THR's Women in Entertainment 2012: Power 100
On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 3, Paula Kerger settled in front of her television along with 70 million fellow U.S. citizens to watch the first presidential debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. She was at home with her husband, Joseph Kerger, a novelist, when about 30 minutes into the debate Romney took aim at a certain yellow-feathered friend of millions of American children. "I'm sorry, Jim," Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer, the veteran anchor of PBS' NewsHour, "I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too."
Nevermind the illogical math -- in 2012, PBS and public radio received $445 million from the federal government, or less than $1.50 a person, while the federal deficit is $1.1 trillion and counting -- the statements made for a memorable debate sound bite.
"I literally almost fell off my couch," recalls Kerger, 54, on a mid-November afternoon in her Arlington, Va., office at PBS headquarters. "I couldn't believe it."
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