In the first debate between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, the GOP nominee ruffled some feathers by saying that he’d cut the budget by eliminating non-essential costs, like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Because the debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, is employed by PBS, Romney added:
“I’m sorry Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things,” he said. “I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you too.”
I’m sure moms everywhere have seen the clip a dozen times. As soon as Romney said those words, the social media universe exploded. Immediately, a fake Twitter account for Big Bird was set up. The first tweet was, “WTF, Mitt Romney?” and another was, “Yo Mitt Romney, Sesame Street is brought to you today by the letters F & U!” Celebrities also chimed in. In one of the 17,000 tweets per minute, Whoopi Goldberg lamented that Romney wanted to “kill Big Bird.” Calls were made for a “Million Muppet March” on Washington. A photoshopped picture of a forlorn Big Bird sitting on the Sesame stoop holding a “Will Work for Food” sign flew into inboxes across America. The next day, the President, still reeling from the previous night’s debate debacle, made fun of Romney for “getting tough on Big Bird.” Even PBS sent out their own press release, which read, “Elimination of funding would have virtually no impact on the nation’s debt. Yet the loss to the American public would be devastating.”
More than anyone else, moms have affection in our heart for lovable Elmo, the mysterious Snuffleupagus, and even the garbage-dwelling Oscar the Grouch. But would a change in funding be “devastating?” PBS’s self-importance is a little much for Americans who are struggling to pay the bills and find work.
So why does the government subsidize this show anyway?