In its official statement following last night's presidential debate, Sesame Workshop responded to Mitt Romney's remark that he "likes Big Bird" but will cut PBS funding anyway by reiterating its policy as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization not to comment on campaigns, quipping that at least "we can all agree that everyone likes Big Bird."
But on CNN this morning, Sesame Workshop executive VP and chief marketing officer Sherrie Westin took a more combative stance, telling Soledad O'Brien that Romney can't touch Sesame Street because "Sesame Workshop receives very, very little funding from PBS."
"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," Westin said. "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."
PBS CEO Paula Kerger was a bit more direct in expressing her displeasure with the GOP nominee when she spoke with CNN. "With the enormous problems facing our country, the fact that we are the focus is just unbelievable to me," she told Carol Costello.
Echoing Westin, Kerger said PBS too will be just fine, as it too isn't funded directly by the government. "In fact, the money that comes from the government into the Corporation for Public Broadcasting goes to our member stations," Kerger noted.
For its part, Sesame Street was content to leave the fighting to the grown-ups, but did get in one good "zinger" on its Twitter page: "Big Bird: My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?"