Once upon a time, when a Republican sat in the White House the head of PBS tended to come to TCA with a target on the back, and take lots of questions about threats to shutter or slash funding for public broadcasting operations.
But Saturday, journalists wanted to know if PBS CEO Paula Kerger “feels safer now” what with President Donald Trump focusing so much of his media attention on his hatred of CNN, Washington Post, NYT, etc.
“We were zeroed out the past two years of the administration’s budget,” Kerger shot back.
“No matter who is in the White House, and what party is controlling the White House, I never assume that money is going to come,” she added.
It requires an “extraordinary” amount of work at the community level, for every public broadcasting station to make sure their elected officials “know this is important.”
“We could easily fall through the cracks” Kerger said, unless politicians understand a) where the money goes and b)what the investment results in.
“I’m not sure there will ever be a time I will stand up here and say ‘I’m relaxed’,” Kerger sniffled, owing to having caught a bad cold visiting Polar Vortex markets on her way from Washington to Pasadena for TCA.
One year ago at TCA, Kerger had responded to Trump sending Congress his $4.4 trillion spending plan for FY 2019 which would have eliminated federal funding for public media. Anticipating Trump’s budget move, PBS had released results of a nationwide survey funded by PBS that found, for the 15th year in a row, Americans named PBS and member stations #1 in public trust among nationally known institutions, and that Americans rank PBS and member stations second only to the country’s military defense in terms of value for taxpayer dollars.
One year later, on Saturday at TCA, Kerger released results of its new poll: PBS won top spot again, a 16th time.