Romney Vs. Big Bird: Why The Internet Blew Up

    October 4, 2012
    Amanda Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

During last night’s presidential debate, Governor Mitt Romney made a small comment about Sesame Street character Big Bird that might have gone unnoticed, except for the millions of people watching who support educational television.

“I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” Romney said. “I like PBS. I like Big Bird. I like you, too.”

That last-second remark was aimed at moderator Jim Lehrer, who is employed by PBS. In an interview with Fortune, Romney recently said, “Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.”

As soon as Romney said the words, Twitter and just about every other social media site blew up, with people producing memes of Big Bird and the presidential candidate, posting angry tirades aimed at Romney, and generally freaking out. The reasons are varied, but what it boils down to is that what everyone essentially saw was Romney picking on the little guy. The guy who never did anything to anyone but provide kids with educational entertainment, which happens to include some of the beloved things that most of us grew up with, Big Bird included.

We’ll see how this affects his campaign, but for right now he doesn’t seem to be endearing himself to a rather large group of people. The Twitter blog was updated early this morning to announce that over 10 million people tweeted about the debate, making it the biggest political event for the social media site ever. And of course, they even mentioned the Big Bird comment.

Of course, the evening’s real breakout star was a certain tall yellow Muppet. There were more than a quarter million Tweets mentioning Big Bird, following Governor Romney’s statement that he wants to cut Federal funding for PBS, the Muppet characters’ TV channel, even despite his stated fondness for the Sesame Street character. Ardent supporters of Big Bird (and public broadcasting) took to Twitter to create parody accounts such as @SadBigBird, @BigBirdRomney and @FiredBigBird.


  • spencer

    PBS drains money if they didnt they would be able to stand on their own there own through advertising. I do beleive the government should cease funding PBS. Parents love it because it is a quick cheap alternative to actually watching their kids and teaching them something and the last things these fat mentally neglected kids need is more television.

    • http://www.stopraisingeinstein.com Tara

      Spencer…You probably should have watched more PBS…maybe then you would be able to form complete sentences and not insult people based on your own prejudicial beliefs. Oh, and PBS funding makes up about 0.012% of the budget…hardly the kind of cuts needed to save the country.

      • http://yahoo Shaw

        Tara, you took the words right out of my mouth. Very few people use PBS as an alternative to watch there children, it is great programming and if you have ever been to a preschool, they also use PBS to help the kids learn. The kids love it!!! I will continue to support PBS!!

        • This Guy

          That’s the problem. There is no set budget. Its estimated that we spent %6.1 trillion dollars last year, so using your .012% Big Bird is pulling in %73.2 million. You’re insane if you don’t think that is a lot of money. Will it secret solution to our national deficit. No, but it helps. If you have ever had to save money for anything you know that every last dollar saved helps. I don’t think anyone is arguing whether PBS is a good things. It really comes down to the the question; “should government be going in debt any amount of money for it”, and I think the logical answer is no. Think of it as taking money from your child’s college savings account for a reading teddy bear.

        • This Guy

          That’s the problem. There is no set budget. Its estimated that we spent $6.1 trillion dollars last year, so using your .012% Big Bird is pulling in $73.2 million. You’re insane if you don’t think that is a lot of money. Will it secret solution to our national deficit. No, but it helps. If you have ever had to save money for anything you know that every last dollar saved helps. I don’t think anyone is arguing whether PBS is a good things. It really comes down to the the question; “should government be going in debt any amount of money for it”, and I think the logical answer is no. Think of it as taking money from your child’s college savings account for a reading teddy bear.

      • http://yahoo Conrad

        How about taking part of the proceeds from the Sesame Street merchandise sales and using them to support PBS. I don’t think any of that money goes to PBS. Maybe it should.

      • n2bowling

        What planet did you fall from. I suppose you never watched PBS programs when you were a child. Or perhaps your parents spent every moment of the day teaching you; therefore, you know everything.

      • Randy

        Tara this is only one example of things the feds pay for. Yes this is small and obviously close to your heart, but should the government really be funding television? It is called free enterprise for a reason. Let the goverment take care of the infrastructure and let the people grow within that. Since the caveman (sorry Geico) it has always been a survivors planet.

      • Randy

        Tara this is only one example of things the feds pay for. Yes this is small and obviously close to your heart, but should the government really be funding television? It is called free enterprise for a reason. Let the goverment take care of the infrastructure and let the people grow within that. Since the caveman (sorry Geico) it has always been a survivors planet.

      • Tim

        There is much more to PBS than Seseme Street – I support it when I can, but a country without the arts available to its citizens is not viable. Does this country need anouther BIASED network? Or should it find a way to keep a national treasure?

      • Mary

        The American public is guaranteed free access to the airwaves. This means that everyone has the right to be able to produce television and be able to broadcast their programming regardless of content. Public Access is broadcast without anyone having to pay for it. IT IS PROVIDED FREE TO FREE AMERICAN CITIZENS. THAT IS WHAT PUBLIC BROADCASTING IS. You sound like a Nazi who would ban Radio Free Europe.

        • http://yahoo jessika gloyd

          Mary it isnt free, Never has been. PBS gets money from the government and then twice a year asked for donations. What do you think them donations are used for? Let me tell you. Pays for camera men and women production people sets electricity actors and on and on. So nothing is free in this world sweaty nothing. So why should the government pay for something you want ? You want it you pay for it. And yes it is free access for the viewing but to run and operate isn’t.

    • Dave

      Spencer, sounds as if you grew up watching the Simpson! 😉

  • phillip

    People. PBS holds a fundraiser every year, if you want to keep it, send in a donation. If you like it, love it, support it. The government doesn’t subsidize McDonalds, they get by because their customers spend money for their product.

    • Dave

      …and look at what their product is doing to America!

    • CAT

      I agree!!

    • Karen Davies

      He was talking about not giving 20 million dollars to other countries that kill Americans. Liberals do not listen to the real facts–just ask Howard Stern.

  • Susie

    I would vote for Big Bird before I would ever cast a vote for Romney.

  • evan

    So people spent fifteen minutes generating a meme about Big Bird, same as they do with The Most Interesting Man In The World and Willy Wonka. Does this make them clever?

    I mean seriously? This was the best angle you could find for a story?

  • Retta

    I watched the debate. I was surprised that Pres. Obama did not hammer Romney more. Romney may have gotten a lift from his performance tonight but he lacks substance. He never anwered how he would make cuts and what he would cut. Just another side stepping performance. Republicans are good at that. Romney has again changed his position. Another etch-sketch moment. I still don’t trust him to represent the U.S.A. as president. He changes his mind too much to suit his needs at the moment. I do believe he won the debate on performance but lost it on substance and straight talk. Don’t forget thia is a man who has distaine for the 47%. that includes all who are not rich or well-off financially. Iguess people will realize who he really is after he starts taking your deductions and your needed services. We will need Devine Intervention soon. It will come.

    • dee

      I agree with you Retta. Well said.

    • John

      If you are going to accuse someone of lacking substance and credibility, you should at least use spell check. POT. KETTLE.

    • Randy

      Any president has to create a team to run the country and is held ultimately responsible for his team, like a coach. Obama had never ran a company or a sport team for that matter and picked cronies and backers to fill positions. Didn’t work in this case. Romney has the business experience even though some things he did was not the most popular. Surround yourself with the best and it will make your life easier. You do not have to be the smartest to run a company, just the best at building a team and getting them most out of them. Obama cannot do this.

    • tiredofstupidity

      I totally agree with you Retta. The debate was juast a way for Romney to prove how much he lacks the knowledge to run this country (rich get richer, poor get pooer. And the medicare SCAM he offers is just as crazy as the way he interfered almost everytime President Obama spoke. The only thing Romney proved to me is he has a lack of self controll so how can he run a country?

    • August Swann

      It’s funny you say that about Romney when all Obama said were the same things he said in 2008, “This country NEEDS this” without explaining how he was going to make any changes, and there is proof that he doesn’t make change–look at the last four years! Obama has failed and someone else needs to come in and clean up his mess. At least voting Mitt Romney in would make that possible. If we have another four years of Obama, there won’t even be a small chance things will get better.

  • Dave

    All over the country Tax money is spent to support sports teams and their stadiums, even though many of the people who pay the taxes don’t watch the sports or use the stadiums. If PBS had to rely on advertising the quality of the programing would decrease, just as the quality of professional sports would decrease if the teams had to rely on their own revenue.

    • Randy

      The money used for sports teams are local and state, not federal in almost all cases. It is a decision to bring jobs and help the economy on a local level. Many may not watch the sports but I bet they benefit from the jobs and businesses that are successful due to the sports entities. Why do the other entities have to rely on advertising and not the public stations? Remember that it is the businesses that have to stand alone and make it themselves or Obama’s statement will ring true.

      • Dave

        Local, state, or federal really doesn’t make a difference. It’s taxes all the same. as for job creation. I’m in an outline county of Milwaukee. The stadium built here with tax money provided very few…if any, jobs in my county. The tax was approved because the owner of the team at the time (Bud Selig) was buddies with many of the Republicans in Wis state government, and they pushed it through as a favor for him. One local stse senator was successfully recalled because his support of the tax was against the wishes of a vast majority of his constituents.

        • Randy

          Big picture here Dave. Your talking a baseball team and local jobs, but still the big picture is the USA. Our money (taxes)should be going towards items that will help the majority like roads. While road jobs will not provide jobs for most, it will pump up the economy in many other ways. How politicians get things accomplished is an entire other story. I wish we coul get rid of the party system and just put the best people in government. What a blessing that would be.

  • Jesse S.

    Romney was so in control last night he even remembered to comply with the federal mandates of the WARN Act. He gave Jim Lehrer and Big Bird their required 60+ days notice of impending layoff.

  • bimbo

    obama appeared like big bird during the debate

  • steven

    I agree with Romney cutting funds to stations such as PBS and NPR. Both station has the word “public” in it. Let the public fund it if they want to listen to it. I get my share of NPR calls for donation and I do contribute, so should my tax $$$$$ go to a station I don’t even watch.

    Go Mitt!

    • carmen lavia

      Maybe you shd start watching and listening to PBS. You just might like it. Of course you won’t find Danding with the stars there.

  • Lawana Harris

    Good for Mitt! We shouldn’t have to borrow money from China to fund Big Bird! Let’s cut all these luxuries out of the government’s budget! Including all the vacations we pay for the first family.

    • Indy

      Haha! YOu’re laughable…no other Prez has taken more vacation time off then George Duh(W.) Bush…

      • Deb

        George W Bush took vacations to his ranch. Obama and his family have been all over the world! And they bring their friends along too.

  • dee

    The debate did not change my vote. I thought Mitt Romney was very theatrical, no substance at all, as the old folks would say just plain ole wishy washy………

  • cindy

    I raised my kids on Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers and we all benefitted from these amazing shows. However, let them pay their own way. It seems that the licensed products from Sesame Street alone would be able to pay for children’s programming at PBS. Paying your own way seems to be lost in this day and time.

  • Lindy

    Yes please stop funding PBS the left wing radical media outlet. If they can’t make it on their own, why should the government pay for them? Green energy? Oh yes, it’s green with our taxpayer dollars. Dollars wasted on mainly Obama’s largest campaign contributors. Romney knew this and Obama just stood silent because now the world knows this too. It’s long overdue for someone other then Glenn Beck to show America just how corrupt this President is.

    • dee

      know your facts before you speak. That is the problem with America today, we always go on what they say and not know the facts on how things are funded and why. Of course, you don’t miss your water until your well goes dry… Know how health care have benefited us since the change, also check your own facts about Big Bird, I thought he was really rude to Jim Lehr, but as usual we like that type of attitude, just move all the jobs oversees and then don’t take responsibility for this, come on people, your right is to vote who you may, speak what you may, but let us have common sense to know when you are being flim flam.

      • http://www.bigbadwolfy.com Big Bad Wolfy

        rude or just talked plainly? I prefer rude/plain to the sweet/lies the Liberals seem to prefer.

  • Romney Supporter.

    To all of you WHINING about potentially losing BIG BIRD….

    Romney is a logical, experienced, and successful business man who has his priorities straight.Just look at his phenomenal success record as Governor in Massachusetts where even DEMOCRATS worked well with him and respected his plans and policies and voted them in. Would you rather see Big Bird funds cut (private supporters will still keep him on the air, people) or would you rather see more Americans (beyond the current 43 million–an INCREASE since Obama took office) having to resort to food stamps and welfare because they cannot find jobs and cannot afford the inflation brought on by INSANE SPENDING AND DEFICITS Obama and the current administration has inflicted on US ALL? Do we really want a country like CHINA loaning us money to pay for our crazy ass spending and irresponsibile leadership??? Keep that kind of white house going up and we won’t be able to pay our cable bills to watch Big Bird or any other programming anyway!!! lol. Every American is being buried already by INFLATION with very expensive grocery prices the highest gas prices we’ve seen in 7 years and NO JOBS TO SPEAK OF! Particularly none of the 90 BILLION GREEN JOBS THE STIMULUS PLAN PROMISED!!! WHERE ARE THOSE JOBS PEOPLE??? I bet a large majority of you are sitting home on unemployment and food stamps that are complaining about BIG BIRD. GET A LIFE AND YOUR HEADS ON STRAIGHT PEOPLE!!

    • Connie

      Thank you. You are so right!

  • http://www.bigbadwolfy.com Big Bad Wolfy

    Truth seems to be an interchangeable item under the Obama regime. I grew up with big bird and the crew educating my younger siblings. My children also. I have to admit the enemy is not PBS. They have a great mission. One that should and could be funded by the private sector. I personally would give a little every year for them to continue. I do not think however my tax dollars should be spent on this. Mr Romney is really the first guy to blow the smoke out of the scene and speak plain truth. Obama and his Liberal crew seem to think Fiscal Responsibility is a dirty word. It is time for us as Americans to stop being the spoiled children living in a world where we think we are owed everything. The REAL truth is, in America we are owed the right to be able to EARN that which we want. We have allowed the liberals to develop a welfare nanny state, where we have empowered an entire generation to believe they do not have to work hard, save and sacrifice in order to have what they desire. It is time to end the fantasy. We need to cut almost all “Programs” from the federal budget. The framers of our Constitution never intended for government to be the large mess it has become. Leave the welfare of the poor to their families or the churches and private agencies. I would like to see government scale back spending, balance the budget and create a 14% Tax across the board. Then I could afford to be generous in my support of Big Bird and many other worthy causes.

  • http://www.bigbadwolfy.com Big Bad Wolfy

    If the young people that seem to love to waste time mocking our next president would apply that time to say, starting a business or being productive in some other way, they could earn enough money to fund PBS well into the next century.

    • Thomas

      Romney blows smoke, that’s for sure.

      How about all our tax dollars that prop up Monsanto and Exxon-Mobil? That dwarfs PBS. Too bad the oligarchy won’t let that teat dry up. Big Bird is just an easy target.

      Romney manufactures facts all the time. I wonder how Ryan’s 3 hour marathon is going.

    • Openeyes

      Mitt Romney is a phony joke that is up to no good open your eyes AMERICA?

      • Leanna

        Because Obama is so much better. They’re the same person, just running for different parties. America really needs to open there eyes to this Oligarchy. We have other options!!! It doesn’t have to be Democrat/Republican. It’s only when people realize that, that this country will start becoming the world power it used to be.

    • lopez


      • Kasandra

        Kinda like I wish I could go back in time right now?

  • Connie

    PBS will be able to find business sponsors or donors therefore Big Bird won’t be fired! How silly this is to think that if the government doesn’t pay for it then it will be over! Each day programs and or stations have to advertisers to stay on the air. PBS just has had it too easy for too long. Why don’t they do their part instead of complaining! Quit being babies!

    • montez

      i hope you become one of the people donating

  • Nessa

    Romney changed his views last night in front of the whole country. Now he wants to care about the middle class. He talks about how Mass. has the best schools, please, they have the best everything cause thats where the rich live. He never gave specifics and reworded everything that Obama said. YEs Obama could have done better but Romney was just telling the Americans what they wanted to hear not what he would actually get done as president!!

    • Justicelle

      Romney will keep lying about his records again , again ,and again. Massachusetts was number one in Education after him. When he was governor the State of Massachusetts was ranked between 40-50.

  • August Swann

    Good grief. Look at the big picture people. Yes, PBS is wonderful, but is it a necessity? With the huge deficit and all the government spending, cutting an unnecessary fund simply makes good financial sense. When we go through hard times as a family, we cut out things like TV, certain add-ons to our cell phone service, going out to eat, etc. because they are not necessities. And PBS is always asking for donations. Maybe some celebrity who donates millions to these campaigns can donate money to PBS instead. I’ve donated money in the past when we’ve had some, of course not much because I don’t usually have much. People will whine and point fingers at the lamest things without looking at what’s important.

    • Jennifer Chitwood

      If you have to ask whether PBS, which is there for the general public, is really necessary, then you also need to ask if it is really NECESSARY for the politicians (yes, all of them)to be spending the millions, and millions of dollars annully to promote themselves. Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing about how broke our country is when we can afford to blow money on political slander and the promotion of out-of-touch politicians. If those people have that much money to waste, then why not put it back into areas that benefit society, such as PBS and keeping our society healthy, rather than for their own political and corporate agendas?

      • Justicelle

        Jennifer I totally agreed with you. I was wondering if we were still in recession like politicians are claiming it all over the place.I was Shocked when one republican supporter donated $70 millions (U.S dollars). Come on fellow! what era are we living, when someone is collecting all the money to host some rich people menu during fundraising diners and entertains his audience with the ‘small people’ who calm their hunger and their despair with PBS programs.
        P.S: nothing wrong to be rich but they must stop the arrogance, the lies and the hypocrisy towards”those who live on the side of PROVIDENCE”.

  • Openeyes

    Where is George Bush? I don’t see him supporting Mitt Romney? And you want.Lol

  • Danielle

    I think I’ve seen the last comment on Twitter. Why the crap Mitt had to bring up Big Bird? I didn’t see the campaign last night. I watch Sesame Street when I was a kid.

  • adam

    really? people are freaking out about big bird??? a muppet? grow up

  • Robert C

    Did anyone pay attention? Mitt doesn’t want to end Bigbird, he wants to end PBS’ use of BORROWING money from other countries and using the government to do it. So ummm, PAY ATTENTION IT’S FREE!!

  • CDancey

    The very people burning our American Flag and calling death to Americans?? Yes, Mr. Obama, the American people are so pleased that you gave 20 million to Pakistan to fund Sesame Street under your watch. 20 million that could’ve been spent on our own kids here in your USA!! Romney 2012 ~ All the Way!!

    • Ralph Santarsiero

      Take a hike. Obama cares for the middle class. Romney clearly does not. Romney deserves an academy award for last night’s performance for “this is the other/lying Romney”. Romney makes me sick.

  • Brandon

    I cant believe we dont have a third party candidate…these two are horrible..id rather vote for Big Bird then either one of these two…

    • Doug

      we do have a third party candidate, his name is Gery Johnson of New Mexico. he’s running on the libraterian ticket, but unfortunaltly all the media covers is Romney and Obama, so not very many people know about him

  • David Frank

    Yeah, cut the 450 million dollar subsidy to PBS to pay for the 5 trillion dollar tax cut for the rich (only works if you use republican math – no arithmatic allowed). To say that the PBS subsidy is for leftist is ridiculous. The subsidy pays for stations in rural areas (red states), in urban areas (blue states) the stations are fully financed by donations. Also, Romney’s statement that he will cut all programs that require borrowing money is ludicrous. The ONLY federal agencies that bring in more money than they spend are the IRS, Social Security and Medicare. The Defense Department, Agriculture Department, Education Department and the Corporate welfare payments all cost Billions of taxpayer dollars, subsidized by the taxpayers.

  • Diane

    Big Bird is an andangered specie. Mitt Romney didn’t even get the job yet and he’s talking about geting rid of life.

  • http://yahoo DELORES SMITH


    • http://yahoo DELORES SMITH


  • John

    How stupid does the American public want people to believe they are? Mr. Romney was only attempting to keep the statement “light”. Let’s be intelligent enough to discern the meaning and that was PBS does not deserve special public monies!!! Don’t be stupid, obummer thinks that he has the “race” won and will just move on. He & Micky tell us each day how stupid we are in their very approach to all situations (including our dietary habits). Think about it, where does it end, it doesn’t until we’re servants following our king!!

  • http://yahoo fred

    dam big bird for putting us in this trillion dollar deficit!!!!

  • http://yahoo fred

    who is next, the cookie monster?????