Monday, September 11, 2006

American TV, 9/11, and Sesame Street

It is September 11, five years after 9/11. The morning shows and news channels were not the same. Well, one thing was the same -- the barrage of commercials. Ah, yes, after all this is America. All commercials are obnoxious, some just relatively less so, and a few -- like Ralph who couldn't believe he ate the whole thing -- are funny enough to make them endurable. Otherwise, bless you, mute button.

All that drove me to C-Span, where I came across an interview with Newton Minow, former Chair of the FCC, famous for his characterization of TV decades ago as a "vast wasteland." He said things had improved in that many more choices were available, but standards had fallen -- too much sex and violence, e.g.

He told a story involving a series of events involving happenstance connections of people who chanced to know each other that ended in a phone call from Barry Goldwater -- arch conservative and libertarian -- to a government agency that secured funding for Sesame Street. After all, it's not what you know but who knows whom. But who would have thought that Barry Goldwater would be instrumental in getting public funding for a PBS program!

Big Bird thanks you, Senator Goldwater, and I thank you. We'll be right back after a this commercial . . . .

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