This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 8, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Stossel Matters" segment tonight: A few years ago it was very hard to find companies that actually said "Merry Christmas" to their companies — to their customers, I should say. But that has changed, partially because of "The Factor's" coverage. So what's going on this year?
We asked Fox Business guy John Stossel, who has a new program debuting on Thursday, to make a list of Christmas-friendly companies and those who are Bah humbug people. Here's Stossel.
Let's take the good guys first. Who's doing a good job? How did this come about, by the way? I guess we should say.
JOHN STOSSEL, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK ANCHOR: Probably because of you talking about it.
O'REILLY: Well, yes, but there was a group — there's a group that did this.
STOSSEL: The American Family Association.
O'REILLY: StandForChristmas.com, StandForChristmas.com. And this was people who actually voted for the companies they thought were best.
STOSSEL: Right. Or they talked about their good or bad experiences. But it's not that scientific.
O'REILLY: No, it's like a BillOReilly.com poll. Right. But it's worthy because of the people — I trust the folks, and I think you do, too, right, to tell the truth?
STOSSEL: Depends on which folks we're talking about.
O'REILLY: Regular folks. Just the people who — customers who go into a store. They're not going to lie. They come in, said I had it good or had it bad. First one is the Bass Pro Shop.
STOSSEL: Top of the list was the Bass Pro Shop.
STOSSEL: Cabela's, K-Mart, Lands End and Sears. And at the bottom of the list: Old Navy, American Eagle Company, Best Buy, Banana Republic and Gap.
O'REILLY: Now, the Gap, Best Buy, Banana Republic, American Eagle and Old Navy. They're hip, young; most of them want to sell to young people. So they say, "Happy Holidays." They don't say, "Merry Christmas." That's what tees them off, people off.
STOSSEL: Except sometimes they do say, "Merry Christmas," but some customers complain that it wasn't being said enough.
STOSSEL: But that's the beauty of the free market. If you don't like their presentation — some of these companies are more sensitive about wanting to appeal to non-Christians — the market will sort it out. If you don't like it, you won't go there. If enough people don't like it, they'll lose business and probably change their policy.
O'REILLY: Now, as a libertarian, you don't really care whether people say, "Merry Christmas."
STOSSEL: I do not care.
O'REILLY: So you walk in and somebody goes, "Happy Holidays," that doesn't bother you at all?
STOSSEL: Doesn't bother me.
O'REILLY: Do you say, "Happy Holidays" back, or do you say "Merry Christmas"?
STOSSEL: Sometimes I say "Merry Christmas," just to — if I think they're being politically correct, I say, "Merry Christmas"...
O'REILLY: Just to annoy them.
STOSSEL: ...just to annoy them.
O'REILLY: OK, that's the kind of guy you are.
O'REILLY: Now, retail-wise, do the companies that say, "Merry Christmas" and go Christmas big-time do better?
STOSSEL: The companies at the top of the list increase sales 1 percent. The companies at the bottom of the list increase sales 1 percent.
O'REILLY: OK, so it was a wash?
STOSSEL: It was a wash.
O'REILLY: OK. So it comes down to people, they would rather — I think most Americans, 72 percent, the polls say, like the greeting "Merry Christmas" in the Christmas season. Twenty-four percent like "Happy Holidays." So I think that, if you have a good product that they want and you say, "Merry Christmas," that's a winner right there. Would you disagree with that?
STOSSEL: I think these people know more how to run their business than I do. And if it was good business practice, they'd all be saying, "Merry Christmas."
O'REILLY: Do you really believe though that pinhead CEOs — I mean, come on, you know what corporations are — that tell their — and this is why we got involved about four or five years ago. They were ordering their employees not to say, "Merry Christmas." Do you really think that they know how to run a company better than you do? Would you do that?
STOSSEL: Well, I think they figured it out pretty quickly.
O'REILLY: Why did they figure it out? Why?
STOSSEL: Because they were losing business.
O'REILLY: Why were they losing business?
STOSSEL: Because Bill O'Reilly gave them a bad rap.
O'REILLY: You bet! And I got a lot of good presents from Santa for doing that. But my point is that I thought it was fascism, fascism, which offends a libertarian like you, for a CEO or a store manager to tell their employees, "You better not say, 'Merry Christmas,' even though the reason we're selling stuff is because of Christmas." Isn't that fascism?
STOSSEL: No. It's — it's ownership. He built the business. If he says, "Stand on your head, sing when people come in," you don't have to work there. You can quit. It's his business.
O'REILLY: And the union won't tolerate that. You can't stand on anybody's head if you're in the — if you're a Teamster. They'll cut your head off if do you that, Stossel.
STOSSEL: Well, that's closer to fascism. But I couldn't call the unions fascism.
O'REILLY: So you weren't — you weren't offended by the management saying to employees, "You can't say 'Merry Christmas'"?
STOSSEL: No, these are scared people who were frightened by the left. "Oh, we're going to get sued for religious discrimination" or something.
O'REILLY: All right. I want to do two things. The — the Christmas-friendly by the folks: Bass Pro Shop, Cabela's. Is that how you say it?
O'REILLY: OK. It's a gun shop. Lands End, K-Mart, Sears. OK.
Now, Stossel's new program debuts this Thursday, 8 p.m. on Fox Business Channel all across the country. Why should I watch it?
STOSSEL: Because it's going to be great, and it's going to crush your show. We're going to talk about...
O'REILLY: You're up against "The Factor"?
STOSSEL: That's right.
O'REILLY: Right. And you know why they did that?
STOSSEL: Because they're tired of you? And they want — they want...
O'REILLY: They want you out of here. You're making too much money. DVR Stossel. And you're going to be on again Friday, right? Friday at 10.
STOSSEL: Against my old show, "20/20."
O'REILLY: That's right.
STOSSEL: I'll crush you. I'll crush "20/20."
O'REILLY: Anybody want to make a wager on that? All right. John Stossel, everybody.
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