Liberals often love to say that conservatives cannot take a joke but the truth is that both left and right sometimes are lacking in the humor department. That’s especially true of the cottage industry that’s sprung up devoted to finding any tiny little thing to bash Fox News, one of the handful of national media outlets that don’t lean left.
The very existence of Fox News appears to be psychologically damaging to some people, which is why the left-leaning websites that cater to them love jumping on any possible thing as a way of providing emotional validation. The Fox haters are up in arms today about a cheeky discussion that took place on last night’s “Kelly File” program in which a mock debate was held about the moral propriety of portraying Santa Claus as a white man, a proposition raised by an essay pubished Dec.10 at Slate.
The piece, which was discussed here on NewsBusters, argued that it was somehow psychologically distressing to non-white children to see Santa Claus as a white man. To solve this alleged problem, author Aisha Harris proposed that Santa be replaced with a penguin.
There were some interesting thoughts raised in the piece (I supposed I’d find them a bit more interesting considering that my wife is black and we have a two-year-old) but overall, it was, like so many Slate articles, nothing more than clickbait--it advanced a controversial idea in a snarky fashion designed to get a rise out of some people so that they would forward the link to their friends, thereby boosting Slate’s pageviews and ad revenues. Harris even admitted as much in a followup piece saying that “I hoped the piece would come across as a little tongue-in-cheek.”
(Side note: Harris’s second article is misleadingly headlined as “What Fox News doesn’t understand about Santa Claus” even though her piece consists solely of a response to a single segment on a program on FNC which is editorially autonomous.)
On her program last night in one of the show’s latter segments typically reserved for humorous stories, Kelly decided to lead a light-hearted discussion of the piece. To telegraph the upcoming mirth, Kelly began the segment by talking to “the kids at home” who might be watching the show who still believe in a white Kris Kringle: “Santa just is white but this person is arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. Santa is what he is and we are debating this because someone wrote about it.”
It was a funny quip very much in line with many a parent’s reassurances to doubting children on the very serious question of Christmastime epistemology.
But Kelly’s aside was not at all amusing to the left-wing smear merchants, however. For them, the Fox News star’s pushing back against some irrelevant political correctness in a cheeky manner is an outrage. Here’s Salon’s Elias Isquith trying his best to make a joke meant for kids into some sort of crypto-fascist-racist dog whistle by conveniently stripping out the kiddie context:
“On her show Wednesday night, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly took a stand on one of the most important issues of our time: Whether or not Santa Claus — who does not exist — is a white man. As far as Kelly is concerned, there is no question that he is.
Responding to an article in Slate, titled “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore,” Kelly expressed to a panel of guests her bemusement at the idea of anyone imagining Santa Claus — who, again, does not exist — as anything other than a white man. “Santa just is white,” Kelly said. “But this person is maybe just arguing that we should also have a black Santa. But, you know, Santa is what he is — and just so you know, we’re just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.”
I won’t bother reciting some of the similar fake outrage at Kelly on this point. It’s not worth reading nor is it worth giving them a link. See our earlier post about the history if you are interested in a response to that point. It’s also true that Kelly was incorrect in describing Harris’s advocacy for a Penguin Claus rather than a black Santa--big whoop.
In the end, it might be true that some children are uncomfortable that Santa is white but such discomfort does not really matter because in real life, people of different races actually do exist. Does it really matter to society that people of African descent dominate certain sports while whites dominate others? Is it a great racial indignity that in recent years Shakespeare’s Othello is almost always portrayed as a black man instead of a semitic or white one?
The answer to all of those questions is an absolute “no.”
Furthermore, if one is truly concerned about childrens’ feelings, there is no reason at all that Kelly should not have tried to give that little disclaimer for the kids who believe in the white Santa tradition. Her program is a family-friendly show and as such, there almost certainly were Santa believers in the audience.
It really is a testament that there is no depth of absurdity that the haters will not sink to in order to smear Fox News.
Update: On her Friday evening program, Kelly responded to her humor-impaired critics and confirmed that the entire segment was not meant to be taken seriously.
The full transcript of the segment is below.
MEGYN KELLY: They have a piece that Santa Claus shouldn't be a white man anymore. Yet another person saying it's racist to have a white Santa. By the way, for the kids at home, Santa just is white but this person is arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. Santa is what he is and we are debating this because someone wrote about it.
Jedediah, when I read the piece, the author seems to have -- you know, she's African-American. She seems to have real pain at having grown up with the image of a white Santa. She speaks honestly saying I didn't understand why that had to be.
JEDEDIAH BILA, Fox News contributor: She wants Santa to be inclusive. I had the same reaction. Initially I was thinking this is more politically correct nonsense, hyper sensitivity in the culture. It's a tribute to her writing. You realize if you were a young African-American kid and your Santa Claus was white, maybe you wouldn't feel a part of the tradition. She suggested a penguin should be Santa.
KELLY: She goes off the rails.
BILA: It's interesting to have an animal which is something that kids love, bricks the cartoonish quality into it and makes kids feel welcome in the process.
KELLY: No, no.
BILA: I see where she was going.
KELLY: No, no. It makes all birds feel welcome.
BILA: Kids like penguins.
KELLY: I have given her due on where she was going with it. Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change. Jesus was a white man, too. He was a historical figure. That's a verifiable fact -- as is Santa. I want the kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy of the story and change Santa from white to black.
MONICA CROWLEY, Fox News contributor: You can't. First of all, the penguin never would work. A penguin cannot lug the gifts around the world.
KELLY: They are from the South Pole. Santa is from the north.
CROWLEY: You're right. Santa Claus is based on St. Nicholas who was a person, a Greek bishop, a white man.
KELLY: Look. How can he be alienating?
CROWLEY: How cute is he? You can't take facts and try to change them to fit some kind of political agenda or sensitivity agenda.
KELLY: Bernard, quick last word.
BERNARD WHITMAN (Democratic strategist): I think that it's fine for Santa to be represented as a tradition white man, but I also think that if people want to represent him as an African-American male, a drag queen, I think our social fabric --
KELLY: You had to go there.
WHITMAN: I don't think a society going to break up if people respond to Santa in different ways.
KELLY: Thank you for that, Bernard. Thank you panel.