The Fake Fox News Christmas Tree

[ Posted Wednesday, December 8th, 2021 – 17:06 UTC ]

I have to begin by apologizing for the trivial nature of today's column. It seems that after posting my annual cute kittens yesterday (to kick off our 2021 Holiday Fundraising Drive) I am now getting in touch with my inner Grinch. Or Scrooge, maybe. Or my inner nitpicky pedant, at the very least.

Because when I read the news this morning, I saw all the media hyperventilation over the arson attack which destroyed what Fox News calls (with capital letters, of course) their "All-American Christmas Tree" outside their New York headquarters. Pretty much every other news organization reported it exactly the same way Fox did -- as the destruction of "a Christmas tree." But this is not correct. It is not true. It is, to coin a phrase, fake news. Because it's pretty easy to tell, when seeing photos or videos of the arson or the aftermath that it is not actually a tree.

You heard that right -- there is no tree there. There never was. A Christmas tree didn't burn up in the attack. No arboricide took place -- either last night or before the display was set up in the first place (out in some forest or tree farm). Properly put, the "All-American Christmas Tree" is nothing more than a "tree-shaped display" or perhaps a "mock tree" or a "a festive display meant to evoke a Christmas tree." That's it. Because there simply is and never was an actual tree.

Fox, quite obviously, has a massive inferiority complex towards NBC, who occupies 30 Rockefeller Plaza and who has long turned the lighting of the plaza's own tree into an extravaganza they can use to promote both their channel and the Rockettes (and any musical acts that may need a little holiday exposure). But NBC actually has a real tree. They roll it in on a giant truck, erect it carefully, and then extravagantly decorate it each and every year. And then when it's all over early next year, they haul the dead tree away to wherever it is that giant 50-foot pine trees go when they've done their Christmas duty.

NBC -- unlike Fox News -- has a real Christmas tree for the holiday season. What Fox has is a tree-shaped display. You can't even technically call it a "fake tree," because that term already has a different meaning. A fake Christmas tree is an actual tree, just one made of plastic or metal or other non-arboreal materials. You construct it in your living room every year and then you dismantle it and store it away in a big box until next year when the season's over. The benefits of a fake tree are that you only have to buy it once (or once every couple of decades, at the most), it requires no watering or other maintenance once it's up, and it doesn't leave a mess of dead pine needles when you're done with it for the season. But even that is not what stood outside the Fox News headquarters.

What they do have -- and it is obvious, when you see video or still photos of the arson attack and its aftermath -- is a conical metal framework that is supposed to represent a Christmas tree. They attach some (assumably real) pine boughs to the framework (visible in the photo captioned: "The tree will be rebuilt after the fire," in the Fox News report of the attack) and then hang a whole bunch of red, white, and blue ornaments and lights (because what is Christmas without a little in-your-face nationalism?). When it's complete, it gives the impression of being a real tree.

But it's not.

The language Fox has been using even gives this away -- they are not going to "put up another tree" or "replace the tree," instead they are going to "rebuild" the tree. Actual trees, of course, do not need building. There are no assembly instructions required. It grows, you cut it down, and then you secure it in a stand and you are done. There is no "building" about it -- it comes pre-built, courtesy of Mother Nature.

If Fox had indeed had a real tree outside their headquarters, in fact, it is doubtful whether it would have sustained the massive damage it did in the attack. News reports say a homeless man climbed up the tree, stuffed a bunch of newspapers in it, and then lit them on fire with a cigarette lighter. The videos are dramatic -- they show the entire thing going up in a conflagration reminiscent of the death of the Hindenburg, as it becomes totally engulfed in flames in a very short time. The obvious conclusion: pine boughs which have dried out a bit are a lot more flammable than a natural tree that is still being watered (at least without the use of some sort of accelerant). If it was a real tree, it might have sustained some damage to one side but the flames likely would have been extinguished by the fire department in time to save most of the rest of the tree. Perhaps it would have had a big bare spot that Fox could have turned to the wall, like so many Americans do when putting up a real tree in their homes.

Again, I do realize this is an awfully trivial subject to write about today, but it just bugged me. Consider if an arsonist had attacked the very same display, except it was in front of the CNN headquarters. You know what all the talking heads on Fox would be obsessed about (other than their annual "War On Christmas" nonsense, of course) right now? "It's not a real tree -- CNN's too cheap to put up a real one!" The cries of "Fake tree!" would be as relentless and as snide as can be imagined. The very spirit of Christmas would be insulted, Fox would claim, without batting an eye. Santa weeps in his North Pole home over such crass falsifications of traditional Christmas symbols, we would sadly be told. Think I'm overstating their predictable response? I don't.

Which I guess is why it bugged me that every single other news outlet didn't even bother to point it out. Every single story I have read or watched about the arson just calls it "a Christmas tree" and moves on.

I am in no way condoning what the arsonist did, to be clear. An attack on a religious symbol of any type is absolutely abhorrent (or should be) to all decent people. I don't care if the guy was drunk or crazy or whatever -- it's still a horrific thing to do. And I sympathize with Fox News for suffering this attack, just like I would with any other organization which had the same thing happen.

But please, can we all at least tell the full truth about what happened? Because "arsonist destroys Christmas tree" is just not true. No actual tree went up in flames. There never was a tree, and there still won't be after Fox "rebuilds" their tree-shaped Christmas display.

To which I guess I should add: "Hmmph. Bah, humbug!"

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


13 Comments on “The Fake Fox News Christmas Tree”

  1. [1] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    In the spirit of Grinch-like pickiness of this fine rant about a Christmas display being torched by a vandal, I was a little put off by part of your conclusion:

    "An attack on a religious symbol of any type is absolutely abhorrent."

    I know what you mean - but is a Christmas Tree (or a display imitating one) really a "religious symbol" in the sense that, say, a Creche scene or a Menorah clearly is? I'd argue that there is a difference, perhaps of degree, between actual religion and the cultural gee-gaws that attach to that religion over time. For instance, in this case, someone torching a tasteless Christmas-tree-like display that highlights red, white, and blue as a 'patriotic' statement might well argue that he was *defending* the religious holiday of Christmas from crass commercialization and politicization. Perhaps the homeless arsonist is a devout Christian, appalled at how many people celebrate the Christ child's birth by going out and buying first-person shooter video games for their children.

    Yes, I doubt that too. But I would pull back from the righteous self-defense of hating Fox News but averring respect for its cheesy 'religious symbol of any type'. Tell me they put a lovely creche outside their HQ, and that it was attacked, and then I'm wholly on board with it being an abhorrent act of the worst kind.

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yeah, it IS kind of trivial, but I get why you are bugged by it. But MSM's failure to point out the reality of this "no arbicide" incident is discomforting, as I've long thought that corporate owned media outlets (e.g. MSNBC is owned by GE) are tasked with "increasing value to the Shareholders" above ALL else (I learned this at a quality Business School) and consequently, NOT with reporting ANYTHING that might depress share values. Bah-humbug, indeed.

  3. [3] 
    andygaus wrote:

    Well, it's a religious symbol, but the religion in question is Druidism.

  4. [4] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Hey Elizabeth, of late I've been MIA from Sunday Night Canadian Music Appreciation Dance Party. But I miss it, and having finished moving this last week I happened across the ~150 45-rpm "singles" that I got back in the late 70s. How about a "singles night" theme for Sunday evening?

    In other words, anything goes.

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Re end of year Mclaughlin Awards how about these categories:

    Most Futile Weigantian (hint, my nominee's initials are *cough*Don Harris*cough.)

    And Most Toxic Weigantian (Michale something.)

    Signed --
    Department of Snark

  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    John M from Ct. -

    Interesting point, but what about the pagans who started the whole tradition in the first place? To them, it was indeed a religious object...


    andygaus -

    Now, see, that's what I'm talking about!

    (heh heh)


  7. [7] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    I think the Fox tree probably is a religious symbol for whatever* it is that Fox followers actually worship. You know, the religion that is offended by a plain red coffee cup or generosity towards pregnant migrant women or homing the homeless, and worships guns, violence, cruelty and bullying.

    *I grew up in evangelical churches and I remember very clearly when political and religious right wingers decided to ally. It was clear even then, back in the 70s, that far from putting religion into politics, they were making a god of right-wing politics.

  8. [8] 
    TheStig wrote:

    A transcript of a distraught broadcaster at the Fox News Building (AKA "Dirty Schlock Plaza")........

    "It’s fire and it crashing! . . . This is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world! Oh, it’s crashing . .. oh, It’s fire and it crashing! . . . This is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world! Oh, it’s crashing . . . and it’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. and all the screaming around here! There’s smoke, and there’s flames, now, and the frame is crashing to the ground... Oh, the Shawn Hannity!!!!"

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Alrighty -- good to see some of the usual suspects here in Weigantia with a bonus CW sighting! Guess it's time to up the quality of my posts (I penalized myself 15 yards* for unnecessary roughness for #5, above) as we have some heavy lifting to do now that Mclaughlin season is upon us.)

    *That's 13.716 meters, Elizabeth Miller.

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Curious as to why you rate CW as Most Futile Weigantian.

    I know English isn't your first language, so I'll splain:

    First off, CW is Weigant. He is known by many names such as The Source or The Architect, but not Weigantia.

    Weigantia is this comments section.

    I nominated you after carefully considering your inability to "engage" with those of your fellow Weigantians like myself and John M. from Ct who address OD along with your track record of not responding to anyone's objections to OD and your failure to persuade.

    Let's put it this way...ain't nobody sending YOU money this Christmas for your so-called work.

    To paraphrase my hero Sir Winston Churchill,

    Last night I was drunk and you were completely ineffectual. Today I am sober and you are STILL completely ineffectual.

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    "My dear you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly"

    in any case, i disagree with you about michale. he's not really toxic himself, he just has a way of bringing out the toxicity in others.

    it's a talent

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I miss Michale.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I don't know what happened this last Sunday night. Not sure why I was missing in action. Could be because I work in retail and I am dead tired. I think I fell asleep and never woke up, so to speak. Heh.

    Anyway ... I like your singles idea. Let's do it!

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