Fox News Freaks Out: ‘Disney Is Persecuting Christians’

The speed with which Fox News can turn something from a blip into a full-blown crazy panic is astonishing. They seem to not be able to use Google or any other way of fact-checking a story before they run with it. In this case, they took the word of one of their contributors.

Todd Starnes is a Fox pundit. One of his go-to topics is the “Christians are being persecuted” narrative. Last September, he led the bandwagon of victimhood with the bakers in Oregon who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. This time his self-righteous posing stemmed from an email he received from the mother of a 10-year-old who lives in North Carolina.

It seems that the girl is a big fan of The Disney Channel, both the TV channel and the website. While reading the website last Sunday, she came across the question, “What are you thankful for?” She typed in, “God, my family, my church and my friends,” and hit the RETURN key. But, instead of seeing her comment on the website, she got a message: “Please be nice.” She tried several times but always got the same result. So she told her mother and the pair was able to figure out that the problem was the word, “God.”

Mom sent a message to the website to find out what was wrong. She was told that they weren’t sure but would have their technical team look into it. That wasn’t enough for Mom, though:

“I’m not at all anti-Disney but to shame a ten-year-old, to tell her to ‘please be nice’ for thanking god and sharing her faith with others is what is upsetting to me as a mother. We’ve always told her that inevitably there would come a day when she would be discriminated against for her faith but we never thought Disney would be the source. I want my daughter, and all children of faith, to know that it is OK to share God and Jesus with their peers. I want her to know that she doesn’t have to be silent about her faith. I want her to be strong and soldier on.” (source)

The email to Todd Starnes got the Fox News juggernaut rolling against Disney — not one of their favorites, as it is. Here was an opportunity to flog one of their favorite narratives; Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs! You can’t thank God on the Disney Channel website, oh noes!

Besides the op-ed on the Fox News website (provocatively entitled “Why Did Disney Block God?”), Fox and Friends wrung as much pity party as they could out of the story. Elizabeth Hasselbeck introduced their segment on it with, “Looks like Disney has frozen out God” (I bet she thought that was terribly witty). Shame on Disney! They won’t let God on their website!

Some of you may have figured this out already. There was a very good reason why “God” was not allowed to be used in a comment. A profanity filter. Not some nefarious plan by Disney to freeze God off of their website. Nope. Just a little old language filter.

Disney issued the following statement in response to the Fox freak-out:

Disney employs word filtering technology to prevent profanity from appearing on our websites.  Unfortunately, because so many people attempt to abuse the system and use the word “God” in conjunction with profanity, in an abundance of caution our system is forced to catch and prevent any use of the word on our websites.  The company would have been happy to explain our filtering technology to the inquiring family had they contacted us.

If the family had contacted them. But they didn’t. Instead, they emailed Todd Starnes because he’s the guy to contact if one is wanting to receive validation that you are being picked on. Starnes and his buddies at Fox — especially news producers should have contacted Disney. But they didn’t do so. This is journalism 101 stuff; contact the parties involved. Not at Fox, though. No, it’s much better to ring the “we’re being persecuted” bell. It gets more viewers and allows them to be all self-righteous and martyrish.

Disney isn’t persecuting anyone. But the company is a favorite target of the right so they were quick to believe that Disney was being naughty again. When The Disney Channel featured a gay couple on one of their shows, the right went nuts. They regularly pitch a bitch about Disney’s Gay Days and the company’s policies on LGBT employees. Having another bludgeon to use on one of their favorite demons? Oh, hell yeah! Unfortunately for Fox, the situation wasn’t quite what they thought it was. That egg on their face will take a long time to come off but we can be sure there will be more coming along shortly. There always is on Fox News.

H/T: Patheos