Fact check: Will Romney send Big Bird to the unemployment line?
October 4th, 2012
04:09 PM ET

Fact check: Will Romney send Big Bird to the unemployment line?

Mitt Romney said that he loves Big Bird but that the "Sesame Street" resident is not important enough for America to go into debt with China to subsidize him and his PBS friends. Does this mean our feathered friend could lose his job under a Romney administration? Would he then become a drain on our society? Are there retraining opportunities to become a St. Louis Cardinal or Baltimore Oriole? What family does Big Bird have? Who the heck is this yellow thing?

How likely is it that Big Bird gets the pink slip?

Our yellow feathered friend may be hoping he'll be able to mind his Ps and Qs on "Sesame Street" but might be feeling a little worried about his bills while the cloud of losing his job hangs over his head. How likely is it?

Sesame Workshop, which produces "Sesame Street," says on its website that 93% of production costs for the show are covered by licensing activities or corporate sponsorships, CNNMoney.com reports.

But Children's Television Workshop, which helps produce "Sesame Street," gets a decent number of grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Here are the numbers for those ready to count with the Count: In 2009, it received $2.5 million in total. In 2010, a federal Ready to Learn grant, which helps put on educational TV shows, provided about $1.5 million, and the overall digital presence for "Sesame Street" and friends got $8 million to help spread educational messages and games online in 2011.

So maybe Big Bird should be taking this seriously. Even if most of the funding goes to his friends, a change in funding might put them out of work too if Romney were to go through with his idea to cut subsides to PBS. And that doesn't sound like it'd help all the people in his neighborhood.

It isn't the first time Big Bird has found himself in the middle of a national budget debate.

Last year, he survived a brush with budget-cut-hungry Republicans in the House, who voted to slash funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, only to see it added back into the final government funding deal.

What happens to Big Bird's health insurance if he gets axed?

If our "Sesame Street" friend did join the 12.5 million Americans who are unemployed, his joyful tone may switch to a sad rendition of "Can you tell me how to get to the unemployment line?"

There's good news and bad news for Big Bird. It appears if he loses his job, he doesn't have many dependent family members, so while health insurance may be an issue, he won't have any kids or family members to support. Phew. He may try to give a shout to his Granny Bird and Nani Bird (his aunt), who helped raise him, for a little extra cash, though. (We’ve heard that idea before.)

On the upside, Big Bird still has plenty of time ahead of him – well, depending on which “official record” you use.

His boss swears he’s 6 years old, but we’re a little wary. That bird has been flocking around TV for ages, 40 years to be exact. And unless he’s a Benjamin Button bird, he’s got a lot of explaining to do. It seems like we may need to stop and ask Mr. Bird for his official paperwork. But that’s a different debate.

For now, we’ll take the bird at his word.

At 6 years old, he'll have some time to refocus and perhaps try to get an education to bolster his options when he looks for work again. After all, we know Big Bird is good with children, so surely he can handle some rowdy sports fans, right?

Who’s to say he can’t get a degree and find a new home away from Sesame Street, and if he doesn’t have to deal with mountains of school debt, he should be able to afford to move to, say, Baltimore or St. Louis to help rally fans around the Orioles or Cardinals.

Let’s just hope he’s OK with dyeing his feathers a different color. (We aren’t sure whether his new health insurance plan would cover that.)

And while health care may always be an issue (hey, you never know about avian flu), the good news is, he has plenty of time to wait and see whether he'll have to be worried about Medicare down the line.

Would Big Bird outsource himself instead?

Sometimes you can debate whether tax breaks for going overseas are good. But for Big Bird, the temptation might be there, if nothing else than to frustrate Romney after his dig.

Big Bird, whose "Sesame Street" owners said he went to sleep early Wednesday night and wondered whether he'd "missed anything last night,” may even be on the phone right now with his cousin Da Niao in China.

Romney said he'd want to cut subsidies to PBS because he's "not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it."

That may have been a big blow to the yellow feathered friend, because Big Bird shares a special love for China.

Big Bird went to China after he was inspired by a scroll in Chinatown in the first international special based on "Sesame Street." Besides being fascinated by the culture, he thought it'd be great for the two countries to have a good working relationship; there's so much they could learn from each other.

"Everyone in America wants to know about China, right? What a great thing it would be if a great big American bird went to meet the beautiful Chinese bird," Big Bird said. "I mean, she could tell me everything about China, and I could come home and tell everyone here."

Let’s hope his date isn’t a Peking duck. Then his goose would be cooked.

– – – – – –

So that was a bit of fun. Here’s how the real CNN Fact Check Team broke down Wednesday’s debate and the rest of Campaign 2012.

And comedian Dean Obeidallah has fond memories of Big Bird and hopes he will get a reprieve.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Politics • TV
soundoff (686 Responses)
  1. USMama

    Big Bird would make a much better president than Romney...
    Big Bird is devoted to the education and welfare of his fellow Muppets. He works, doesn't lie, flip flop, nor stashes money in the Cayman Islands. BB is someone you can trust. He's better looking too.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sally

    Funny? Really I wasn't laughing...

    October 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Russ


    October 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Matthew

    Another station will pick up Sesame Street, it is the main show on PBS and probably the only real show keeping the channel afloat unfortunately.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. WakeUpAmerica

    The Commission on Presidential Debates undermines our democracy. Because of the Commission's subservience to the Republican and Democratic campaigns, the presidential debates are structured to accommodate the wishes of risk-averse candidates, not voters.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • GaryJohnsonForPresident

      Big bird gets more media attention then Gary Johnson , very sad.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Big Bird has a better chance of winning the presidential race than Johnson.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. momof7

    Support "Big Bird" or support our "MIlitary". There sure are a lot of idiots out there.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. icen_von


    October 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buckhippo

      Are you an idiot?? Big Bird represents hundreds of jobs in the kids TV production industry from camera persons, to sound technicians, to story writers, to...oh what's the point. Everyone is easily led by lies, believe only what they want to believe even if it's true or not, and then people wonder why america is going into the toilet. Let me tell you, it's not gay marriage or abortion or fair pay for women or any of those things thats killing america....it's out right stupidity in the everyday uneducated fool who actually believes lies.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • icen_von

      Buck'n'hippo brain, there's no reason to sustain that FOAM and CLOTH on tax payer dime. I don't care how many people it covers. Obama doesn't care about the millions that will be affected by the fall of coal, so you LOUSY HYPOCRITE stop throwing stones in your glass house

      October 4, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. pattianne

    Will Romney send Big Bird to the unemployment line? I sure hope so. Our children go to school expecting to be entertained and when a teacher actually tries to teach, the children won't pay attention unless she is singing, or dancing, or acting silly.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      Right mom, everyone knows that laughing, and humor are so wrong for children and adults. Not.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Teaching is more effective if it is also entertaining. It is much more effective if it is set to music (entertaining or not). Perhaps we should make teachers sing geometry proofs if we are concerned with education outcomes.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • HowdyDoody

      As a parent of a special needs child that watches Sesame Street, They could do with less funding. All Sesame Street is now is re arranging old "clips" to make a "new" episode. It's been on for 40+ years. Syndicate it and let it earn it's stripes like all the other shows do. Advertising. And it's not like Sesame Workshop doesn't make a killing on things like Tickle Me Elmo, or TMX Elmo, or any of the other milliion toys they make (which I seem to have half of them in my house).

      October 4, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Russ

    So, Romney wants us to ask China to pay for our military and send Big Bird out on the range? WRONG. JUST WRONG.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • whit11

      how many birds do the american taxpayers got to pay for. we have a doe doe bird in the whitehouse now.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Carol

    Big Bird, and PBS the two good things you can count on for great entertainment! Stands to reason the scrooge Romney would kick them off the TV for the kids, and adults that appreciate good music. Let's kick him off to China in November.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Linda

    Personally, I'd vote for Big Bird way before I'd vote for Mitt. Maybe Big Bird should team up with the dog that Mitt strapped to his car roof for 12 hours.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Russ

    So, Romney will put everyone at PBS on the unemployment line? I guess we'll have to subtract them from that 12 million total new jobs he's going to create. And Obamacare. That has to be good for a few hundred thousand. Subtract those too. Nobody needs affordable health care.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BOMBO ©

    Don't mess with Big Bird. They found a dead prosteatute a few years ago on Carol Spinny's land (the guy who does Big Bird's voice). Big Bird is dangerous.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Darwin

    Here's what is obvious to anybody with a brain: Romney has spent most of his life fixing things that have been broken be incompetence. Obama and his clowns in the administration have broken this country. Romney is here to fix it. if you don't vote for Romney, you obviously want America to be brought to its knees and fail.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buckhippo

      Sorry. Your logic is absolutely wrong. Private equity firms (I have my own private equity fund BTW) have one goal and that is to make money. Period. If that means profits are higher for the owners of the firm and those who get returns from the fund, then it just doesn't matter what it takes to get there. Make no mistake about it: people are NOT a private equity concerns problem. And if you actually studied ANYTHING in business, you would realize that people like Mitt Romney don't actually care about people; they care about business. THAT is the difference between Obama and Romney. If you have a business and care about business so business can make money regardless of how it gets there, then Romney is your guy. If you actually care about society and people's welfare and understand that even in business, you can't just toss aside human beings for a buck, then Obama is your guy. Clearly you, Darwin, are voting for Romney, because, well, you think very superficially.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dazzle ©

    Who cares is he cuts funding to PBS, which is a shadow of its former self. It's time for parents to step up and turn off the electronic babysitter. Try teaching your kinds how to enjoy the outdoors, read a book, engage in a sports activity. This is more about personal responsibility for Americans.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      @CNN, comment awaiting moderation for what?

      October 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      A word or segment of a word is on their banned list. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to appear.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • melanieleighwright

      Then they ARE pre-screening messages. Simple as that.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Some topics and words are off limits ......Words you can get through by phonetically spelling them. But you obviously can't threaten someone's life etc...and get it posted!

      October 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • just me

      Big Bird is an ultra rich entertainer. He is definitly a one percenter. All those Sesame Seed characters went Hollywood years ago. They won't even sign autographs anymore.

      October 4, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
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