The following is a partial transcription of the December 2, 2005 edition of "FOX News Watch", that has been edited for clarity:
ERIC BURNS, FOX NEWS HOST: There's a controversy in Boston: Should the "holiday tree" in Boston Common be referred to as a "Christmas tree?"
There's a controversy in Washington, D.C. Same thing: should the "Capitol holiday tree" be called the "Capitol Christmas tree?"
And there's a controversy in Encinitas, California, where the town's "holiday parade" has been renamed the "Christmas parade," and several civic groups including the Girl Scouts, have pulled out as a result.
All of this in the wake of a FOX News poll which shows that 95 percent of all Americans celebrate Christmas.
Did I just stack the deck there?
GABLER: No. I mean, war is where you want to find it.
Michelle Goldberg had a great article, and anybody interested in this issue — in "Salon" — ought to read it — in which she said that Henry Ford, back in 1921, declared that there was a war on Christmas. Of course, he blamed Jews. She cities the John Birch Society — the reactionary John Birch Society in the 1950s saying, There's a war on Christmas in 1959 by secularists.
BURNS: All right. All right. Listen, hold it. Let's not call it a "war" necessarily.
GABLER: But is this.
GABLER: No, it is being — it is being called a war.
BURNS: It is..
GABLER: ...in certain places.
BURNS: Well, let's not do it here. But let's just say, isn't it ridiculous, Jane, to want to get rid of the word "Christmas" tree and say "holiday" tree.
But wait — let me just mention this before you answer. You know, two years in Pittsburgh, there was an edict in one of the school districts that if you were an employee in that school district, you couldn't say "Merry Christmas" to a kid. A memo came down — you had to say, "Happy Sparkle Season."
BURNS: Serious. Aren't we going too far?
HALL: Well, if you cite those examples, yes. But I think there's - there's a real question that I have here.
I mean, the last time I checked, Jesus was for tolerance. And to have — Bill O'Reilly has made this a huge issue. He's obviously getting a lot of feedback. John Gibson has a book about it, another FOX News anchor.
I think this is largely a fundraiser for Jerry Falwell to pick up on some run-amok PC. I think to talk about the corporations, as Bill O'Reilly has been doing, and what they do — I mean, he's certainly within his rights. But I think, what are they saying? Boycott the corporations that have holiday wishes? What is the point of that?
PINKERTON: I think, as Neal and Jane illustrate, 90 percent of the media elites say "bah humbug" to this entire issue.
HALL: Do you go to (INAUDIBLE)
PINKERTON: They just think it's crap, and it shows. It.
HALL: I really — that's not true.
PINKERTON: I think, as the FOX polls shows and as common sense shows, and that everybody's experience shows how - just among ordinary Americans, most Americans think that Christmas is either an important religious event, or an important cultural communitarian event. And they want it noted and celebrated, and this is a - this is a great illustration.
PINKERTON: .of how the war, or the struggle — I'll call it a war, in honor of Johnny Gibson — between the elites and the masses.
BURNS: Just a minute. If there's a struggle to get rid of the word, Cal, "Christmas," that's my point. Aren't we going too far when we take it to an extreme like that?
THOMAS: Well, I suppose so. But a theological point of order: Jesus was not about tolerance. He said, I am the truth and the light.
HALL: I said he was for tolerance.
THOMAS: No man comes to the Father but by me. That's pretty narrow.
But I will say, today's my birthday; I'm not looking for anybody to celebrate my birthday. People say "good morning"; I'm not saying, "Wait a minute! Why aren't you wishing me a happy birthday?"
Let's give the secularists their holiday on April 1, and leave the rest of it to me. I don't care what the culture does; they don't mean it anyway. They're trying to exploit Christmas to make money.
HALL: May I say something?
THOMAS: Merry Christmas and buy the X-Box.
HALL: May I say something please?
BURNS: I want to get this - yes.
HALL: I go to church; I'll match anybody in terms of belief, and I don't think that's relevant here. To say that people in the media - I haven't heard anybody city any example of people in the media - we're talking about government officials.
HALL: .and stores that are being politically correct.
PINKERTON: I can help you, Jane.
HALL: You don't need to help me, Jim. I resent the way you're characterizing this.
PINKERTON: This story was ignored by the mainstream media.
GABLER: Because it's not a story, and that's why it was ignored.
And as I said, in 1921 this began.
HALL: It's a fundraiser.
GABLER: Now let's talk about the elephant in the room; let's talk about the media.
BURNS: Just a minute, Neal; if it started in 1921.
GABLER: It's not a story.
BURNS: If I can just (INAUDBIBLE)
GABLER: .demagogic campaign.
BURNS: If I can just give three examples right now in different parts of the country.
GABLER: We're 300 million people. You know, I can give you.
BURNS: But there are — just a minute...
GABLER: I want to talk about the media angle, because we've avoided it; it's the elephant in the room - it's FOX News. Come on. It's O'Reilly; it's Hannity; it's Gibson. They're demagogues who realize that at Christmastime, you can — you can rebel.
BURNS: Wait a minute.
GABLER: You rile (ph) on this issue.
GABLER: They'll do it every Christmas. They did it last Christmas; they'll do it next Christmas.
BURNS: I spend this whole show sitting back most of the time. I don't think it is demagoguery to point out that there are people who are themselves being demagogues by trying to take away the worship terminology of 95 percent of Americans.
GABLER: Eric, we are at war. There's Darfur. There's an AIDS crisis. And you're worried about whether people are saying "Merry Christmas" or not?
BURNS: No, but it's one...
GABLER: What world do you live in?
BURNS: Hey Neal, it's one issue, and it's the issue that's the subject of this top — that's the subject of this segment.
GABLER: And the media have been pumping it, and that's my point.
PINKERTON: All right.
GABLER: The media, particularly FOX media, has been pumping the hell out of this thing.
PINKERTON: In the early 60s, the school prayer — the school prayer decision came down. The Supreme Court - the Supreme Court spiked it. The mainstream media didn't care. People sat there and were furious about that for decades. They finally elected Reagan; they finally changed the court; they finally found their own media voice. The world is changing, and Neal doesn't like it.
BURNS: I will (INAUDIBLE) Cal quickly...
THOMAS: All right. Jane is right about the fundraising component. Various groups have an interest in doing this, and I would just end this segment by saying, Peace on Earth, Good will to men.
BURNS: Which we're all, during this break, going to try to gather up among ourselves. Wow. I hope we're still getting along! Let's see. This break, then our "Quick Takes."
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