Fox's Sunny Sesame Street Celebration Tries To Sweep The Clouds Of Past Attacks Away

Fox & Friends celebrated Sesame Street's 45th birthday by hosting Muppet characters Grover and Abby Cadabby for a light-hearted appearance congratulating them on their longevity. But if the network had gotten its way in 2012, Grover wouldn't have made it past the age of 44 with his show's funding intact.

The Sesame Street program is celebrating the kickoff of its 45th season on PBS, and two iconic Sesame Street characters -- Grover and Abby Cadabby -- visited the set of Fox & Friends on September 17 to answer trivia questions and play and sing with the hosts. Co-host Steve Doocy congratulated the Muppets on their show's durability, and Fox's Heather Childers noted how she “loved Sesame Street as a kid.”  An on-screen graphic promoted upcoming episodes with the words “More Sunny Days Ahead.”

But not long ago, Fox News went all-in attacking Sesame Street and PBS. After then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney called for an end to public funding for Sesame Street and other public broadcasting in 2012, Fox began lobbing personal attacks at the program's most iconic figure -- Big Bird -- in an effort to demonize the show's reception of federal money.

Fox host Eric Bolling deemed Big Bird a "taker" living on $6 million a year of “taxpayer largesse,”  while host Neil Cavuto said it was time Big Bird “flew the coop.” Contributor Karl Rove said Big Bird should do the patriotic thing -- give up federal money. Several other network personalities called for an end to public funding of Sesame Street and PBS.

Funds for public broadcasting make up an infinitesimal portion of the federal budget, but it's been an outsized target for proposed cuts from conservatives. So does hyping Sesame Street on its highly-rated morning show signal a turn in Fox's stance on the use of public money for educational programming found on PBS? Or are they simply trying to capitalize on the current popularity of the Muppet franchise?