O'Reilly still blasting retail chains for apocryphal “Merry Christmas” ban

On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly claimed that retailers Best Buy and Crate & Barrel are “still ordering their people not to say, 'Merry Christmas,' ” and that the stores “will fire” employees who do. According to each store's spokesperson, neither retail chain has such a policy.

On the November 29 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly continued to hype the so-called “war” on Christmas by claiming that retailers Best Buy and Crate & Barrel are “still ordering their people not to say, 'Merry Christmas,' ” and that the stores “will fire” employees who do. O'Reilly also asserted that “ordering” employees “not to say 'Merry Christmas' ” is “the worst kind of fascism you could possibly have.” In fact, representatives of both stores have denied having policies that forbid employees to say “Merry Christmas” to customers.

Contrary to O'Reilly's assertion, neither Crate & Barrel nor Best Buy appears to have policies forbidding employees from saying “Merry Christmas” and firing them if they do so. O'Reilly is presumably basing his claim that Crate & Barrel “order[s] their people not to say 'Merry Christmas' ” on a November 22 Minneapolis Star Tribune article, which reported that Crate & Barrel spokesperson Betty Kahn said, “We would definitely not say 'Merry Christmas.' ” But as the weblog Think Progress reported, “Kahn said her quote was misconstrued. Crate & Barrel has no policy encouraging or discouraging store employees from saying 'Merry Christmas' or any other greeting.”

Best Buy also reportedly does not forbid its employees to say “Merry Christmas.” As noted in the November 22 Augusta Chronicle, “Best Buy spokeswoman Dawn Bryant said Best Buy workers are allowed to greet customers any way they choose, including 'Merry Christmas,' but the company's promotional efforts are limited.” Bryant added “that one [Best Buy] commercial uses the Happy Holidays saying. 'The idea is that we're celebrating the entire holiday season, just not pulling out any one specific holiday.' ” According to the November 22 Star Tribune report, another Best Buy spokesperson asserted: “We're not banning Christmas. ...It's the opposite. We're celebrating that holiday, along with the others that are celebrated during November and December.”

From the November 29 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: It's a bunch of people who are running around and they're angry, but they've got no direction for the anger. And there are so many insane things that, everyday, I come into work and I say to myself, “How can this be happening?”

You know, I have to tell you that I did not want to do Christmas controversy stories this year. You know, we did it last year, we won the war, Wal-Mart and Macy's and all the big stores are saying, “Merry Christmas,” and they've stopped ordering their employees not to say it -- most of them. Best Buy and Crate & Barrel are two that still are ordering their people not to say, “Merry Christmas,” which is the worst kind of fascism you could possibly have. They have a right to do it but it's just stupid.

But anyway, this season I said to myself, “You know, with all the trouble we have overseas and the war on terror, I really don't want to get into the Christmas thing again.” We won it, it was a worthy campaign, but do we have to do it again? And then, I'm confronted with this stuff.


O'REILLY: So, that is the -- that is the end game. Now, you get back to Crate & Barrel and Best Buy, who are ordering their employees, “If you say, 'Merry Christmas,' we will fire you.” Now, this is insane, OK? It is, to me, an affront, so I don't shop at those places. I don't want to give them my business, because they annoy me. Nothing more. Nothing more. It's annoying. I don't want to do business with those people. My right. Now, it is their right to tell their employees what they can and cannot say. Unfortunately, private companies can do that. It's their right.

So, it's basically my right -- I'm not going to buy your little barrel or a crate, or I'm not going to Best Buy. I'm going to go someplace that says, “Merry Christmas,” because it's the Christmas season. That's why you give gifts. You give gifts because it's Christmastime. The spirit of giving. That's a tradition. Don't acknowledge the tradition, I ain't gonna -- I'm not going to buy it, not going to do it.


O'REILLY: I have to fire somebody. How many people have I fired this year? Philip Nulman, CEO of the Nulman Group and author of the marketing book, Just Say Yes! All right, so you believe that Crate & Barrel and Best Buy and others who order their employees not to say, “Merry Christmas” are smart?