Charles Blow of the New York Times says if you pick on Big Bird you answer to him. That seems like an empty threat, given that he’s protected his Twitter account from anyone who disagrees with him. It’s unfortunate that he thinks the extremely lucrative Big Bird needs the same protection.

After Mitt Romney took President Obama to the cleaners in the first presidential debate (so much so that Bill Maher said it looked like President Obama spent his $1 million Super PAC donation on weed), liberals needed to latch onto something. They found it: Big Bird. What kind of inhumane, heartless bastard would want to “kill” Big Bird? The answer is no one, but since we’re dealing with adults who act like Sesame Street watching toddlers, we get a false dichotomy — either the government funds PBS or Big Bird will cease to exist.

President Obama’s supporters think they have a winner with the death-to-Big-Bird rants, when in reality their temper tantrum makes it clear to independent voters that they are not up to handling the serious financial problems America faces.

First, let us look at Mark Steyn’s reaction to the affair:

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives nearly half a billion dollars a year from taxpayers, which it disburses to PBS stations, who in turn disburse it to Big Bird and Jim Lehrer. I don’t know what Big Bird gets, but, according to Senator Jim DeMint, the president of Sesame Workshop, Gary Knell, received in 2008 a salary of $956,513. In that sense, Big Bird and Senator Harry Reid embody the same mystifying phenomenon: They’ve been in “public service” their entire lives and have somehow wound up as multimillionaires. …

[W]hether or not everybody loves Sesame Street, everybody has seen it, and every American under 50 has been weaned on it. So far this century it’s sold nigh on a billion bucks’ worth of merchandising sales (that’s popular toys such as the Subsidize-Me-Elmo doll). If Sesame Street is not commercially viable, then nothing is, and we should just cut to the chase and bail out everything. …

If Americans can’t muster the will to make Big Bird leave the government nest, they certainly will never reform Medicare.

Now, let us look at the reaction of Charles Blow of the New York Times:

Since 1969, Big Bird has been the king of the block on “Sesame Street.” When I was a child, he and his friends taught me the alphabet and the colors and how to do simple math. …

Big Bird and his friends also showed me what it meant to resolve conflicts with kindness and accept people’s differences and look out for the less fortunate. Do you know anything about looking out for the less fortunate, Mr. Romney? …

Let me make it simple for you, Mr. Romney. I’m down with Big Bird. You pick on him, you answer to me. …

I don’t really expect Mitt Romney to understand the value of something like PBS to people, like me, who grew up in poor, rural areas and went to small schools. These are places with no museums or preschools or after-school educational programs. There wasn’t money for travel or to pay tutors.

I honestly don’t know where I would be in the world without PBS.

First of all, not a lot of people can “answer” to Charles Blow because he’s locked his Twitter account (an odd step for someone who writes for a major American newspaper). Charles is untouchable — kind of like Big Bird.

Steyn’s central argument is that Big Bird is worth big bucks. The makers of Sesame Street and the top brass at PBS have done quite well for themselves. Public Broadcasting is very lucrative for the guys in charge. The kind of content that PBS provides is at the touch of our fingers. It’s everywhere, and it’s cheap. And so the question becomes: Should the American taxpayer be subsidizing this? The answer is no. And if we can not even bring ourselves to let Big Bird leave the nest … is it any wonder why we have government-mandated health care that encourages children to stay on their parent’s medical coverage until they’re 26 years old?

Charles Blow’s piece, in contrast, is purely emotional. He “honestly doesn’t know” where he’d be without Sesame Street. That’s an incredibly sad admission, but if he’s honest about it, let’s examine the subject a little more closely.

Again, absent government funding, the content provided by Sesame Street would essentially still exist. Investors would buy the rights to Big Bird. (Even Mark Levin has said that he would do so.) The Sesame Street crew would end up on Nickelodeon or ABC family or any number of shows on basic cable. Sesame Street and its decades of glory are available on DVD, on Youtube, etc. Big Bird might even wind up in kiddie crossovers featuring Dora the Explorer and “Blue” from Blue’s Clues. Think of the possibilities, Charles!

The Vice Presidential debate is coming up. President Obama’s team is so desperate I wouldn’t be surprised if Joe Biden started harping on Big Bird just to keep the conversation going for another week. If he does, more power to him. It’s a debate us conservatives are more than happy to have. And guys like me don’t lock their Twitter account like Charles Blow, either.


  1. “Big Bird Bites The Big One” —
    c.2012 Jim Zee released for limited noncommercial use with attribution.

    — as a novice screen and teleplay writer, I envision the following scenario:

    CAM 1: Big Bird ( BB) enters Julia Child’s kitchen, alive and kicking pursued by Mitt Romney wielding a hatchet stolen from George Washington.

    CUT TO:
    Big Bird beheaded by the chuckling Child who proceeds to ‘bone the chicken’ with a sharp 3-inch French filet knife stamped with her personal monogram.

    CUT TO: An enormous plucked carcass loaded into a massive oven as Child sets the timer for 12hours at 350 degrees.

    DISSOLVE TO: Child basting the bird with a fire extinguisher.

    FOCUS DISSOLVE TO: Massive drumsticks being passed hand to hand around a dinner table populated by Mr. Rogers, Bert and Ernie, The Swedish Chef, The Snufflelufagus, (who can’t keep his snuffle off the platter),
    the Ghosts of Jim Henson and Ted Kennedy (who is making drowning noises into his water glass) and the Antiques Road Show guy who’s examining the silverware for hallmarks.

    DISS TO: Steps of Sesame Street brownstone, where Oscar the Grouch is in his garbage can. Rita Moreno and Bruce Willis are hauling out a bag of trash where two giant yellow feet protrude, and dump into Oscar’s abode.

    CUT TO: Garbage truck picks up can, and dumps the screaming Oscar and the remains of Big Bird whereby the hydraulic packer ram slams shut and muffles the Grouch.

    CAMERA PANS TO: Side of truck which says ” Romney Waste Disposal Service — Driver has No Taxpayer Money”


    1. My mom says that as a toddler I was fascinated by Julia Child. When she came on I would sit and watch, transfixed. I was an antsy kid, but I always sat patiently for cooking shows and football. I’m not sure what the says about me…

  2. The same people who defend the billions our government spends on public education are now arguing that apparently children learn nothing in school and would be illiterate without Sesame Street. You can’t have it both ways.

    1. I don’t know about Charles Blow, but the lessons I learned from Seasame Street I also learned … from my parents. I can remember my dad and mom going over flash cards with me to learn the multiplication tables. It would have been funny if they dressed up as Big Bird for the ordeal, but I was just as happy learning from good ol’ mom and dad.

    2. I had meant to comment on this much earlier, back when you originally wrote this post, but never got around to it… Same here. Although I watched the show frequently (and even watched it into the early 2000s with my sister, because she was just a little kid around the time and often got control of the TV), there was nothing in the show that I didn’t already learn from my folks. Personally I’m of the view that Sesame Street would do just fine in the private sector… it is, after all, a pretty lucrative franchise. I don’t see why taxpayer money should have to subsidize a television network (PBS) and a radio network (NPR).

  3. Another thing I just remembered…. it seems like I learned a lot from reading my dad’s old Golden Book Encyclopedias when I was in elementary school. I learned more about history, geography, science, literature and even math from reading those than I ever did from Sesame Street or in a classroom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: