Why Progressives Should Hope Glenn Beck's Liberty Treehouse Succeeds

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Sept. 30 2011 12:23 PM

Rooting for Glenn Beck, Children's Television Producer, To Succeed

Glenn Beck speaks at a rally dubbed "Restoring Honor"

Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Glenn Beck has created a children’s program. That’s one of those sentences that almost doesn’t need a follow-up, although surely Jon Stewart’s people are working on one now. Glenn Beck. Children’s program. Line about how Glenn Beck has always hosted a children’s program. Laugh.

But how brilliant. Because Beck’s Liberty Treehouse isn’t just a kid’s program, but the lead-in to Beck himself, now found only on GBTV, Beck’s over-the-Internet, subscription-based network. It’s an hour-long show with a block of kids' news (it’s possible that that should be “news”), excerpts from old television shows and cartoons (Ozzie and Harriet, Flash Gordon), and segments of  Drive-Thru History, a high production-value series popular with a particular kind of homeschooler (as one Amazon reviewer puts it, “if you want a drive through history in which Christians are always right and everybody else is wrong, then this is the program for you”).  She says that like it’s a bad thing…


What better program for a mom to put on the computer monitor in that 4 to 5 o’clock early witching hour? Any home that’s subscribed to GBTV isn’t likely to have any objections to the idea that Beck might indoctrinate children with his rather laissez-faire approach to facts and his particular combination of bluster, fear-mongering, and scapegoating. To the contrary. But getting families to turn on a computer every day at 5, instead of the TV, is surely going to be a challenge. With Liberty Treehouse (that’s such a perfect name, it’s painful) Beck can line up the family right where he wants it, in front of the screen, as he rolls into view. His viewership has been steadily getting older. Young parents are just what he wants.

My kids aren’t going to stumble across Liberty Treehouse, and I’m going to take a flyer here and guess that yours aren’t, either. This is a program created for the children of the choir, who are already surprisingly familiar with Beck. A focus group found that “Beck-loving parents spawned Beck-loving kids” to a degree that surprised even Joel Cheatwood, president of programming at GBTV.

So the very best thing that a non-Beck-lover can hope for is that Liberty Treehouse be good. Really good. Good enough to spark thought and discussion among those kids that will lead them beyond Beck’s rhetoric and into an arena where they’ll discover the value of considering all the sides of a debate for themselves. They may not end up as NPR contributors. But if they find themselves questioning Beck, that would be enough.

KJ Dell'Antonia is a writer living in New Hampshire. She writes the EcoLiving column for Kiwi magazine and is the co-author ofReading With Babies, Toddlers and Twos: Choosing, Reading and Loving Books Together.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 20 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Red Planet and the Comet
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.