Fox News host Megyn Kelly hit back against those who attacked her for saying that Santa Claus and Jesus are white, saying that "race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country and Fox News, and yours truly, are big targets for many people."
"Outraged?" she asked after playing segments that criticized her on CNN, MSNBC, and NBC late-night host Jimmy Fallon. "This would be funny if it were not so telling about our society — particularly 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."
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Kelly was responding to criticism of the comments she made during a panel discussion she moderated on her Fox show — "The Kelly File" — Wednesday regarding an article by an African-American columnist, Aisha Harris, for Slate.com
In the piece, Harris said that she was ashamed as a child because "our black Santa wasn’t the real thing." The columnist argued that, in today's diverse society, Santa's image should be replaced by that of a penguin.
"This is so ridiculous, yet another person claiming it’s racist to have a white Santa," Kelly told her panel Wednesday, adding, as she turned to the camera, "And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white, but this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa."
Kelly said that the Slate columnist had gone “off the rails” in suggesting the penguin image, contending do "you revise it in the middle of the legacy of the story and change Santa from white to black? "Just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change," Kelly explained.
Turning to the issue of Jesus' skin color, Kelly then said he "was a white man too."
"He was a historical figure," she stated. "That’s a verifiable fact."
The assertions made Kelly the butt of jokes from late-night comedians and provided fodder on network and cable talk shows.
She did not host her program Thursday night, as Martha MacCallum substituted. Kelly had complained of a cold earlier in the week.
"Apparently, we ignited quite a controversy the other night in a segment about an essay that argues Santa should no longer be portrayed as a white man," Kelly said in beginning her segment on Friday's program.
She called the debate a "light-hearted segment" in which she "offered a tongue-in-cheek message to 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 that somehow should change."
After playing her comments from Wednesday's panel discussion, 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 in part 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," Kelly added.
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