American Elephants


There Are Some Controversies You Just Don’t Want To Stir Up by The Elephant's Child

Let’s review. During the debate last week, when asked what he planned to cut to help balance the budget, Gov. Romney responded by saying “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things.  I like PBS, I love Big Bird.”

But I’m not, he added, going to borrow money from China to subsidize Big Bird.

Everybody loves Big Bird, children love Sesame Street, Moms love Sesame Street, so of course the Obama campaign leaped to the defense of Big Bird. Lesson for Obama campaign: it always pays to do your homework.

In this case the facts lead to headlines like “Big Bird makes more money than Mitt Romney, but is still on the government dole.”

•The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives about $450 million from Congress each year.
•About $280 million goes to PBS and the local stations.
•Federal funding makes up about 12 percent of the PBS budget.

The facts that a little homework might turn up, that the media never reveals:

Shows like Sesame Street are multimillion dollar enterprises capable of thriving in the private market.  According to the 990 tax form all nonprofits are required to file, Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 — nearly a million dollars — in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, Sesame Street made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales.

The Republican National Committee points out that in the last few days, Obama has mentioned Big Bird eight times, and Elmo five — and Libya not at all. So the always on top of everything Obama campaign quickly turned out this ad:

There is something deeply revealing about Obama’s blithe willingness to portray Wall Street as an enemy. Wall Street is key to American prosperity —even to American greatness.  Lots of important and impressive Americans have had careers on Wall Street. What Wall Street does is important. Wall Street matters, The Weekly Standard said. The Washington Examiner said “With the Big Bird ad, Obama plays the small politics he once denounced.”

At InstaPundit, a reader comments “Lost by Obama: Wall Street, Main Street and now Sesame Street.

Another reader emailed “Today’s Obama for President commercial was brought to you by the number ‘1.1 trillion‘ and the word ‘deficit‘.”

The Sesame Workshop has sent a cease and desist request to Team Obama:

Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down.

Jeff Emanuel comments: “nothing says “I’ve completely lost control of this narrative” like embracing …a seven-foot-tall yellow feathered multi-millionaire.”

ADDENDUM: Sesame Street received a grant of $1.067,532 in stimulus funds in August 2010, from the Department of Health and Human Services.  The funding was to promote healthy eating, according to the federal Recovery.gov website. “Sesame Workshop will carry out an expansion of its highly successful ‘Healthy Habits for Life’ initiative, which promotes improved nutrition and increased physical activity targeting low-income preschool-aged children and their families and care providers.”

The project created 1.47 new jobs, the website reported, which works out to $726,000 per new job created, which seems to be in line with the rest of the stimulus bill. Kathleen Sebelius has a lot to answer for, aside from violating the Hatch Act.




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