SpongeBob SquarePants may be a radical who’s more green than yellow, the hosts of Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends suggested in a recent broadcast.
The United States Department of Education has joined with Nickelodeon to use SpongeBob SquarePants to teach children about global warming. But the Fox News folks are worried that the Nick hero is being duped.
On July 20, the department held an event in Washington, D.C. called “Let’s Read! Let’s Move!,” featuring author Maya Soetoro-Ng (President Barack Obama’s half-sister), as well as NFL linebacker Chris Draft reading to students and encouraging them to exercise.
According to conservative news site CNSNews.com, the students received a book called SpongeBob Goes Green! An Earth-Friendly Adventure.
Fox played a clip from what it identified as a SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon shown to the students. It features Mr. Krabs saying, “Thanks to global warming, the temperature will soon go through the roof, and we’ll have an endless summer.”
“The government agency showed kids this cartoon and handed out books that blame man for global warming, but they did not tell kids that that is actually a disputed fact. Oops,” complained Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson.
“SpongeBob is talking a lot about global warming, and he’s only looking at it from one point of view,” Carlson continued.
Added Fox & Friends‘ Steve Doocy: “What happened was, the Department of Education invited a bunch of D.C. kids in and they had this festivity, and they handed out these particular Nickelodeon books where, clearly, Nickelodeon is pushing a global warming agenda.
“Clearly Nickelodeon is pushing a global warming agenda, and while there’s no disputing the fact that the earth is getting a little warmer, the big question is, is it man-made, or is it just one of those gigantic climactic phases that we’re going [through]?… For a while we’re cold and then we get warmer and then we get colder and warmer, which one is it? There’s science on both sides. There are a lot of scientists who say, ‘It’s this,’ others say, ‘It’s that.’”
Global warming is “unproven science,” said Dave Briggs, also of Fox. “This is a public education system that we all pay our tax dollars for, and the SpongeBob book says that it’s a man-made problem that requires human intervention.”
Carlson did admit that for her, SpongeBob SquarePants is “hard to follow sometimes.”
However, Tim Tuten of the Department of Education said that no SpongeBob SquarePants cartoons were shown during the event.
“We’ve never shown any videos ever, so I have no idea where that is coming from,” he said. Participants were permitted to choose one of dozens of diverse books to take home with them, and the SpongeBob book was one of those, he continued.
The Department of Education doesn’t generally provide the books for special events, but such corporate partners as Target, Nickelodeon and United Way make them available to kids, said Justin Hamilton, the department’s press secretary.
“The kids get to pick whatever books they’re interested in,” he said. “We’re very happy that corporate sponsors have made good books available for kids to select and take home.”
Conservatives also saw red over the yellow sponge in 2005. At that time, Focus on the Family’s Paul Batura hinted that a video featuring SpongeBob singing “We are Family” alongside people, Muppets and other cartoon characters was “an insidious means by which the organization [sponsoring the video] is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids.”