|The character of children's puppet show "Sesame Street" Big Bird is something between an ostrich, a kiwi and a huge chicken and it has existed on the television screen for more than 40 years.
Big Bird is one of the main protagonists of the television show for children, which is telecast on PBS, the national television channel of the USA. During the presidential television debates in Denver, Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, told moderator Jim Lehrer, the PBS observer, how he is planning to fight the unemployment and budget deficit. And suddenly, Lehrer and his television mate, Big Bird appeared to be under the threat of dismissal. Romney stated that he is planning to stop funding PBS: "I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I like you all. But I am not intending to spend the funds on it, which I borrow from China".
PBS funding is done from various sources - from the public broadcasting corporation, from governmental units and agencies, from funds, corporations and individual citizens and also from local television stations. In the fiscal year, ending on September 30, 2012, the public broadcasting corporation received 444.1 million USD as federal funding - this is 0.012 % of the federal budget and PBS received 22.3 million USD of the total amount of 444.1 million USD. But, for example, 20% is received in the budget of the PBS Blue Ridge station, where "Sesame Street" is being made. This is federal funding. The budget of Blue Ridge is 3.5 million USD.
An explosion of unprecedented force shook the social networks. After the Romney statement, 17000 tweets per minute were received for PBS and Big Bird, reports Twitter. The Internet campaign for conducting a march of a million puppets on November 3 in Washington has already begun. Actors Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, Samuel L. Jackson and Olivia Wilde expressed their intentions to defend the show "Sesame Street".
PBS management has published a statement, in which it says, that each tax payer pays one dollar and 35 cents per year towards the maintenance of PBS and it is carrying out an important mission. Paula Kerger, President and CEO of the television company, appealed: "For many families, which do not have access to computers and books but have a television, public television sprouts knowledge tin children, which will subsequently give the children an opportunity to successfully study in schools".
However, supporters were found in plans to strangulate Big Bird. Popular columnist of Republican orientation, Michelle Malkin, wrote in her blog that its high time to stop federal funding for the show. It is quite competitive in the private market. Michelle Malkin elaborated that, in 2008, the president of non-profit, i.e. tax-free, Sesame Workshop, which makes the show, received around one million dollars as pay and other payments. For three years, the revenue of the company only from sales of puppets and other souvenirs stood at 211 million dollars. Also, public broadcasting is being politicized, notes Michelle Malkin. For example, "Sesame Street" openly lobbies for the program of the First Lady on correct nutrition for children.
An expert of ultraconservative Washington's brain center, Brian Darling of "The Heritage Foundation" also believes that the federal government should not spend public funds on funding various media and entertainment programs. According to his opinion "The funds are being wasted": "We love Big Bird but maybe the time has come for the Big Bird to land a job in the private sector and not remain dependent on the federal government".
Passions ran so high that the threat of Mitt Romney became one of the topics of subsequent briefings in the Pentagon, which was conducted by George Little, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Defense, of the US. Replying to a question on "Sesame Street", Acting Assistant Secretary noted: "We have had a long lasting and efficient partnership with "Sesame Street". They have supported military children". For many years, the Pentagon and armed forces have had a relationship with the program "Sesame Street": together work on books and videos, which narrate to military children, what their parents occupation is and help them cope with the misfortune such as injury or death of a parent. "I am not going to get into the politics on this issue", - said the representative from the Pentagon, - "I wouldn't want to ruffle any feathers so to speak".
Next evening after the statement byMitt Romney, Rick Santorum , former Senator and former presidential candidate from the Republican Party, was invited as a guest on Piers Morgan Tonight, a talk show on CNN. The host asked a straight forward question:
"Down the line - You would have killed Big Bird"? - asked Piers Morgan.
"Actually I have already voted for killing Big Bird. I should admit that. This does not mean that I do not love Big Bird. You can kill the animal and still love them - lets say, use them in food" - replied Rick Santorum.
"Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, Rick Santorum wants not only to kill Big Bird but also eat it"! - commented Anderson Cooper, one more host of CNN.
And children are writing letters to Mitt Romney - they are appealing to spare their loved feathered bird and its friends.|