Big Bird Probably Tastes Like Chicken

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Mitt Romney never said he wants to kill, maim, fricassee or deep-fat fry Big Bird. In fact, quite the opposite is true. During a debate in which he reminded nearly 70 million Americans that President Barack Obama needs some time in remedial academic instruction, Romney said: “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. … But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.” That’s a far cry from forcing poor Elmo to get tickled for change on a subway platform.

But the Democratic panic over Romney’s nefarious plans for the “Sesame Street” gang is about winning an election, not telling the truth. And, as we’ve learned during Obama’s almost unprecedented Presidential mendacity, when it comes to electoral politics, the Democrats and the truth seldom meet in the same sentence. And when a beloved icon that is more a nostalgic reminder of the past than a real part of the future of television is forced to confront life off the public dole, the liberal fearmongers take center stage.

While Obama tries to deploy Bert, Ernie and the gang to make America forget not only about his debate disaster but also his bald-faced lying to the Nation about the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other victims, Accomplice General Eric Holder and the Operation Fast and Furious cover-up, record gas prices and record national debt, he’s unwittingly reintroduced a fair question to the National debate:  Does taxpayer-funded public broadcasting even deserve, much less need, our dough?

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting rakes in close to $500 million per year from you and me. PBS has been swallowing our cash for generations. And of the most compelling characters who ever called “Sesame Street” a home, one still lives in a garbage can and another is a vampire who struggles with counting to 10. Kidding aside, “Sesame Street” pulled down more than $120 million in revenue last year alone. That means Oscar may live in a garbage can, but it’s one of the really nice ones next to Mr. Hooper’s old store (now a Dean & Deluca’s, I believe).

And once we leave the serene surroundings of “Sesame Street,” we find ourselves in a public wasteland of liberal bloviating. In return for our investment, we get:

  • “Democracy NOW!,” a program hosted by shrieking liberal harpy Amy Goodman and the Igor to her Dr. Frankenstein, Juan Gonzalez. A quick check of their homepage on Tuesday afternoon showed a top story about multimillionaire gasbag Danny Glover celebrating the “reelection” of Venezuela’s communist dictator Hugo Chavez.
  • Anti-Semite Bill Moyers has used your money to push agitprop videos backed by racist hate group Common Cause, the same bunch that called for the lynching of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
  • Tavis Smiley, whose racist babble is available on both NPR/PRI and PBS. That means he’s double-dipping into the public pocket to spew his venom.
  • “A Prairie Home Companion With Garrison Keillor” is worthwhile programming, but only for self-important types who talk with their eyes closed and host wine-and-cheese parties in their brownstones.
  • Nina Totenberg. I know I’m enormously gratified that my money is spent to fund bile that includes wishing AIDS on someone’s grandchildren.
  • And we all remember that unfortunate business with NPR execs groveling for cash from terrorist sympathizers while berating the Tea Party.

“Car Talk” is probably the only worthwhile radio program on the public airwaves. And Tom and Ray Magliozzi’s program is the kind that makes radio account executives want to — ahem — tickle Elmo. They could sell out their entire commercial inventory in about 10 minutes; 20 if they stop to figure out what’s causing that rattle under the dashboard.

Are there greater wastes of our tax dollars than PBS? Of course, there are. Hell, cutting off Michelle Obama’s clothing budget ought to save us more than a few nickels. But when the PBS CEO Paula Kerger knocks down $632,000 per year (more than the President of the United States), the CPB mission of providing free, quality entertainment has already gone off the rails. CPB likes to point out that around 85 percent of its funding comes from member donations, corporate grants and member stations. If its programming is the public boon it says it is, then that number should be 100 percent.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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