Sesame Street Jokes Fox News Is 'Trashy'; PBS Ombudsman Says It Was Wrong

"Sesame Street" producers are getting criticized for a parody that suggested Fox News was "trashy," and the ombudsman for PBS says that the criticism is justified. reported that in a two-year old episode that was rebroadcast on October 29, Oscar the Grouch starts the Grouch News Network, or GNN. The skit later featured CNN’s Anderson Cooper filling in for Oscar as he chats with "Walter Cranky" and "Dan Rather-Not."

But when another green grouch Muppet caller decides that the news is not grouchy enough, she says she is changing the channel to Pox News. "I am changing the channel," the irate muppet says. "From now on, I am watching Pox News. Now there is a trashy news show."

PBS ombudsman Michael Getler, like many viewers, thought he heard "Fox" instead of "Pox," but regardless, he suggested it wasn’t classy to suggest Fox was "trashy" in front of the little ones:

"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."

Getler suggested that the fuss over the show (including a widely spread blog post on Big Hollywood) seemed more newsworthy now that when it was originally aired due to the current White House suggestions that Fox is not a "legitimate" news network:

Now, on one level, Pox News as an alternative and competitor to the Grouch News Network would seem to be a clever and appropriate title. But you would have to be anesthetized as a producer not to assume that many parents will hear this, or assume this, to be a clever shot at Fox News. It's a parody, a play on words, and has a timely feel to it at this time, especially, because of the battle now going on publicly between Fox and the White House. So it's probably not surprising that last week's showing got more people's attention.

Maybe Sesame Street’s producers just like CNN better. Not only did Cooper appear later in the offending skit, Larry King directed his Twitter followers last week to his Sesame Street interview with the letter W.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis