December 4, 2013

On his Dec. 2 show, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly vowed to “keep an eye” on the so-called War on Christmas. In what’s clearly a not-too-fruitful search for 2013 war-on-Christmas grist, O’Reilly fixated on Macy’s. “This year they’re touting Santa Claus who will help you, quote, ‘With your holiday wish list,’ ” declared O’Reilly, who would prefer that the department store say “Christmas wish list.” More O’Reilly: “So here is my question to Macy’s. What holiday is Santa celebrating? Winter solstice, the birthday of a reindeer — what?”

And that was plenty enough for Jon Stewart, who used a segment of his “Daily Show” program to poke at the war on the War on Christmas. He appeared a bit fatigued by this quite predictable issue, noting how “we do this dance every year.” When Stewart asked what makes this year particularly noteworthy in the tyranny of “happy holidays,” he turned to O’Reilly’s argument about timing: “What is interesting this year is that Hanukkah will be over on Thursday. So there are no more holidays between then and Christmas Day. It’s just Christmas if you want to invoke happy. Bad news for the secular progressives,” said O’Reilly. Stewart ridiculed the notion.

The back-and-forth between O’Reilly and War-on-Christmas detractors like Stewart is a merry pursuit, a staple of the “holiday” season. Last year a poll by Public Policy Polling found that 47 percent of respondents believed this war existed, as opposed to 40 percent who did not. Thirteen percent fell in the “not sure” category, a demographic that O’Reilly and Stewart have gotten an early start on influencing this year.

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Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.