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For more than a decade, claims about attacks on Christmas have earned our rating of Pants on Fire.
An interview with former President Donald Trump continued what has become something of a holiday tradition: some people griping that political grinches have taken the Christmas out of Christmastime.
"Mr. President, when you came into office, America had gone through a long period where people quit saying, ‘Merry Christmas.’ It was all, ‘Happy holidays,’" said the interviewer, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. "You deliberately changed that and openly said, ‘Merry Christmas, we’re going to say it again.’"
Trump replied that it was part of his 2016 presidential campaign. "The country had started with this ‘woke,’ I guess, a little bit before that and it was embarrassing for stores to say, ‘Merry Christmas,’" Trump said on the program, which aired Dec. 20. "You’d see these big chains, they want your money but they don’t want to say, ‘Merry Christmas.’"
In remarks a day earlier, Trump complained that while he was president, the media criticized each color of the first lady Melania Trump’s Christmas trees, which he said were red one year, then white, then green.
We’ve rated as Promise Kept Trump’s campaign pledge that he wouldn’t say, "Happy holidays."
But what about the larger point about attacks on Christmas?
Earlier this month, in an actual assault, Fox News’ 50-foot-tall artificial Christmas tree outside its New York City headquarters went up in flames. Police said they believed mental illness or drug use by the suspected arsonist might be behind the act.
A review of PolitiFact fact-checks about Christmas, however, shows that many claims about yuletide under siege have also gone up in flames. The tradition spans more than a decade.
Here’s a sampling.
In October 2009, a chain email claimed that the Obama White House was renaming Christmas trees "holiday trees." Our rating was Pants on Fire. There was no truth to the statement.
In December 2011, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made this claim: "No federal official at any level is currently allowed to say ‘Merry Christmas.’" It was Pants on Fire, as there was no such ban.
A fake news blog said in December 2016 that then-President Barack Obama, in what would have been one of his final acts in office, ordered a "ban on Christmas cards to military." We rated the claim Pants on Fire. No such order was issued.
Bloggers in December 2018 said the White House nativity scene was removed by the Obamas and "is back in the White House thanks to First Lady Melania Trump." Our rating was Pants on Fire. The Obamas did not take it down.
In October 2021, Facebook posts claimed: "The White House referred to Christmas trees as Holiday Trees for the first time this year." Our rating: Pants on Fire. The false claim first appeared during Obama’s presidency and was based on a fabricated chain email. We found no evidence that the Biden administration is calling Christmas trees by any other name.
Newsmax, "Mike Huckabee Hosts Christmas Special Featuring President Trump," Dec. 17, 2021
YouTube, Newsmax TV posting, Dec. 16, 2021
YouTube, Donald Trump Dec. 19, 2021, remarks (6:20), posted Dec. 20, 2021
PolitiFact, "Donald Trump’s 2018 official card says "Merry Christmas,’" Dec. 4, 2018
PolitiFact fact-checks as noted