In 1969, Mister Rogers appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications. His goal was to support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in response to significant proposed cuts. In about five minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television provided. He passionately argued that alternative television programming like his Neighborhood helped encourage children to become happy and productive citizens, sometimes opposing less positive messages in media and in popular culture. He even recited the lyrics to one of his songs:
What do you do with the mad that you feel?
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong
And nothing you do seems very right
What do you do?
Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you can go?
It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned the thing that’s wrong
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song
I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish
Can stop, stop, stop anytime
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can
For a girl can someday be a lady
And a boy can be someday a man
The chairman of the subcommittee, John O. Pastore, was not previously familiar with Rogers’ work, and was sometimes described as gruff and impatient. However, he reported that the testimony had given him goosebumps, and declared, “Looks like you just earned the $20 million.” The subsequent congressional appropriation, for 1971, increased PBS funding from $9 million to $22 million.