Battlefront Fox: Cable network aggressively promoted idea of Christmas "war"

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN, SAM GILL, ANNA DIMOND & JOE BROWN

Fox News' claims about a "war" on Christmas have escalated. From November 28 to December 2, Fox News carried 58 segments about the so-called "war" on Christmas, more than four times as many as appeared on CNN or MSNBC.

The now heavily documented campaign by Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson to promote the idea that "secular progressives" are conducting a "war" on Christmas appears to have escalated to include much of Fox News programming.

From Monday, November 28, to Friday, December 2, Fox News carried 58 different reports, interviews, and debates on the alleged "war" on Christmas. Coverage ranged from reports of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) recommendation to rename the Capitol Holiday Tree the "Capitol Christmas Tree," to segments titled "Christmas Under Attack" on Fox News Live. In fact, Fox News Live alone devoted 14 reports to various Christmas "war" debates.

Though CNN and MSNBC have lagged behind Fox, they have joined in giving the Fox-fueled controversy attention. MSNBC had 11 mentions of the debate -- though three were mocking references to the controversy on Countdown with Keith Olbermann (whose host singled out Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson's roles in the Christmas crusade for ridicule).

Of the many guests that appeared on Fox News programs to discuss the debate, 18 (many appearing multiple times) endorsed the concept that there is a "war" on Christmas that should be exposed and defeated, whereas only seven either defended more inclusive "holiday" terminology or argued that the "war" on Christmas was overstated.

Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder and chairman of the Moral Majority Coalition, appeared five different times on two of the three major cable news channels. Falwell is allied with the conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel, which has been involved in many of the various local Christmas disputes and operates a "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," which includes "free legal assistance by Liberty Counsel to individuals facing persecution for celebrating Christmas" and "a pledge to be the 'Friend' to those entities which do not discriminate against Christmas and a 'Foe' to those that do."

While Fox has taken the lead in highlighting the issue, media figures on MSNBC and CNN have willingly joined in. For example, on the November 30 edition of MSNBC's The Situation with Tucker Carlson, host Tucker Carlson stated: "[I]f the P.C. Police get their way -- we pray they won't -- you might be singing a different tune to the classic carol, "Oh, Christmas Tree." During a segment on the November 29 broadcast of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN anchor Jack Cafferty asserted: "Put a tree in your house, or put it on your lawn, or put it wherever, and call it whatever you want. But stay the hell out of my Christmas."

CNN

News program

Commentary program

Presented as news or with balanced panels

Paula Zahn NOW (11/28 -- guest: Rev. Jerry Falwell; clips of Abraham Foxman, president of Anti-Defamation League)

American Morning (11/30 -- host Miles O'Brien introduces segment calling Capitol tree debate "nonsense")

Live From... (11/30)

Live From... (12/1)

The Situation Room (11/30)

Lou Dobbs Tonight (12/1)

Lou Dobbs Tonight (12/2 -- guests: Barry Lynn and Mathew Staver)

Anderson Cooper 360 (12/2)

Christmas Crusaders

The Situation Room (11/29 -- "The Cafferty File" -- leads with Christmas tree debates)

The Situation Room (11/29 -- "The Cafferty File" -- responds to Christmas tree viewer emails)

Lou Dobbs Tonight (11/29)

American Morning (11/30 -- mentions Capitol tree, Miles O'Brien disapproves of political correctness concerns)

Larry King Live (12/2 -- Rick Warren, comment during interview)

Holiday Grinches

MSNBC


News program

Commentary program

Presented as news or with balanced panels

MSNBC News Live (12/1 -- 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.)

Christmas Crusaders

Imus in the Morning (11/30 -- leads with Boston tree controversy)

Imus in the Morning (12/2)

Hardball with Chris Matthews (12/1 -- leads with Capitol tree controversy; guest: Byron York)

The Situation with Tucker Carlson (11/30 -- leads with Boston, Capitol tree debates)

The Situation with Tucker Carlson (12/1)

The Situation with Tucker Carlson (12/2)

Scarborough Country (12/1 -- guests: Christopher Hitchens and Mathew Staver)

Holiday Grinches

Countdown with Keith Olbermann (11/30 -- mocks O'Reilly Christmas campaign)

Countdown with Keith Olbermann (12/1 -- mocks "phony" Fox Christmas "war")

Countdown with Keith Olbermann (12/2 -- mocks Gibson Christmas "war")

Fox News

News program

Commentary program

Presented as news or with balanced panels

Fox News Live (11/28)

Fox News Live (11/29, 10 a.m.)

Fox News Live (11/29, 2 p.m.)

Fox News Live (11/29, 2 p.m.)

Fox News Live (11/30, guest: Rev. Jerry Falwell)

Fox News Live (12/1)

Fox News Live (12/2, 9 a.m.)

Fox News Live (12/2, 10 a.m.)

Fox News Live (12/2, 11 a.m.)

Fox News Live (12/2, 11 a.m.)

Fox News Live (12/2, 11 a.m.)

Fox News Live (12/2, 11 a.m.)

Fox News Live (12/2, 12 p.m.)

Fox & Friends (11/30 -- Fox News correspondent Molly Henneberg asks Laura Bush whether White House tree is a "Christmas" or "holiday" one)

Fox & Friends (12/2)

DaySide (11/28, led with Target boycott, guest: Don Wildmon)

DaySide (12/1 -- guest: Rev. Jerry Falwell)

The Fox Report with Shepard Smith (11/29)

Your World with Neil Cavuto (11/28 -- Cavuto debates guest Barry Lynn)

Your World with Neil Cavuto (11/29)

The Big Story with John Gibson (11/29)

The Big Story with John Gibson (11/30 -- guest: Ellis Henican)

The Big Story with John Gibson (12/1 -- brief mentions in unrelated story, guest: Andrew Napolitano)

The O'Reilly Factor (11/29 -- guests: Ellis Henican, Lori Lipman Brown)

The O'Reilly Factor (11/29)

The O'Reilly Factor (11/30)

The O'Reilly Factor (12/1)

Hannity & Colmes (11/28 -- leads with Lowe's home and improvement store controversy, guests: Neal Boortz; Timothy Gorski)

Christmas Crusaders

Fox News Live (11/29, 2 p.m. -- Fox News correspondent Brian Wilson reports Capitol tree resolution as victory in Christmas "war")

Fox & Friends First (12/1)

Fox & Friends First (12/2 -- guest: Pastor Patrick Wooden)

Fox & Friends (11/28 -- guest: Rev. Jerry Falwell)

Fox & Friends (11/28)

Fox & Friends (11/28)

Fox & Friends (11/29)

Fox & Friends (11/29 -- guest: Erich "Mancow" Muller)

DaySide (11/29 -- Wilson reports on "personal crusade" to rename Capitol tree a "Christmas" tree)

Special Report with Brit Hume (11/29 -- re-airing of Wilson Christmas "war" victory report)

Your World with Neil Cavuto (11/30 -- guest: Bill O'Reilly)

Your World with Neil Cavuto (12/2 -- guest: Mike Gallagher)

The Big Story with John Gibson (12/1 -- leads with Capitol tree story)

The Big Story with John Gibson (12/1 -- leads with Boston tree, guest: Rev. Jerry Falwell)

The Big Story with John Gibson (12/1 -- guest: comedian Jackie Mason)

The O'Reilly Factor (11/28)

The O'Reilly Factor (11/28 -- guest: Newt Gingrich applauds O'Reilly's pro-Christmas "Talking Points Memo")

The O'Reilly Factor (11/28)

The O'Reilly Factor (11/30 -- guests: Mike Johnson; Pastor Patrick Wooden)

The O'Reilly Factor (12/1 -- guest: Tim Bumgardner)

The O'Reilly Factor (12/2)

The O'Reilly Factor (12/2 -- guest: Jackie Mason)

Hannity & Colmes (11/30 -- guests: members of family mistakenly asked to take down nativity lawn display)

Hannity & Colmes (12/1 -- guest: David Cortman)

Holiday Grinches

Fox & Friends (11/30 -- guest: LeAnn Rimes argues against hosts for "holiday" terminology)

Guests/Appearances (number of appearances on network noted)


Christmas Crusaders

Holiday Grinches

CNN

Rev. Jerry Falwell

Mathew Staver (2), president and general counsel, Liberty Counsel

Rick Warren, author, The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Zondervan, 2002)

Barry Lynn, executive director, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

MSNBC

Mike Barnicle, Boston Herald columnist

Staver

Byron York, columnist, The Hill; White House correspondent, The National Review

Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair columnist

Fox News

Rev. Jerry Falwell (4)

Don Wildmon (president, American Family Association)

Brian Wilson, Fox News congressional correspondent

Newt Gingrich, Fox News political contributor

Andrew Napolitano, Fox News legal analyst

Mike Johnson, attorney, Alliance Defense Fund

David Cortman, attorney, Alliance Defense Fund

Patrick Wooden (2), pastor, Upper Room Church

Tim Bumgardner, West Palm Beach Protestant minister

Jackie Mason (2), comedian, advisory board member, Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation

Bill O'Reilly, host, Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor

Neal Boortz, radio host

Mike Gallagher, radio host

Erich "Mancow" Muller, radio host

Ellis Henican (2), Newsday columnist

Barry Lynn

Lori Lipman Brown, director, Secular Coalition for America

Timothy Gorski, pastoral director, North Texas Church of Freethought

LeAnn Rimes, singer

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