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Calm Down, Everybody: Big Bird Will Be Fine

We’ll just go ahead and say it: last night’s debate was a big bore. Mitt Romney did quite well, Jim Lehrer did quite poorly, and a few million people became aware of the current President’s sleepwalking problem for the first time. (It is worth noting that, way back in June, Chuck Todd predicted that Obama would probably not win this first debate because “no one has cut his remarks short during his term in office”.)

The night’s most contentious moment, however, clearly concerned none other than Big Bird. When listing public entities that he would stop funding if elected, Romney took a moment to pick on perennial bogeyman PBS, telling Public Broadcasting employee Lehrer that he would have to cut funding for the channel despite the fact that “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too.”

The Internet quickly made it a meme, and a predictable number of mildly amusing tweets ensued. So yeah, it was a weird line—but it wasn’t quite accurate. (In case you hadn’t noticed, this is a common problem in presidential debates.)

Unfortunately, we have to ruin everyone’s fun by calling an official end to this non-scandal. Take it away, Sherrie Westin, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Sesame Workshop–give CNN’s Soledad O’Brien some of that sweet, sweet damage control!

Here’s the money quote in case you don’t have time to watch the video:

“Sesame Workshop receives very, very little funding from PBS. So, 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. So quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting. But when they always try to tout out Big Bird, and say we’re going to kill Big Bird – that is actually misleading, because Sesame Street will be here.”

Whew–crisis averted! Confession: We like this story mostly because it helped us remember what a great movie “Follow That Bird” turned out to be. Hey, we were five.

A couple of questions, though: Did anyone ever figure out Big Bird’s gender? Or what breed of bird he/she/it is supposed to be? These are the things that keep us up at night.

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