A school district in Georgia blasted Fox News on Tuesday and said that they had been “terrorized” after one of the network’s radio hosts falsely reported that Christmas cards had been “confiscated.”
In a Tuesday report, Fox News radio host Todd Starnes turned his daily outrage to allegations that students at Brooklet Elementary School had returned from the Thanksgiving holiday to find that the school’s administration had decided to “confiscate the Christmas cards” that teachers had posted outside classrooms.
Starnes branded the schools’ actions as “Christmas card censorship.”
Brooklet Principal Marlin Baker told WSAV that the “censorship” charge was just not true and that Starnes didn’t bother checking the facts before publishing his report.
“The decision to move the poster had nothing, absolutely nothing, at all to do with any type of religious conversation that is going on in the county,” Martin explained.
The principal said that the Christmas card poster had been moved to a faculty work room in order to accommodate the privacy request of one teacher.
And now the school has been flooded with angry calls and emails because of the misreporting.
“[I am] disappointed. We are trying hard in this community to have a good, healthy dialogue and it seems the intentional spreading of this misinformation I see it as destructive,” Bulloch County School District Superintendent Charles Wilson told the station.
Brooklet Elementary teacher Becky Petkewich said that she was shocked when she read the report at FoxNews.com.
“I just couldn’t believe that someone would make up some things like that,” Petkewich recalled. “The whole country now is looking at us in a negative way, that we’ve done something horrible, that we are not letting the children celebrate Christmas and that’s not what it is.”
The school received so many complaints that the district was forced to release an official statement after Starnes’ report on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, today the school was terrorized by an intentional and vicious dissemination of untrue information that disrupted the good work going on inside,” the statement pointed out. “Fox News Radio Commentary Host Todd Starnes, acting on misinformation that neither he, nor his media outlet corroborated with the school system or Baker, misreported a story about student Christmas Cards being removed from the school. Baker did not receive any questions from the local community either.”
“The cards in question were not student Christmas cards, nor were they a student project or tradition. The cards are the personal family Christmas cards that faculty members share with one another. They are the personal cards from their homes that they would send to family and friends.”
The district added: “This year, due to a legitimate, personal privacy concern raised by one of the school’s staff members, Baker moved the display to the opposite wall inside the office work room so that the staff member could still participate in the tradition. Baker wanted to respect the staff member’s privacy and that of his/her children depicted in the Christmas card.”
Starnes updated his report on Tuesday to mention that the Bulloch County School District had released a statement, but failed to note that he and Fox News had been accused of terrorizing the school.
Last month, members of school board in South Dakota said that they received death threats after Fox News falsely reported that they had voted to drop the Pledge of Allegiance at schools.
Watch this video from WSAV, broadcast Dec. 4, 2013.