Bah Humbug — Grinch burns Fox News Christmas Tree

Bah Humbug

Grinch burns Fox News Christmas Tree

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 8th 2021

Back around 1962, a buddy of mine and I decided it would be fun to go sneaking past homes after dark that were heavily decorated with Christmas lights and steal some of the bulbs just so we could pop them on the sidewalk. Basically it was the same impulse that people get with bubble wrap. There was nothing political or religious motivating us; it was just two kids amusing themselves and being minor assholes. Over the subsequent year, I became an atheist and became a rebellious teenager, but you know what? We didn’t go out popping Christmas bulbs the next year. I had enough sense by then to realize that was just being an asshole for assholery’s sake. Even as a new born atheist teenager, I realized that you didn’t lift yourself up by hurting others’ joy.

Now, someone set fire to the big Christmas tree in front of Fox News in Manhattan last night. Word is it was a homeless guy, Craig Tamanaha, aged 49. Authorities don’t believe there was any political or religious motive behind it, or even any premeditation.

It wasn’t actually a tree; it was a conical metal framework with an overlay of decorations and stuff designed to look like a tree. It was festooned with 10,000 glass ornaments, 100,000 lights and it took over 21 hours to put together. Crews were later seen taking down what was left of the structure. It was a sad sight.

Fox News was understandably unamused. “We will not let this deliberate and brazen act of cowardice deter us. We are in the process of rebuilding and reinstalling a new tree as a message there can be peace, light and joy even during a moment like this,” Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said in a statement.

Well, I’m glad they’re rebuilding it, although in this instance, it’s unlikely that it’s some form of brave and principled stand against an act of cultural terrorism. For all anyone knows, Tamanaha just found the light on his sleeping spot making it hard to sleep (not that sleeping outdoors in midtown Manhattan in December is easy under any circumstances). Or maybe he didn’t like the color pink. It was awfully…pink.

Of course, the right wingers are going to lose their minds over this. “War on Christmas,” blah blah blah. It was the libruls or the commies or the gays or some fool thing. Fox announcers already declared this could only hurt Joe Biden in the polls, because you know, anything they don’t like will hurt Joe Biden in the polls and it can’t hurt to try to associate Joe Biden with burning Christmas trees in the eyes of their dim-witted viewers. I’m sure the right wingers will come up with even sillier shit over this. They always do.

In a way it’s a shame that it was Fox News that was hit and not one of the hundreds of major corporations in the neighborhood who always put up giant Christmas decorations. Because in this sad act was an opportunity to show a little real Christmas spirit, the one that corporations all insist we should have so they could play on our sensibilities and rob us blind with our own cooperation.

Here’s what Fox could do. (And there are some corporations that might do this, but I’ll be amazed if Fox is one of them.)

Contact the legal representative for Tamanaha. Work a deal. Tamanaha pleads guilty in court, but prosecutors will work a time-served plea agreement. Tamanaha expresses remorse and promised to never do such a thing again. In return, Fox News pays for a years’ housing for Tamanaha (it doesn’t have to be midtown where rents are often five figures a month) and see to it that he has food and warmth for a year. Do what they can to help him—locate family, if any, and get him access to medical or psychiatric care—even pay for it, if the costs aren’t too hideous. If he is capable of holding a job, maybe hire him on as a custodian or something. If he isn’t, set up a GoFundMe for him.

And yes, tell the world what they are doing. They’re a corporation, and they aren’t going to do with without some sort of payback. This would be good publicity.

Make it clear that this is a one-time thing. Don’t want word getting out that you can score all this good stuff just by igniting a Christmas Tree. The next guy that tries it can just rot in jail, as far as Fox is concerned. Nobody would have trouble understanding that, no, not even Joe Biden.

I suspect that Tamanaha, and hundreds of thousands like him, need help like this. Remember, a lot of those homeless people are veterans, or mentally ill, and this is the time of year when they most need the help and most deserve it. If Fox could rise above themselves and show some charity and goodheartedness, it might make everyone’s holidays a little brighter.

And perhaps all those elaborate corporate decorations might, if ever so slightly, represent something better than corporate greed playing on the mawkish sensibilities of their targets.

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