Sesame Street's War on 'Pox' News

Did the beloved children's TV show push liberal propaganda?

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Did muppets pave the way for the White House war against Fox News?  As Sesame Street celebrates its 40th anniversary, the beloved children's show is drawing fire. In a recently uncovered episode (first aired two years ago), Oscar the Grouch and his girlfriend Grunchetta appear to take a swipe at the cable news network when they call the fictional network "Pox News" a "trashy news show." The Daily Finance reports:

In the episode in question, Oscar the Grouch is a reporter covering, in breathless cable-news fashion, the trials and tribulations of Horatio the Elephant, who's trying to extricate himself from a bathtub. Oscar's quest for 'all grouchy, all disgustin', all yucky' news goes awry when there's 'breaking news' -- namely, Cookie Monster breaking a cookie.

Oscar explains to Cookie that he's now got two treats instead of one; Cookie hugs and kisses Oscar with joy; and Oscar's girlfriend, Grunchetta -- that's right: Oscar the Grouch has a girlfriend -- is so sickened by the outpouring of cheer that she threatens to change the channel to 'Pox News.' 'Now there's a trashy news show,' she says.

The clip sent at least one pundit and parent into a tizzy, prompting a response from PBS ombudsman, Michael Getler. Other commentators are more amused than outraged. If Oscar the Grouch were truly a political muppet, they speculate, what kind of political muppet would he be?

  • How Can I Protect My Children From Leftist Propaganda? At Big Hollywood, the Stage Right blogger told readers to "add one more soldier to the Left’s war on Fox News:  Oscar the Grouch." Stage Right says it's not right that her tax dollars are going to partisan programming that sends her children messages she doesn't agree with. "The message is clear, I can’t even sit my kids in front of 'Sesame Street' without having to worry about the Left attempting to undermine my authority," the blogger wrote. "And don’t tell me, 'If you don’t like it change the channel.'  There are no channels left! It’s everywhere. Just last week I had Obama’s service and volunteerism promoted on every single major network, including Disney and Nickelodeon."
  • PBS Was Wrong  The network's ombudsman, Michael Getler, sided with Stage Right and conservative parents who wrote in to complain about the episode. He said that while the joke was a "clever shot at Fox News," it should have never made it into a children's show. "I don't know what was in the head of the producers, but my guess is that this was one of those parodies that was too good to resist. But it should have been resisted. Broadcasters can tell parents whatever they think of Fox or any other network, but you shouldn't do it through the kids."
  • An Independent Kind of Grouch  Jimmy Orr of The Christian Science Monitor tries to peg the Grouch's ideological leaning down with little success. "We tried to identify Oscar’s political persuasion by reviewing video on YouTube. But we weren’t that successful. All that we could come up with is that he’s kind of a cross between Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann. His personality is more like O’Reilly. Yet he’s green. So that would make him Olbermann-like." Orr says the Grouch kind of resembles CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Not that Blitzer looks like he lives in a garbage can or anything but there aren’t many TV commentators with facial hair."
  • Conservatives Are the Grouchy Ones  Mediaite's Tommy Christopher wants to know what the right has against adorable children's programming. He says Fox News has a history of "hit pieces" against PBS, including one in which they referred to Fred Rogers as "evil."
In the case of Sesame Street vs. Fox, the cable news network has aired countless hit pieces on Sesame Street and other PBS children’s shows. They ran not one, but two segments about how Sesame Street DVDs were 'not for kids,' they called Mr. Rogers 'evil,' one of their hosts referred to Cookie Monster’s movements as 'erotic,' and even speculates that Oscar the Grouch may have been molested. All things considered, I’d say the Street’s response was remarkably restrained.
  • Commie Muppets Must Be Stopped  Thers of the liberal FireDogLake sarcastically says the Grouch and his subversive cronies are trying to destroy America. "Oscar the Grouch: urban. Proud of living alternative lifestyle (in garbage can). Muppet of color (green). Bad attitude. Traitor to all we hold dear."
  • The Left Is Everywhere  Jim Hoft of the conservative Gateway Pundit blog isn't amused. "Even children’s shows are not safe from the far left," he wrote. Mary Katherine Ham shares a similar sentiment at The Weekly Standard.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.