Presidential debate spawns campaign to save Big Bird

Indiegogo campaign looks to raise funds for PBS and the huge flightless bird that became a Twitter superstar during the Obama-Romney debate in Denver last night.

Everett Collection

If you were monitoring the presidential debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama in Denver last night via Twitter, you might think that Big Bird and Sesame Street were the sole topic of conversation.

In the midst of pledging to cut federal funding for PBS if elected, Romney apologized to moderator Jim Lehrer -- who hosts the PBS Newshour -- saying, "I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too."

Almost instantly, satirical Big Bird accounts like SadBigBird, Fired Big Bird, and BigBirdRomney sprung up on Twitter and gathered thousands of followers over the next hour. At one point during the debate, the phrase "Big Bird" was being tweeted 17,000 times a minute.

Portland-based activist Sam Chapman took it a step further and posted a campaign on Indiegogo after the debate titled "Keep Your Mitts Off of Big Bird!" The flexible funding campaign will send all funds raised -- regardless of whether the $100,000 target is reached -- directly to PBS.

While Chapman's intentions are clearly noble, and I'm sure the ginormous bird is grateful, they may have the perverse effect of helping to prove Romney's point -- that Sesame Street, PBS, and Big Bird should be able to survive from alternate sources of funding besides our tax payments.

Or, perhaps Chapman is smarter than all that, and he's rooting for his own crowdfunding campaign to fail to prove to Romney that Big Bird is like, well... like a huge, flightless bird standing on a ledge that desperately needs help from the social safety net in the form of federal public television subsidies.

If that's the case, Chapman is winning -- only $202 has been donated to the campaign as of this morning.

UPDATED at 10:57 a.m. to reflect that Sam Chapman is the primary organizer of the Indiegogo campaign. His friend Micah Daigle helped with the setup, but Chapman is the mastermind, as Daigle informed me.

 

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