Former Reading Rainbow host says Romney’s PBS plans ‘an attack on children’

Jessica Stanton Contributor
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Former Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton told host Soledad O’Brien that Mitt Romney’s desire to cut federal funding for PBS “is an attack on children” on Friday’s edition of CNN’s Starting Point.

“I couldn’t believe the man actually fixed his mouth to say that. I took it as an attack on children, Soledad,” said Burton. “It is an attack on children who come from disenfranchised, you know, background.”

Romney discussed his plans during Wednesday night’s presidential debate to moderator Jim Lehrer, executive editor and former news anchor for PBS NewsHour. The former Massachusetts governor also specifically noted he would repeal Obamacare, thus cutting federal funding for that program.

Burton was “outraged” by the comment and told O’Brien he believes Romney was just as serious about cutting federal funding for “the nation’s largest classroom,” as he was about his secretly-taped comments about the 47 percent.

“And to callously, blatantly, say that it’s on the agenda to cut, is just — it is not okay,” Burton exclaimed. “Not only is there value in the free, we have to make the investment in our children if we expect for them to pay off on that investment through their realizing their most full potential.”

This is not the first time Romney has said he would be interested in cutting federal funding to the public broadcasting network. In May, he addressed the Latino Coalition’s 2012 Small Business Summit and expressed his desire for American taxpayers to stop subsidizing PBS.

“I like PBS. I’d like my grandkids to be able to watch PBS,” said Romney. “But I’m not willing to borrow money from China and make my kids have to pay the interest on that, and my grandkids, over generations, as opposed to saying to PBS, look, you’re going to have to raise more money from charitable contributions or from advertising.”

In the 2011 fiscal year, PBS received $22.3 million in government funding.