The hosts of Fox & Friends talk above a chyron reading "Arson suspect freed without bail"

Fox News Hosts Can’t Understand Why Christmas Tree Arson Isn’t Considered a “Hate Crime”

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Fox News host Brian Kilmeade doesn’t understand why the person suspected of setting fire to the network’s “All-American Christmas Tree” this week can’t be charged with committing a hate crime.

The suggestion came as Kilmeade and his fellow Fox & Friends cohosts were bemoaning the fact that the suspect had been released without bail—something Ainsley Earhardt was quick to blame on “new liberal reform laws.” The suspect, Craig Tamanaha, was not eligible to be held on bail because he’s only accused of committing misdemeanor offenses. The hosts seemed genuinely furious at the idea that an unhoused person, as Tamanaha is, might not have to sit in jail while awaiting trial for something he has not been convicted of.

This would only have been a bail-eligible offense if a person had been injured or if the fire was a suspected hate crime, “and apparently lighting a Christmas tree on fire is not a hate crime,” Steve Doocy said incredulously.

To which Kilmeade asked, “Who says it’s not a hate crime against us, against Fox News?”

Doocy interjected that they “don’t know the guy’s motivations,” to which Kilmeade suggested, “the judge could ask him.” Brilliant plan, Brian.

Doocy is right that, despite what many Fox News executives, employees, and conservative supporters claimed yesterday, no one knows if the fire was deliberate or an accident, or if it had anything at all to do with Fox News or Christmas. Police said they didn’t think there were any “political” motivations behind the fire, and Tamanaha reportedly has a record of low-level criminal offenses—including, just last week, allegedly exposing himself to reporters outside of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial in Manhattan.

Kilmeade was not the only Fox News personality to suggest the Christmas tree fire should be considered a hate crime. (He was, however, the only one to imply Fox News itself is a protected group.)

Tucker Carlson devoted a whole segment to the idea:

This Fox News contributor also raised the question:

A lot of people online are making false equivalencies between burning a Christmas tree and destroying other (actual) religious symbols. But just yesterday, Ainsley Earhardt insisted that the Christmas tree wasn’t a symbol of Christianity, saying, “It’s about the Christmas spirit. It is about the holiday season. It’s about Jesus. It’s about Hanukkah.”

Unsurprisingly, Fox News is showing themselves a level of compassion and interest in seeking justice that they have historically refused to extend to victims of actual hate crimes.

(image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.