Writing in The Washington Post, Nick Gillespie asks:
How ubiquitous is Sesame Street? Consider this: Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, anti-American demonstrators in Bangladesh flooded the streets waving posters of Osama bin Laden seated next to the show's popular yellow muppet Bert, who along with rubber-ducky enthusiast Ernie makes up one of the most relentlessly chaste same-sex couples since J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson shuffled off their mortal coils. In their rush for images of their new hero bin Laden, the demonstrators had unwittingly downloaded pictures from one of countless Bert Is Evil websites that photoshop the famously fussy character into scenes with history's greatest villains (Bert has been spotted with Hitler, Stalin and Mao, among others).
Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, by former TV Guide columnist and editor Michael Davis, is an exhaustive account of how we got to Sesame Street. Written in cooperation with the woman behind the show, Joan Ganz Cooney, it charts the program from its conception in the waning days of the Great Society. "Sesame Street," Davis writes, effectively created modern educational programming by asking, "If television could successfully teach the words and music to advertisements, couldn't it teach children more substantive material by co-opting the very elements that make ads so effective?tag=reasonmagazinea-20"
The answer to that question (and inside information on Barry Goldwater's crucial role in preserving federal funding for the show) here.