Fox News and Glenn Beck: Atheist Billboard in Times Square Is "Mean," Comparable to Peeing on Someone
'Tis the season when Fox News just has tons and tons of material, bless their tiny hearts. The channel's annual "War on Christmas" meltdown has become a bit of a running gag with the rest of the world, "a gift to busy news producers trying to fill the airwaves," as Politico put it earlier this week. This year, of course, the big controversy has been over whether Santa is a white guy (Megyn Kelly says yes, everyone else whispers nervously, "She knows that dude is imaginary, right?")
But now White Santagate is being replaced with something even more fun: Earlier this month, the American Atheists, the country's largest atheist group, put up a 40-by-40-foot digital billboard in Times Square. It begins, "Who needs Christ during Christmas?"
Their answer, of course, is "Nobody." The billboard adds, "Celebrate the true meaning of XMAS!", surrounded by a little word cloud of true meanings: family, gifts, lights, fun, friends, snow, food, ice skating, et cetera. (Curiously, they have omitted seasonal booze, the thing which makes all those other things tolerable. Get yourselves together, atheists.)
The full billboard looks like this:
Secretly, Fox News hosts must be breathing a sigh of relief. They could only get so much mileage out of defending Caucasian Santa Who Is Definitely White. But publicly, of course, the whole thing is an outrage, with Sean Hannity convening a panel and accusing American Atheists president Dave Silverman of trying to "poke people in the eye." Bill O'Reilly presumably fainted dead away upon seeing the billboard; filling in for him, lesser Fox News-bot Eric Bolling told American Atheists spokesperson Dave Muscato that the billboard was "mean." Then the conversation got real dumb, real fast:
Muscato: "Christmas is not about Christ."
Bolling: "Says who?"
Muscato: "It's the fact. People don't go to church. People don't care."
Bolling: "That's your opinion. It can't be fact."
Riveting stuff. Just groundbreaking television.
On his own show, Fox exile Glenn Beck is not to be outdone. "To do a campaign like this and to come out and pee all over somebody is not necessary," he says. "It's just not necessary. It speaks volumes of what you are. You're not somebody that can coexist with others." And because he's Glenn Beck, he even managed a Hitler tie-in: "Has the world had its issues with religious people? You bet. ... It's played a very dark role, but so has everything. How about the atheists: Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot? How about those guys?"
Great points all around. Intellectual titans, towering over all of us. The billboard runs three times an hour; next week, according to a press release from the atheists, it moves to a "dramatic 3-board display at Penn Station," where it'll be till New Year's.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.