One of the show stopping moments of Wednesday’s first presidential debate — for serious students of television, anyway — happened when Romney, addressing moderator (and PBS veteran) Jim Lehrer, said, "I'm sorry Jim, I'm gonna stop the subsidy to PBS.”
“I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I actually like you too, but I'm going to stop borrowing money from China to pay for things we don't need.”
The next morning, Big Bird parent Sesame Workshop, and others, suggested GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney needs to do his homework.
You can debate whether there should be funding of public broadcasting, “but when they always try to trot out Big Bird, and say we're going to kill Big Bird – that is actually misleading,” Sesame Workshop exec vp Sherrie Westin scolded the next morning, on CNN.
“Sesame Workshop receives very, very little funding from PBS,” she explained.
“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," Westin added.
Sesame Workshop, meanwhile, issued a statement Thursday: “We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. We do not comment on campaigns, but we’re happy we can all agree that everyone likes Big Bird!”
In its own statement, issued after the debate, PBS said, “The federal investment in public broadcasting equals about one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget. Elimination of funding would have virtually no impact on the nation’s debt.”
Or, as astrophysicist and PBS “Nova ScienceNOW” host Neil de Grasse Tyson put it, more pithily, on Twitter, “Cutting PBS support (0.012% of budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500Gig hard drive.”