Slate writer Aisha Harris told CNN Sunday that Fox News host Megyn Kelly played the “victim” instead of apologizing for her remarks that both Santa Claus and Jesus Christ are white.
Harris wrote a piece for Slate.com called “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore” in which she explained feeling disappointed and “slightly ashamed” as a child because the Santa she saw in ads and department stores were all white.
Kelly responded to the op-ed on her Wednesday by saying, “And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white.”
“But just because it makes you feel uncomfortable,” Kelly added, “doesn’t mean it has to change. Jesus was a white man, too.”
After a public backlash, Kelly did not appear on her show “The Kelly File” Thursday night. She returned Friday, claiming the remarks were all in jest.
"Humor is part of what we try to bring to the show. Sometimes that's lost on the humorless,” Kelly said.
“I felt like they were kind of playing the victim there,” Harris told CNN host on “Reliable Sources” Sunday. “And the fact that they tried to deflect it, and say that they were making a joke out of it, just didn’t ring true to me. She said it very emphatically on the program Wednesday, and to me there was nothing joke-like about it.”
She said the Fox News debate over the race of Santa Claus makes the point for the op-ed itself.
“It kind of reinforced my point, actually,” Harris said. “The fact that Kelly and some of the other guests on the show were insisting that Santa is white just spoke to the reason why I wrote the piece: a lot of people out there automatically assume that Santa must be white, and it’s laughable that he should be anything else.”
Harris said her argument is that “a lot has changed in the last 50 to 100 years” and we could easily change the fictional character to a color that represents more American children instead of "white always being the default."
"And yet Kelly and her guests not only say repeatedly that Santa is real and definitely white, they also equate him with Jesus, who, historians generally agree, was a Jewish man who grew up in Galilee. Was he white? Probably not. But the truest answer is that we really don’t know. Also, whiteness is a historical construct. And, again, Santa isn’t real," she wrote in a follow up for Slate.
Fox reached out to get Harris to appear on their follow up show on Friday, but Slate declined on Harris’ behalf.
Harris said, “they didn’t give enough warning.”
“It felt like a last minute thing, felt almost like a slight,” she said.
When she didn’t appear on the show, Kelly accused her of preferring to "sling the arrows from the privacy of [Slate's] office” than appear on The Kelly File.