Neil Gorsuch appears to validate "War on Christmas" conspiracy during "Fox & Friends" appearance

Fox has a long history of claiming that there is a "War on Christmas," tracing back to a 2004 Bill O'Reilly segment

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 17, 2019 2:13PM (EST)

 U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch (Jabin Botsford - Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch (Jabin Botsford - Pool/Getty Images)

Associate Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, appeared to validate the dubious Fox News claim that there is a “War on Christmas” during a rare  live interview Tuesday with Ainsley Earhardt, the co-host of “Fox & Friends.” 

Gorusch appeared to dive into the narrative about an alleged “War on Christmas” when he pointedly smiled and wished Earhardt a “Merry Christmas” at the top of the segment on the president's favorite morning show.

“I love that you say that,” Earhardt responded after she returned the greeting. Earhardt appears in an advertisement for Fox Nation, the streaming platform from Fox News, which celebrates “an all-American Christmas” yet does not appear to include any people of color.

Fox News has a long history of claiming that there is a "War on Christmas," tracing back to a 2004 segment by former talk show host Bill O’Reilly called “Christmas Under Siege.”

During that segment, O’Reilly claimed that “all over the country, Christmas is taking flak. In Denver this past weekend, no religious floats were permitted in the holiday parade there. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the ‘holiday tree,’ and no Christian Christmas symbols are allowed in the public schools. Federated Department Stores — that’s Macy’s — have done away with the Christmas greeting, ‘Merry Christmas.’”

As Salon’s Chauncey DeVega wrote last year, “There is another dimension to the ‘War on Christmas’ and the broader right-wing obsession with the culture wars. Both are examples of white identity politics and a deep desire (and effort) to maintain the cultural and political power of white right-wing Christians over all other groups. In many ways, the ‘War on Christmas’ is actually a proxy war for white supremacy.”

There is also an anti-Semitic undercurrent in the “War on Christmas” mythology. Henry Ford first pioneered the idea of a “War on Christmas” in his 1920s article series “The International Jew,” which promoted the anti-Semitic claim that Jews were conspiring to destroy the Christmas season in order to advance their own covert agenda. Though the notion that politically correct liberals war against Christmas has replaced this idea in recent years, the idea of a “War on Christmas” can still be viewed as an anti-Semitic dogwhistle.

In addition to his “Merry Christmas” wish to Earnhardt, Gorsuch discussed a perceived lack of judicial knowledge among Americans.

“I worry today when I read that only about a third of Americans can name the three branches of government and 10 percent of Americans apparently believe that Judith Sheindlin serves on the United States Supreme Court,” Gorsuch told Earhardt. “Now you know her as Judge Judy, and I love Judge Judy, but she is not one of my colleagues.”

Gorsuch appeared to be citing a survey taken by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in released in January 2016, which found that almost 10 percent of college graduates believed that Judith “Judge Judy” Sheindlin was a Supreme Court justice. 

Gorsuch spent most of the time on the program discussing the separation of powers and his own self-described “constitutionalist” judicial philosophy while promoting his new book, “A Republic, If You Can Keep It.” 

Brian Stetler, CNN’s chief media correspondent, criticized Gorsuch on Twitter for his decision to appear on the right-leaning network.

Justice Neil Gorsuch is on ‘Fox & Friends’ right now. The Q: How is it appropriate for a Supreme Court justice to try to goose sales of his three-month-old book by chatting on one of the most partisan shows on TV?” Stelter asked.

CNN national security and legal analyst Susan Hennessey tweeted a similar observation, writing: “I don't object to Gorsuch promoting his book (I mean, it's weird but he's not the first). But appearing on Fox & Friends and not news programs on other networks is a bad look.”

CNN contributor Wajahat "Abu Khadija" Ali tweeted, “Everytime Neil Gorsuch trends remember Merrick Garland. Everyime Brett Kavanaugh trends remember Dr. Christine Ford. The Supreme Court is tainted and compromised. Let's hope Justice Roberts puts the integrity of the judiciary over party and ideology but...don't hold your breath.”

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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