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Is Fox News Taking "Christ" Out of Christmas?

Reported by Judy - December 3, 2005

What is the real reason behind Fox News' promotion of a phony "War on Christmas"? Is it a desire to instill Christian beliefs about the birth of Jesus Christ, or is it just about getting people to spend more money? The self-contradictory elements of Fox News' desire to promote a religious holiday while undermining the spiritual basis of the holiday was in full display Saturday (December 3, 2005) on "Bulls and Bears."

Host Brenda Buttner opened the latest battle in Fox News' annual campaign to convince its viewers that the Christmas holiday is in danger by asking, "The War on Christmas -- Could the Left win its crusade and does that threaten our stock market, our entire economy?" Buttner, of course, never identified whom she meant by "the Left," never named anyone who has asked a retailer to instruct its employees not to say, "Merry Christmas." She just assumes that the audience agrees this is actually happening. Later, she said that "many" retailers (without naming any) "are saying 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas.' There are no more Christmas trees. It's 'Merry Have Your Wish Trees' or something."

No more Christmas trees? In retail stores? Is she intentionally trying to fudge the line between what the Constitution says can happen in public schools and parks and what can happen in private areas, such as privately owned stores? Buttner wouldn't do that, would she?

We know, of course, that the "war on Christmas" is mostly a figment of Fox News' imagination. We went through the same harangue from Fox News last Christmas. This year, the impetus is John Gibson's book, titled The War on Christmas, of which Fox wants to sell a lot.

So Buttner fell in with the corporate line that somehow retail businesses, who are supposed to be bastions of conservatism, have somehow been cowed by "the left" to downplay Christmas, even though the Christmas season is the biggest sales season of the year for them. Adopting this illogical non-occurrence as her premise, Buttner asked her panel to respond to her nonsense.

Tobin Smith again displayed how anxious he is to agree with whatever Buttner says. "Retailers have somehow fallen under the spell of the pixie dust of these consultants. This is baseball, this is American pie. Christmas is a larger issue than just a holiday. It's a spirit issue. What's next -- Easter? I mean, do we outlaw Easter? I mean these people who buy this stuff are out of their minds," he said.

Consultants? You mean consultants are telling retailers to downplay Christmas and not the Left? Outlaw Easter? Did the Republican Congress pass a bill outlawing Christmas and George Bush sign it? Did somebody propose this? Of course not. Leave it to Tobin Smith to take Buttner's ridiculous assertion and make it mega-ridiculous so his feeble intellectual would have an easier time knocking it down..

As the discussion ensued, Fox News' chyron read, "Economic Disaster if Liberals Win the 'War on Christmas'?" Shouldn't that have read "if Consultants Win the War on Christmas?"

Gary B. Smith, from realmoney.com, agreed that if Christmas spending went away it would hurt the economy. Well, duh. But he tried to bring back some semblance of sanity to the discussion. "I'd like to think behind the retailers' motives, they don't want to be PC, they just want to draw in the most customers possible. If you look at what holidays retail has created -- Mother's Day, Valentine's Day. ... If it's important for the retailers to say, 'Merry Christmas,' they're going to say it to get people into the stores." He might have added that if more people will come in because they say, "Happy Holidays," they'll do that, too. The consultants' advice, Smith said, "only matters until they see their next quarter's earnings, and if a consultant comes in and says, be politically correct, and their revenues drop off, they're going to stop being politically correct."

Pat Dorsey, from morningstar.com, tried to talk like a grown-up to this bunch of kindergarteners, saying, "Americans will stop spending when this country is hit by an asteroid. I mean, life, liberty and the pursuit of higher credit card debt -- there are the three inalienable rights of Americans. Higher heating bills, higher mortage payments, there is lots of stuff that could derail Christmas. But I don't think this 'war on Christmas' is what's going to do it. Only an asteroid will do it."

Buttner then wanted to know if Wall Street is watching this "war on Christmas." "I don't think Wall Street gives a hoot whether it's called 'Merry Christmas' or whether it's called 'Happy Holidays' or 'Happy whatever,' as long as the sales come in. It just doesn't matter. If it works, they'll keep it up," said Dorsey.

At one point, one of the panelists said what retailers should say is "Happy spend-a-lot of money-holiday" because that's what they really want.

And that's what is so confusing about Fox's war to promote retailers' observance of Christmas. Christmas is supposed to be a "spirit" holiday, in the clumsy language of Tobin Smith. How does Fox want us to observe a "spirit" holiday? By doing secular things like spending lots of money on stuff. Fox is manipulating its right-wing Christian audience into undermining what should be a holy day for them. It may be that Fox has taken Christ out of Christmas and replaced him with Santa Claus, and the right-wing Christians didn't even notice.

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