by Ben Dimiero, Rob Savillo, & Jeremy Schulman/Media Matters
Every year, "Culture Warrior" Bill O'Reilly devotes
considerable time on his Fox News show to the "War on Christmas." This December, O'Reilly has covered the imaginary "War on Christmas" more than three times as much as the actual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
O'Reilly's years-long obsession with the "War on Christmas" has turned each winter on Fox News into an overwrought spectacle lamenting the supposed "secular-progressive" conspiracy to end Christmas. (For an example of how much the "War on Christmas" has permeated Fox's coverage, Fox & Friends spent three consecutive days earlier this month throwing a fit over the fact that Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee called the tree at the Rhode Island statehouse a "holiday tree" and not a "Christmas tree.")
O'Reilly's focus on the non-existent "War on Christmas" apparently comes at the expense of coverage of the actual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the course of December, O'Reilly spent roughly 42 minutes covering the "War on Christmas" and approximately 13 and a half minutes covering the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
We used a very broad definition of what constituted Iraq/Afghanistan coverage. Mentions of charities benefiting troops were counted as well as passing references to either war. The longest segment counted towards O'Reilly's actual war coverage was a report on employees at a defense contractor that manufactures equipment for troops overseas being caught smoking pot and drinking alcohol on their lunch break.
This was far from an uneventful month in America's conflicts overseas as December marked the withdrawal of the last troop convoy from Iraq, and the U.S. declared that the war had ended. In Afghanistan, negotiations with the Taliban have reached a "critical juncture," according to recent reports.
Nonetheless, O'Reilly spent more time on the "War on Christmas," including sending producer Jesse Watters to Rhode Island to heckle Gov. Lincoln Chafee over the "holiday tree" and conducting a "War on Christmas edition" of his weekly "Great American News Quiz."
We reviewed Lexis-Nexis transcripts of The O'Reilly Factor from December 1 through December 21 for any references to the Iraq or Afghanistan wars or the "War on Christmas." We counted entire segments focused on these topics, mentions of these topics within segments on other topics, and teasers of segments related to these topics -- even if they did not include the words "Iraq," "Afghanistan," or "War on Christmas."
We used the following search: show (O'Reilly) and (Iraq! or Afghan! or war or holidays or Christmas or military or troops or soldier!). We also searched for mentions of the military-related charities that O'Reilly promotes on his website; for example, we included references to Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Shoebox.