A 49-year-old homeless man was arrested on charges including criminal mischief, arson and trespassing by police who said he was responsible for igniting a 50-foot Christmas tree in front of the midtown Manhattan office building that houses con artist Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
Unlike the 70 to 100 feet Norway spruce placed in front of Rockefeller Center and illuminated in a public ceremony after Thanksgiving each year since 1933, the tree outside of the News Corp. building is fake, like much of the information transmitted by Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
The artificial tree began burning shortly after midnight, and firefighters rapidly extinguished the flames, with no injuries reported.
Photos and videos from the scene show the fully decorated tree going up in flames.
Fox News host Shannon Bream dramatically announced the fire to viewers as firefighters were working to put it out.
Appearing outside of Fox headquarters, Bream told viewers. “It appears that our giant Christmas tree there, just a couple of minutes ago, was completely engulfed in flames.”
The police said that security personnel observed the man, Craig Tamanaha, as he was climbing the tree structure before the fire broke out around 12:15 a.m.
Tamanaha, 49, was later arrested and found in possession of a cigarette lighter, but it was unclear whether he used an accelerant.
“We will not let this deliberate and brazen act of cowardice deter us. We are in the process of rebuilding and reinstalling a new tree as a message there can be peace, light and joy even during a moment like this,” said Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott, who has denied alleged complicity in several sexual harassment suits within the company.
Scott reportedly enforced the ‘miniskirt rule’ imposed under former CEO Roger Ailes, who cost the company millions to settle multiple sexual harassment lawsuits and in a June 2021 lawsuit filing, former anchor Ed Henry, who was fired from the network after being accused of rape, alleged that she covered up an affair between the president of Fox News and a subordinate during her running the network.
“We will not let this deliberate and brazen act of cowardice deter us,” said Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott.
Scott said a new tree would be installed “as a message that there can be peace, light and joy even during a dark moment like this,” but she did not vow to stop spreading misinformation or hosting personalities that have condoned sedition and domestic terrorism.