Last night, Bill O’Reilly revived his baseless claim that Christmas is “under seige” in America from “secular progressives,” highlighting Wal-Mart’s recent announcement that it will use the phrase “Merry Christmas” in its promotional materials this year.
O’Reilly portrayed Wal-Mart’s decision as a victory in the “culture war battle” for those who “want to retain the Christmas tradition,” and lauded Wal-Mart as “the Christmas guys!”
Actually, like its decision to use “Happy Holidays” in the first place, Wal-Mart’s return to “Merry Christmas” is motivated by business interests, not an effort to preserve traditional culture:
Wishing for a bigger holiday season after a sluggish fall, the chain said Thursday that 60% more of its merchandise will be labeled “Christmas” compared with last year. And customers will hear Christmas carols as they shop. [...]
Wal-Mart is not alone. Although Best Buy Co. is sticking with “Happy Holidays,” retailers such as Kohl’s Corp. and Walgreen Co. are returning to Christmas.
“They’re all trying to get the spirit back,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD Group. “Especially since their holiday schedules have been off to a slow start.”
As Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo put it, “We listened to our customers. There’s a call to return to a core Merry Christmas message.” Just as Jesus might have said.
O’REILLY: In the “Back of the Book” segment tonight, as you know last year there was a culture war battle between people who wanted to say “Happy Holidays” and not say “Merry Christmas,” and those of us who want to retain the Christmas tradition without interference. Some retailers actually told employees not to say “Merry Christmas” — ever! — and they were hammered by us for doing that. Of course, the media attacked me for spotlighting the problem. But what a difference a year makes. With us, Peter Shankman, CEO of a PR firm here in New York City and author of the book “Can We Do That?!” And from Bentonville, Arkansas, Julie Roehm, the Senior VP for Marketing and Communications at Wal-Mart. Um, Ms. Roehm, we begin with you. Now, last year you were a little hesitant to say “Merry Christmas.” This year you are the Christmas guys! What happened?
ROEHM: That’s true. Well, first, let me be the first to say Merry Christmas to you.