On Wednesday, the alleged “War on Christmas” took an unexpected turn. Fox News viewers woke up that morning to grim news: the massive Christmas tree outside the network’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan had been set ablaze. It happened in the early hours of Wednesday, starting around 12:15am. NYPD soon had a suspect: Craig Tamanaha, a man without housing, who had been seen climbing the structure before it was engulfed in flames and who was arrested shortly thereafter. No one was injured, but the station’s honor was, as witnessed by how its hosts and guests spent the whole day lamenting the freak occurrence.
It started with Fox & Friends, the morning show that sometimes peddles surreally reckless misinformation about COVID. They blamed it on the “crime surge” the network has been arguably exaggerating; a report on the city’s violent crime shows it’s been on the decline, despite their attempts to paint a portrait of cities — including the ones a large number of its staff live in — as “out of control.”
That line was picked up elsewhere throughout the day. As per Mediaite, Outnumbered co-host Emily Compagno blamed it on cities run by evil Democrats.
“America’s crime crisis hits close to home for us here at Fox after a brazen arson attack happened right outside our New York City headquarters,” she said. “Where a suspect set fire to the Fox All-American Christmas tree, defacing the symbol of peace and joy, and giving us a front-row seat to the rampant crime ravaging Democrat-run cities.”
Others took another tack, delivering odes to the incinerated tree as a symbol of strength in the face of adversity, and not simply a fake plant that burnt more easily because it wasn’t real.
Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner on the Fox Xmas tree fire: “But no one can burn down the spirit of Christmas, or destroy our resilience… we share with you every part of our journey. The part where sometimes we get hit, and a part where we get up together.” pic.twitter.com/aE6P9qD4be
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) December 8, 2021
“No one can burn down the spirit of Christmas, or destroy our resilience,” said Harris Faulkner. “A new tree is on the way. It will be brighter and more beautiful than ever. And as we do here on The Faulkner Focus, we share with you every part of our journey. The part where sometimes we get hit, and the part where we get up together.”
The same went for Kennedy, the MTV VJ-turned-Fox Business host. “Here at Fox, the tree means so much to people because we have these incredible red, white, and blue decorations, which is a nod to not only the season, but also this incredible country that we live in,” said the former host of the Game Show Network’s WinTuition. “And I will tell you this: We’re gonna build the tree. The tree will be back in no time. It is going to be beautiful and massive and it is going to mean even more than it did before.”
In the meantime, law enforcement was not jumping to conclusions as readily as Fox News staffers. “The motive I don’t think is clear at this point,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “It’s an individual that is known to us. He has a series of low-level arrests and drug arrests. He was issued earlier this year some appearance tickets and didn’t come back to court, which unfortunately is something we see all too often. Also has some low-level arrests out of state.”
But to Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott, it wasn’t a random incident. It was a “deliberate and brazen act of cowardice,” which they milked all day.