You'd think there was enough real news happening -- civil war in Libya, radiation fears in Japan, and the looming possibility of a government shutdown here in the U.S. -- that Fox & Friends wouldn't have to resort to bizarre, semi-offensive attacks on the “political correctness” of crayon companies.
Well, you'd be wrong. Today, the co-hosts devoted an entire segment to attacking Crayola's “multicultural” marker set. I'm really not making this up. First, co-host Brian Kilmeade teased the story this way:
And this -- you got to see to believe this. We're talking about Crayola changing the colors of the rainbow! Instead call them colors of the cultures. Ethnically sensitive crayons! Michelle Malkin has an opinion or two.
Oh, the horror!
First of all, Fox & Friends producers, those are markers. Not crayons.
Secondly, all nit-picking aside, it's not like Crayola has literally stopped making other sets of markers and crayons or “chang[ed] the colors of the rainbow.” So it's pretty laughable to complain about their decision to sell a collection of markers covering the spectrum of skin tones.
And yet the co-hosts went right ahead and did that:
KILMEADE: But I tell you what, I often said to myself, what could get me to buy markers and crayons? What could separate one brand from another? And I finally think I found the thing that put me over the top. Let's take a quick look. The slogan and catch phrase that makes it okay to color stuff in.
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Yeah.
KILMEADE: Multicultural washable markers. What is going on, Michelle Malkin?
If you were hoping that guest and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, who is Asian-American, might point out there's really nothing crazy about Crayola's observation that skin does, in fact, come in more than one color, then you don't know Michelle Malkin. She said:
MALKIN: It's just goofy. I have to say, I'm proud that I survived my childhood without multicultural markers. I was fine with burnt siena, and I think really most elementary school kids are fine with pink or blue. You know, my son draws everybody with blue anyway. I don't see that in there. I understand that perhaps --
DOOCY: The Smurf syndrome.
MALKIN: This is pandering -- yes -- pandering more to liberal parents than it is to kids who really have no need for such things. The only color this is really about is green. It's good, smart, savvy politically-correct marketing by Crayola.
So her complaint is that a private company is making money...by selling a product that people want. Aren't conservatives usually the ones lecturing liberals about how our economy is, in fact, based on that very premise?
Even Doocy recalled that Crayola might have a good reason to be a little sensitive about what colors it defines as “flesh” :
DOOCY: Yeah, but do you remember when Crayola came out with “flesh-colored?” It had been peach --
MALKIN: Peach, yup.
DOOCY: -- and they turned it into flesh, and that caused a problem. Look, now they've got all sorts of colors. I know when I was growing up, I would have to do myself as yellow, and I always looked like that jaundiced guy from Kansas.
As Crayola themselves note, they did indeed change their “flesh” crayon to “peach” in 1962, “partially as a result of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.”
What, you may be asking, prompted this bizarre attack on Crayola's recognition of diversity? Search me. Crayola's first “multicultural” crayon and marker sets were released almost 20 years ago. The New York Times noted in a January 16, 1992, article that Crayola had launched a test run of a “global pack” of “multicultural colors” because, contrary to Malkin's assertion, kids and teachers were asking for them:
Teachers and children from the Montgomery County school district in Maryland, just north of Washington, were tired of seeing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. being drawn with a black crayon. The problem was Crayola packed its flesh-colored crayons (hues from apricot to mahogany) only in its 64-pack, which was too big for the pupils' small hands.
Heeding the call for a new age of multiculturalism (and marketing), Binney & Smith, the Easton, Pa., company that makes Crayolas, slipped the existing skin-tone crayons into their own box.
“Teachers wanted children to color drawings of themselves to reflect how they think they look,” said Mark O'Brien, a spokesman for the company.
The new eight-crayon box carries apricot, peach, tan, sepia, burnt sienna and mahogany, plus black and white. And it has a new logo: a colorfully correct green and blue globe ringed with the words “multicultural colors.”
So why did Fox & Friends run with this story today? Searches around the internet reveal very little Crayola-related news, apart from a few articles about their new line of bubbles.
But there is one other item that pops up: an April 1 post on the blog The Volokh Conspiracy about the markers. It's possible that's a total coincidence. Or perhaps Fox & Friends is just picking their stupid, borderline bigoted story ideas by sifting through blogs, without checking to see if the stories in question predate the Clinton administration.
*This item has been updated.