FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly touted a group's complaint that department stores Macy's and Bloomingdale's have replaced their "Merry Christmas" greetings with "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays" and declared on the December 1 edition of FOX News' The O'Reilly Factor, "Even Jewish people like Christmas."*
The newly formed group, which calls itself Committee to Save Merry Christmas, has produced no evidence of what it calls "intentional and deliberate exclusion of 'Merry Christmas' in the Federated Department Stores advertising and decorations." Regardless, O'Reilly explained, "I understand this attack on Christmas. We do a lot of reporting on it." Though a statement from Federated Department Stores, which owns Macy's and Bloomingdale's, acknowledged that many stores have chosen to display nonreligious holiday greetings, the company noted that it allows individual stores to make their own decisions about holiday advertising, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Apparently speaking seriously, O'Reilly's guest, Forbes magazine senior editor Elizabeth MacDonald, blamed department store decorations for holiday season alcoholism and depression: "And you have got to wonder why people become depressed alcoholics around the season, because the meaning is sucked out of it." As if to confirm that this was not just an offhand remark, MacDonald repeated her hypothesis moments later: "Again, I have to say I'm not surprised people become depressed alcoholics during the Christmas season."
After O'Reilly read from Federated's statement, in which the company notes that they "realize this is an important issue to many people and we respect everybody's views" but that "phrases such as 'Season's Greetings' and 'Happy Holidays'" are "more reflective of the multicultural society in which we live today," he declared that the statement "teed me off worse." MacDonald derided the statement as "really defensive."
MacDonald claimed that the greetings "'Happy Holidays'" and 'Season's Greetings'" don't "speak to" Jews or Christians: "[B]eing Jewish or being Christian -- does 'Happy Holidays' speak to those people? No. Does 'Season's Greetings' speak to those people? No."
An unscientific poll of Christians and Jews by Media Matters for America revealed that members of both religions reported a heartwarming sensation after receiving nonreligious holiday greetings.
* When Media Matters first published this item, we incorrectly stated that MacDonald said, "Even Jewish people like Christmas." In fact, O'Reilly made this statement.