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.

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

    Please do away with the 2 party system. that is all.

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


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

      Only voters can do away with the 2-party system

      October 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stan

      You speak wisdom.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Knucklehead

      Only the voters and an army of lawyers to go up against the Federal Election Board.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bella Donna

    ...and in that moment was a shining example of Romney's decision making style- callous and indifferent – cruel and targetted. This is not a man for the people.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Are you for real – do you really think with this country's national debt – we should be borrowing money from China for PBS. We need a tough president – not a socialist president!!

      October 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reboot

      we should be borrowing money from China for PBS. We need a tough president – not a socialist president!!

      Romney will just borrow money from China to spend on defense
      and ship more jobs to China.

      Question for you.
      Did you drive on a road today ?
      Did you build that road yourself, or did taxpayer money
      build that road ?
      That is "socialism" and you are a grade "A" moron.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • davidb

      my states should be in charge of that not the federal govt. It has out stretched its arms way past what it is supposed to be doing.

      October 5, 2012 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Amused

      Susan – You are apparently too ignorant to comprehend what "socialism" actually is! Taking money away from public services to waste on EVEN MORE MILITARY is a dangerous move toward FASCISM!

      October 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Charlie

    So Willard says that he'll save jobs, but then announces that he'll be cutting jobs.


    October 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd from Missouri

      you'e an Id!ot

      October 4, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amused

      No Todd, WILLARD is the IDlOT!...

      October 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jon KIng

    Spot on?? Romney wants to jack up defense industry spending which is the biggest waste on earth!

    October 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      yeah except it creates MILLIONS of jobs, advances technology that actually help sciece get funding for projects. You might want to look at the effect the military and its R&D divisions have on the economy.

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


      October 4, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      SO what you're saying is that R'Money will increase the size of the government and spending in order to create jobs.

      If the military didn't ask for the money, why not put the money to better use creating OTHER kinds of jobs?

      October 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      If the military didn't ask for the money why not use that same $2 TRILLION dollars to create OTHER types of jobs?

      There is probably some friends in the MI that R'Money want to get in good with so here your no-bid GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS. Increase the size and spending of the government, very "liberal".

      October 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      and you need wars to keep it going. You know, like the two we just fought.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Yeah...dead patriots!

      October 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      While I agree in part, the military definitely wastes a great deal of money as well. Thus, why not have the military clean up its act before it gets more money to waste? There are a number of projects (F-22, Littoral Combat Ship, etc.) that are over budget and way past their scheduled delivery dates.

      October 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Gunkel

      This does create many jobs, Boeing, Prat and Whitney

      October 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mothers Finest

      yeah except it creates MILLIONS of jobs, advances technology that actually help sciece get funding for projects. You might want to look at the effect the military and its R&D divisions have on the economy.

      An economy based on war.
      That is freaking PATHETIC !

      October 4, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dynamic

      Yes, we should definitely compare the costs-benefits associated with military spending and compare that to similar benefits from spending on infrastructure and social services. Of course, we'll need to include EVERYTHING associated with infrastructure spending like crime and incarceration, effects of loss of education resources, medical care, etc. I think we are all aware of the current downward spiral in the quality of life in our entire society due to overspending on military and lowered spending on citizens.

      October 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bayousara

      And lots of kids learn lots of stuff on PBS so they can be smart enough to do all that military stuff you mentioned. By the way, the feds spend a tiny amount on PBS compared to what it costs us for our military in Afghanistan for ONE DAY!

      October 4, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Give that money to NASA and then you'll see what R&D can do.

      October 4, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shangey G

      Letting the military feed like pigs at the trough at taxpayers expense (socialism) does create jobs, yes. But keeping unnecessary military bases all over the world is expensive. Some hard decisions have to be made. And military guys sitting around doing nothing is a luxury the u.s. can no longer afford. Perhaps the military should look at funding by donation? Or go for profit? End socialized military.

      October 5, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • davidb

      they are too busy beign fat lazy and browsing the internet (oh wait was that a military govt R&D project, sure was!)

      October 5, 2012 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • scanboy

      John, I'm asking these questions in a genuine attempt to learn about the government funding process - no bull.

      How is funding the military for the purpose of R&D, as a process, better than directly subsidizing the R&D of NGOs and non-military organizations? Is NASA a military org? Is military funding any less vulnerable to favoritism or someone "picking winners and losers"?


      October 5, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott from NH

      Or you can look at the photos of the 50,000 dead children in Iraq on the cover of newspapers and shown nightly on TV news. Well, just not American newspapers and American TV.

      October 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • dc

      Oh.... My...... God........ Someone who does research and doesn't drink the kool-aid!

      October 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |

      That is the most effective way to growth the high tech industry and keep the money inside the US, instead bail out the China industry. STUPIDDUDES

      October 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • fayem1

      Wow! what?

      October 5, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      China bails us out... what are you talking about...

      October 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tor

      Really, why worry about ever get attacked again. Obama's got the muslims in tow, right?

      October 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • pogojo

      Defense is the main job of the gov, its not to coddle yo from cradel to grave.

      October 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • CBfromNY

      True, however it would be nice if we could also get the gov't to spend some money on things like, early childhood education... it's been proven to help kids with things like grammar, and spelling. By the looks of it, that's probably not a big concern of yours.

      October 5, 2012 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      2 Trillion forced on the military says it does not need? I rather have it for training people to get them back to work.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • marcy

      ude, Syria has fired missles on Turkey for the last two days. The UN has given them an ultimatium, NO MORE MISSLE ARE TO BE LAUNCHED. There are currently 176,000 American troops monitering the entire river that runs through Syria seperating the countries. Don't you realize we are already in the beginning of WWIII? Think about it, look at the map, see how much of the middle east is currenlty unstable, then complain about cutting the military budget. We would be scrambling once Iran decides to show us how stupid we were for looking weak!

      October 4, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Marcy, Obama is not CUTTING defense spending; he's just not going to ADD to it...there's a difference, you know, between the two.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • dzerres

      There are no 176,000 US troops in Syria. There have never been 176,000 US troops in Syria – are all liars Republicans or are all Republicans liars? What river runs through Syria "separating the countries"? That doesn't even make sense. The Euphrates runs thru Syria but it does separate any countries. It starts in Turkey, runs through Syria and then goes into Iraq – no separating anywhere AND we don't have 176,000 troops stationed along the Euphrates. Maybe Big Bird could teach you something about geography.

      October 5, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • LB

      You do realize that the world is comprised of more than just the middle east, right? The last time I checked, a world war is supposed to encompass a large majority of the world & have many fronts.

      October 5, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • justanotherguy60

      Sure, let's gut the military to the point where we have the weakest defense before WWII. You should first read the history of our military and what it has accomplished before you want to gut it. Lastly, we made sure you were able to keep your right to free speech. If you don't like our military, go to France, they could care less about themselves.

      October 4, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      Tell that to the folks at the Embassy in Libya.

      October 5, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      how is that a waste when the entire middle east is uniting against us under the muslim brotherhood? Islam even has numerous secret cells in almost every state in our own country.

      October 5, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
    • DCaf

      Having a strong military ensures you will be able to sit back and watch PBS while they take care of the job of jumping into action to deal with the threats to this nation. I assure you, that nobody on 9/11was worrying about Big Bird or whether PBS had the top of the line studio equipment and electronics. Survival and being rescued was their priority. First responders, be it police, fire or military deserve the best equipment and training to get the job done. PBS can survive without government funding, but we may not survive as a nation without a top notch military.

      October 5, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Yup spending hundreds of billions of dollars on wasteful military spending is ok, but a couple mil for beloved tv show is unamerican! This guy really is a monster.

      October 5, 2012 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      The role of the federal government is to provide for the national defense and security. Not to fund PBS. That's what local donations are for.

      October 5, 2012 at 3:26 am | Report abuse |
    • mary

      Not if the plan is to protect all of Romeny and his cohorts off shore investments...~! After all China or any of those countries could try to shut them out..
      They need a military to make sure they can't do that~!!

      October 5, 2012 at 4:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Texan

      uh, Obama's policy of apologize and appease really worked well, Didn't it? Terroroist understand the strength of a strong military! Anything else is a sign of weakness and invites attack.

      October 5, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      He never apologized, which speech are you referring to? Politifact says different. Romney book is bogus.

      October 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • DCaf

      Ya, what a waste. PBS programming will be such a godsend when our military can no longer defend the safety of the nation against threats foreign and abroad. During 9/11 Big Bird was uppermost in all our minds. Just knowing he was around allowed me and my family to sleep soundly at night.

      October 5, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • bill dais

      Till you need it..

      October 5, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Amused

      I completely AGREE!

      October 5, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Larry

    Sesame Street doesn't need subsidies from anyone to survive. PBS could do quite well on its own as well, but is incredibly inefficient with every little city and state running their own networks for no other reason than to employ people who like manage television stations but can't find a job with a real network.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • EnoughisEnough

      Pretty much says what I intended to. All anyone hears is FIRE BIG BIRD. No one seems to realize how much money the franchise makes and, in turn, the obscene compensation being given to the mucky mucks running PBS/NPR and Sesame Street. "Sesame Street" alone made $211 million in three years from toy and product sales. So why on earth is the taxpayer subsidizing PBS? "Sesame Street" can carry them. Oh wait, I forgot, once you are on the govrnment gravy train with a first class seat you never want to get off.

      October 5, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. molyneuxcomics

    Romney..good for Wall Street, bad for Main Street..and Sesame Street

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

    So millions to Big Bird- No! Billions to Big Tobacco and Big Oil-Yes! Shows Romney's value. Big Bird teaches kids to read, count, and in general be decent human beings. Big Tobacco gives us cancer. Big Oil destroys our environment (I love the GOP wanted to apologize to BP for all the Gulf wildlife contaminating their precious oil) and keeps us investing in obsolete, dead end technology while China outspends us 1000-to-1 on green energy (that's why Solyndra failed- China bought down the price of Chinese solar panels just like the U.S. government did with silicon chips in the 60s and 70s).

    October 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Susan

    As a parent I am all for cutting aid to PBS. Either it pays for itself or it doesn't. As for the children's shows, research has proven that young children watching tv develop learning issues. These shows are more about social indoctrination anyway NOT academic learning.

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

      give your kids up.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stan

      so throw away your TV... treehugger.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reboot

      research has proven that young children watching tv develop learning issues. These shows are more about social indoctrination anyway ..........

      But its ok if your kids watch America Idol, Dancing with the stars, and reality crap,
      right !
      Social indoctrination ?
      You mean teaching children to be nice and respectful ?
      Cant have that, they might be nice to a gay child, or a black child.
      You are sick.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • cd11

      Not about academic learning??? Have you ever SEEN Sesame Street? I'm pretty sure the alphabet and counting is academic learning for pre-schoolers.

      October 5, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Shangey G

      So are you all for cutting funding to "defense"/military spending, since it doesn't pay for itself?

      October 5, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. polly

    Pay your share...I have for over thirty years.

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

      hmm ... less than 10% of PBS comes from public donors. Most comes from corporations.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Shangey G

    Can not believe they are making a fuss over this, when the military, which is socialized, is still fat at the trough of plenty. 56% of your income tax goes towards the military. Look it up from independent sources.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • DCaf

      Educate yourself, Shangley. It's the discretionary Budget you're referring to. Military is about 24% of the TOTAL budget. Spending 24% of the total budget for military personnel and technology especially given the world we face today is far from excessive!

      October 5, 2012 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Amused

      Dcaf – You are conveniently FORGETTING about the $1.4 TRILLION we are spending annually just to PAY down some of our debt for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ! George W BUSH tried to hide this FACT from public and you Rethugs act like it doesn't exist!... THAT is where we as WASTING MOST of our tax-payer money!!!!!!!! Wake up!!!

      October 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TheBirdsTheWord

    Obama: Romney will ignore Wall Street but "crack down on Sesame Street"

    October 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. infinitetruth

    Truth, you want to talk about truth. Fact check your candidate for the truth factcheck(dot)org

    October 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CSM. J. D

    So Exxon is more important than the children ok Got IT.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. polly

    Jon...obviously you nor any of your children have had the balls to serve for our freedom.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tracy Jeffords

    After the debate...this is what CNN is reporting? No wonder 60% of Americans don't trust Main Stream Media..Big Bird and Subsidizing PBS is your story..NOT 16 Trillion of National Debt, 23 Million Americans not working or under employed, 2 credit rating DECREASES, A teacher's Union that just hijacked 350,000 students and WON despite how incompetent and UNSUCCESSFUL they are...Big Bird....Thanks CNN..no wonder more people tuned to FOX News last night

    October 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lady in WI

      Thank goodness I found one comment that was worth the read. CNN...this article was horrible!

      October 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • NotAFoxFan

      Fox News huh? I guess you can get your fiction where ever you like. I'd rather hear Ernie and Bert over anything from Fox News. There are some people that need to check their facts.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reboot

      After the debate...this is what CNN is reporting...

      And yet, here you are reading the story, and spouting off
      as if anybody cares about your stupid rant.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amused

      Repugnants just HATE listening to the TRUTH!... That is why they LOVE Faux News! They will never have to be offended by the truth watching Faux...

      October 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
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