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GOP Congressman Rips CNN for 'Disservice' to Struggling Americans by Focusing on 'Big Bird'

When CNN laughably focused Thursday morning on Mitt Romney cutting funding for "Big Bird" as a key debate moment, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) took CNN to task on Thursday for hyping such a frivolous detail.

"I think focusing on a light moment, which was clearly what it was, is doing a disservice to the people of America who are struggling," Diaz-Balart ripped into CNN. He also mocked anchor Carol Costello, "that's the take-away that you found from the debate? I mean frankly that's the best you can come up with from this debate?" 

[Video below. Audio here.]

Costello had foolishly highlighted Romney's "Big Bird" quip as the moment that "resonated probably the most with viewers." Diaz-Balart demolished that reasoning.

"The polls in your own network show that it was a decisive victory for Mitt Romney because he has real specific solutions for the issues that the people care about," the Congressman added, throwing CNN's own polls back at the network.

Costello lamely tried to keep the PBS argument alive by touting a Facebook page. "It's not what I think. It's been the public reaction to the comment. It's not me saying it. I think there's a Facebook page with 26,000 people on board. And the CEO and president of PBS is concerned, frankly. So should we just ignore that?"

Diaz-Balart mocked the outrage by quipping that "Big Bird is a multi, multi, multimillion dollar venture. Big Bird will be fine, trust me. The question is does Big Bird still need to be on welfare?"

A transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on October 4 at 10:53 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

[10:53]

CAROL COSTELLO: Congressman, the moment that resonated probably the most with viewers was Mitt Romney's comments on Big Bird and taking money away from the program, PBS. Some people say why are you picking on Big Bird, of all things?

DIAZ-BALART: (Laughs) Big Bird is a multi, multi, multimillion dollar venture. Big Bird will be fine, trust me. The question is does Big Bird still need to be on welfare? Does the taxpayer need to be funding a multimillion dollar venture? Big Bird is always going to be on TV but the question is should we be sending hard-earned taxpayer money to, you know, an entity that is a multi-million dollar entity that's going to be there with or without taxpayer subsidy? And again having to borrow money from China --

(Crosstalk)

COSTELLO: Well, I just – I actually just talked to the CEO -- I just talked to the CEO and president of PBS. She says that money from the government doesn't go directly to Sesame Street. It goes to member stations and then they decide what to do with the money, and this has been a great public-private partnership. Sesame Street, she says, is America's like -- poor kids get their education from Sesame Street. This is a show that is beloved by millions of Americans.

DIAZ-BALART: Two things. First place, Sesame Street is always going to be there with or without taxpayer subsidy. So that's a red herring and you know, that was I think, a pretty light moment. And now, to talk about --

COSTELLO: Well, I'm not sure that it is a red herring, because the amount of money given by the government to PBS stations is a drop in the bucket in comparison with what other things the government pays money for.

DIAZ-BALART: With all due respect, with the situation that we are facing in our country, with, you know, millions of people unemployed, with people -- you know, you look at the economic numbers and we are going to have the new numbers coming out this week. To be focusing on a presidential debate, on a light moment where -- where Governor Romney mentioned that we shouldn't be subsidizing -- borrowing money from China to be subsidizing things, that frankly don't have to be subsidized, that's the take-away that you found from the debate? I mean frankly that's the best you can come up with from this debate? You think that was the highlight moment from this debate? You don't think the highlight moment when we were talking about how to create jobs?

COSTELLO: No. It's not what I think. It's not what I think. It's been the public reaction to the comment. It's not me saying it. I think there's a Facebook page with 26,000 people on board. And the CEO and president of PBS is concerned, frankly. So should we just ignore that?

DIAZ-BALART: Yeah, but – no. But I think we should -- look. The polls in your own network show that it was a decisive victory for Mitt Romney because he has real specific solutions for the issues that the people care about. And let me tell you what the people care about. They can't find jobs out there. The United States of America is bankrupt. Medicare is insolvent in a decade and this President cut $716 billion out of Medicare. That's what the people of America care about.

And Big Bird is going to be around as long as Big Bird wants to be around. Sesame Street is going to be around as long as they want to be around because they are a multimillion dollar venture. Look, you go into any store, you can buy Big Bird for your children. I have some for my kid. They don't have to be subsidized by money being borrowed from China.

And again, what people are concerned about is where are the jobs? How do we create jobs? How do we lower the price of gasoline? And how do we stop borrowing money from Communist China, and how do we stop spending money that we don't have? So again, I think focusing on a light moment, which was clearly what it was, is doing a disservice to the people of America who are struggling, who want to find jobs and want to get America working again. Mitt Romney knows how to do that.

-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center