Big Bird and Politics Through the Years
Business + Economy

Big Bird and Politics Through the Years


Whoever thought Big Bird and Sesame Street would be ruffling feathers on Pennsylvania Avenue? At a time when the country’s rising debt is now $53,000 for every man, woman and child, any program – no matter how popular – seems to be fair game for the chopping block.

The government gives $400 million a year to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds NPR and PBS. This is small change by federal standards.

Last week in Denver, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said during his first debate with President Obama that he would cut federal funding for PBS, the publicly supported television station that hosts the iconic children’s program “Sesame Street.”

“I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too,” Romney said, addressing moderator Jim Lehrer directly for a moment. “But I’m not going to ... borrow money from China to pay for it.” The Obama campaign responded in kind by releasing an ad on Tuesday attacking the Republican candidate for the promised fiscal clipping of Big Bird’s wings. The ad said, in part, “Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about. It’s Sesame Street. Mitt Romney, taking on our enemies no matter they nest.”

The Sesame Workshop, a non-profit organization, has asked the Obama campaign to pluck the spot, since it hadn’t given approval for Big Bird, who never endorses candidates, to be trapped in a political battle.

Still, Sesame Street has hosted a number of public servants over the years, exposing its young viewers to people and personalities of many walks of life – artists, business leaders, and others. Click here to see some of the presidents, First Ladies, and other Washington-based figures who have been interviewed by the Muppets.