Big Bird Ad: Obama Gets Hammered for Mixing Kid Television With Politics

Last Wednesday’s presidential debate made for much to talk about, though the most heavily discussed topic was Romney’s "Big Bird" comment which is continuing to be used for political gain. 

The Obama campaign has since grabbed hold of this comment in an attempt to gain some momentum after the presidents’ mediocre debate performance. 

A recent Obama campaign ad is using Big Bird to assail Romney's economic vision, which has forced the Sesame Street TV show to ask the Obama campaign to remove their characters' from the ad. But is the Big Bird controversy really helping the Obama campaign or are politicians butting heads on an issue that shouldn't really be a centerpiece of election 2012 debate?


Sesame Street has been broadcast on PBS since the early 1970s. As this Slate article points out, other major networks turned it down because the ideas of the show were revolutionary for the time. For example, the show aimed to draw together child psychiatrists and child-development researchers while focusing more on disadvantaged urban kids. The creators of Sesame Street never wanted to use money to distort the messages which the show sought to carry out to viewers. 

PBS was caught in the cross-hairs in last week's presidential debate, as Romney said he would cut funding to the government-funded TV channel to help curb the national debt.

But political spin is also at play here. It seems as though the assumption that PBS is a liberal company is making others believe Sesame Street is also of a liberal entity. However, a children’s television show is not divided by political party. Obama’s ad is not in defense of American people and the issues, but rather an attack on his running mate and his comments. After last week’s debate and comment, Romney surged in the polls, now at 49% according to a recent Pew Poll

The Sesame Street Workshop, the company which produces the show, put out a statement asking for the ad to be removed on the grounds that the show is not affiliated with any political party or group. Suddenly, Big Bird and Sesame Street are now center stage in election politics.

Sesame Street does not need to be in the news at all and politicians who continue to discuss the matter need to think about whether such trivial things even matter in the general election. The funding of PBS is only a small issue which Romney mentioned, among other issues. The Obama campaign may have used this in their favor, but failed to think that at a glance Big Bird woes are a far cry from the national issues. As this Vanity Fair article notes, one can’t help but wonder where Obama’s head was all week as he tried to save Big Bird. That’s what I’d like to know: Why are we still talking about this?

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Syra Sharif

She writes freelance online and lives off the news cycle. Always reading, writing and trying to find a way to spread good thought. She has a degree in English from Indiana University.

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