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Sesame Street's Jab at Fox News Sparks Backlash

Next week will mark “Sesame Street”'s 40th year on the air, and while many are celebrating the iconic PBS show that's become what the New York Times recently labeled "messianic," some conservatives are crying foul over the re-airing of a sketch that jabs fun at the right-leaning Fox News network.

In the clip of the sketch that originally aired two years ago without controversy, Oscar the Grouch is playing a reporter for the "Grouch News Network," also known as "GNN," which certainly sounds familiar. After Oscar conducts an interview in which he shares hugs and kisses with his royal interview subjects, an irate viewer calls him to complain that his coverage of the news wasn't quite grouchy enough, saying "From now on, I am watching Pox News," adding, "Now there’s a trashy news show!"

Watch the sketch:





Following the rerun, influential conservative blog Big Hollywood ran a post from an anonymous writer using the name "Stage Right":

If Mom and Dad watch cable news, it’s better than 50/50 they watch “POX News.” So what gives? PBS — a network partially funded with my tax dollars — has the right to tell my kids that their parents watch “trashy” news? 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 post generated hundreds of comments, ranging from the supportive (“AMEN! As a child born in the mid 60s I've had the full benefit of the Left's assault on our culture in media, print and society”… “Yank their funding! NOW!”) to the critical (“If we conservatives are to be successful in the media, we can't keep grabbing our skirts and shrieking every time we are parodied, especially when parodied on a equal level with left leaning counterparts. Man up.”)

The "Pox News" incident isn't the first time “Sesame Street” has ruffled conservative feathers. False rumors that the show had caved to pressure from liberals promoting healthy-eating habits and was converting Cookie Monster into Veggie Monster sparked some scorn. The story was sensationalized by some in the media and an Internet petition calling for a boycott of the show was widely circulated, reminding some of a previous crusade by the religious right to boycott the PBS show “Teletubbies” over one of its character's "subtle depictions" of homosexuality. However, Sesame Street representatives said at the time that the infusion of fruits and vegetables into Cookie Monster's diet was merely part of the show's effort at "broadening his eating habits."

In response to the criticism expressed over the "Pox News" episode, Sesame Workshop vice-president of corporate communications Ellen Lewis told Yahoo! News, "Sesame Street is well-known for their parodies and the show did a parody involving the Grouch News Network and in it one of the characters, Grundgetta, Oscar the Grouch's friend, mentioned Pox News Network." She added, "This is just another one of the many parodies that Sesame Street has done over the years."

-- Brett Michael Dykes is a contributor to the Yahoo! News Blog



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