US conservative lobbyist calls for defunding of PBS over new Asian-American muppet

‘What race is Ernie, is Bert?’ Conservative Political Action Committee president Matt Schlapp asked in a tweet

Sesame Street introduces first Asian American muppet

US conservative activist and lobbyist Matt Schlapp has called for PBS to be defunded due to the introduction of an Asian-American muppet on Sesame Street.

It was announced earlier this week that the long-running children’s programme will be introducing the character, called Ji-Young, to educate young viewers about anti-Asian racism.

Schlapp, who is the president of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), issued calls to defund the American public broadcaster, claiming that the network was pushing “woke politics”.

On 16 November, Schlapp tweeted: “What race is Ernie, is Bert?”, referring to the famous Muppet characters on Sesame Street.

He continued: “You are insane PBS and we should stop funding you.”

Sesame Street in fact debuts on HBO Max, and has not aired first-run episodes on PBS since 2015.

On 18 November, Schlapp appeared as a guest on Fox News’s early morning show Fox & Friends First, where he said that PBS and Sesame Street are “trying to bring race into Ernie and Bert.”

During the interview, Schlapp told the hosts of the breakfast news show that he “grew up watching” Sesame Street and that the show “wasn’t ever about race.” Instead, he added, it was “about learning lessons and learning to read and learning tolerance.”

In an email to NBC News, Schlapp reiterated his position, accusing PBS and publicly-funded non-profit media organisation NPR of being “in arms in the socialist movement”.

He wrote: “Sesame Street needs to go back to the time when a show was devoted to a letter in the alphabet, and not the latest woke fad. We all loved Bert and Ernie without the foggiest idea of the racial demographic they may have represented. After all, Ernie is orange.”

Schlapp’s comments have faced criticism on social media.

“Credit to Matt Schlapp for being triggered by a Muppet, and going out of his way to prove that white fragility is a real thing,” wrote one person.

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

“Imagine getting upset about a puppet, when PBS is trying to help the idea of upbringing the youth with racial equality,” wrote another.

“I think the real lesson today is that Matt Schlapp is the biggest muppet of all,” joked someone else.

Sesame Street was also at the centre of a bizarre debate earlier this month, after the social media account for Big Bird shared a post saying the character had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in