Filmmaker Ken Burns wrote and op-ed in USA Today defending federal funding for PBS, and he shared an anecdote about meeting President Ronald Reagan and telling him of his plans for “The Civil War.”
Burns writes, “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.
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.'”