‘Hate crime’: Fox News covers its Christmas tree fire for 36 hours straight as major news story

The network’s 50ft tree was set on fire by a man who was arrested shortly afterwards

Jade Bremner
Friday 10 December 2021 13:49
Fox News host suggests Christmas tree fire was 'a hate crime' against network

A man was arrested and charged on Wednesday for setting fire to the Christmas tree outside Fox News – an event the network covered solidly for 36 hours.

The 50ft artificial Christmas tree stands outside the network’s headquarters in New York. The authorities quickly extinguished the blaze early on Wednesday morning.

For a day and a half, the network continued to cover the incident as a major story with a heated commentary, and suggested a possible growing rebellion against Christianity, lawlessness in the US, and left-wing extremism.

The network dubbed the tree decorated in red, white and blue, an “All-American Christmas Tree”, and said the burning of the tree was “a great symbol of all that is wrong” in “blue cities across the country” during newsreels. The tree had 10,000 glass ornaments, 100,000 lights and took almost a day to put up.

Craig Tamanaha, 49, was arrested and charged with seven counts including criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and arson for setting fire to the tree. He allegedly caused $500,000 worth of damage. He was released without bail.

“The judge could have found a way to keep him locked up if he felt he was a threat to society,” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said in a segment, adding “apparently lighting a Christmas tree on fire is not a hate crime”.

“But it is. Who says it’s not a hate crime against us, against Fox News?” host Brian Kilmeade responded.

“This is what you get when you have these left-wing DAs running these cities,” he added.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the department was looking at mental health issues as a possible factor in the incident.

“It’s probably a little preliminary to say what the motivation was. Was mental illness a factor? We’re looking at all of that,” she told WPIX.

According to a witness, Mr Tamanaha, who is reportedly homeless, had exposed himself a few days earlier outside the Ghislaine Maxwell trial. “He was acting weird and pulled down his pants,” freelance photographer Jeenah Moon told Fox News.

This is not the first time a Christmas tree has been set ablaze this season; a 52-foot Christmas tree was recently set alight in Jack London Square, Oakland, California.

A Christmas tree was also set on fire in Washington Park, Chicago, but this is not a new occurrence in the city, the tree has been vandalised three times in a row.

Volunteers for non-profit organisation My Block, My Hood, put up Christmas lights along Chicago’s King Drive before finishing their day at the Washington Park tree lighting on Saturday, the tree was burned on one side by Sunday.

“It’s unfortunate that an event that was supposed to bring the community together resulted in the burning of a beautiful tree,” local Jahmal Cole, and the founder of My Block, My Hood, My City told Block Club Chicago. “While it is a setback it’s not going to stop us from beautifying the community through holiday season.”

A new tree outside the Fox New headquarters was re-lit on Thursday, “as a sign of resilience and hope in the face of a horrible act,” said Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott in an internal memo, reported the network.

The Independent has contacted Fox News for further comment.

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