Diary

Bert and Ernie Aren’t News

But ironically the mainstream media does love puppets
Would Bert and Ernie push their desks together if they appeared on CNN instead of on Sesame Street? (FreeMartyG, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Do you care if Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie are gay?

And did the fictional sexual preferences of puppets really merit time and space on the national news stage during a week-long period when there was a sexual assault allegation against a Supreme Court nominee, a hurricane, wildfires, escalating trade tariffs with Chinaan agreement for Paul Manafort to “cooperate” with Muellerunprecedented progress on the Korean Peninsula (despite a scandalous attempt to interfere by a domestic agency), a former Secretary of State allegedly violating the Logan Act with Iran, a shooting in a courthouse, elections coming up, the impending declassification of critical Justice Department documents, developments in the latest Roman Catholic Church pedophilia scandal, and gas explosions?

Well, the following “news” outlets – which have all either attacked others as so-called “fake news” or seemingly celebrated such attacks – each saw it fit to cover the fake sexualities of fake fictional characters portrayed on a children’s show using hand puppets: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Boston Globe, NBC, and of course, the heavyweight fake news champion of the world, CNN.

And by the way, what does one even call it when puppet publications can’t resist indulging themselves in a fake news orgy about the alleged sexual preferences of other puppets?

But, perhaps the greatest irony of this story, which seemed totally lost on most of those covering it, was the response which Sesame Workshop issued regarding this fake news fortissimo, when it reminded these faux “journalists” that Bert and Ernie are puppets and therefore they don’t have sexualities. It was almost as funny as Jon Stewart’s satirical reference to the puppets the short-lived Comedy Central show Crank Yankers during his epic on-the-air takedown of the first version of CNN’s Crossfire:

Frank Oz, the puppeteer who was credited with creating the Bert character and who played him, hit the nail on the head in his tweet responding to the statement by former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman saying that he always felt that Bert and Ernie were gay:

It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. It’s fine that he feels they are. They’re not, of course. But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There’s much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of real issues facing the LGBTQ community which merited coverage but didn’t receive any, like the “troubled teen industry.”

In addition, at the suggestion of the PresidentFreeMartyG has been trying to pierce the veil of secrecy around Bruce and Nellie Ohr, whom the mainstream media has been roughly as vocal about as Kermit the Frog was at Jim Henson’s funeral. However, the public might be far better informed if the well-funded media outlets which recently took time out of a very busy news cycle to cover Bert and Ernie’s non-sexuality had left that non-story to be fodder for tonight’s edition of Weekend Update and/or for Brian Williams, while instead spending their time and their significant resources investigating former FBI Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who left her job as a CIA agent to work for the Clinton/DOJ-funded firm Fusion GPS as it was compiling the now-infamous Steele Dossier in 2016.

Indeed, this is the problem with trying to turn make-believe subjects into news and especially with treating them like they are real while doing so. It takes time, space, and resources away from more important topics while demeaning actual journalism, and if raising this more nuanced point now about this cost to the national discourse adds further irony by keeping Bert and Ernie in the headlines for a bit longer, then it’s worth it.

I mean, come on, what’s next, CNN breaking away from election night results this November in order to cover Wile E. Coyote’s latest plan to catch up with the Roadrunner?

Perhaps though, the larger point is that by covering Bert and Ernie the mainstream outlets didn’t have to investigate and hold the powers that be responsible for anything. They didn’t have to advance any real issues for anybody. All they lazily had to do was slap an emotionally-charged label on 2 beloved characters who they knew to be well-remembered from the childhoods of generations of Americans, call it “news,” and watch the public take sides in a conflict that was made up – by any definition.

The author, Marty Gottesfeld, is a political prisoner of the Obama administration. You can learn more and donate to help him at FreeMartyG.com.