- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2012

VAN METER, Iowa — Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit company that owns Big Bird and the rest of the “Sesame Street” gang, asked the Obama campaign Tuesday to pull down political ads featuring the iconic bird and attacking Mitt Romney for saying he would end taxpayer funding for PBS.

Mr. Obama’s spokeswoman said the campaign was considering the request, but defended the ad, which questions why the Republican presidential nominee would choose to single out PBS for cuts while refusing to embrace the sorts of regulations Mr. Obama has sought to rein in Wall Street.

“There’s only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday.

Mr. Romney’s vow to ax funding for PBS came during last week’s pivotal debate. He said he was a fan of Big Bird and debate moderator Jim Lehrer, but said he couldn’t justify taxpayers going into debt to fund PBS. This week, he seemed bemused that the president would spend time on the campaign trail — and money from his campaign treasury — on the Big Bird situation.

“These are tough times with real serious issues. You have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird,” Mr. Romney told the hundreds gathered here in Iowa on Tuesday. “I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people, saving good jobs and saving our future.”

The ad in question cites imprisoned investment swindler Bernie Madoff and one-time Enron chief Kenneth L. Lay, who died prior to sentencing following his conviction for securities fraud and related charges, and argues Mr. Romney won’t be tough on others like them, but is vowing to get tough on spending by eliminating funding for PBS.

“Big, yellow, a menace to our economy,” the narrator says. “Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it is Sesame Street.”

On Tuesday, Sesame Workshop objected.

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

Sesame Workshop is not without a dog in the fight, however.

On Monday, the company wrote a blog titled “Big Bird needs his home” that begged for the taxpayer money to continue to flow, saying that without PBS, it would be bad for “particularly the low-income children who need us most.”

The founders of Sesame Workshop — formerly the Children’s Television Workshop — have also been major donors to Democrats and their allies.

Joan G. Cooney, the first executive director of CTW, has given $50,000 to a super PAC backing Mr. Obama, and nearly $200,000 more to Mr. Obama, his party, and other Democratic candidates this year, including Bob Kerrey, the party’s nominee for Senate in Nebraska, and John Douglass, who is trying to unseat freshman Republican Rep. Robert Hurt in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District.

All told, her political giving topped $400,000 over the past decade, including two Republicans, outgoing Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and former Virginia Sen. John W. Warner.

Lloyd N. Morrisett Jr., another co-founder, has given $6,100 to Democratic campaigns and to Emily’s List, which backs pro-choice Democratic women.

Stephen Dinan reported from Washington. Susan Crabtree contributed to this article.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide