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Fox Business Network Calls Muppets Communist; Debate Goes Viral

UP: Rich Ross
Scott Garfield/Disney Enterprises

A segment on the network was highlighted by Media Matters, reigniting a conversation about whether or not there are political messages in children's movies.

If you Googled news about “Muppets” on Monday you were treated to hundreds of news stories and blog items debating whether Disney’s lovable creatures were Communists or not. You can thank Fox Business Network and Media Matters for that.

Eric Bolling of Follow the Money set the stage on Friday when he hosted a 7-minute segment that argued that The Muppets film – featuring bad-guy oilman Tex Richman -- promotes a left-wing agenda.

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“We’re teaching our kids class warfare. Where are we, Communist China?” Bolling said.

That line – along with the rest of the conversation – irked Media Matters, the progressive watchdog group and No. 1 enemy of Fox News Channel and sister channel FBN. So that night it slapped its logo on a video of the segment and sent it around the Internet, and by Monday it had gone viral. (Video below).

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“Liberal Hollywood depicting a successful businessman as evil – that’s not new,” Bolling said while introducing his first guest, Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog organization.

“It’s amazing how far the left will go just to stop – to manipulate your kids,” Gainor said, “to convince them – to give them the anti-corporate message.”

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“Is liberal Hollywood,” asks Bolling, “using class warfare to kind of brainwash our kids?”

Gainor answers in the affirmative and lists as examples Ted Turner’s Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Disney’s Cars 2 and Nickelodeon’s The Big Green Help.

“Ultimately, what they’re telling kids is what they told you in the movie The Matrix: that mankind is a virus on poor, old Mother Earth,” Gainor said.

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Bolling’s next guest agreed. “It’s brainwashing in the most obvious form, right? I just wish liberals could leave little kids alone,” said Andrea Tantaros, co-host of The Five on Fox News.

The Washington Post picked apart the argument, as did the New York Daily News. The item got the most traction, though, at more partisan outlets on both ends of the political spectrum.

“Painting businessmen as evil isn’t anything new. And it would certainly fall in line with a liberal Hollywood message,” a writer at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze wrote.

“In Hollywood, daring to cast a Muslim character can be considered a hate crime, but repeatedly casting businessmen, Christians and Southerners as villains is enlightened,” says an item at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood.

The Blaze and Big Hollywood are both on the right. Examples on the left include:

Gothamist.com: “Oh, Fox Business News, never change. In one of those ‘if it weren’t real we would think it were an Onion story’ moments, Fox Business show Follow the Money recenty had a segment in which they warn that the new Muppets movie is going to ‘brainwash’ our children into socialist plushies.”

The Huffington Post: “It ain’t easy being green, but according to Fox Business, Kermit the Frog and his Muppet friends are reds…. The Teletubbies were unavailable for comment. Mahna-Mahna.”

Others weighing in on the hot debate were MSNBC, Perez Hilton,  Entertainment Weekly and Slate.