The brouhaha over Megyn Kelly's comments about Santa Claus continued this weekend with Kelly's astonishingly dishonest non-apology. But first a recap: after an article in Slate argued that Santa Claus should not necessarily be played by white men, Kelly expressed outrage on Fox News over the politicizing of her beloved Christmas. "Santa just is white," Kelly stated. "Santa is what he is." (She added that Jesus was "a white man too.") Understandably, the internet erupted in outrage, Jon Stewart mocked Kelly, and various commentators pointed out that the Santa Claus most people recognize today is barely based on Saint Nicholas, who himself was from what today is Turkey. So, on Friday Kelly went back on her show to address the controversy.
It's here that I should say my once stalwart confidence in the P.R. geniuses at Fox has been shaken. Apparently the best they could come up with was that Kelly was joking (as she states in the clip above), but then she proceeds to play the clip from the previous show where it is abundantly clear that she was not joking. Guys, c'mon! This isn't rocket science. Kelly then went on to say that America is becoming too politically correct and sensitive, and that Fox News is targeted for its politics.
It's this last bit that is the most interesting, and also explains why people have been focusing on the wrong aspect of this story. "Race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country, and Fox News and yours truly are big targets for many people," Kelly said. Well, yes. Both those things are literally true. But Kelly wasn't saying them because they are true. She was saying them because one of Fox's most popular topics is that white people are victimized by accusations of racism, and must tiptoe around all racial topics. (Of course this would be less true if our society didn't have so much racially insensitive garbage peddled by the likes of Fox News, but let's leave that aside). In short, Kelly was playing the victimization/self-pity card, which white conservatives have oh-so-charmingly been playing for decades.
But why is this especially relevant? Because this same card was the whole point of the original segment. Why do you think a Fox panel was discussing a Slate piece in the first piece? Well, because they want their audience to feel under siege, and who better (in the minds of Fox execs) to be under siege from than non-whites.
The historical accuracy of Kelly's comments, which has garnered the most attention, is nearly irrelevant. Imagine for a moment that Santa was real and white, and then imagine that Jesus was white too. And then ask yourself why Fox would run the segment. (Hint: It would have nothing to do with historical accuracy). Fox wants to rile up racial feelings because that is what Fox does. The accuracy can be called into question here, but what is truly despicable is the intent.
This particular Fox News controversy was about religion; yesterday's was about Sean Hannity lovingly interviewing George Zimmerman; tomorrow's will be about God-knows-what. Our #1 news channel loves dealing in racial innuendo, regardless of the ostensible topic. Santa has nothing to do with it.
Image via shutterstock.com.