Fox News uses Christmas tree fire as excuse to attack political opponents

The network was given a unique opportunity this holiday season to kick its patented “War on Christmas” paranoia into high gear

Fox News responded to a fire on Wednesday — which destroyed the network’s corporate Christmas display — with over-the-top coverage throughout the day, blaming the blaze on liberal policies, progressive activists, various Democratic politicians, and even progressive philanthropist George Soros.

Sometime in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, December 8, a fire broke out in the 50-foot tree-like structure — dubbed the “All-American Christmas Tree” by Fox — outside of Fox News’ corporate headquarters in Manhattan.

According to NBC 4 New York, which happened to have a reporter on the ground as the events unfolded, a man was apprehended at the scene by police. Further reporting by NBC 4 identified the man as 49-year-old Craig Tamanaha and noted it was “not clear why [he] allegedly set the blaze in the first place, but police say the fire didn't appear to be premeditated or politically motivated.” The suspect was quickly charged with “a bevy of crimes, including arson, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and trespassing.” According to Fox News’ own reporting, “It isn't clear why he targeted the tree.”

No one was hurt and there was no structural damage, but that didn’t stop Fox from dedicating wall-to-wall cable news coverage to the event with an energy usually reserved for terrorist attacks.

Network personalities and guests on Fox News and Fox Business used the fire as an excuse to attack bail reform policies and efforts to reform police departments, and to smear people struggling with homelessness and mental illness. Guests and hosts baselessly labeled the fire a “hate crime” and argued that the fire was “an attack on Fox News” and part of a “War on Religion.” Throughout the day, Fox singled out individual Democratic politicians who were supposedly to blame for creating a permission structure for the arsonist: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and of course President Joe Biden.

Fox is notorious for promoting a fabricated “War on Christmas” hysteria each holiday season, but this year the network was given a unique opportunity to escalate its rhetoric to new heights.

Fox & Friends: “No city is safe. No person is safe.”

Kicking off Fox News’ coverage of the events, Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Ainsley Earhardt set the tone for the rest of the day with a lengthy opening segment dedicated to the fire. Kilmeade argued that it was proof that “no city is safe” and “no person is safe'' while blaming the fire in part on efforts to “defund police” in the city. Earhardt soberly noted that the Christmas tree was a symbol of the “holiday season” for all Americans, arguing that “it’s about Jesus, it's about Hanukkah, it is about everything we stand for as a country.”

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Citation From the December 8, 2021, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends

Varney & Co.: “The War on Religion, and this desecration of faith, has to end in this country”

On Fox Business’ flagship morning program Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney and guest Matt Schlapp discussed the Christmas tree fire. Varney promptly noted that the suspect was homeless and suggested “bail reform laws” may allow the suspect “back on the street very soon.” Varney lamented that the fire was “just another example of big cities, Democrat-run, [being] out of control.” Meanwhile, Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, baselessly claimed that the fire was part of a “War on Religion” and a “desecration of faith” that he said threatens America’s culture of “tolerance and acceptance.” Schlapp also claimed the fire was “an attack on Fox News,” which required an on-air correction from Varney, who noted, “We do not know the motivation of the suspect.”

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Citation From the December 8, 2021, edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.

America’s Newsroom: “Here is one of the consequences” of Mayor Bill de Blasio doing “so little to combat” homelessness

Following a news update from Fox News reporter Eric Shawn, who claimed that the tree fire was “the third such attack in our country recently,” America’s Newsroom co-anchors Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino fixated on the suspect's recent criminal history and homeless status as “key points” to the story. According to Perino, outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio “has done so little to combat [homelessness], and here is one of the consequences.” Hemmer added “the issue of the homelessness here in New York, it’s only gotten worse,” concluding that “it’s everywhere, and we need to do something about it.”

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Citation From the December 8, 2021, edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer & Dana Perino

America Reports: George Soros, “Democrat leadership,” and “criminal justice reform” are to blame for Christmas tree fire

During one of several segments and news alerts dedicated to the fire on the Wednesday edition of America Reports with John Roberts & Sandra Smith, reporter Lawrence Jones launched into an argument that the Christmas tree fire was proof that “liberal cities … are in crisis” due to criminal justice reform efforts and policies pursued by progressive district attorneys. According to Jones, “crimes of opportunity” like the tree vandalism would continue across the country “because that’s allowed in New York City” and anywhere else “where there is Democrat leadership and [district attorneys] that have been supported by George Soros.”

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Citation From the December 8, 2021, edition of Fox News’ America Reports with John Roberts & Sandra Smith

The Five: Christmas tree fire “represents the kind of random violence, that is fueled by mental illness” that has become part of “everyday city life”

Fox News’ midday program The Five also dedicated its entire first block to the Christmas tree fire, with co-host Greg Gutfeld spearheading the discussion by blaming the crime on a crisis of “mental illness” in America. Gutfeld continued his tirade by attacking Mayor Bill de Blasio and demanding that people start “suing the cities that release thugs and the mentally ill onto the streets who brutalize people.” Fox contributor Jeanine Pirro continued by arguing the suspect in the Christmas tree fire was “evil,” and blaming Democratic politicians — like Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner — for allowing people to remain in society who “are dangerous to us and to the community.”

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Citation From the December 8, 2021, edition of Fox News’ The Five

FOX News Primetime: “Torching of the Fox News Christmas tree is a great symbol of all that is wrong … across blue cities all across this country”

On Wednesday’s edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host Tammy Bruce introduced a discussion of the Christmas tree fire by claiming it was evidence of an “overflow of violence and fear in this city, but also across the country,” and part of a crime surge plaguing the United States. In response, contributor Liz Peek proclaimed, “I think that the torching of the Fox News Christmas tree is a great symbol of all that is wrong, and not only in New York, but as you pointed out Tammy, across blue cities all across this country.” She added that “this is all about bad policies” supported by Democratic elected officials.

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Citation From the December 8, 2021, edition of Fox News Primetime

Tucker Carlson demands FBI, Department of Justice launch “hate crime” investigation

Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson dedicated the entire opening segment of his program, ostensibly reserved for deep dives into the most important news items of the day, to a lengthy exposé suggesting that the Christmas tree fire may be part of a nationwide conspiracy to destroy religious symbols. He argued vandalism of public Christmas tree displays may actually be systemic “hate crimes” targeting Christianity and questioned why FBI Director Christopher Wray and the Department of Justice had yet to open an investigation and dedicate personnel to getting to the bottom of the plot.

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Citation From the December 8, 2021, edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight

After deviating for several minutes into attacks on homelessness and people with mental illness, Carlson invited disgraced former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernard Kerik to once again discuss the Christmas tree fire as a “hate crime.” Both men agreed that “burning Christmas trees” should be considered “a hate crime,” by local, state, and federal law enforcement. Kerik then pivoted to complaining that reform initiatives led by Democratic politicians like former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and “radical left-wing mayors” were responsible for a supposed surge in violent crime nationwide.

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Citation From the December 8, 2021, edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight

Hannity: “Americans are now hostage… This is the nature of law enforcement in the United States now, with Soros-funded prosecutors”

On the Wednesday edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity argued that the Christmas tree fire was part of a pattern nationwide associated with efforts to “defund the police” and reform bail laws, concluding that a man setting fire to a Christmas display was “the natural consequence of that stupidity.” Guest Jeanine Pirro went even further, likening the fire to “a hostage situation” and contending that “Americans are now hostage” to criminal justice reform efforts while claiming bail reform efforts “victimized” all Americans. Later in the segment, Pirro stated that “this is the nature of law enforcement in the United States now with Soros-funded prosecutors.”

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Citation From the December 8, 2021, edition of Fox News’ Hannity