People seem to really love Big Bird.
That's one of the top takeaways from TiVo's analysis of the "Top Moments" of Wednesday night's presidential debate. Republican nominee Mitt Romney's comments on eliminating federal funding for public broadcasting was, in essence, the most rewound and replayed moment of the entire debate by users of the digital recording devices, the company said today.
Twitter reported similar interest in Big Bird and PBS on the social media platform.
"The evening's real breakout star was a certain tall yellow Muppet. There were more than a quarter million Tweets mentioning Big Bird, following Governor Romney’s statement that he wants to cut Federal funding for PBS, the Muppet characters’ TV channel, even despite his stated fondness for the Sesame Street character," a blog post from Twitter said.
Asked by moderator Jim Lehrer of the "PBS NewsHour" to identify federal programs that he would cut to help reduce the federal budget deficit, Romney first said he would repeal the 2010 health care overhaul but then turned to funding for public broadcasting.
"I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too," Romney said to Lehrer. "But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it."
President Barack Obama's budget request calls for an advance appropriation of $445 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for fiscal 2015. The corporation is supporting that level of funding. It has been funded through a two-year advance appropriation since 1976, in an effort that the corporation's leadership says helps ensure editorial independence of Lehrer and others.
The Sesame Workshop, which produces the "Sesame Street" program featuring the lovable giant yellow bird responded with a statement today.
"'Sesame Street' has been a proud partner of PBS for 43 years, and is dependent on PBS to distribute our commercial-free educational programming to all children in the United States. Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization," the group said. "We do not comment on campaigns, but we’re happy we can all agree that everyone likes Big Bird."
Sesame Workshop, previously called the Children's Television Workshop, is a charitable nonprofit organized as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.
TiVo reported the Big Bird moment took the top prize among viewers on CNN, Fox News and NBC.
Other leading moments included Romney's explanation of his position on Medicare benefits for upper-income beneficiaries and an exchange between Romney and Obama regarding Romney's tax proposals.