Just What “Sesame Street” Didn’t Want: A Politicized Big Bird

Big Bird

October 9, 2012; Source: CBS News

President Barack Obama may not want to see Big Bird’s funding cut, as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney does, but his reelection campaign may have just done something that could also be harmful to the giant yellow resident of “Sesame Street.” It further politicized him. In a new campaign ad, Obama attacks Romney for blaming the economy’s woes on “Sesame Street” instead of greed on Wall Street. You can watch the ad here:

As NPQ recently noted, “Sesame Street” is produced by the Sesame Workshop, and the Seattle Times reports that it is not happy about this turn of events, releasing a statement saying, “Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads and, as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down.” In response, a spokesman for the Obama campaign said that they are looking over Sesame Workshop’s concerns.

That Romney brought up public broadcasting in a discussion of trimming the budget deficit is almost laughable, given that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS, NPR, and other public media, receives a grand total of .00014 percent of the federal budget—not exactly a big cost savings to the American people even if you cut every cent of public broadcasting’s federal funding. That Obama has now latched onto this oddball debate moment may have tested well among some focus groups, but it’s doing “Sesame Street” wrong. The Obama campaign should immediately agree to Sesame Workshop’s request and take the ad down. Big Bird is one of America’s most beloved cultural symbols for people of all political beliefs. Big Bird is for everyone. –Mike Keefe-Feldman

  • Marta Baez

    Although the subject was raised by Mr Romney and. I find it both funny and to the point , the ad should be removed.

  • SUE

    “That Romney brought up public broadcasting in a discussion of trimming the budget deficit is almost laughable, given that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS, NPR, and other public media, receives a grand total of .00014 percent of the federal budget”

    What’s laughable is the following:
    1) First I’m unsure if Romeny’s campaign was so brilliant, or Obama’s campaign was so dumb – either way the bait was laid and taken. Obama’s administration has been talking about this issue for over a week when Americans are concerned about bigger issues like jobs. This had made Obama’s campaign look like a farce

    2) Sesame Street generated $45 Million in royalties last year and pay’s their CEO over 1 million dollars — in good conscience, why are they accepting tax payer money? (Really this makes them just as guilty as many of the banks and car manufactures who received bail-outs)

    3) “.00014%” – is actually $445 million –Though this step alone will not balance the budget, like everything in life – when added together with other areas that are cut, will turn into a large chunk. I believe the entire context of this statement was “anything we have to borrow money from China to fund will be cut” – that seemed to have dropped form your article….

    4)I hate to break everyone’s heart, but Sesame Street was ranked 15th among most watched Educational Programs among children by a Newsweek poll (#1, Dora the Explorer). I wonder how much of this debate is based off of fact, or based off of our romanticized memories of childhood nostalgia?

    5)On funding CPB in general — remember the whole NPR “We don’t need government funding, it restrains us” scandal? How quickly we forget….

    5) My final point, I believe this is a symptom of a much larger issue; what role does the government really have? By continually over-reaching into areas outside of its intended purpose, it has created multi-trillion dollar debt for all of its citizens. Correcting this is going to be a painful process, but if we want to actually KEEP a government to pass on to our children, its a necessary step. Sesame Street is just the first causality.

  • michael

    Sue makes an excellent point about the $445 million. As any financial literacy expert will tell you, most of the people in debt get there not thru lack of earnings nor thru extravagant purchases, but because they fail to watch the $5-10-25 purchases which eat up huge chunks of their income.

    Keep in mind the old saying: “Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves”