I have two theories for how this got started.
One: A guest or a host made an offhand comment on some Fox News show (e.g., “Next thing you know with these liberals, there’ll be a war on Thanksgiving!”), Trump had the TV on and either misheard it or misunderstood it, he repeated it at his rally last night in Florida as some cheap applause material about political correctness gone mad, and now suddenly the imperative to support the president in all things requires righties to back him up by at least pretending there’s a “war on Thanksgiving.”
Two: Two Fox News executives bet each other a dollar, a la the Dukes in “Trading Places,” over whether one of them could turn an inane idea like the “war on Thanksgiving” into a bona fide moral panic among Fox’s elderly Republican viewership. Starting with the most important elderly Republican of all.
Either way, we are where we are.
It appears that Fox's "War on Thanksgiving" segments have made an impact on Trump.
"Some people want to change the name Thanksgiving. They don’t want to use the term Thanksgiving. And that was true with Christmas. Now everybody is using Christmas again. Remember I said that?" pic.twitter.com/M0IgeOsASi
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) November 27, 2019
I haven’t seen any of the Fox “war on Thanksgiving” segments that preceded this, but if this Daily Beast story is accurate then they were inspired by a random greenie piece at HuffPost about how to limit one’s carbon footprint on the holiday. Eat veggie instead of eating turkey, for instance, and buy locally to minimize emissions generated by transporting food — you know how this song goes. The piece doesn’t call for boycotting Thanksgiving, though, or otherwise object to the concept behind the holiday. And it certainly doesn’t call for changing the name. It’s about climate change, not some bizarre conscientious objection to the practice of giving thanks.
Which raises the question: How the hell did Trump get it in his head that the “war on Thanksgiving” is about the name? Did he just … analogize to the other holiday “war” he’s familiar with, the “war on Christmas,” and conclude that if liberals are uncomfortable with saying “Christmas” they must also have a problem with saying “Thanksgiving” for some reason?
Did he even watch the Fox segments that apparently gave him this idea?
Eh, at least we got some decent memes out of it:
— Fuck Robinhood (@y2stump) November 27, 2019
You know he’s out over his skis when even the anchors on his favorite show are trying to talk him down. Watch Brian Kilmeade react to Trump’s rally riff last night by politely suggesting that there isn’t really any push to change the name of the holiday. Steve Doocy tries to cover for the president half-heartedly by noting that there was a rumor years ago that Obama wanted to change Thanksgiving before noting that the rumor was, ah, debunked. Guest host Emily Compagno was gamer than either of them, defending Trump’s out-of-left-field point about objections to the name by saying, “I think the issue that a lot of people have to with potentially changing that name is the fact that in that name we’re expressing gratitude and whatever historical connotations we can acknowledge.” She deserves a presidential Twitter shout-out for going the extra mile. Hope she gets it.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade confused by Trump's claims of a war on Thanksgiving: "I don't think there’s a huge push to change the name of Thanksgiving, is there?" pic.twitter.com/TKeFkSUctE
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 27, 2019