LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In what is perhaps the exclusive interview of the year, WDRB.com was the only local television outlet to sit down one-on-one with the REAL Santa Claus.
After months of communication with Claus' public affairs representatives, WDRB.com secured the coveted interview. The ground rules, agreed to by WDRB, were as follows: 1) The interview would not appear on video, 2) Claus would see the text of the interview beforehand and have the right to redact any information he deemed appropriate for any reason, and 3) The staff of WDRB would tell Claus what they wanted for Christmas.
WDRB did not agree to give Claus a full listing of questions at least 24 hours before the interview, as Claus requested.
The interview took place on the morning of Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at 9 a.m. No money changed hands to secure the interview, although WDRB did provide Claus with some light refreshments, including milk and cookies.
Despite the restrictions, WDRB was committed to asking the tough questions. Claus is of course, a public figure – one who has made certain representations and promises to boys and girls across the country. Does the man live up to the hype? Where does he come from? Just HOW does he know if you've been good this year? And how does he feel about the NSA's clandestine surveillance program?
The answers may surprise – or disturb – you.
WDRB: Good morning Mr. Claus. Thank you for taking to time to speak with us this morning. We know that today, of all days, is a busy time for you.
CLAUS: Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas, son! Merry Christmas! And there's no need to call me Mr. Claus -- it's Santa to you!
WDRB: Mr. Claus, we asked you here today to get inside your mind and find out what makes you tick. We've seen the public persona, but who is the REAL Santa Claus? What motivates you?
CLAUS: Well ho, ho, ho! Bust my buttons, son! That's easy! I deliver toys to all the children of the world!
WDRB: Yes…we've already seen the marketing campaign. You must have a good PR firm going for you. But that can't be your real motivation. What do you get out of the deal? Is it the fame? The universal acclaim? Your picture on Time magazine? What?
CLAUS: Well, bless Rudolph's shiny honker, son! It's got nothing to do with all that! I do it to bring cheer to the shining faces of all the good little boys and girls!
WDRB: Yeah…that brings up another good point. We hear all about this list you've got…
CLAUS: That's right! I'm making a list…
WDRB: …and checking it twice. Yeah, we know -- it's a catchy phrase. Is that your intellectual property, by the way?
WDRB: Do you own the copyright on that phrase? The song and everything?
CLAUS: I…I don't know!
WDRB: Well let me ask you a question I'm sure you DO know the answer to. Just HOW do you know which little boys have been good and which have been bad?
CLAUS: I can tell you about ONE young man who's being bad right now!
WDRB: Just answer the question, Mr. Claus. You seem to know an awful lot about children's personal lives – their mistakes and personal indiscretions and whatnot. How do you get all that information? Are you wiretapping their phones? Monitoring their Internet activity? Reading their e-mails? Do you approve of the NSA's controversial surveillance program?
CLAUS: Ho! Ho-ho…
WDRB: Mr. Claus, do you know Edward Snowden?
CLAUS: I DO know Edward Snowden!
WDRB: A-HA! I knew it! Now tell me the truth…do you consider Snowden to be on the good list, or the bad list?
CLAUS: …I maintain FULL confidentiality…
WDRB: Yeah, that's exactly what the NSA says. Have it your way, Claus. I want to move on to another topic that concerns not just the privacy of all Americans, but their own sense of personal safety and private property ownership. Your ad campaign says you drop down the chimney on Christmas Eve night to lay presents under the tree.
CLAUS: That's exactly right!
WDRB: And…you don't…see a problem with that?
CLAUS: What are you talking about?
WDRB: Well, I don't want to overstate the issue, but some people might have a problem with a bearded fat man breaking into their house and crawling down their chimney at 3 in the morning. Don't the police consider that breaking and entering?
CLAUS: But I'm Santa Claus!
WDRB: And what – you think that gives you some kind of diplomatic immunity or something?
CLAUS: This is ridiculous!
WDRB: Answer the question, Claus.
CLAUS: What kind of interview is this…
WDRB: It ain't gonna be no puff piece, I can tell you that. At WDRB, we don't shy away from the tough issues. And that brings me to my next question: how can you possibly expect us to believe that you're able to deliver toys to billions of children all over the world in one 24-hour period with a simple sleigh and eight tiny reindeer? The logistics alone would be a nightmare! Not even UPS could do that…
CLAUS: Ho! Ho! Do you expect me to just blab all of my trade secrets here on your Web site?
WDRB: We've got milk and cookies.
CLAUS: Well, I suppose you've been good this year…
WDRB: You obviously haven't met my parole officer.
CLAUS: (Sighs) Alright, why not?
WDRB: We're listening.
CLAUS: First I get all the reindeer lined up and make sure all of the packages are securely stowed away inside the sleigh. Then I do my pre-flight checklist. Gotta make sure all the strobe lights are operating and my FAA pilot logbook are in order. After that, I take some rubber bands and some superglue, and I –
** THE FOLLOWING 20 MINUTES HAVE BEEN REDACTED FROM THE INTERVIEW.**
WDRB: What you have just told me will change the world.
CLAUS: We'll be redacting that from the interview later.
WDRB: Before we go, I'd like to discuss health issues.
CLAUS: What health issues?
WDRB: Well…your own health issues, not to put too fine a point on it. How have you been feeling lately?
CLAUS: I feel just fine!
WDRB: I noticed that you're sweating…
CLAUS: You would be too if you sitting in a metal chair in a dark room lit by a single light bulb swinging on a wire from the ceiling. Now what's this about my health?
WDRB: Well, I guess there's no easy way to put this. Mr. Claus, do you know that you're clinically obese?
CLAUS: Well I never – HAVE YOU NO DECENCY, SIR?
** THE FOLLOWING 74 SECONDS OF THE INTERVIEW HAVE BEEN REDACTED. **
WDRB: Tell me about Rudolph. What happened?
CLAUS: He was a hard luck case. Nuclear reactor. Genetic mutation. Sad business. Fortunately, we found a home and a job for him back at the Pole.
WDRB: And Elf of the Shelf? What's really going on there? Surveillance devices disguised as lovable children's characters?
CLAUS: (Voice gets quiet.) You'll get nothing from me about Elf on the Shelf...
WDRB: Mr. Claus, thank you for your time. It's been a pleasure speaking with you.
CLAUS: I'm doing Oprah next.
Travis K. Kircher is a Web Producer for WDRB News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.