Dispatches from the Creation Wars

O’Reilly’s Lies about Christmas

Media Matters has been doing a thorough job of following Bill O’Reilly’s fake “War on Christmas” crusade of demagoguery. At this moment, they’ve got posts up catching him in no fewer than three lies trying to turn myth into reality. They are:

Lie #1: Saginaw, Michigan tells people not to where red and green clothing:

O’REILLY: In Saginaw, Michigan, the township opposes red and green clothing on anyone. [Laughing] In Saginaw Township, they basically said, anybody, we don’t want you to wear red or green. I would dress up head to toe in red to green if I were in Saginaw, Michigan.

False. Saginaw township issued a statement flatly denying this ridiculous accusation and noting that the township hall has red and green christmas lights on it as well.

Lie #2: The Plano, Texas school system tells students they can’t wear green and red clothing:

O’REILLY: In Plano, Texas, just north of Dallas, the school told students they couldn’t wear red and green because they were Christmas colors. That’s flat-out fascism. If I were a student in Plano, I’d be a walking Christmas tree after that order. Have a little thing on my head.

False. The school district issued the following statement:

“The school district does not restrict students or staff from wearing certain color clothes during holiday times or any other school days,” noted Dr. Otto, who said that the school district’s attorney has requested that Mr. O’Reilly retract the statement.

Dr. Otto said that attorneys have requested of Mr. O’Reilly that, in the future, he ask his fact checkers to do a more thorough job of confirming the facts before he airs them. “It would be our hope that you would engage in fair and balanced reporting of this nationally recognized school district in the future,” wrote PISD’s attorney.

Lie #3: The Post Office no longer issues Christmas stamps with a religious theme:

O’REILLY: Yeah. I think it’s the first time in my lifetime that the United States Postal Service has not had a spiritual stamp for people like you who would like them. And, again, disrespectful. Flat-out disrespectful, insulting you and your beliefs, [caller], because your spiritual stamp is in context to the celebration of Christmas. And we gotta stop that, and we will.

False. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported a couple weeks ago, the Post Office didn’t issue any new religious-theme stamps this year only because the price of stamps is going up to 39 cents on January 8th and they still have a backlog of last year’s Madonna and Child stamps to get rid of before then. Leave it to Bill O’Reilly to turn good inventory management into a conspiracy to destroy Christmas.


  1. #1 Dave S.
    December 14, 2005

    Only an brain-dead idiot would take most of what O’Reilly says seriously.

    Luckily, that seems to be his target demographic.

  2. #2 Mark
    December 14, 2005

    I guess his philosophy is that if reality doesn’t conform to your prejudices, just lie about it.

  3. #3 Jim Anderson
    December 14, 2005

    Next up: Brayton takes on O’Reilly at a book convention. Fisticuffs ensue.

  4. #4 Liz
    December 14, 2005

    RE: Stamps

    Not only that, but the secular stamps that I saw this year were cookie stamps, and they feature an angel cookie, so they’re not even secular!

  5. #5 Phillip J. Birmingham
    December 14, 2005

    Goddamn, OReilly is an idiot. Thirty seconds on the USPS site would tell him that the Post Office has Christmas stamps.

  6. #6 Mike P
    December 14, 2005

    I actually watched one of the episodes where O’Reilly was spouting off. It was about Plano, Texas. I later saw it rebutted on Media Matters. I have a prejudice that people are more likely misinformed than malicious, but the unending list of “mistatements” from O’Reilly has me believing that he knows what he is doing and does not care.

  7. #7 FishyFred
    December 14, 2005

    I thought Media Matters was a conservative organization? What are they doing preying on O’Reilly?

  8. #8 Mike P
    December 15, 2005

    Here is the article that I was talking about. And here is a quote from the “About Us” section of their website.

    Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

  9. #9 countlurkula
    December 15, 2005

    If my memory serves me correctly, wasn’t at least one of the early crusades started because the Constantinopolitans were saying “Seasons Greetings” in December while the western Church was saying “Merry Christmas.” Rome was thoroughly incensed and sent soldiers across the Bosporus to plunder, destroy and distribute appropriately worded Christmas greetings. So the historical precedents for this “War on Christmas” are really sobering.

    Of course my memory may be a little off. It was either the Christmas greeting or a small creedal difference, I forget…

  10. #10 Pieter B
    December 15, 2005

    Over at Letters to Romenesko, there’s a good piece from Charlie Reina, former Fox News producer, about the phony War on Christmas, which he blames in part on PC, while handing FOX the lion’s share of the blame.

    But first let’s look at what political correctness is, and is not, in this context. Wishing your customers or co-workers, “Happy holidays,” isn’t p/c; it’s common sense. Try saying, “Merry Christmas, happy Hannukah, a joyous Kwanzaa and a prosperous New Year” every time you leave the office, and before long they won’t let you back in. But taking something that’s recognized everywhere – by people of all religious beliefs — as a Christmas tree and renaming it a “holiday tree” is political correctness, pure and simple. It adds nothing, reaches out to no one. It’s as offensive as it would be to call a Menorah a “festive candelabra,” or Santa Claus “Jolly old Good-guy Nick.” Granted, as a cause for war, this holiday p/c is no Pearl Harbor. But in its own na├»ve way, it provides the warmongers with just the ammunition they want.

    Reina brings up something that is obvious but that most of us probably hadn’t recognized as such.

    But what really separates Fox from the competition is its unabashed use of religion as a divisive weapon. Common sense — and common courtesy — have long dictated that personal religious beliefs be kept out of news reporting unless the story at hand involves religion. But on Fox, it’s not uncommon for an anchor to raise the issue of a guest’s religion, or lack thereof, a’ propos of nothing. The most glaring example I can recall is a 2002 interview with a guest who had been cited for his charitable acts. At the end of the discussion the anchor said (paraphrasing here), “So I understand you’re an atheist.” The guest acknowledged that this was so. “Well,” said he anchor, “we’re out of time now, but I’d be glad to debate you anytime on the existence of God,” and, with that, ended the segment.

    A few hours after Reina’s letter was posted, Fox’s Director of Media Relations responded. This is what he wrote, in its entirety:

    From PAUL SCHUR, director of media relations, Fox News: Charlie’s rants [below] about Fox News are both predictable and sad. For his sake, we hope he stops howling at the moon and moves on with his life. We wish him well in his current role making cabinets out of his garage.

    Now that’s a class act, isn’t it? Fox News, home of the substance-free argumentum ad hominem.

  11. #11 SfwrEng
    December 17, 2005

    The origin of the O’Reilly story was apparently a November article by J. Grant Swank, Jr.:
    This in turn reflects the information in an ADF article on December 15, 2004, about their lawsuit against the Plano ISD which alleged the facts quoted by O’Reilly.

    This year the Plano ISD showed more finesse:
    “But Abernathy said the letter sent does not ban red, green, yellow or purple, but the letter asks students to bring items for a winter break party that reflect winter and snow, which is white. The letter asks for student contributions of white napkins, sugar cookies, juice boxes and Hershey’s kisses for the parties. ”

    They are effectively celebrating Winter Solstice (a pagan holiday). Celebrating “winter and snow” in Texas at Christmas is a little inane. It is clear to an objective observer that they do have a problem with Christmas and are trying to legally avoid recognizing the holiday.

    O’Reilly’s literal facts are not true this year. But the spirit of “No Red and Green” lives on.

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