Todd Starnes of Fox News Lies Again: A Texas School Did Not Ban Christmas Trees and the Colors Red & Green

I think this is the third fake story “reported” by Fox News’ Todd Starnes in the past two weeks. But I could be wrong since I’ve only read three of his stories in the past two weeks.

His latest version of “fair and balanced” spin takes us to Frisco, Texas, where Starnes writes that an elementary school has “banned Christmas trees and the colors red & green from an upcoming ‘winter’ party”:

Boys and girls who attend the Nichols Elementary School “Winter Party” will not be able to make any reference to Christmas or any other religious holiday. Christmas trees are also banned — along with the colors red and green.

… after a meeting between the principal and the PTA, the school decided to keep the draconian rules in place.

“She [the principal] said they didn’t want to offend any families and since each family donates money they feel this is the best policy,” read an email sent to [state Rep. Pat Fallon].

Fallon is the politician who authored the unnecessary bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry over the summer that allows students to say things like “Merry Christmas” without punishment. (If you’re thinking to yourself, why would anyone ever be punished for that?, you would be correct.)

So is Starnes’ story true?

Of course not.

The Frisco Independent School District issued a statement on Thursday completely contradicting Starnes’ lies:

An unfortunate misunderstanding regarding an email that was sent by a room mom has unfairly portrayed a school and the Frisco ISD as having violated the “Merry Christmas Law.” This is simply incorrect.

The email being referenced was not an official PTA email nor was the school aware of it being sent. The email that was sent by the room mom was sent two weeks before the party planning meeting had even been held. At the party planning meeting held on November 19, prior to any knowledge of the email, the school leaders went over the new law as part of the meeting. Please understand, there has never been a ban on what is worn, what is said, or what is brought to the party…

When the email was forwarded to Mr. Fallon stating no red or green or Christmas trees and no reference to Christmas or another religious holiday, he sent a letter to our Superintendent regarding the law. Our Superintendent called him and assured him these were not our rules. We are still unsure of why the campus and District’s position was misunderstood and why there is the feeling that there is some sort of ban of items or greetings regarding the winter holiday parties at that school.

I can explain the misunderstanding: You see, Starnes is desperate to promote the fake “War on Christmas” and since he can’t find actual stories of people discriminating against Christians, he just makes shit up. It’s Fox News, not the New Yorker.

While we’re on the subject of willful ignorance, Sarah Palin was all too eager to promote the story on Facebook and Twitter.

Say it with me now: There’s no “War on Christmas.” Not even in Texas. There are only liars who love to pretend they’re victims and the gullible masses who believe everything they’re told.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Sometimes I feel like screaming “If they want war, we’ll give them war.” because I am getting tired of hearing about this fictional war on christmas. There is no actual war just like there is no actual persecution of christians in the united states and yet that is all we hear about.

    • Nico Prime Ferrise

      I do as well sometimes. Then I realize vandalism via removing the decorations and putting them in boxes takes too much time to do in one night v.v

      • Raising_Rlyeh

        Really? Because it is rather quite simple. All you have to do is use all the satanic powers granted to us by our lord and master and then summon forth the spirit of the the grinch in order to steal christmas. Of course this has the downside of teaching people that the true meaning of christmas doesn’t come in a box so I can see why it really isn’t worth it.

        • Nico Prime Ferrise

          but then we run into the problem of random monsters being summoned while we try to get the grinch, That however makes monster hunting Businesses start up and boosting our economy >.> maybe thats not a bad idea

          • Spuddie

            The last time I tried to summon a grinch, I got a grue. Those guys are no fun in the dark.

            • Artor

              They’re easy to feed, though.

    • JT Rager

      What about a “war on the war on christmas”? Perchance we’d make some headway with that?

  • Pepe

    I think this is a brilliant strategy by the right wing. They make up an entire story, the sheep reads these “news” articles and swallows it whole, the officials speak up saying that they were misrepresented/there’s no truth; Starnes, maybe, adds a line at the end of his article about how some of the “facts” in the article might be wrong.

    But by then, the damage (for them, that would be success) is done. Fuck them.

    • Matt Potter

      I have friends and family on FB that post these stories constantly. They do indeed ‘swallow it whole’. After reading their post and completing a grueling 5 minute google search I post something like,” Thanks for sharing but this story is completely inaccurate and a sorry excuse for journalism. Trust but verify. Here’s a link that directly refutes all the nonsense.” This time of year I might even add a ‘Happy Holidays’!

      • Rich Wilson

        I ended up de-friending that family member. I got tired of him saying he agreed with me, and then dredging up the same damn thing three days later.

      • Artor

        “This time of year I might even add a ‘Happy Holidays’!”

        Ooh! Burn!

    • SeekerLancer

      Yes, it doesn’t really matter if its a bold faced lie. The people who they want riled up probably aren’t going to go out of their way to verify the article.

  • Craig Brown

    Looks like there is no comment section on this one? Anyone else try?

  • Craig Brown

    Todd Starnes get to hit the hornets nest and run. What a peice of work.

  • Castilliano

    “I think this is the third fake story “reported” by Fox News’ Todd Starnes in the past two weeks. But I could be wrong since I’ve only read three of his stories in the past two weeks.”

    Didn’t you know, Starnes is working on his B.S. at the Barton School of Journalism?
    I’ve heard that so far he’s scored 100%…

  • Matt Potter

    I decided to brave Mr. Starnes FB page. I can conclusively report that he has posted many more than 3 fake stories in the last two weeks. Please be careful, the stupid still burns.

  • islandbrewer

    Todd Starnes is incapable of publishing non-fake stories, as far as I can tell.

  • Madison Blane

    As an FYI…I just downloaded a new Google Chrome extension called Rbutr (Rebutter lets you know any time an article has been rebutted in another place on the web, so you can read both sides of the story – it’s pretty cool). When I went to read the original Fox article on this story, Rbutr let me know that this page has been linked as a rebuttal.
    I thought the authors and some people here might make use of the extension in the future when responding to popular articles.

    • chicago dyke, TOWAN

      even mighty google isn’t going to be able to find every story rebutting every story about anything that’s out there. i’d be careful with a technology like that, and my reputation. chasing down sources and understanding the difference between primary and tertiary source material, not to mention the language barriers and cultural context challenges… sorry, there’s no “app” that can substitute for all that real and actual hard, critical work.

      • Helanna

        I don’t think she was implying the app was a substitute for anything, but it sure looks handy for finding sources. If somebody’s too stupid to figure out how to use those sources, well, that’s hardly the app’s fault.

        Thanks Madison, I’ve installed it and am going to try it out. It does look really useful!

      • Madison Blane

        The app isn’t about what google can find. It is for authors to easily link their responses to the page it rebutts. So that, when you open a page (say ‘Natural News’ for example) a little box pops up that tells you everyone who has written a direct response to that claim – so you can read both sides of a story. It lets you know if Snopes has already done the work of finding this claim false. It keeps one from forwarding a claim that has already been debunked. It isn’t so much for research as it is for awareness of truth and a balanced perspective.
        It’s a place to begin, not a place to end.

      • Artor

        It’s a crowd-sourced app. It doesn’t catch everything, but it can still be a useful tool.

    • Artor

      I just got Rbutr myself. I’m looking forward to seeing how it works.

  • Jeff Simons

    There actually IS a war on christmas, it’s Thanksgiving trying to get it’s time back.

    • SeekerLancer

      There’s no telling how much longer Halloween can hold the line.

      • Jeff Simons

        I give it another 2 years.

        • Mario Strada

          I was in a store not a week after Halloween and they already had Xmas music blaring from their loudspeakers. It was a pet store, but I forget which nearly identical franchise it was.

          • Matt Potter

            The day after Halloween I was in Wal-Mart and their seasonal section was filled with Christmas. The only Thanksgiving type items took up half of a little aisle and a large portion of what was there consisted of Halloween type products that could also double for Thanksgiving, i.e. decorative fake pumpkins,etc.

      • Castilliano

        I often see Christmas displays before Halloween. Have even set a few up myself. *slap my wrist*

        Several years back, I saw large Santas for sale in Wal-Mart.
        In July.
        Feel dirty every time I go there. Have yet to buy something.

      • Artor

        I think we should just cancel Xmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and just make them all Halloween.

  • LutherW

    How many real, loving, omnipotent gods would it take to keep such false stories from starting? Only one. We must be just short of that number by one.

  • LesterBallard

    Lying for Jesus pieces of shit.

    • diogeneslamp0

      No, we have to say that so often that we need an abbreviation: L4JPOS.

      • LesterBallard

        You just made my life a bit easier.

  • newshound1000000

    So, liberals make up the whole “war on women” by the GOP. But now they are getting twisted in a knot over being accused of waging a “war on christmas.” Karma.

    • Feminerd

      I consider it a war on my ‘kind’ when my basic bodily autonomy and health care are considered unimportant and put on the chopping block to appease people who think there’s an invisible wizard up in the sky. I consider it a war when people call me a thing instead of a person and try to get that view enshrined into law.

      But hey, maybe you don’t think that’s a war.

      • newshound1000000

        “my basic bodily autonomy”

        I’ll assume you mean abortion, including partial birth abortion. So, basically you feel it is your right to murder your unborn child that you made voluntarily. Why don’t we extend that until they turn 18. Then if things get too difficult you can just off them later. Of course, they might behave better in that case. But seriously, what is the difference between a child 5 minutes before they are born and 5 minutes after they are born?

        “when people call me a thing instead of a person”

        Oh the hypocrisy.

        • Feminerd

          Well, I mean abortion and contraception and sterilization.

          First of all, consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy. Additionally, not all sex is even voluntary. Second, there is a massive difference between living in my body feeding off my very flesh and just existing around me. An infant, a five year old, a 17 year old- you can always hand them off to someone else to care for. An embryo? Not so much. Come back to me when we have effective artificial uteruses and a safe transplant mechanism and we can talk about the morality of expelling unwanted bodily invaders into certain death then. Third, the difference between a fetus and a baby is a fetus is attached to my body by an umbilicus and a baby isn’t. That’s a pretty significant difference.

          You’re calling me an incubator, a heart-lung machine, an object. You think my brains, wants, desires, hopes, and personality are irrelevant so long as I can function as a life support system for another entity. That’s pretty horrible. I’m just treating an unwanted fetus like any other invader of my body- I want it out, and whether it lives or dies is not my concern. I can kill a rapist. I can kill dozens of people by refusing to donate my blood, my bone marrow, my kidney, my liver, and my lung to them. If I can kill a baby by not donating blood to it, why do you think I should be legally obligated to donate blood and body and nutrients to a fetus?

          • newshound1000000

            First off, I’m not calling you anything. And I don’t think any of the things you say, so you are way off there.

            5 minutes before, 5 minutes after. 10 minutes is too long to wait. Murder is the better option. I should remember that the next time the line is too long at the drive-thru.

            Connected by an umbilical cord is the difference? So let’s deliver a baby but don’t cut the cord. It doesn’t look good enough? It has red hair? It’s a girl but they really wanted a boy? Well, just slash its throat and try again. Really?

            I may even be a little inconsistent in my position as I will say the right to abortion in the case of rape or incest does need to be protected. But there were over a million abortions last year. I doubt there weren’t more than a small percentage that were the result of rape. But when a rape happens, there are no good options. Every option leads to a bad place.

            Even morning after pills in the case of unprotected sex don’t upset me as that happens routinely in nature. At that stage there is no way for the fetus to sense anything, anyways.

            If 90% of abortions were morning after pills or were the result of rape, I would say, okay, good enough, We will never get it perfect and we can’t restrict the 90% to try and reduce the 10%. But that’s not where we are. We are reverse. We have too many damn people not giving any thought whatsoever to the outcome of their actions.

            Bottom line is this. If you don’t want a baby, then don’t make a baby.

            • Rich Wilson

              Do you happen to know how many 3rd trimester abortions are for any reason other than the life of the mother? I don’t.


              • newshound1000000

                Do you happen to know how many are done for the life of the mother? Other than this one article about one incident out of a million abortions that year.

                • Rich Wilson

                  I asked you first, because I don’t know. My one article happens to be about one of the most extreme ‘pro-life’ers out there- Santorum.

                  I asked you because although you talk about “We will never get it perfect” you also seem to want to talk about ‘partial birth’ abortions and “We have too many damn people not giving any thought whatsoever to the outcome of their actions.” It seems like you think women are having partial birth abortions for the hell of it. The real reason I linked Santorum’s story was the agony they went through. Do you think a 3rd trimester, let alone a ‘partial birth’ abortion is something anyone takes lightly?

                  I think you’d agree with me in desiring a) fewer unwanted pregnancies (i.e. fewer abortions) and b) abortions that do occur to occur as early in term as possible, and be as safe as possible (i.e. no coat hangers)

                  So, should we make sex ed comprehensive, or teach abstinence only? Should we make it hard to get contraception or easy? Should we make it hard to get morning-after pills, or easy? Should women who decided they need an abortion have to undergo further procedures and wait to try to get them to change their minds? Should we make it difficult to get an abortion by de-funding planned parenthood, so women have to travel out of state to get a safe abortion? Bonus: should we have more programs like food stamps and WIC and subsidized daycare to help single mothers, or let them ‘fend for themselves’?

                  And after answering those, ask your self which side you align most closely with policy wise: ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’.

                • newshound1000000

                  I’ll answer the last since: which side? neither one, like most Americans I think. Both are controlled by extremists. Pro-lifers are unwilling to make an exception for rape/incest because they think it will be abused (which it will). Pro-choicers are unwilling to admit that PBA unless for health of mother is murder because anything less than abortion on demand is unacceptable.

                  So, the large majority of Americans are really no longer represented because both parties play to their extremists and the rest of us sit in the middle trying to apply “common” sense which, unfortunately, is increasingly uncommon.

                  “It seems like you think women are having partial birth abortions for the hell of it” No, I talked about PBA because it is a way to gauge their reasonableness. If someone defends PBA in all cases, then there is no point in conversation at all.

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  Why do you think that women have PBA’s at 8 or 9 months for purely frivolous reasons? Don’t you think that if someone does not want to be pregnant that they won’t just let pregnancy run its full course and *then* get an abortion shortly before birth??? It’s nonsensical. How much jail time should women serve for abortion?

                • Rich Wilson

                  I think your ‘reasonable test’ is a strawman. I don’t think there are any “PBA”s that aren’t for the health of the mother. And if there are, they would be virtually eliminated by making abortion freely available.

                  I fully support “abortion on demand” because (among other things) I think it’s necessary to reducing late term abortions.

                • newshound1000000

                  “I don’t think there are any “PBA”s that aren’t for the health of the mother”
                  If there were, would you have a different opinion? If there isn’t, what is wrong with a law saying no PBA except for the physical health of the mother?

                  And no its not a straw man argument. I was trying to gauge the poster’s reasonableness. If they believe that as long as the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut, they can do what they want, for whatever reason they want(red hair/wrong gender/not pretty enough), then there is no common ground, in my opinion, on which any discussion can take place.

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  It’s so convenient for him to ignore me. I ask a couple of inconvenient questions, and he refuses to answer.

                  Yet here he is, making up bullshit about how he has to gauge the reasonableness of other posters.

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  Does health count? Or are women a special class of slave that should be forced to undergo disfigurement and disability to save another?

                • Rich Wilson

                  Along those lines, I don’t get grouping incest with rape. If it’s consensual incest then how is it like rape? If it’s not, then it’s rape. And if it’s because one is worried about genetic defects (actually not much more likely in siblings than in 1st cousins) then why not general ‘health of the baby’ restrictions?

                  The fact that people lump incest with rape means they’re not thinking with their brains, IMO.

                • Gaiuse Strome


            • Gaiuse Strome

              How much jail time should women serve if they procure an abortion? 30years? Life?

            • Gaiuse Strome

              How is a rape baby different from a normal baby?

              • newshound1000000

                What’s your point?

                Are the babies physically different? No I don’t believe so.

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  Then why a rape exception? And should women who procure abortion be punished as murderers?

                • newshound1000000

                  Because the women didn’t voluntarily participate in the creation of the baby. It would victimize them again to make them carry to term a resulting child.

                  You ask a lot of questions without providing ANY of your viewpoint. I suppose this is so you can take potshots at others without leaving your viewpoint open to examination. If this will be your modus operandi then I will not respond further.

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  Why punish the baby for the crimes of the father. Two wrongs do not make a right? Listen, you feel very strongly that abortion is murder. Soooo, you should be able to answer the question easily. How much jail time for women who murder the unborn?

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  There is nothing wrong with asking you to clarify your view. If you believe in your heart that abortion is murder, and that every embryo is a child, then you should have no problems opposing abortion for rape victims and putting women who abort in jail. You have the moral highground here. These other people are supporting baby killing.

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  So you cannot answer a question *truthfully* based on whether I am pro-choice or pro-life?

                  You have to see what side I am on so you can bullshit your way out of looking bad?

                  Doesn’t sound to me like you are arguing in good faith, sir.

                  tsk tsk

                • Gaiuse Strome


                  Tell the rape baby that he/she doesn’t deserve life because of how he/she was created.

                  You want to punish a few thousand rape babies with *death* all because of how they were conceived?

                  There is no defending that.

            • Spuddie

              The umbilical cord is the only difference we have to take into account. Beings who need umbilical cords to survive can’t be considered people with their own autonomous existence. Their existence is tied to the woman on the other end of it. Therefore that woman is the only one we have to consider. Pregnancy is a zero sum situation. You can’t “protect” the fetus without harming the mother. You really avoid discussing her. She does not exist in the discussion for you.

              A fetus is not like a baby because of that umbilical cord. A born baby’s existence is not tied to one unique person. Anyone can care for a baby, only a mother keeps a fetus alive.

              • Gaiuse Strome

                And the placenta. It can’t survive without that either.

              • newshound1000000

                “can’t be considered people”
                So a boyfriend slips his girlfriend a drug that will not cause her any harm whatsoever, but it will kill the fetus. Does he deserve jail? For assault? For murder? Murder of what, a non-person? According to your theory, as I understand it, he did no more than cut her hair while she was sleeping. A simple assault.

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  So what kind of punishment should women receive for procuring abortions?

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  You consider a fetus to be a person with all of the rights that should come with being a person…

                  yet you won’t tell us how much time a woman should spend in prison for murdering an unborn person?

                  what have you got to hide kiddo?

        • Obazervazi

          “partial-birth abortion”

          Ye gods, you’re a Fox News viewer. aren’t you?

          • newshound1000000

            I actually don’t have cable or satellite. ITV for me. Last week I was reading the SFO Chronicle. You know that right wing publication don’t you?

  • Rich Wilson

    Very slightly off topic…

  • Aspieguy

    Why isn’t this liar fired from Fox News?

    • newshound1000000

      If the networks fired every liar, MSNBC would have to go off the air for lack of content.

      • PsiCop

        Bzzt! Wrong. This is known as “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and is fallacious. It doesn’t become acceptable for Starnes to lie on Fox News merely because you perceive MSNBC to have broadcast lies, too.

        Either Starnes lied — and it certainly appears he did — or he didn’t. If he lied, he was wrong to have done so; he and his network at the very least need to apologize. That’s where this begins and ends. MSNBC has nothing to do with it. No one at MSNBC forced Starnes and Fox News to lie. They weren’t involved at all.

        Grow up and get over it already. Stop being a whining Rightist crybaby.

        • newshound1000000

          You really need a reading comprehension course.

          I never justified Starnes actions. I never equated two situations and stated that action on one should not take place unless action took place on another. I never whined.

          And if you are going to start with labels like “Rightist crybaby,” then I will just assume that you are an extremist with no real thought process. I would guess you just go around assigning labels to make everything simple for yourself.

          • Spuddie

            How about something a little more accurate. Your statement is an irrelevant fallacy called “Tu Quoque”. It has no value to the discussion nor adds anything of value rhetorically.

            • newshound1000000

              Actually, that doesn’t apply here. Perhaps you should go back and reread your word-a-day calendar. I never attacked anyone for inconsistency. I simply stated a supposition. There’s a difference.
              Can’t anyone on here read more than talking points? I guess I came to the wrong site for intelligent conversation.

              • Gaiuse Strome

                You have zero credibility since you are incapable of answering a simple question.

              • Spuddie

                Isn’t there an “internet law” that states when insulting a poster’s intelligence, you end up sounding stupider than the post you were responding to?

                Anyway Starnes is a liar. You have nothing intelligent to say on the subject. You have hijacked it to talk about abortion.

                Hurling invective and using well worn talking points has been the entirety of your postings. If anyone wants an intelligent conversation here, they should just ignore you.

                • newshound1000000

                  Seriously, find a reading comprehension course. Where did I attack your intelligence? Where? Was it the word-a-day comment? Well you took an obscure term and used it inappropriately. That just sounds like someone reading the one sentence about something and thinking they know how to use it.

                  I didn’t bring up abortion, Feminerd did.

                  What invective, what talking points?

                  Really, your post should be in reply to your own previous post.

                • Gaiuse Strome

                  What kind of punishment should women who procure abortions receive?

                  And why do you think rape babies should be killed?

    • Artor

      Why would Fox News fire someone for lying? That’s their entire business plan.

  • busterggi

    Ban Red Green? Damned anti-Canadaists!

  • Artor

    If only there were some moral code that Starnes could follow, that would show him that lying is wrong. Maybe it should be super authoritarian, just to get through his thick skull. Something like “Thou shalt not bear false witness!”
    Nah, he probably still wouldn’t get it.