Glenn Beck doesn't actually host Liberty Treehouse, the new kid show that debuted on his Internet channel, GBTV earlier this week. Instead, the "hipper" Raj Nair (of ESPN Road Trip fame) anchors the hour-long program that aims to give tween Tea Partiers a chance to experience American history and politics through the lens of the former FOX news commentator. And for those middle-school conservatives looking for a dose of good-old-fashioned wholesome entertainment after school, Liberty Treehouse will regularly air excerpts of mid-century classics like Ozzie and Harriet, Flash Gordon and Popeye cartoons.
It is extremely doubtful my kids will ever watch the program. I am not a fan of Beck's politics, over-the-top style or loose treatment of facts. And since I don't intend to subscribe to GBTV at $9.95 a month--I wouldn't take it for free--I am not worried that the show is something the kids will stumble upon by accident. But even if they did, I'm pretty sure my children, raised on Bart and Homer Simpson, would not have much tolerance for the blandness of 1950s sitcoms. I can't even get them to watch Brady or Cosby re-runs with me---forget about the Nelsons.
But I have to say, Mr. Beck, I think the concept of a politics/history show for kids is a pretty fabulous one. I understand why careful educators and researchers are nervous about politics and entertainment mash-ups when it comes to children, but I wouldn't mind, at minimum, an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place where the parents go to vote. Maybe it's high time Nick News with Linda Ellerbee was more central to Nickelodeon's programming focus"Sponge Bob is great, but hasn't taught my kids a darn thing about real life under the sea.
I've mentioned before the profound influence both School House Rock and the musical 1776 had on sparking my interest in American history. And I'm pretty sure my oldest son can still tell you more than you want to know about Nathan Hale and Thomas Paine based on countless hours of watching the animated series Liberty's Kids when he was younger. Unfortunately, the show was dropped from the PBS schedule after just one season in 2003; it makes me kind of sad to think my kid may have been the only one that liked it.
As a mom who is just as likely to get her TV news fix from Comedy Central as CNN, I'd welcome the chance for my kids to learn about current events in an entertaining way. If done right, satire could really work for the middle school set. And I'd love to see someone take a stab.
So Jon Stewart, if you're reading, have you ever considered a pre-teen version of The Daily Show? Correspondent Samantha Bee blogs regularly about her children"I'm pretty sure she could easily handle this.
Or how about a Kolbert for Kids? Obnoxious spelling aside, Stephen, I think you'd have a real winner.
Do you all have any thoughts on creative programming to counterbalance Liberty Treehouse? This non-GBTV Mom is impatiently waiting.