Emily Larsen, DCNF
A meme posted Sunday on Facebook from the progressive page Left Action shows Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren arguing that former President Barack Obama created the Festivus holiday to destroy Christmas.
“TOMI: OBAMA CREATED FESTIVUS TO DESTROY CHRISTMAS,” read the image caption.
A screenshot of Lahren on Fox News was altered to add a fake message in the news chyron.
The meme of Lahren circulated widely around Christmas in December 2017.
Festivus, a secular, anti-commercial holiday celebrated on Dec. 23 as an alternative to Christmas, gained popularity after the sitcom “Seinfeld” featured it in a 1997 episode. The father of Dan O’Keefe, one of the show’s writers, invented Festivus when his son was around eight years old. The holiday’s traditions, as described on Seinfeld, include setting up an aluminum Festivus pole that requires no decoration, an airing of grievances among those celebrating and engaging in feats of strength.
Lahren is known for her fiery “Final Thoughts” monologues chastising political correctness and liberal politicians, but she did not argue in a Fox News segment that Obama created Festivus to destroy Christmas.
The altered screenshot of Lahren came from an August 2017 segment on “Hannity” where she discussed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s server scandal; it was edited to change the screen caption, as Snopes reported.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 31, 2017
Twitter account Seinfeld Current Day took credit for altering the chyron in Photoshop on Dec. 24, 2017: “lol i photoshopped this,” one tweet read.
— Seinfeld Current Day (@Seinfeld2000) December 24, 2017
Lahren responded to the meme on Christmas Eve in 2017. “Does it not bother you to circulate a photoshopped piece of FAKE NEWS?” she said in a tweet.
Does it not bother you to circulate a photoshopped piece of FAKE NEWS? Classy. https://t.co/hvwdgwPkd2
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) December 24, 2017
“You idiots think this is real? Have you nothing better to do than photoshop fake news? Get a hobby. Go for a walk. Do something. Good Lord,” Lahren said in another tweet.
The image circulated again in 2018 as part of a meme suggesting that Fox News downplayed or ignored guilty pleas from President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of campaign finance violations, tax evasion and bank fraud in August. Cohen said that he arranged payments to pornography actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential campaign “at the direction of” an unnamed candidate, presumably Trump. The women have said that they previously had relationships with Trump.
On Nov. 29, Cohen pleaded guilty to an additional charge of making false statements to Congress. He told Congress that he worked on a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow through January 2016, but he was involved in the efforts as late as June 2016 and briefed Trump on the project more often than what he had claimed, prosecutors said.
Liberal Facebook page The Other 98% posted a meme in August incorporating the fake screenshot of Lahren that suggested Fox News downplayed or did not cover Cohen’s guilty pleas. Left Action posted the same image.
Some journalists and people on Twitter criticized Fox News in August for covering the killing of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts instead of focusing more on Cohen’s guilty pleas and the conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
One April analysis by Washington Post correspondent Philip Bump that counted mentions of “Cohen” on the major cable news networks found that Fox News covered an FBI raid of Cohen’s home and office less than CNN and MSNBC.
Fox News, however, did cover Cohen’s guilty pleas. Segments posted on the Fox News YouTube page and website show that it aired coverage and discussion of Cohen’s August guilty pleas in multiple segments in the days after the news broke, and it detailed the news in an Aug. 21 written piece. In recent days, the network aired segments about Cohen’s latest guilty plea, and a written piece on the network’s website covered the plea.
Left Action did not respond to a request for comment.