Elmo’s Bad Awful Day: Glenn Beck Launches Children’s Show to Challenge PBS Programming

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September 29, 2011; Source: Politico | This has to be the next chapter of Grover’s Bad Awful Day. Rather than waking up and stubbing his toe on his scooter, knocking the toothpaste cap down the bathroom sink drain, or spilling his milk at breakfast, Grover has to contend with the news that Glenn Beck is creating a children’s program to compete with “Sesame Street” and other educational programs aimed at kids on public television.

As NPQ Newswire readers know, “Sesame Street” itself is a product of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. It was originally run by Children’s Television Workshop, now the nonprofit Sesame Workshop. Beck has long been at the forefront of Fox News people complaining about the purported leftwing indoctrination of children and their parents by PBS and “Sesame Street” (particularly Elmo’s socialistic leanings toward a redistribution of wealth). 

Having left Fox, Beck has created his own internet television network, GBTV (which carries the slogan “the truth lives here”), and starting today the network will air a new children’s show, “Liberty Treehouse.” Unlike “Sesame Street” and other children’s educational shows that tend to steer clear of partisan politics, Beck’s “Treehouse” is going to be overtly political. For example, in the first show, the host (who is not Beck) will talk about the importance of straw polls and debates.

According to Beck, “‘Liberty Treehouse’ will not only entertain children and young adults, but it will respect them and their knowledge and passion for history, art, science, and current events.” “Treehouse’s” targeted age demographic is actually older than “Sesame Street’s,” landing somewhere between ages 10 and 14. These tweens may be a bit more interested in politics than younger kids. 

Those of us Boomers, X-ers, and Millennials raised on PBS/CTW fare might have some challenges in recalling the political content of nonprofit-sponsored educational TV shows for children. The for-profit Beck seems to be relishing the opportunity to explicitly insert ideological content into the programs offered to young people on GBTV.—Rick Cohen

  • El

    This doesn’t seem particularly newsworthy. Untold numbers of people have created children’s shows over the years with the intent of pushing a particular point of view. Kids, particularly at that age, are surprisingly perceptive of — and resistant to — adult attempts to push an agenda on them, whatever the agenda might be. They’re more interested in being considered cool by their peers. Hard to imagine how “Liberty Treehouse” is going to make any kids seem cool to anyone else.