Just when you think you have it figured out, life kicks you in the back of the knee. Over my 30-year career in journalism, I have tried to resist generalizing about the media. You know, that it is rife with left-wing loons bent on imposing a secular society on the country. In the past, I would have never said that. But that was then. This is now.
I have come to believe that the American press is so secular Karl Marx would be appalled. And here's my proof: A few weeks ago, I stuck up for Christmas. I said it was wrong for retail operations to ban the words "Merry Christmas" in their stores. I said it was misguided for the ACLU to sue people because they put up images of the baby Jesus in the town square. I wrote it was awful that the federal holiday of Christmas was under siege.
In reply, I received gentle criticisms from my peers in the press - a few simple reminders that most of them disagreed with me on the issue and, in general, think I have the intellect of a Visigoth. For example, my friends at the San Francisco Chronicle called me a "Field Marshal," which I believe is a Nazi reference. My pals at The New York Times compared me to some fundamentalist Islamic preachers (so now people are calling me Mullah Omar O'Reilly).
The fine folks at the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia opined that I should be "ashamed" for saying there's a war on Christmas. The Telegram & Gazette in Massachusetts described me as "a right-wing demagogue." And Sam Donaldson said I made up the whole controversy to get "ratings." Now that's going over the line.
I have a very long list of media insults directed my way, and I'm checking it twice. I want to find out who's been naughty and nice. Sorry to say, nobody in the media's been nice.
But the folks are on my side. A new Gallup Poll taken on the nonexistent Christmas controversy says that 69 percent of Americans feel replacing "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" is a bad thing. Only 3 percent of Americans object to hearing or seeing the words "Merry Christmas."
Even the House of Representatives weighed in on the nonexistent Christmas controversy. By a vote of 401-22, the House passed the "Resolution to Protect Christmas Symbols and Traditions." All the Congress people who voted against the measure inhabit the far-left precincts. Don't they know that Santa runs the biggest entitlement program in history?
It doesn't really bother me that my media cohorts feel I am the spawn of Pat Robertson. I'm actually glad so many press outlets made their true feelings about Christmas known, because now we all know where everybody stands. The American press is overwhelmingly secular, and you better duck if you're a traditionalist.
That is bad news for the baby Jesus, but good news if you want the U.S. to become like Holland. The secular-progressive movement, led by the always reliable ACLU, has a invaluable ally in the media, and the culture wars will become even more intense as more press people emerge from the secular closet.
But we traditionalists can point to the fact that 95 percent of Americans say they observe the Christmas holiday, and that is an overwhelming mandate. But don't get too optimistic. While we are still free to celebrate Christmas, actually saying the word is becoming a bit more problematic. The holidays may be happy, but Christmas is getting less merry every year.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His column appears on Friday.