Fox News devoted multiple segments on Monday morning to complaining that The Muppets are the latest victim of “cancel culture” because Disney’s streaming service has added a short disclaimer to 18 episodes of The Muppet Show warning about potentially offensive content.
Last week, Disney+ began adding the disclaimer to the classic television show, which originally aired in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The 12-second message notes that the “program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures,” adding that while the content remains intact they “want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”
One of the old episodes flagged with the disclaimer, for example, shows singer Johnny Cash performing in front of a Confederate battle flag, which has become a symbol of white nationalism and white supremacy. The Los Angeles Times reported that the disclaimer was added to other episodes featuring negative, stereotypical depictions of Native Americans and people from the Middle East.
Despite the fact that Disney+ is not removing any episodes or even censoring the broadcasts in question, Fox hosts and guests on Monday breathlessly portrayed this decision as the latest example of “woke” liberalism engaging in “cancel culture.”
“I don’t remember The Muppets ever being offensive. Here we are again with cancel culture,” Fox News contributor Joe Concha exclaimed on Fox & Friends First, kicking off the network’s predictable outrage cycle.
During a later interview with frequent guest Sen. Tom Cotton, who has made stopping “cancel culture” one of his pet issues, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy asked the Arkansas Republican and potential 2024 presidential candidate to weigh in.
“Total Mickey Mouse move, guys,” Cotton quipped, before making a clunky, throat-clearing transition about why the Muppets news is actually an extremely serious problem.
“Seriously, Disney is putting these kinds of disclaimers on The Muppets, not removing them from Disney+ because they don’t want to lose the revenue from subscribers,” he added. “But at the same time last year, they thank an agency of the Chinese Communist Party that’s responsible for concentration camps for helping them film a movie. It’s outrageous and appalling.”
Co-host Brian Kilmeade then jumped in, sarcastically asking: “Do you think we will have a Muppets commission to look at this, would it be bipartisan?”
Cotton, meanwhile, noted that it’s “not just The Muppets,” bringing up the fact that Disney+ has added similar disclaimers to other content on its platform. All of this, the senator complained, while Disney “still wants $12.99 a month.” (Over the past few months, Disney+ has added warnings to several older movies like Peter Pan and Dumbo due to culturally or racially insensitive depictions contained within them. The films themselves, meanwhile, remain unedited and available for full viewing on the service.)
From there, the so-called controversy would continue to get hourly coverage on Fox programming.
Both Fox News and its sister network Fox Business aired multiple segments on the disclaimer, with FBN host Stuart Varney exclaiming at one point that “not even The Muppets are safe from the woke mob.”
He incredulously added: “Do you believe that?!”
Over on America’s Newsroom, meanwhile, the chyron read “Cancel Culture Comes For ‘The Muppet Show’” while anchor Bill Hemmer wondered aloud if Disney went “after Miss Piggy at all” and if she was “on the list.”
While saying that her preference was for Disney to add the disclaimer rather than “canceling” the show, Fox News host Carley Shimkus said she also understood why people are “wondering when it will end” because “Disney has become so darn political.”
The segment wrapped up with the hosts wondering aloud if another Muppet-based series would be the next victim.
“Have we gotten to Sesame Street yet?” Hemmer asked.
“They could probably find something on Sesame Street,” fellow news anchor Dana Perino chimed in.