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. Voice of Reason

    Big Bird and co. will get picked up by another network for ALOT of money. This could actually be the best thing to happen to sesame street.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      With right-wingers it's ALWAYS only about the money...

      October 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paramad

      So Big Bird instead of being sponsored by the letter A or D gets sponsored by Micky D's or the new video game Car Theft 6. Nice! It is all about money isn't it?

      October 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Zack

    PBS Should just run commercials, like other networks.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      PBS in non-commercial.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sarah

    Big bird will never go away

    October 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Vinny


    Very clear picture of who Romney is.

    VOTE OBAMA 2012!!!!!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      Wants to increase the budget by $2 TRILLION dollars that the military didn't ask for... but I bet some other super-rich folks DID ask for, and he'll give them YOUR money!

      October 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ed

    Oh wow, you mean Big Bird will have to actually go out and get funding like all the other TV shows? So sad.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lizzy10

    Romney just doesn't get it. Not every family can afford preschool for their child, and Sesame Street helps those kids. God forbid a child without a trust fund should get ahead!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Leslie Ann Warren

    Lmfbao, No Matter Wat I'm Votin President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden The Empty Chair, & Big Bird; But I'm Not Votin 4 Lyin Rass Romney/Ryan, Oil, Over Seas Jobs, & War Zones That Decaptizin Our Soldiers 2 Death/Limbs??!! While We Have War In Our Own State's Countries Against Our Own Victimized Neighbour Hoods That's Killin Our Own Families On The Daily Bases In Jesus Name Blood & Luv Always!!

    October 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Portland tony

    You could show a photo of big bird next to Mitt Romney .....I'm betting 100% of viewers can identify big bird. How many would ID Mr. Romney?

    October 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mitt Romney

    I just killed Big Bird.
    You are next.
    I cant wait to get the White house that the
    Koch Brothers promised me.
    I will put all you gays in concentration camps.
    I will pass legislation that woman will conform to MY rules
    about thier bodies and how they should be obediant to there husbands.
    You blacks will of course have to go back to the end of the bus
    you have no say when it comes to white supremacy, we no longer
    "own" you, but you will do as you are told.

    The middle class are nothing but sheep.
    Your purpose in life is to slave away, to make us rich,
    and to "serve" us.

    When you have less, you will get used to the "scraps" we
    throw to you.

    Let it be written, let it be done.

    Lord And Master Willard Romney.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. britney

    Wow cant believe he might get fired. But what the heck is that thing. I mean for reals

    October 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

    R'Money is the new "I am not a crook" Nixon. Says one thing to the public "it about the middle class" while he sells out "the 47% that are too lazy to care about their own lives".

    We've seen R'Money's true colors and they aren't Red, White and Blue.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    Probably won't be hard for Oscar- he already lives in a garbage can.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tom

    Why is Big Bird even on the radar? PBS funding is peanuts compared to oil subsidies or a million other expenditures that don't produce a tangible effect for citizens...

    October 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • jasmine

      You mean like the stimulus package Obama forced upon the American people that our great grandkids will still be paying for?

      October 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. HawaiianPunch808

    NO NOT BIG BIRD!!!!!!!!!

    October 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tag

    How about we stop funding country who fund terrorist that try to kill us and use that for Big Bird and Sesame Street. Or maybe those 1% could give up a day of vacation and help keep sesame street on the air for years to come.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • al

      romneys kids have few hudred million maybe they could help big bird ,oh yea romney is all about jobsget paid to wait for your unemployment cheque

      October 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
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