Under the Trump administration’s proposed budget, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be one of many nonprofits across the country that would lose funding despite it making up a tiny portion of the annual federal spending. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting provides funding to thousands of radio and television stations in the United States, but is perhaps best known for its ties to both PBS and NPR.
And some believe the president’s disdain for public broadcasting stems from an old grudge against Big Bird, Elmo and Cookie Monster.
Sesame Street, everyone’s favorite group of puppets that were a part of PBS from 1969 until the show moved to HBO last year, has a history of mocking Trump with a grouch named “Ronald Grump.” As many have recently pointed out in wake of Trump’s proposed budget, Grump has been featured on the show at least three times since he was introduced three decades ago. And on each of those occasions, the show didn’t exactly make him out to be the nicest person.
Grump’s first appearance came in 1988 when he convinced Oscar the Grouch to replace his spot on the street with a building called “Grump Tower.” In exchange, Oscar got a free room in the tower and three bags of trash even though his friend tried to talk him out of the rotten deal. Oscar and Grump eventually got into an argument over pets being allowed in the “duplex can-dominium,” which almost cost Oscar 40 bags of trash – or, as he put it, his entire “trash savings” – to get out of the deal.
“Rotten to meet you,” Grump says to Oscar as he introduces himself. “Grump’s the name, Ronald Grump. And I’m a grouch builder. I make places for grouches to live.”
Grump’s second appearance came in 1994 when the show celebrated its 25th anniversary. Played by Joe Pesci, Grump announced his plans to destroy Sesame Street to build a high-rise “Grump Tower.” Following a lot of hostility –Grump said Sesame Street will be a luxurious boutique called “If You Have To Ask, You Cannot Afford It” – Grump’s plans ended up falling through the cracks due to Oscar’s can being government property.
When Grump made his final appearance in 2005 for the episode “Grouch Apprentice,” he was back to puppet form. In search of a helper to sort through all of his trash, several muppets auditioned to be his assistant by going through a series of contests. Grump ended up firing three of them (one being called Omagrossa, which was clearly based on Apprentice star turned American political aide Omarosa Manigault) and hiring two of them, Oscar and Grundgetta, because they were the most incompetent.
“I’m a grouch. I can’t have a good helper,” Grump says. “I’ve got my reputation to think of. There’s only one thing I can do, Elmo: Scram! You’re fired.”
Unfortunately for fans of Ronald Grump, it doesn’t look like Sesame Workshop has plans to bring Ronald Grump back anytime soon. A spokesperson wrote to the Washington Post, “It’s been over ten years since we featured the Ronald Grump character and we have no plans to bring him back,” the spokesperson, Lizzie Fishman, continued, “As you know, our content has always been politically agnostic. We’ve parodied many pop culture icons and television shows such as Game of Thrones, Law & Order, and the Voice, as well a range of news organizations including CNN and Fox News, and newsmen Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and Bill O’Reilly.”