Bill O’Reilly, a popular talking head over at Fox, has been known in the past to lament the “War On Christmas” and the increasing secularization of a holiday that was once solely the domain of Christians celebrating the birth of Christ — but a story circulating social media right now claiming the O’Reilly Factor host attacked a Macy’s Santa for saying “Happy Holidays” is not true.
The “Bill O’Reilly attacks Santa” story is one that stems from a well known satire site — but like withThe Onion, not everyone is in on the joke. And in this day and age, the impulse to share with friends rather than fact-checking first has enabled the tale pegging Bill O’Reilly as a Christmas-avenging vigilante hellbent on saving Midtown from a Christ-less Santa is one that managed to gain legs.
Several news-oriented pages in my own feed have shared the story titled “Bill O’Reilly Arrested For Assaulting Department Store Santa,” a deceptively well-written and news-like piece that describes a scene of Christmas carnage at Macy’s Herald Square.
According to the piece, O’Reilly became enraged while doing some final Christmas shopping and lashed out at the mall Santa:
“… the 63-year old conservative pundit was shopping at the venerated Manhattan landmark for a last-minute Christmas gift and became enraged when the on-site Santa wished him ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’… Witnesses say that after a brief argument O’Reilly punched the Santa Claus in the face and wrestled him to the ground before a throng of onlookers. The two then traded blows for close to a minute before security guards broke the fight up.”
The satire piece on The Daily Currant goes on to describe the made-up incident, even quoting fake witnesses, such as “Sheila Johnson, a 33-year old computer programmer from Long Island,” and joking:
“‘The Santa was wishing everybody ‘Happy Holidays’ as they passed by. And most people were in a good mood, so they said ‘Happy Holidays’ back. But when he said it to O’Reilly, the dude went ballistic.'”
The site explains the ensuing “verbal tsunami of anger” as including this gem by O’Reilly:
“‘What the f*** did you just say to me? What the F*** did you just say?’ O’Reilly screamed, ‘Did you seriously think you could get away with insulting me – ME! – with your anti-Christian, secular ‘Happy Holidays’ filth?'”
While it may stand out as humor to some readers, a quick scan of Twitter reveals more than a few users were likely taken in by the satire:
Bill O’Reilly arrested for flipping out and punching, cussing out Santa in a shopping mall.
— bobbie barnhill (@bobbiebarnhill) December 26, 2012
Bwahaha!!! RT @cwcook1000: Bill O’Reilly Arrested For Assaulting Department Store Santa dailycurrant.com/2012/12/24/bil…
— Debra Lynn Lazar (@debralynnlazar) December 27, 2012
Santa is about to get PAID IN FULL!!!!Bill O’Reilly Arrested For Assaulting Department Store Santa dailycurrant.com/2012/12/24/bil…
— R. Robinson M.E. (@Knight3k) December 26, 2012
Too funny! Bill O’Reilly Arrested For Assaulting Department Store Santa dailycurrant.com/2012/12/24/bil…
— Brad Howell, Realtor (@Brad_tweets) December 26, 2012
While Bill O’Reilly was not arrested, nor was he accused of assaulting a mall Santa, the pundit has been vocal about the War On Christmas — watch below.