'It's the Elephant in the Room; It's Fox News'

J$P Instant Transcript! The News Watch panel erupts over the war on Christmas. With J$P Video!

From Fox News Watch, December 3 2005:

ERIC BURNS [FOX NEWS]: There's a controversy in Boston. Should the Holiday Tree in Boston Common be referred to as a Christmas tree? There's a controversy in Washington DC, same thing. Should the Capitol Holiday Tree be called the Capitol Christmas Tree? And there's a controversy in Encinitas California, where the town's Holiday Parade has been renamed the Christmas Parade, and several civic groups, including the Girl Scouts, have pulled out as a result. All of this in the wake of a Fox News poll which shows that 95% of all Americans celebrate Christmas. Did I just stack the deck there?

NEAL GABLER [MEDIA WRITER]: No, I mean, war is where you want to find it. Michelle Goldberg had a great article and anybody interested in this issue in Salon ought to read it. And what she said, that Henry Ford back in 1929 declared that there was a war on Christmas, of course he blamed Jews. She cites the John Birch Society, reactionary John Birch Society in 1950 saying there's a war on Christmas, in 1959, by secularists--

BURNS: All right, listen, hold it. Let's not call it a war necessarily but--

GABLER: It is being called "the war" in certain places.

BURNS: It is. Well let's not do it here. But let's just say isn't it ridiculous, Jane, to want to get rid of the word "Christmas" Tree and say "Holiday" Tree? Let me just mention this before you answer. A few years ago in Pittsburgh there was an edict in one of the school districts that if you were an employee in that school district you couldn't say "Merry Christmas" to a kid. A memo came down. You had to say "Happy Sparkle Season". Serious. Aren't we going to far?

JANE HALL [AMERICAN UNIVERSITY]: Well if you cite those examples, yes. But I think there's a real question that I have here. I mean, the last time I checked Jesus was for tolerance. And to have Bill O'Reilly has made this a huge issue; he's obviously getting a lot of feedback. John Gibson has a book about it, another Fox anchor. I think this is largely a fundraiser for Jerry Falwell to pick up on some run amok PC. I think to talk about the corporations, as Bill O'Reilly's been doing, and what they do--I mean he's certainly within his rights. But what are they saying? Boycott the corporations that have holiday wishes? What is the point of that?

JIM PINKERTON [NEWSDAY]: I think as Neal and Jane illustrate, 90% of the media elites say "bah, humbug" to this entire issue.

HALL: Do you go to church?

PINKERTON: They just think it's crap, and it shows. It drips out of them.

HALL: I really, that's not true.

PINKERTON: I think as the Fox poll shows, and as common sense shows, and everybody's experience shows, among ordinary Americans, most Americans think that Christmas is either an important religious event, or an important cultural, communitarian event. And they want it noted and celebrated. And this--

HALL: I didn't say don't note it and celebrate it.

PINKERTON: This is a great illustration of the war, of the struggle--I'll call it a war, in honor of John Gibson--between the elites and the masses.

HALL: Wait a minute, because you have not cited one, first of all--

GABLER: What this is an example of--

BURNS: Just a minute. If there's a struggle to get rid of the word, Cal, "Christmas", that's my point. Aren't we going too far when we take it to an extreme like that?

CAL THOMAS [SYNDICATED COLUMNIST]: Well I suppose so. But a theological point of order. Jesus was not about tolerance. He said--

HALL: I said he was for tolerance.

THOMAS: --I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but by me. That's pretty narrow. But I will say, today's my birthday. I'm not looking for anybody to celebrate my birthday. People say "good morning"; I'm not saying "wait a minute, why aren't you wishing me a Happy Birthday?" Let's give the secularists their holiday on April 1st, and leave the rest of it to me. I don't care what the culture does. They don't mean it anyway. They're trying to exploit Christmas to make money. Merry Christmas and buy the X-box.

HALL: May I say something? May I say something please?

GABLER: I want to get this--yes.

HALL: I go to church. I'll match anybody in terms of belief and I don't think that's relevant here. To say that people in the media--I haven't anybody cite example of people in the media. We're talking about government officials and stores that are being politically correct.

PINKERTON: I can help you Jane. The fact is--

HALL: You don't need to help me, Jim. I resent the way you're characterizing this.

PINKERTON: This story was ignored by the mainstream media--

GABLER: Because it's not a story, and that's why it was ignored. And as I said, in 1921 this began.

HALL: It's a fundraiser.

GABLER: Now let's talk about the elephant in the room. Let's talk about the media.

BURNS: Just a minute Neal. If it started in 1921--

GABLER: It's not a story. It's a demagogic campaign.

BURNS: --if I can just give three examples right now in different parts of the country--

GABLER: We're 300 million people. I can give you--

BURNS: Just a minute. There are more than three examples to give.

GABLER: Three incidents of chicken pox doesn't make an epidemic.

HALL: But what is the media, where is the media angle?

GABLER: The media angle, right here, I want to talk about the media angle, because we've avoided it. It's the elephant in the room; it's Fox News. Come on. It's O'Reilly, it's Hannity, it's Gibson. They're demagogues who realize that at Christmas time you can rouse the masses on this issue.

PINKERTON: That's not--

BURNS: Wait a minute. Just a minute.

GABLER: They'll do it every Christmas. They did it last Christmas; they'll do it next Christmas.

BURNS: Hold it. I spend this whole show sitting back most of the time. I don't think it is demagoguery to point out that there are people who are themselves being demagogues by trying to take away the worship terminology of 95% of Americans.

GABLER: Excuse me, Eric. We are at war; there's Darfour; there's an AIDS crisis. And you're worried about whether people are saying "Merry Christmas"?

BURNS: No! It's one--

GABLER: What world do you live in?

BURNS: Hey Neal, it's one issue and it's the issue that's the subject of this topic, this segment.

GABLER: And the media has been pumping it, and that's my point. The media, particularly Fox media, has been pumping the hell out of this thing.

PINKERTON: In the early 60s, the school prayer decision came down from the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court spiked it, the mainstream media didn't care. People sat there and were furious about that for decades. They finally elected Reagan, they finally changed the court, they finally found their own media voice. The world is changing and Neal doesn't like it.

GABLER: Oh, what B.S.

BURNS: Just a minute. Cal?

THOMAS: I will, all right. Jane is right about the fundraising component. Various groups have an interest in doing this. And I would just end this segment by saying, peace on earth, goodwill to men.

BURNS: Which we're all during this break going to try to gather up among ourselves. Wow, I hope we're still getting along. Let's see.

QuickTime video clip; allow file time to load:

posted: Sat - December 3, 2005 at 07:31 PM       j$p  send