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. Jean

    Poor Big Bird! But I suspect with 24 million under/unemployed, alot of families have already cut back on cable and TV's. I am sure some big, liberal donor (George Soros???) can rescue him

    October 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. al

    trust mitt even your kids dont matter hat an ass

    October 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roscoe Chait

      Mitt tied his dog to the roof of his car so why should he care about a puppet?

      October 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ea

    Cut spending! We are paying for China's army and stealing from our childrens future with wasteful spending. We already owe 50k per american.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. icen_von


    October 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Obama wants to fund PBS, and Romney wants to fund a war with Libya.

      Gee, let me think...

      October 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • icen_von

      Todd, ignorance is not attractive. Obama is the one that actually STARTED A WAR WITH LIBYA! IQ LOW!!!!

      October 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. innersixx

    Just cancel the show and get it done with.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ryan

    Republicans want no free flow of information or education since PBS educates and all they want is one sided right winged fair tales and never question our government

    October 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. OvernOut

    Right after the Big Bird comment was made, we switched over to the Tigers game, watched our guy earn his Triple Crown. We don't live and breathe partisan politics.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joan

    Sesame Street is a money maker and can stand on its own. it doesn't need government subsidies. The program makes a fortune in product sales and licensing and any private broadcasting network would be happy to have the show. So don't worry about the big bird.

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

      @Joan..."Sesame Street is a money maker and can stand on its own. it doesn't need government subsidies. " Interesting observation. Why then does the gas/oil industry need $4Billion in subsides? Oil/Gas industry earned about $32Billion in the first quarter of the year. Clearly they are money makers....why should we continue to subsides them?

      October 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mary

    Big bird is not important enough to borrow from China!!! But subsides to big oil companies are. Give me a break.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve Pugh

    Merchandising for Sesame Street is big business; why is PBS getting subsidies anyway?

    October 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Why are oil companies getting subsidies?

      October 4, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Elmo

    I will miss Big Bird! When we have a party and do the limbo, Big Bird does not do it. I call him Big Chicken then! La-La-La-La Oh wait, does that mean they will kill my show too, Elmo's World? I guess I will have to go on unemployment....bet we will all be out of work then! Oscar can make it anywhere with his garbage can, but the rest of us will be homeless....if we all live in one area, it will be called Sesame Slum....can we get Bird Seed for Big Bird and my favorite grilled cheese sandwhich with a pickle on the side with Food Stamps? Or is Meany Mitty taking that away from us as well?

    October 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Shelly Wells

    Obama: "I'm pleased we have a candidate who's man enough to take on Big Bird." Rommy is pathetic.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. just me

    Big Bird will be ok. He is a rich entertainer. A one percenter. I bet he secretly supports Romney.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Russ

    I LOVE YOU BIG BIRD. YOU TAUGHT ME AND EVERYONE SO MUCH! Please don't let that terrible man MITT ROMNEY make you go away. Sniff Sniff

    October 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    I laughed at this article; I tooks it in the spirit that it was meant to be: humorous.
    Okay, that being said:
    Sesame Street would survive, because of all of its merchandising, etc. etc., but some of the smaller programming that may go under because of this would go off the air, thus costing many people who work at the stations/productions their jobs.
    Romney said he will cause no jobs to be lost...huh?
    Okay, I get the concept of not wanting to borrow from China to pay for a program, but that includes defense spending, which Romney wants to increase...sooooooo it's okay to borrow money from China to pay for that program?
    He wants to increase the budget for *that*, when the military doesn't want/need it?
    Yep, the war drums are heard loud and clear.
    I see where this is going.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26