Santa Claus Controversy: Megyn Kelly Bashes Detractors Who Called Her Racist (Video)
"This would be funny if it were not so telling about our society, in particular the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race-bait and to assume the worst in people," the Fox News Channel host said on Friday.
Megyn Kelly was playing offense on Friday in confronting a controversy she stirred Wednesday when she repeatedly told kids that Santa Claus is a white man -- not a black-and-white penguin – as one writer says he should be.
"This would be funny," Kelly said of the controversy on Friday, "if it were not so telling about our society, in particular the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race-bait and to assume the worst in people -- especially people employed by the very powerful Fox News Channel."
Kelly was addressing a minor media firestorm that erupted over Wednesday's segment on The Kelly Files in which several things she said about Santa Claus had become fodder for MSNBC commentators and late-night comedians.
On her show Friday, in fact, Kelly showed a montage of some of the people who have been bashing her.
The controversial Wednesday segment was a discussion about a Slate.com article where writer Alisha Harris asked: "Isn't it time that our image of Santa better serve all the children he delights each Christmas?"
From there, Harris argued that Santa should no longer be portrayed as a fat, old, white man, but instead as a cute penguin who resides in the South Pole. Much of the rest of the folklore can remain unchanged, she wrote.
Kelly and her panel of guests on Wednesday treated Harris' suggestion with a dose of lighthearted commentary mixed with some relatively serious discussion. Where Kelly got into trouble with her detractors is when she, on two occasions, attempted to assure any children who might be watching that Santa Claus is real and that he won't suddenly change his appearance.
"For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white," Kelly said during the segment Wednesday. "But this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But Santa is what he is."
Later during the segment, she added: "Jesus was a white man, too. He was a historical figure, that's a verifiable fact, as is Santa – I just want the kids watching to know that."
The blowback was quick, perhaps beginning with Media Matters for America blasting video of the segment to journalists nationwide, and arguably climaxing with a critique from Jon Stewart.
"Who are you actually talking to?" the host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart asks Kelly in absentia after playing a clip her Wednesday segment. "Children who are sophisticated enough to be watching a news channel at 10 at night? Yet innocent enough to still believe that Santa Claus is real? Yet racist enough to be freaked out if he isn't white?"
Kelly, who has been sick for a week and has been noticeably hoarse, then missed her Thursday show, which encouraged some outlets to theorize that she was in trouble at Fox News for making racially insensitive remarks.
Not so, say Fox News insiders. And prior to her Friday show, Kelly tweeted: "Tune in tonight at 9p where I will address – brace for it – the SANTA controversy!"
"I offered a tongue-in-cheek message for any kids watching," Kelly said Friday. "Humor is part of what we try to bring to this show, but sometimes that is lost on the humorless."
See Kelly's Wednesday segment, as well as the Stewart segment, below. See her Friday comments here.