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. 0rangeW3dge

    "I love to fire children's TV shows"

    October 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. USA

    Big Bird can move to another station, why is taxpayers paying for him anyway??? Kids watch Dora the Explorer and Mickey Mouse and Jake and the Pirates – the big yellow bird is roasted!!!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Parfin Woodell

    Makes perfect sense.
    Cut funding for sesame street, you can afford a few more
    tomohawk missiles.

    You say that attacking Sesame street is silly ?
    No, its a metaphore for attacking main street.

    They DONT care about you, and they have been telling you
    over and over and over,
    but until they walk up to you and scream it into your face,
    you wont get it.

    Hey DEMS, stop playing this game with them,
    and put an end to the misery that Republicans have planned
    for this country.

    I cant wait for November.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Wade

    He won't get a pink slip if there is a high enough demand for him that people will watch and advertisers will buy adds like with most tv programs

    October 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Repubs are Morons

      There are no commercials on PBS you fvcking mor0n.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Oh No!!!!! We are 'privatizing ' Big Bird or God!!!!! Nor libraries or roads or air!!!!

      October 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • lowlo

      what ads have you seen on pbs?

      October 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • white1

      I believe he is implying, my most intelligent friend, that were PBS to lose their subsidies and grants, they could then rent ad-space on their broadcasting to make up for it.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. costofhealthcare

    China only owes less than 10% of our debt so that was a lie. PBS takes a tiny fraction of money that is part of our debt. Even if GOP could cut everything they hate there would still be tons of debt. It would not even scratch it. The GOP lies to the voters because they know voters won't check them out. They have no intention of lowering the debt. They can't. Nobody will it would be political suicide. The GOP likes to make huge promises just like the Dems do that they won't do anything about it. If the GOP wins everything nothing significant will change in the next 4 years. Nobody is willing to do what is best for the country because the country is a spoiled brat that is unwilling to takes its medicine. We will not vote for somebody who will actually fix the country. Both sides know this and lie to us like we want them to.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • History Bear

      Actualy if the GOP controls both houses and the white house you will see a large majority of social programs crippled or cut, Defense will continue to feed at the trough while the care and benefits due Vets will be trimmed. Any thing that survives will be of benefit to large corporations. The GOP really doesn't care about the average american and the poor can breath water as far as most of them are concerned. Their real GOD is MONEY and Corporate boardrooms are their acolytes and CEO's their high priest.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

    Cut the $4 BILLION dollars of CORPORATE WELFARE that go oil companies and keep Sesame Street and still have $3.98 BILLION dollars left over.

    But R'Money wants to redistribute the $2 TRILLION dollars of US wealth to the Military Industry even though the Military didn't ask for it? Who gets that money and why?This is exactly what Reagan did and grew the deficit while cutting programs for those in actual need.


    October 4, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • History Bear

      McDOnald Douglas, Boeing, some large shipbuild firms and a great many overseas companies reap the benefits, the workers belonging to unions will find themselves severely curtailed and most of the technology will be stolen by Israel, China and Russia and then resold by them to other countries. Aint our Patriot GOP something...

      October 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Margo

    Loved what Obma said...Robme is going to deregulate wall street but crack down on BIG BIRD! REALLY! what an idiot..he will be fired after the election!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. steve c

    Oh, By the Way. I seem to recall passing through a PBS channel one time and they were having this "Pledge Drive" thing where they were raising funds for "Viewer supporteded programming".... I'm sure you whieners know what I'm talking about, 'cause you have been so "supportive" of public programming in the past and have donated many dollars to the cause.....

    October 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. johnny popper

    grab onto anyhting you can Mr. Media outlet other than the fact that we have a president who is not iterested in running our country. A president who is not interested in getting into the trenches and learning the problems of our day. A president who does not possess the logic to decide upon a correct course of action so good CNN, focus on somehting stupid like whether PBS should be paid for by the American worker. Transparent.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gysgt g

    Bye bye big bird. Awesome. You want to keep it then you pay for it

    October 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CDC14

    If no one will say it, I’ll just go ahead.

    It’s not about money being funded into the channel. It’s about the education that’s being put out through it.

    Magic School Bus and Bill Nye taught evolution and the nutjob Right wingers don’t like that. They also had an issue with Wishbone because it taught history that was not always through the lens the Far Right would approve of.

    If the private sector runs it, the education will be about as valuable as MSNBC or Faux News

    October 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Margo

    Robme wants to deregulate wall street but crack down on sesame street! really...he is such a little guy!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Blue

    PBS gets less than 15% of their budget from the US Gov. Remove some of their unneeded shows and they would easily make budget without Tax dollars funding them. Big Bird and Sesame street live on, while they get rid of the biased, slanted reporting of "Frontline". Simple answer.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dorkus Maximus

    Mittdacity: noun. Combining mendacity and audacity; the quality of being a brazen liar. See Romney, Mitt.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. julnor

    There's a whole lot of things like this in our budget. If PBS and NPR are so popular, they should have no trouble raising the funds to keep going.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
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