Yesterday morning, the Trump administration released its proposed federal budget for financial year 2018, making good on the US president’s threats to cut all funding to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities (NEA and NEH). Unsurprisingly, the outpouring of support for the two federal agencies, which have supported the work of countless artists, scholars, and writers since their creation in 1965, has been enormous.
The group Creative Majority PAC, working with TaskForce and Revolution Messaging, launched the cheekily named advocacy campaign Wait Wait … Don’t Cut Me, a pun on the popular quiz show “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me” on NPR — which stands to lose a major source of funding if the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s budget is zeroed, as Trump’s budget proposes.
Never one to pass up an opportunity to flaunt its fluency in contemporary art, the satirical news site The Onion reported on the proposed cuts with the article, “Trump Says Wasteful NEA Hasn’t Produced Single Valuable Work Since Claes Oldenburg’s ‘Giant Three-Way Plug’.” In it, Trump bemoans in a trumped-up quote: “We have not seen one single NEA-backed project come close to justifying its cost since the Swedish-American sculptor debuted his Pop Art masterpiece in 1970, challenging the way we grapple with questions of industrialization and decay.”
Couching outrage and frustration over the Trump budget in humor proved to be a popular coping strategy.
And, appropriately, many are re-sharing this classic 1969 clip of Fred “Mr.” Rogers appearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications to defend PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting against budget cuts proposed by President Richard Nixon: