Megyn Kelly had an unabashed response to those who were up in arms over her "tongue-in-cheek message for any kids watching" that Santa Claus—and Jesus, for that matter—is white, end of story.
"Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show, but sometimes that is lost on the humorless," the Fox News host said on The Kelly File tonight, two days after the controversial segment in question, in which she declared "for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white."
The handful of minutes of discussion on the topic probably had its fans, but of course the backlash was more noticeable, with alarmed responses ranging from CNN's serious discussion on the topic to Jon Stewart's mock-serious-yet-still-serious outrage to Jimmy Kimmel's more congenial brand of mockery.
"Cue the firestorm of controversy over my declaring Santa's skin color, many questioning whether I understand that Santa is a mythical figure, others suggesting I am a racist who is outraged at the idea of a black Santa," Kelly, who was absent from the air last night (and from Twitter throughout the day) without explanation, said Friday.
Addressing those who called her response to the notion of a non-white Santa "outraged," Kelly fired back:
"Outraged? Well, this would be funny if it were not so telling about our society, in particular the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race-bait, and to assume the worst in people, especially people employed by the very powerful Fox News Channel."
Stewart's segment on The Daily Show last night included this opinion of Kelly's Wednesday-night panel: "There is so much crazy goin' on here...that I don't have time to deal with a Fox News pundit saying, ‘You can't change facts and try to change them to fit some kind of political agenda.' That's how much crazy is going on here!"
Meanwhile, Kelly insists that her comments were not "motivated by any racial fear or loathing," but "in fact, something far less sinister."
Quoting the essay that her panel was debating in the first place by Slate writer Aisha Harris, Kelly noted the different examples, from "Miracle on 34th Street to the Thanksgiving Day parade to the National Christmas Tree lighting," where "we continue see St. Nick as a white man in modern-day America."
"Should that change?" she continued. "Well, that debate got lost because so many couldn't get past the fact that I acknowledged, as Harris did, that the most commonly depicted image of Santa does in fact have white skin. By the way, I also did say that Jesus was white.
"As I've learned in the past two days, that is far from settled. From me, the fact that an offhand jest I made during a segment about whether Santa should be replaced by a penguin has now become a national firestorm says two things: Race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country—and Fox News, and yours truly, are big targets for many people."
Noting how Harris had described Kelly's reaction as "angry" to another media outlet, Kelly said tonight that they had invited Harris to come on the show, but Slate turned down their request.
"Apparently that website would rather sling the arrows from the privacy of its own offices than allow a fair and balanced debate," she said.