NBC Nightly News offered two stories on Christmas in their December 25 newscast, including a show-ender about “what Christmas means to me.” Substitute anchor Tamron Hall offered this introduction: “Finally, on this special night, a question: What does Christmas mean to you? Maybe it’s the presents, the lights, the music, or getting together with family. We put the question to people around the country and discovered once against that Christmas means something a little different to everyone.”
Somehow, this perfectly pleasant three-minute segment included lot of talk about family time and presents, and even someone saying “Happy Hanukkah,” but included no one uttering the name “Jesus.” No one defined Christmas as about Christ, NBC? (Earlier, Ron Mott did find time for a corporate plug: "Christmas, of course, is a holiday for gathering, and that's exactly what thousands upon thousands of people are doing around our iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza.")
The exclusion is not that surprising, since the NBC evening newscast only used the name twice in the entire last month. Somehow, the networks find Jesus talk extremely grating and sectarian to non-believers and Americans of other religions. There was a brief mention on Saturday, December 5 from anchor Lester Holt:
LESTER HOLT: There was a Christmas celebration today in the place it all began, Palestinians and pilgrims gathered to light a Christmas tree in Bethlehem, the town that`s believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The lighting was held outside the Church of the Nativity and followed by a fireworks display over Manger Square.
On December 22, the name was used as “incidental sound” in a Cynthia McFadden story on healing and faith:
FATHER JOHN MURRAY: Jesus Christ.
CYNTHIA McFADDEN: It`s not shocking that a Catholic priest believes in the power of prayer, but it is a bit of a surprise that Father John Murray says he can prove it. Do you think you're a miracle?
FR. MURRAY: Yes, oh, without a doubt.
McFADDEN: Four years ago Father Murray broke his neck in a fall.
FR. MURRAY: I was paralyzed from my chest down.
McFADDEN: Doctors told him he'd never walk again.
FR. MURRAY: "You should expect no voluntary movement," that's a quote.
McFADDEN: But his doctors were wrong.
CBS Evening News worked in just one J-word -- on Christmas Eve from substitute anchor Jim Axelrod: “Tonight, a more solemn gathering as mass is celebrated at the Church of the Nativity, built on what’s believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ.”
ABC’s World News never placed the name of Jesus in their evening newscasts over the last month. Anchor David Muir did draw one as an expression of shock on the December 9 Nightline:
DAVID MUIR: Do you revel in sort of this notion that you'll define Cinderella for a generation of kids who'll...
ANNA KENDRICK (ACTRESS, "INTO THE WOODS"): Oh, Jesus! No, but thanks for that.