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. Why Why Why

    "I will not cut one single job" except you Jim, I like you but your fired..and take that stupid bird with you. – Romney for America.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |

      Take the money from CBS... and put it to community colleges or high schools is the batter ways to boost the education.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. icecreamsunday

    Big Bird. 47%. Gee I love election season.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. WhaaT

    I'm sure Mittens has flip-flopped on Big Bird today.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Why Why Why

    "I'm so high on coke right now I'm going to fire the moderator and a bird puppet in front of 50 million people" – Romney for America

    October 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JDinHouston

    Romney likes to fire people, and on live TV Romney fired Big Bird and Jim Lehrer. It was so crass and meaningless, just reaffirmed that Romney is not a very likeable guy.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bella Donna


      October 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |

      If you go to work and do not deliver your product, fire them all that is the basic of free market and USA>

      October 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeane Carlson

      What, are you trying to sleep w/ him? Who gives a crap if he is likable or not?! He will get the job done. Have you ever heard of logic? Leadership?

      October 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      @Jeane Yes let us cut big bird for 1.2 million but give the Military 2 trillion they do not need. What?

      October 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    All that money and the grouch still is living in a trash can. What a shame

    October 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stan

      He's got a mansion in there...

      October 4, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Why Why Why

    "I will not cut one single job" .....starting right after the two I just cut -Romney for America

    October 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeane Carlson

      He saved jobs for a living genius. How could he possibly do any worse than Obama?

      October 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David

    Wait, so Romney wants to kick a multi-millionaire (Big Bird and friends) off the government dole and suddenly everyone is for giving tax breaks to the rich? Sorry, but the private company that creates the Sesame Street shows makes a very nice profit every year on thier product. Not sure I understand the desire to continue what is in effect a tax break for a very profitable company.

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

      What's that about big oil subsidies? Oh, you were being ironic 🙂

      October 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reboot

      Democrats – Take care of the middle class, our children and our future.
      Republicans – Take care of the rich, and kill big bird.

      Your choice people.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      reboot, I believe you are forgetting the poor. How very charitable of you.

      October 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Peggy

    Romney ought to be ashamed of himself; first he is ditching the elderly under the bus with his Medicare/Obama Care reform and NOW it is Big Bird....what is next, I am afraid to ask. Kids love Big Bird! I guess the kids are going "under the bus" too!!!

    October 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeane Carlson

      Yeahhhh, Romney isn't the one who just cut 716 Billion dollars from medicare.

      October 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Jeanne Obama did not cut 716 billion from medicare a Romney and republican lie.

      October 10, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chuck

    While he's at it, lets do away with hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet !!! Oh right Chevrolet is already gone.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CSM. J. D

    Can we just have a fight over it please. Conservatives say Obama is the divider in cheif when there is no way in hades that Mitt could bring us together 0 chance.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tor

      One's got proof he has, the other, ain't got ....

      October 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeane Carlson

      Coming together won't work. The right has reached out to the left & had their hands bit too many times. One side needs to win over the other w/ logic reason. Remember logic? Reason? Actually getting the job done. These are good things.

      October 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jo

    This article was awful.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JDinHouston

    Who the heck would fire Big Bird?! That's like firing Mickey Mouse, or Popeye, or or American workers so he can move the jobs overseas. Oh, I guess Romney just plans to outsource Big Bird, guess we'll have to get used to Big Panda if Romney wins.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tor

      Mickey and Popeye aren't on the government dole. They're capitalist 😉

      October 4, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jorie S.

    So, this is what the USA has become. Arguments about PBS and Big Bird. I just turned 60 and am so glad that I'm going down the back side of the mountain. No wonder the entire world thinks this country is the biggest joke on the planet!

    October 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jon KIng

    Right wingers are fools. A few million for PBS is terrible....but trillions for defense contractors $3000 hammers is all good. Ship of fools.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      The GOP love war. War will make Mitts friends very rich!

      October 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      How exactly did big bird protect our embassy folks in Libya? How did big bird help to prevent any real large terrorist events on American soil for the last 10 years. We don't live in a safe world, if you think we do, please take a family vacation to Egypt, Syria, Libya or any other Islamic country, hell travel through Mexico. PBS isn't vital, a few million we don't have is a-lot of money. This is one example, some have far larger budgets, perhaps you didn't listen carefully, or perhaps your just in love with Obama and facts don't mean much, either way your dead wrong in your statement.

      October 5, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Amused

      Shawn – You've got it quite backwards! Romney is the one who has no use for TRUTH nor FACTS! TRUTH and FACTS are NOT Romney's friend as they tend to show his ignorance and arrogance! PBS is 1000% MORE benificial to our Nation than having even MORE Military weapons and troops!!!!!! I would GLADLY trade some of our EXTREMELY WASTEFUL defense spending to keep such a vital and useful network dedicated to education and knowledge! But, as a Repugnant, YOU propbably have no use for either of THOSE things!

      October 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott from NH

      Shawn, saving 3 cents per family at the cost of losing an education program loved by all while we spend 500,000 times more than that on a holocaust that killed 1 million innocent people and made the world hate us is so insane I can't even fathom it. First off, 3 cents don't matter, it doesn't add up to anything. Second, the Iraq war created terrorists out of bakers, teachers, and hotel front desk clerks. There was no Al Qaeda or WMD in Iraq before we invaded. They had nothing to do with 9/11. Ad they were secular, we've converted it into an Islamic state. Also, I have gone to Egypt, and many other Muslim nations. You know how to stay safe there? You tell them you are Canadian. Because Canadians don't feel the need to go around the world killing children.

      October 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
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