President Obama, who has railed against the “fat-cat bankers on Wall Street” and the wealthy, has been an eager defender of Big Bird and public broadcasting this week in light of Mitt Romney’s comments that he would defund it in last week’s debate. But it turns out that many of those behind Big Bird are actually members of the 1 percent themselves (anyone with a total income of $343,927 or more as of 2009), based on their salaries.
At Corporation for Public Broadcasting, according to the CPB’s 2011 tax forms:
Patricia De Stacy Harrison, president and CEO $361,895
At PBS, according to 2011 tax forms:
Paula Kerger, president and CEO $669,260
Michael Jones, chief operating officer $477,296
Barbara Landes, chief financial officer, treasurer, and senior vice president $402,355
Katherine Lauderdale, senior vice president and general counsel, $381,855.
At Sesame Workshop, according to 2011 tax forms:
Gary Knell, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop until October 2011, $988,456
H. Melvin Ming, current president and CEO, $584,572
Lewis Bernstein $406,387
Terry Fitzpatrick $439,741
Myung Kang-Huneke $389,005
Sherrie Westin $463,892
Susan Kolar $401,425
Miranda Barry $397,175
Maura Regan $379,733
Joseph Mazzarino $556,165
Caralynn Sandorf $354,476
Anita Stewart $455,369
And while the actor who plays Big Bird (Carroll Spinney) doesn’t have a salary that puts him in the 1 percent, he’s not far off: Spinney makes $314,072.
And who’s funding this? Well, in part, taxpayers: the federal government gave the CPB a grant of $444.1 million in 2012.