Topic: Media Research Center
Yes, the Media Research Center's Culture & Media Institute spent many, many man-hours to compile this study finding:
2,000 years ago, there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn in Bethlehem. Fittingly enough, in the past two years, there was no room for their baby at the network evening news shows. Every year, millions of Americans celebrate the most important Christian holiday by reflecting upon the significance of the birth of Christ. Families attend church, count blessings and exchange gifts, and yet the evening news broadcasts for ABC, CBS and NBC almost completely ignored these religious traditions by leaving Christ and God out of Christmas.
Two years of Christmas coverage on three networks produced a scant 1.3 percent of stories mentioning the deity. The true message of Christmas, the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, has simply been ignored by the mainstream media.
The big three networks ran 527 stories about Christmas in their nightly news broadcasts, but a mere seven of those stories mentioned God or the birth of Jesus Christ. ABC's "World News," "CBS Evening News," and "NBC Nightly News" all thoroughly covered Christmas, but 98.7 percent of the Christmas references highlighted the holiday's impact on the economy, weather, travel, retail sales, the passage of the Senate health care bill and its other less religious connotations.
Of course, Christmas is a secular holiday as well as a religious one, something that seems to have escaped the normally eagle-eyed MRC researchers. Instead, CMI's Erin Brown seems to think this secular aspect is a media conspiracy to avoid talking about religion:
Falling as it does at the end of the calendar year when businesses and governments scramble to show a profit or claim accomplishments, and given the demand it creates for often chancy travel during winter, Christmas offers plenty of excuses the media to talk about anything but its religious dimension.
It is no secret that Christmas gift sales and their impact on the U.S. economy, garners huge press coverage every December. But when the focus on the holiday's impact on retailers becomes all that Christmas is good for, the original message of Christ's birth is completely lost.
Brown goes on to make irrelevant comparisons:
On the Aug. 14, 2010, broadcast of the "CBS Evening News," Jeff Glor dedicated 327 words to the possible addition of table tennis to the Olympics in 2012. That's more words devoted to ping pong than were devoted to God during all of the Christmas coverage in two years of broadcasts.
Plainly, to the networks, Christmas means travel delays and spikes in sales for retailers hoping to see profits in the black. Christmas means arbitrary congressional deadlines and general placeholders for timelines. Christmas means that a sexy Santa can get away with toeing that naughty line in order to attract buyers to his store.
On ABC, CBS and NBC, Christmas means everything except the birth of Christ.
Finally, Brown serves up her recommendation to jam religion into everything Christmas-related:
The Culture and Media Institute recommends that ABC, CBS and NBC not show bias against Christians by glossing over one of their most important holidays. If there are more than 300 million Americans, and 80 percent claim to be Christians, than the networks are slighting an important holiday for more than 24 million people.
CMI recommends that the networks:
- Recognize the lack recognition given to Christ during the Christmas season.
- Include more discussion about the birth of Christ and what it means to 80 percent of Americans.
- Interview Christians, Catholics, pastors, church leaders, authors, musicians and others who celebrate the Christmas every year by remembering its true meaning.
This study, like so many MRC studies, focuses only on the broadcast networks. There's no mention of conservative Fox News, whose Christmas coverage would likely reflect that of the networks.