“Using Children”: Fox Hypocritically Attacks Progressive Video For “Indoctrinat[ing]” Kids

This morning, the co-hosts on Fox & Friends' curvy couch attacked a video made as part of a new campaign, "Contract for the American Dream," led by a coalition of progressive groups. As The Huffington Post reported on August 8:

On Monday afternoon, MoveOn.org and Rebuild the Dream announced a campaign to build up a popular movement that could match (if not surpass) the debt reduction crowd in both size and energy. And they have borrowed a concept from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) as their organizing principle.

The campaign, led by Van Jones, President of Rebuild the Dream; Justin Ruben, Executive Director of MoveOn.org; and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), among others, is debuting a new Contract for the American Dream. They describe it as “a progressive economic vision crafted by 125,000 Americans ... to get the economy back on track.” Its debut will involve a nationwide day of action, as well as an ad in The New York Times to run sometime this week, organizers said.

The basic premise of the campaign is that America isn't broke, it's merely imbalanced. In order to stabilize the economy, politicians should make substantial investments in infrastructure, energy, education and the social safety net, tax the rich, end the wars, and create a wider revenue base through job creation.

The co-hosts decided not to directly attack the Contract, however, and instead focused on a video released alongside the petition, which features children reading off the Contract's principles. They took issue with “cute kids” being involved in “messaging stuff” that was “pro-Obama.”

From the broadcast:

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): You know how tough it is to resist videos or anything else that cute little kids do? Well, you're about to see a video where a bunch of cute kids are saying some interesting messaging stuff. Now, you got to wonder if -- obviously, these parents must have known what these kids were going to be involved in.

DOOCY: Sure.

CARLSON: You hope. Because they're actually giving, sort of, tips as to what we should do with the government. And they're pro-Obama. Listen to this.

[start video]

CHILD: The Contract for the American Dream has --

CHILDREN: 10 points!

CHILDREN: Point number 1. Invest in America's infrastructure.

GIRL: Four -- Medicare for all. When everyone has health care, we're all healthier and we spend less.

BOY: Seven -- return to fairer tax rates. If the rich don't pay their taxes, we'll have to.

BOY: So end the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and add new tax brackets for those people making more than one million dollars. And finally, we got to stop --

[end video]

DOOCY: All right. So there you've got a snippet of Contract for the American Dream. This particular group that is behind this -- organized by Van Jones. Remember him? The guy who was -- wasn't he the green czar for the Obama administration?

Guest host Peter Johnson Jr. said it showed “indoctrinat[ion]” and suggested other things that children should be “indoctrinate[d]” in:

JOHNSON: It's interesting -- to me, I always thought that we would indoctrinate children in the Boy Scout pledge, the Ten Commandments, the time tables, I think we've hit maybe a new low now using children in a political message.

DOOCY: Political props?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I don't quite understand it.

Carlson also had suggestions about what else children should be learning:

CARLSON: They don't even know what they're saying. I mean, honestly, that's what --

JOHNSON: That's the point, yeah.

CARLSON: -- I think, the most offensive thing, is that they don't -- I mean, it's one thing -- why don't you teach them the pledge of allegiance, like you said, or parts of the Constitution? They don't really know what they're talking about there. That's adult messaging, and it's obviously to get your attention, and to say, aren't those kids cute?

JOHNSON: They're wonderful, beautiful kids. They're obviously smart and intelligent, and they're America's best and we love -- we love kids. But to put kids in a political message like that, what are we trying to say?

On-screen text during the segment read:

kiddie propaganda

I think there might be many parents, actually, who would take issue with the idea that we should “indoctrinate children in ... the Ten Commandments.” And I'm not sure how Carlson thinks children would fail to understand these political principles, yet would understand “parts of the Constitution.”

More important, in the past, Fox hosts haven't seemed to mind the participation of children in political events -- when those events were for the tea party, that is. In 2009, Fox interviewed children during at least one of its Fox-sponsored “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” In Boston, then-Fox Business host Cody Willard spoke with a group of children, announcing he was there with the “next generation of taxpayers” before asking one young girl if she was “worried about [her] taxes going up.” He then asked a young boy if he was “worried about me stealing your money, dude?”


At a Tea Party Express rally in 2010, Media Matters filmed Fox News reporter Griff Jenkins asking a child about the “costs of the government” on her shoulders.

And in December 2010, Doocy also hyped a tea party coloring book, calling it part of a “40-year plan” to, as his guest said, “educat[e] the kids in the correct way”:

DOOCY: If you are one of the millions of tea party supporters across the nation, then we've got the perfect stocking stuffer for you. It is called the Tea Party Patriots' Coloring and Activity Book, and it is filled with all sorts of games and puzzles and songs to give a head start to the next generation of young Americans. That's how it's billed. Joining us right now is the co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, Mark Meckler, joining us from San Francisco.


I understand you feel that this book is part of your 40-year plan for America. Forty-year plan? What is that?

MECKLER: Well, the reality is that politicians have been short-sighted in this country for so long, and it's taken us decades to drift away from the founding principles. We understand it's going to take us decades to get back, and we start by educating the kids in the correct way about the history of the country.

It's not clear how having children speak for a political video is substantially different than giving them a book that's part of a “40-year plan” to “educat[e] [them] in the correct way.”

Watch today's segment: