Race Baiting? FOX Host Accuses Media After Black Santa Comments

FOX News host defends herself by attacking other media outlets, while the column’s original author says Megyn Kelly is trying to “play the victim.”

By Chris Hoenig

FOX News Megyn Kelly is defending her Black Santa comments.FOX News host Megyn Kelly has gone on the offensive in defending herself against a media firestorm after her controversial comments last week about Santa’s race.

On her show, The Kelly File, on Friday, Kelly said her comments and discussion with an all-white panel were “tongue-in-cheek” and meant to be joking. “In kicking off the light-hearted segment, I offered a tongue-in-cheek message for any kids watching, saying that Santa, who I joked is a real person whose race is identifiable, is white, just as Harris claimed in her piece. But that we were debating whether that should somehow change,” Kelly said. “I realize that the piece by Harris, which went on to argue that Santa should be a penguin, was also tongue-in-cheek—that’s part of why we covered the story in the first place. Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show, but sometimes that is lost on the humorless.”

But Kelly’s original segment didn’t note Harris’ suggestion that Santa should be a penguin. Instead, she told her panelists and viewing audience that “this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a Black Santa, but Santa is what he is,” meaning white, while referring to Harris as “just another person who thinks it’s racist to have a white Santa.” Harris does not suggest in her column that Santa should be Black.

Instead, Kelly said that it was the reaction of the media—not her own show—that created any unnecessary racial tension. “This would be funny if it were not so telling about our society,” Kelly said, “in particular, the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race-bait and to assume the worst of people, especially the people employed by the very powerful FOX News Channel.”

You can watch all of Kelly’s comments below:

Author Responds

Aisha Harris, the Slate columnist who authored the original column, continued her media war with Kelly by appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources over the weekend. “There are a lot of people out there who automatically assume that Santa must be white and there’s no way, it’s laughable that he could be anything else,” she said, adding that FOX News did reach out to Slate just hours before Kelly’s show on Friday to see if she would appear. Harris, who said she had been told that Kelly would defend her comments before the invitation to appear came through, declined.

“I felt like they were kind of playing the victim there, and the fact that they tried to deflect it and say they were also making a joke out of it, it just didn’t ring true to me,” Harris told CNN’s Brian Stelter. “She said it very emphatically on the program, on Wednesday, and to me, there was nothing joke-like about that.”

You can see more of Harris’ interview below:

Media Blasts, Mocks Kelly, FOX News

As Kelly noted in her defense of her comments, the media response has indeed targeted the FOX News host, with many only finding humor in the “factual” delivery of Kelly’s segment.

CNN’s Don Lemon struggled to control his laughter after watching her segment replayed, before talking with his own guests about it. “I grew up with a Black Santa Claus. All of our Santas were Black, all our Mrs. Clauses were Black,” The Daily Beast staff writer Jamelle Bouie told Lemon. “Not every family has a white Santa, and I think that’s perfectly fine.

“To get outraged at the idea that there are nonwhite Santas is ridiculous because I think that if you were to walk into the home of an African-American person almost anywhere in the country, you would find a Black Santa Claus, and Black angels and a Black Jesus,” Bouie added.

CNN was not alone in critiquing Kelly’s comments. Comedy Central’s two news commentary programs both mocked the segment. “Fortunately, FOX News elf Megyn Kelly was there to put things in Black and white … but mostly white,” Stephen Colbert said on The Colbert Report.

“For all those kids watching Fox News at 9:40 at night, Santa is white,” Colbert joked, later adding, “By the way, for any kids watching at 11:30 at night, Martin Luther King is Black and he is real.”

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart also mocked Kelly’s segment. “Who are you actually talking to? Children who are sophisticated enough to be watching a news channel at 10 at night, yet innocent enough to still believe Santa Claus is real, yet racist enough to be freaked out if he isn’t white,” Stewart joked, playing the clip where Kelly states, “Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change.”

“Actually, I think that’s the official slogan of oppression,” Stewart said.

Even Saturday Night Live, which has faced criticism itself over the lack of diversity among its cast, dove straight into the subject. In the weekly Weekend Update segment, Kenan Thompson appeared as Santa Claus. “You’ve heard of Secret Santa, but here’s a secret for you: I’m Black as hell,” he joked.

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    • Stan Jefferies

      ive never heard it before but Ive also never seen so many people making money off of this racial divide we have. does anyone understand that people are pushing buttons and pulling chains just to keep this division going? theres a reason for that, MONEY! like ive said before, Ive been around for a minute and Ive seen black santas for over 30 years now. When I was kid, there were two at Dillards every year. You take a photo with whichever one you want.

      • Luke Visconti

        Almost 100 percent of the people who email this website and try to make a point about the “division” between the races in this country being manufactured are white people. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

        • Hello Luke,

          There once was this ‘concept’ about ‘courageous conversations’… I always thought the effort was to give people ‘permission’ and opportunity to ‘share’ thoughts they struggled with / that they avoided to share for fear of being judged /that could be ‘misunderstood’, and/ or for fear of being accused hateful/ racist, etc… In taking the risk to ‘share’ these thoughts or struggles, it could help us discuss openly… If we can discuss openly, maybe we could come to a better ‘understanding’..

          What I see happening is that ‘we’ tend to react instantly and in horror – to just about everything that involves race, politics, religion, abortion, etc.. A great deal of finger pointing, name calling demonizing begins / the cycle of judgement, stereotyping, generalizing evolves in a different way…

          The question, ‘are we any closer to understanding and working through our differences in understanding?’ It doesn’t appear so…

          What it does – it shuts people down, keeping their thoughts to themselves, people ‘pretend’ to understand.. Taking the ‘extremes’ out of the picture, isn’t it all a matter of perspective – and – trying to work through that so that we can be respectful of one another?

          Everyone has certain prejudices – everyone… and, if we can’t create opportunities to have discussions without demonizing, we will never get past this point…

          Typically the initial stories are taking wayyy out of context, and then it evolves into something else…

          Do people sometimes go about things in a weird, awkward, inappropriate way? Yes – we all do – we all make mistakes… but we make it sooooo difficult for people to own that because of how we chastise each other… especially in the media..

          I find your comment interesting about the ‘100% white people manufacturing, etc’… so what? Does that mean that it is not ‘real’ for them? Does that mean it is not a legitimate situation?

          The media does a fine job at ‘polarizing’ us with inferences, implications and generalizations… Is that what we need to meet each other half way?

          Whatever happened to TOLERANCE – sometimes we may agree to disagree – we may not like the other perspective… we may not agree with the other perspective – but it does not make that person an awful person… It does not mean that we need to manipulate it and define a person’s character when we really do not know who they are….. wouldn’t it be nice if Ms. Kelly and Ms. Harris both made efforts to meet each other half way? Why not try?

          thank you,

          • Luke Visconti

            “Courageous conversations” aren’t started by the minority, they’re only courageous if the majority has them. Our culture has evolved to the point where you’re seeing reaction to really offensive talk, reaction that would not have happened previously (from rape candidates to Duck Dynasty stars). To someone in the majority culture, this often looks odd and sometimes scary; to those not in the majority, it seems more like “justice.”

            “Meeting people halfway” is also a term used most often by people with the upper hand. Black households have 1/20th the wealth of white households, down from 1/10th before the subprime crisis. What’s “halfway” when it comes to punishing the guilty (Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks that have paid billions in fines for their subprime criminality)?

            In my opinion, “tolerance” is a four-letter word. It’s most often thrown out there as a last-gasp sop to those who have been wronged. It’s always directed from those in power to those who are not. There are standards—and people should be held accountable. Diversity does NOT mean forced equivalencies, and the impact of actions and language on performance (in the business sense) can be measured in many ways. For example, a CHRO of a well-respected Fortune 500 company told me that the lowest engagement scores they had were with senior executive women.

            In closing, I disagree with you. I’ll add that your attitude, while perhaps well-intentioned, comes across as condescending. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

        • Robert Kunkle

          The landowning class of 17th century Virginia divided African and European laborers to prevent them from rebelling. 400 years of this legal construction have shaped the world deeply, but the fact remains that race, conceived by Europeans to argue for white supremacy, serves only to separate what is really, deeply whole.

      • How do people make money by dividing people racially? It seems like that would estrange all the non-racists. I would expect that inclusion would make better business sense and be more profitable.

        • Luke Visconti

          Talk of “diversity” or civil rights dividing people by race comes from one side only. It’s how Murdoch and Limbaugh make money and how people like the Koch brothers pursue their business interests. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • @Stan Jefferies

        There has ALWAYS been a racial divide in this country, since black people were brought here as slaves. Just because YOU never heard any discussions like this don’t mean people haven’t always been having them. Black folks have always had these discussions amongst themselves,it’s nothing new. And talking openly about racism does NOT in itself create a racial divide—refusing to admit it exists and that it’s part and parcel of the very fabric of our institutions is. Ignoring or choosing not to talk about racism has NEVER made it go away—only a fool (or someone who is not a minority) would think it does.

  • Fodder for the talk shows and comedians. Santa is whatever one makes him/her – Indian, Oriental, Sudanese, Caucasian, African American (regardless of colour spectrum), African European (regardless of colour spectrum), African Oriental (regardless of colour spectrum), etc.

    In spite of my personal views, I have to take Megyn Kelly’s word that she is being sincere when she says her comments were tongue-in-cheek, just like I take Luke Visconti’s word that he is sincere.

    • People who make racist and demeaning remarks, and then get called on them, frequently hide behind the “I was just kidding” screen. It’s called passive-aggressive behavior. She meant it, she just doesn’t want to own it now that some of the reaction hasn’t been positive. If everyone jumped on her bandwagon she would have continued to drive her racist sleigh.
      Maybe Malcolm has never been the subject of this type of “all in fun” derogatory comment. I have and those comments have the intended effect – to hurt, to make the object of the “joke” feel belittled, to damage self-esteem. Then all the negative feelings are compounded with the defensive “I was just kidding” which is intended to make the object of the insult look like a whiner with no sense of humor. White men in this country have no idea how this feels, as there are NO insulting names or “funny” insults for them – right? When you have all the power you are insulated from this type of passive-aggressive assault.

  • Delorme McKee-Stovall

    Economics has always been at the root of racism. This should not be a surprise to anyone. The proliferation of racism has also always been well funded and relied on the gullibility of people who want or need to feel superior, when in fact they are not. This also applies to mysogny, homophobia and other biases that pit one group against another for the purpose of demeaning others in order gain higher ground or to establish inclusion in a preferred group. Superiority is an illusion that becomes a delusion that results in wasted time and resources, and unecessary cruelty. None of us should concede our capacity to care for one another to those who who seek an unholy profit.

  • So, Megyn Kelly, race-baiting member of the media, accuses the media of race-baiting. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe Megyn can say what color the pot and kettle really are.

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