In a bold move, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, recently vetoed a bill that would have provided funding for the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), the state’s PBS station, through 2026. The governor’s decision came with strong words, as he accused the station of indoctrinating young children and emphasized the misalignment of its programming with Oklahoma values.
Governor Stitt expressed his concerns about taxpayer dollars being used to support and compete with the private sector in running television stations. He questioned the relevance of an outdated system like OETA in today’s media landscape, where numerous options exist for broadcasting quality content. According to Stitt, the excessive focus on programming choices that he deemed objectionable, including indoctrination and over-sexualization of children, further justified his decision to veto the bill.
The governor’s office highlighted specific examples of OETA content that it found problematic. One such example was a segment from “Let’s Learn,” where a book titled “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish” was read by someone called Lil Miss Hot Mess. Additionally, the office pointed out a “PBS Newshour” feature on various gender care treatments, including puberty blockers, as well as instances of LGBTQ representation in children’s shows like “Work It Out Wombats” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog.” Furthermore, the office cited the prevalence of Pride Month programming, a special about a town of Christians and drag queens challenging stereotypes, and even a same-sex wedding featured on PBS Kids’ “Odd Squad.”
“When you think about educating kids, let’s teach them to read and their numbers and counting and letters and those kind of things,” Gov. Stitt said. “I mean, some of the programing that we’re seeing… it just doesn’t need to be on public television.”
Critics have challenged the notion that these programs contribute to the indoctrination of children, emphasizing their educational and inclusive aspects. However, Governor Stitt remained firm in his belief that public television should focus on core educational content such as teaching children to read, count, and learn letters. He suggested that if the programming offered by OETA is genuinely popular, it could be easily picked up by commercial networks like CBS, NBC, or ABC, eliminating the need for taxpayer funding.
“Oklahoma taxpayers are going, ‘Hey, hang on, time out for just a second. That’s not my values,’” he said. “I’m just tired of using taxpayer dollars for some person’s agenda. I represent the taxpayers.”
From a free-market perspective, Governor Stitt argued that the world has evolved significantly since OETA’s establishment 67 years ago. With the proliferation of television and media options, he believes that a publicly funded television station is no longer necessary. Stitt maintained that Oklahoma tax dollars would be better utilized elsewhere and expressed his commitment to representing the values of the taxpayers who elected him.