Home > 2012 Election > Big Bird’s Big Bucks – Actor Made $314,000 in 2010

Big Bird’s Big Bucks – Actor Made $314,000 in 2010

October 10th, 2012
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10.10.2012

Person dresses up like Sesame Street character “Big Bird” holding a political propaganda sign. The TV show’s parent, PBS is supposedly charted as “non-political” in order to receive government grant funding. Photo credit AP

Big Bird’s Big Bucks – Actor Made $314,000 in 2010

original article written by Net Advisor

EXCERPT: We are not here to fry up Big Bird, or advocate one position or another. We are just noting that in the first 2012 presidential debate Mitt Romney was asked about various government spending cuts and gave his “acid test” – does it make sense to borrow from China to keep ANY government program running? And since the Obama Administration has chosen to make Big Bird their current major campaign issue, we thought we’d investigate the facts and report them here.

Sesame Street. The Obama Administration has created another sideshow to get people to forget about the economy and instead, focus on a TV character for kids.

During the first presidential Debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said he was looking to cut government spending. Romney ‘s acid test is this:

“Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I’ll get rid of it.”

— Mitt Romney, Presidential candidate 10/04/2012 (Transcript by CNN) (PDF)

PBS received over $1 Million in taxpayer supported grants (“free money”) in 2011 and 2012 (Source: MSN). This may not be a huge dent in the deficit, but how many Americans wouldn’t mind receiving $1 Million+ tax free from the government each year if they also promise to be “non-political.”

Did MSN Tell Only Part of the Story?
The only problem with the MSN article is that is left out a few material facts. PBS isn’t the only organization that receives taxpayer funds. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has been receiving taxpayer funding since 1969. In 1969, CPB received $5 Million in Senate appropriations. That number has increased over the decades to $441.1 Million in just 2012. It appears that in total from 1969 to 2012 CPB has received a little over $10.8 Billion in taxpayer funded grants (Source: CPB Appropriations History HTML PDF). PBS also receives grants from CPB.

 U.S. tax payers have contributed some $10.8 Billion to public television since 1969.

— Source: Corporation Public Broadcasting HTML PDF

Big Bird character holding a sign “Will Work for Food.” The TV show’s character is not likely to starve if Romney cuts PBS’s $1 million+ a year in annual funding. Big Bird earns some $314,000 a year in just salary.  Image credit: PBS

Big Bird’s Big Bucks
The actor who created and plays the character “Big Bird,” Caroll Spinney reportedly earned about $314,000 just in 2010 (Source: The Atlantic Wire) (PDF). This amount does not include any retirement benefits, subsidized health care, vacation or other benefits.

Would PBS Be Hurt by Cutting Government Funding?
MSN said that PBS would be hurt if government cut funding to the program. Really? The Wall Street Journal reported that “as of fiscal 2011, (the) Sesame Street Workshop had assets of $289 Million.”

The CEO of PBS earns some $988,000 (Source: Fox News)(PDF). According to tax records in this report, there are at least 12 other people who make at least $350,000 to over $500,000 per year at PBS. The National Review called Sesame Street part of the “1%.” These are nice salaries for an organization that somehow needs taxpayer funds? All one would have to do is cut some of the top salaries to off-set government funding and the show can still go on just as it is now.

Another popular TV character also fairs quite well and without government funding. Caitlin Sanchez, the actor who did the voice Nickelodeon‘s Dora the Explorer made some $300,000 per year for three years on the non-government funded children’s show (Source: TMZ) (PDF). Sanchez filed suit against the TV show alleging she was fired after reaching puberty.

Obama Campaign’s Re-Election Strategy: “Big Bird”
Romney said in the presidential debate that he liked PBS and liked Big Bird [Source: CNN (PDF)]. The Obama campaign decided to make Big Bird a major campaign issue. The Obama campaign ran with this political commercial:

The Obama campaign tries to make a link between Ken LayDennis Kozlowski, Bernie Madoff‘s financial scandals to Mitt Romney and uses Big Bird as its icon. The only problem with the campaign ad, is that there is no link to Romney. Ken Lay ran Enron (into the ground). From 1999 to 2001 Kozlowski contributed $24,500 mostly to Republicans. Bernie Madoff ran the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, was a noted Democrat. I don’t think their party affiliation had much to do with their crimes.

Sesame Street Calls Obama Campaign to Remove Political Ad
Possibly concerned about future funding, Sesame Workshop made the following statement on their website:

“Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and, as is our general practice, have requested that both campaigns remove Sesame Street characters and trademarks from their campaign materials.”

— Source: sesameworkshop.org website (PDF), 10-09-2012

Further, according to the Hill.com (PDF), Sesame Workshop has asked the Obama campaign to stop playing the political ad featuring their character Big Bird.

In keeping with the theme of this topic, this article was brought to you by the number $5 Trillion = the amount the deficit increased under President Obama (report). This article is also brought to you by the number “0” (zero) = the actual number of net new jobs created since President Obama took office (report). Never mind about massive debt or having a job, let’s talk about Big Bird?

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