Megyn Kelly Responds to Santa Claus Critics: Get a Sense of Humor

Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly took on the left-wing hate mob that has come after her following a humorous segment that she featured on her program Wednesday evening in which she and her guests staged a mock debate over the racial identity of Santa Claus.

To the haters, Kelly had a message tonight: Lighten up and learn to realize what satire is. “Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show but sometimes that is lost on the humorless,” she said.

Since the Wednesday segment, an absurd controversy has been swirling around the newly minted primetime host in which Foxophobic television and internet outlets seemed unable (or unwilling) to comprehend that the entire segment, which began with a satirical disclaimer to “kids at home” that Santa was white and did exist, was not to be taken seriously.

After playing several clips of various television shows reacting to her remarks, Kelly commented further on the response: “This would be funny if it were not so telling about our society. In particular, the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race bait and to assume the worst in people, especially people employed by the very powerful Fox News channel.”

Indeed. As we noted yesterday, it seems that many leftists in this country seem to be psychologically disturbed that there is one television channel which is not controlled by Democratic partisans and therefore they seek to turn even the tiniest molehills into mountains when it comes to Fox News. The entire segment was a joke and for people to pretend otherwise speaks negatively of their intelligence or their honesty.

Kelly summarized the kerfuffle well when she added at the end: “The fact that an offhand jest that I made during a segment about whether Santa should be replaced by a penguin has now become a national firestorm says two things: race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country and Fox News and yours truly are big targets for many people.”

A complete transcript of the segment which appeared on the December 13, 2013 edition of “The Kelly File” follows.

MEGYN KELLY: Also in the news tonight, is Santa Claus real and what does he look like? Hide the kids, Mom and Dad, spoiler alert! Apparently we ignited quite a controversy the other night in a segment about an essay that argued Santa should no longer be portrayed as a white man. The African-American author of the piece, Aisha Harris, was upset about the commercial depiction of Santa Claus as white and argued that a quote ‘fat old white man’ who is quote ‘melanin-deficient’ made her feel ashamed as a child, thus necessitating an image makeover.

In kicking off the light-hearted segment, I offered a tongue-in-cheek message for any kids watching saying that Santa, who I joked is a real person whose race is identifiable, is white, just as Harris claimed in her piece, but that we were debating whether that should somehow change.

(footage from December 11, 2013 edition of “The Kelly File”)

On Slate they have a piece, on dot-com, saying that Santa Claus should not be a white man anymore. And when I saw this headline, I kind of laughed. Yet another person claiming it’s racist to have a white Santa. By the way, for all you 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.

But 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 about it kind of honestly saying I didn't understand why that had to be.

(return to live footage)

I realized that the piece by Harris, which said that Santa should be a penguin, was also tongue-in-cheek. That’s in part why we covered the story in the first place. Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show but sometimes that is lost on the humorless. Cue the firestorm of controversy over my declaring Santa’s skin color: many questioning whether I understand that Santa is a mythical figure, others suggesting I am a racist who is outraged at the idea of a black Santa.

(footage from “CNN Newsroom”)

DON LEMON: All right this is a, everybody’s waiting for this segment. So grab your popcorn, turn the volume up in your office, close the door, sit down, here we go. If you thought Santa Claus or Jesus Christ were anything other than white, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly wants you to know: you are wrong. Kelly says both were white and that’s a fact.

(edit cut in footage)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you for trying to err on the side of inconclusivity, then definitely Penguin Santa makes sense. But to get outraged at the idea that there are non-white Santas is ridiculous because I guarantee you, right now, that if you would walk home with an African-American person almost anywhere in the country, you would find a black Santa Claus and black angels and a black Jesus.

(footage from MSNBC show “All In With Chris Hayes”)

AISHA HARRIS (Author of original Slate piece that started the controversy): I think that’s what bothered me the most about it was the way that Kelly and the others kind of were—she said it just so angrily. It kind of sunk in to me, it felt like you’re insisting that this not real figure must be white.

(footage from ABC show “Jimmy Kimmel Live”)

JIMMY KIMMEL: Right. All fictional people are white. It’s in the Bible, Santa just is white, like Christmas, it’s white Christmas. And by the way, what kids are watching Fox News at home? What weird kids are those?

(footage from “CNN Newsroom”)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good luck.

LEMON: Good night. We’ll be back in a moment.

(return to live footage)

KELLY: Outraged? Well this would be funny if it were not so telling about our society. In particular, the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race bait. And to assume the worst in people, especially people employed by the very powerful Fox News Channel.

Contrary to what my critics have posited, neither my statement nor Harris’s, I’m sure, was motivated by racial fear or loathing. In fact, it was something far less sinister: a lifetime of exposure to the very same quote ‘commercials, mall casting calls, and movies’ Harris references in her piece. From ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ to the Thanksgiving Day parade to the national Christmas tree lighting, we continually see St. Nick as white man in modern-day America. Should that change? Well that debate got lost because so many couldn’t get past the fact that I acknowledged, as Harris did, that the most commonly depicted images of Santa does, in fact, have white skin.

By the way, I also did say that Jesus was white. As I’ve learned in the past two days, that is far from settled. For me, the fact that an offhand jest that I made during a segment about whether Santa should be replaced by a penguin has now become a national firestorm says two things: race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country and Fox News and yours truly are big targets for many people.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013