Over at CNN, Dean Obeidallah asks:
What has Big Bird ever done to Mitt Romney?! Did a young Mitt try to meet Big Bird and Big Bird snubbed him? Did Big Bird in essence give Mitt "the bird'? Or was Romney just channeling his inner Oscar the Grouch?
For those who may have missed it, during last night's presidential debate, Mitt Romney said that if elected president he would cut funding to PBS. He even mentioned Big Bird by name. (This is even more shocking because Mitt offered very few specifics on how he would cut the deficit other than slashing support for PBS.)
Romney is right. Big Bird, or actually Sesame Workshop, needs a taxpayer subsidy like Oprah needs to have us buy her a couch. A quick look at their 2009 form 990 that they filed with the IRS(the most recent I found) shows total revenue of $130,606,413. It lists $7,968,918 of that revenue as coming from government grants.
In addition, the form states that at the end of 2009 Sesame Workshop had net assets of $351,131,137. That's right, $351 million dollars.
I don't care that Sesame Workshop's president, Gary Knell, made almost $750,000 in 2009. I don't care that writer Joseph Mazzarino made over $650,000 or another dozen or so employees made well north of $200,000.
But they can do that without a goddamned taxpayer subsidy.
Sesame Workshop's Sherrie Westin(2009 compensation: $414,867) put out this asinine statement today:
“Sesame Workshop receives very, very little funding from PBS. So, we are able to raise our funding through philanthropic, through our licensed product, which goes back into the educational programming, through corporate underwriting and sponsorship. So quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting. But when they always try to tout out Big Bird, and say we’re going to kill Big Bird – that is actually misleading, because Sesame Street will be here.”
What's misleading is to say that Romney or anyone else who matters is out to "kill Big Bird." Make all the money you want, Sesame Workshop. Live long and prosper, Big Bird. Just do it without public money.
Or to put it in a way that even Westin can understand, "It's the subsidy, stupid."