billion annually.

The NEA funds programs that provide art therapy for veterans, which is one reason many oppose cutting its funding. It also funds programs that help low income youth learn about and get involved in the arts. 

Some Republicans have actually stood up for the NEA, arguing that it is vital for promoting the arts and educating citizens. 

“I believe we can find a way to commit to fiscal responsibility while continuing to support the important benefits that N.E.A. and N.E.H. provide,” Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in March.