Yellow Journalism: Media Use Big Bird to Lie on Public Broadcasting Cuts

March 24th, 2017 10:15 AM

Liberals in the news media hate government funding cuts, especially cuts that threaten promoters of their agenda.

Which is why they were so outraged about cuts to left-wing public broadcasting programs that some lied to viewers and readers about the consequences.

Media outlets including USA Today, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC used Big Bird, a character made famous on Sesame Street, in order to sway people against President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts. Some used Sesame Street imagery and characters even when they knew (and admitted) HBO now owns the show. PBS only broadcasts new episodes nine months after HBO.

USA Today asked if the budget would “kill” Big Bird while the UK’s Daily Mail cried “Save Sesame Street!” Left-wing magazine The Atlantic used an image of Elmo, Bert, Ernie and other characters to top its defense of public broadcasting.

However, the illustration of Big Bird and other Sesame Street characters was wildly wrong. Since 2015, the show has been produced by HBO and aired there first. Variety reported that Sesame Workshop and HBO struck a deal in order to save Sesame Street. The show required a new financial arrangement in order to remain viable because PBS was funding a mere 10 percent of the show’s production budget.

By keeping the focus on lovable Big Bird and Sesame Street, the liberal media kept it off outrageous statements and left-wing propaganda typical of PBS and NPR.

It was a private company that rescued Sesame Street from cancellation, not the government. Without HBO, “B” stood for “broke,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. These days, Sesame Workshop is making bank, largely thanks to distribution fees, royalties, and character licensing, according to John Merline. He wrote in Investor’s Business Daily that it had $121.6 million in revenues in 2016 — a mere 4 percent of that came from the government.

In spite of those known facts, images of Big Bird or his fellow neighborhood puppets were plastered onscreen during CNN’s Reliable Sources and New Day Sunday. MSNBC host Joy Reid also brought up the famous bird on her AM Joy panel attacking Trump’s budget proposals. Reid expressed “hope” that “some lawmaker has a breakthrough like the one that Sen. John Pastore had after Mr. Rogers’s 1969 testimony.” A radio host on the panel lumped all of Trump's potential cuts together and criticized them as "lethal."

All in with Chris Hayes also mentioned Big Bird and showed a slew of other Sesame Street characters, noting the many headlines “about Big Bird’s Future,” but admitted that the show “moved to HBO two years ago.” Hayes even played episode clips from the show including one in which a “real estate mogul” Ronald Grump tries to evict everyone from Sesame Street.

On his ABC show Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Jimmy Kimmel also demonstrated disapproval over the budget with an Apprentice parody in which Trump fires Big Bird, CBS This Morning and MSNBC’s Morning Joe both aired the Kimmel clip.

L is for Liberal ... O is for Offensive

The media know it far easier to argue against defunding if you hold up a beloved children’s programs rather than tell the truth about other programming.

PBS Newshour once devoted nearly seven minutes to famous porn artist Robert Mapplethorpe — whose images were so vile and obscene PBS had to censor them and did not even describe them.

When it comes to politics, both PBS and NPR are far from the balanced and neutral entities they claim to be. PBS has frequently attacked conservative politicians and staunchly promoted liberal ones. PBS pundit and New York Times columnist David Brooks claimed Sen. Ted Cruz’s rhetoric carried “dark and satanic tones”

Like PBS, NPR has a proven left-wing slant as its reporters and editors have said outrageous things including wishing Sen. Jesse Helms would die of AIDS, and that Christians would just disappear.

After Trump submitted a budget proposal to Congress on March 16, the big government media pounced: describing him as using “cleaver” or “sledgehammer” on agencies and programs. They were upset by many of the proposed cuts including the call to end funding for The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

CPB is a private non-profit organization Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson established through legislation in 1967. CPB incorporated in 1968, according to its website, and it got $445 million federal tax dollars in 2016

Since its creation, taxpayers financed CPB to the tune of nearly $12 billion ($11,712,970,000 total federal appropriations). In turn, CPB funded the left-leaning National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) as well as hundreds of local public radio and television stations across the U.S.

Affiliate stations also pay dues to PBS and NPR, meaning some of that government funding cycles back to both entities that way, too — in spite of claims that they are “independent.”

CPB president Patricia Harrison claimed a funding elimination “would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions — all for Americans in both rural and urban communities.”

The media used the same argument to portray defunding of CPB as a huge threat to the poor and “disadvantaged.”

The Atlantic argued against defunding by citing an immigrant family whose 4-year-old learned English watching Sesame Street — 40 years ago!

Then the author insisted, “The Medina’s story of a hard-pressed family benefiting from public television is hardly anecdotal. Strong research shows that PBS programs such as Sesame Street have proven academic benefits for young audiences — especially those from underprivileged households.”

Opinion contributors to The Hill also fought funding cuts and insisted poor children would lose access to Sesame Street if Trump’s budget passed.