‘Sesame Street’ To HBO: Was Mitt Romney Right Again?

With the news that Sesame Street is moving from publicly funded PBS to HBO, some social media users wonder whether Mitt Romney has been vindicated.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, GOP nominee Romney suggested that the very successful Sesame Street franchise could thrive in the media industry marketplace without relying on the taxpayer’s dime to stay on the air.

He was widely ridiculed and criticized in particular for insisting that Sesame Street character Big Bird “is going to be just fine” even if public broadcasting itself received a far smaller share of federal government appropriation pie. The businessman and former Massachusetts governor was alluding to that cable networks like Discovery, Animal Planet, NatGeo, and many other outlets (plus subscription channels like HBO) have managed to survive and become successful in the private sector without a direct subsidy from Uncle Sam.

Sesame Street has been the go-to program for teaching children the alphabet, numbers, and commonly accepted morality for 45 years. From 2003 to 2006 alone, Sesame Street reportedly banked more than $200 million in merchandise sales alone. PBS and NPR (National Public Radio) receive about $400 million in government funding every year.

It turns out that Sesame Street will air for the next five years on HBO in an expanded format, with new episodes to appear on PBS stations after a nine-month period of HBO exclusivity, the New York Times reported. Edited reruns will appear on PBS this fall during the transition.

“Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind the children’s television program, has struck a deal with HBO, the premium cable network, that will bring the next five seasons of Sesame Street to HBO and its streaming outlets starting this fall. The partnership will allow Sesame Workshop to significantly increase its production of Sesame Street episodes and other new programming. The group will produce 35 new Sesame Street episodes a year, up from the 18 it produces now. Sesame Workshop also will create a spinoff series based on the Sesame Street Muppets and another new educational series for children.”

Reacting to the Sesame Street switch to cable, Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary asserted that “Mitt Romney was dogged by liberal demonstrators during his 2012 campaign by people in Big Bird costumes because of his belief that PBS no longer deserved funding…The notion that Sesame Street needed government handouts was always ridiculous since it was, on it’s own, profitable enough to support itself or, as has happened, be lured to a new spot where it could better flourish.”

Mitt Romney also may have been prophetic when he declared, again to much disdain including from Barak Obama in the October 2012 presidential debate, that Russia is America’s primary geo-political foe. Considering the mischief that Russian President Vladimir Putin has orchestrated in Ukraine and elsewhere across the globe, and the failed “reset button” in U.S.-Russian relations, Mitt Romney’s prognostication may have been correct. At the time, he also described Iran as the greatest national security threat.

In a briefing yesterday, General Ray Ordierno, the retiring U.S. Army chief of staff, warned about the military threat that Russia poses to the U.S. as well as the Baltic States, The Hill reported.

“I believe Russia is the most dangerous. First, they are more mature than some of our other potential adversaries, and I think they have stated some intents that concern me, in terms of how the Cold War ended. And they have shown some significant ability in Ukraine to do operations that are fairly sophisticated, and so for me, I think we should pay a lot of attention to that.”

Defense Department officials suspect Russia may be behind the recent hacking of a high-level military server, The Hill added.

In testimony last month before the U.S. Senate, Marine Corps. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the new chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained that “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia. If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

With regard to the Sesame Street/HBO deal, or Russia’s expansionist ambitions, do you think that Mitt Romney was a prophet?

[Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images Entertainment]