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. Big Burd

    I'm taking my ball and going to play in the public access sandbox!

    October 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jasmine

    Obama got owned last night. It was like watching Tyson back in the day.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Andrew007

    Top Five Ways Big Bird Could Get Killed Off Sesame Street
    5. Blinded by his own hubris and convinced of his own infallibility, he meets his old enemy, Oscar the Grouch, to mock Oscar and gloat about his victories. Oscar sets off a suicide bomb and kills them both.

    4. The Count, whose character flaw (other than OCD) is his need to "fix" everything and everyone, leads a season long search for Big Bird. Ironically, Big Bird has been a zombie all along.

    3. Finally defeats the Cookie Monster, but we discover that Sesame Street has been "limbo" all season long because Sesame Street is where Big Bird spent the most meaningful years of his life.

    2. Meets Bert, Ernie and Zoe in a diner and just as a mysterious man comes up behind Big Bird, the screen fades to black, leaving Big Bird's fate to the viewers' imagination.

    1. Captured by the Weeping Angels, Big Bird is transported 30 to 40 years into his past, to Sesame Street's groovier 70's era.

    Or maybe, just maybe, Big Bird and company will simply be the victims in a last, desperate ploy by a power-hungry, egomaniacal, unprepared liar who can't decide between his moderate political stance and the needs of a political party that forces him to the right.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      This truly made me laugh out loud, and your last paragraph is outstanding.
      Well done.

      October 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Observer974

    Given a chance, I'd kill big bird and have him for dinner. I see no earthly reason to pay for a left wing network. The toxic nitwits, composing Obama's lemmings, already have CNN, the Washington Post, New York Time, and NSNBC. Remove Microsoft and Time-Warner's tax breaks for these outfits,too. I don't want to pay for left wing lies and misinformation.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Who cares about BIg BIrd, after all Sesame Street makes millions ..

    The important issue here is the millions of unemployed Americans. Lastnight , during the debate president Obama was in another planet, perhaps in planet Hollywood, where his millionars friends live. I voted for the Democrat party in 2008, however, after watching the debate lastnight, is was very embarrasing to see our president act and looked bored, out of touch and irrelevant. He really missed his Telepromter. Hope next time he gets one.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Reality Checker

    I know that it's not big part of the Republican program but you may want to FACT check before posting.

    PBS is NON-commercial.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. little mister©

    So sad, I love Big Bird.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. good bye PBS.. and Big Bird...

    There are many worse issues to deal now, such as unemployment, gas price going up every week and president Obama threaten to cut Military budget. As a parent of Military children, by cutting the Military budget, president Obama lost my vote. I am a Democrat but I decided that we had enough with those 4 years of bad economy and an incapable leader, we need a change. Mr. Romney is the best choice this time.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bruce


    October 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kimberlin Daniels


    October 4, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe

    When is the liberal media going to start taking pot shots @ democrats?? In a choice b/w big bird & having to work for China because they bailed out the US Federal deficit, which would choose? I like big bird too but I also like working for an American company. End of story.

    October 4, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Spaceman Spiff

    You can always tell who is Republican.
    They have no problem with war,
    but think its OK to cut out anything
    for Children, old people, or poor people.

    Christianity is a disaster, nobody pays any attention to
    what "Jesus" said.

    Yup i just shot across the bow of both Republicans and Christians.
    You deserve each other.

    If only we can find a way for you to stop screwing up the
    world for the rest of us.

    Give me Big Bird over war anyday.

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

      Nice nod to Calvin and Hobbs.
      Oh, yeah, and I agree wíth you.

      October 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. just me

    Everyone thinks Big Bird is so nice but wait until you meet him in person. He always wears dark sunglasses and a leather jacket. He won't sign autographs. I heard he was even dating LiLo for a while. I think he has gone Hollywood.

    October 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    After you get done with your little "defense" song and dance, you might want to think "election day". And I hope when you cast your precious vote on that day, just remember every terrorist group in the world can't wait to declare that America "is in submission". And. There are a small handfull of pervs out there, that could care less about, "your kids". And the day comes when you or someone like you, falls prey to a home invasion, just remember what you voted for. The current Marxist type regime, wants you to lose your 2nd amendment rights, to take away your ability to defend yourself.

    October 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff

    This is starting to get annoying. It's front page on CNN...it's front page on USAToday. I just don't get it.

    It seems that if facebook or twitter has a run on a subject....news media like CNN and USAToday are all over it...and won't let it die.

    Why is CNN interested in Big Bird's habits? It's a children's show. How about focusing on the presidential candidates.

    Seems like Big Bird should be a candidate as well...cause it seems everyone is talking about him.

    October 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Well, as it happened less than twenty-four hours ago, it's still pretty relevant...because the man did say he would get rið of Big Bird, so....
      That, and this particular article is just for fun, as was clearly stated in the article.

      October 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zoe79

      Excuse me, Sir, but Sesame Street is not just "a kids show", it's educational programming that benefits all children, particularly those from low income schools and with absent parents who are not getting the basic skills and learning tools many kids receive at early ages. This issue goes far beyond "Big Bird" and if you see it on front pages and as a major news topic, it's clear you must have missed the point. Defunding PBS, one of the only positive media outlets our country has – nonetheless, among the most informative and eduational as a resouce – is nothing short of tragic and misguided, to say the least.

      October 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      It's important because it reveals the value system of Romney and the right-wing.

      Republican are saying: Profits over people. But if it serves your needs corporation are "people".

      Republican are saying: Military spending at the expense of the middle class. Remember the TAXPAYERS pay for that $2 TRILLION bill that Romney is dead-set on spending. Funding PBS is peanuts compared to that.

      Republican are saying: The underlying Republican message is that education in not as important as giving MORE financial advantage to the wealthiest.

      October 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
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