PBS CEO Paula Kerger says she was surprised Mitt Romney brought up his plans to cut federal funding for PBS during Wednesday's presidential debate.
"With the enormous problems facing our country, the fact that we are the focus is unbelievable to me, particularly given the fact that at another part of the debate, both candidates talked about the importance of education," Kerger said on CNN Newsroom. "We're America's biggest classroom."
Romney wasn't saying anything new: He told Forbes in August that he would cut PBS's funding, despite personally enjoying its programs. During the debate Wednesday, he said the same thing, avowing a love for Big Bird. The remark set off a flurry of tweets and inspired several fake Big Bird accounts.
PBS is well accustomed to addressing attacks on its funding from conservative politicians who believe the money could be better spent elsewhere. As it often notes, its parent organization, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, received $444 million this fiscal year.
PBS says money from the CPB makes up 15 percent of its overall funding, with the rest contributed by viewers. But some individual stations get half of their money from the CPB, and might have to go dark without federal money, the network says.