Merry ******mas

Charlie Brown first asked in 1965, “Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

Judging by the Christmas songs featured on the morning network shows during the 2008 Christmas season, his question is still relevant 43 years later.

Researchers at the Culture and Media Institute analyzed the songs artists performed during appearances on ABC's “Good Morning America,” NBC's “Today,” and CBS' “The Early Show” between October 31 and Dec. 16 and found that only six out of the 22 Christmas songs performed on the morning shows had religious themes.

Performers on ABC failed to highlight religious carols but did offer viewers a dose of liberal politics disguised as Christmas cheer. Melissa Etheridge (“A New Thought for Christmas”) sang her original song “Christmas in America” on the Dec. 16 broadcast while wearing a Barack Obama campaign symbol on her guitar strap. Lyrics of the song include:

            You're in someone else's land

            So I'm sending out my only wish

            Hey Santa tell the man

            Hey mister send my baby home

            This December I don't want to be all alone

            What happened to peace on earth

            All that goodwill toward men

            Oh come on all ye faithful

            It's time to think again

ABC also featured Martina McBride's “Blue Christmas” duet with Elvis Presley (“Elvis Presley Christmas Duets”) on Dec. 3 and a Dec. 15 performance by the cast of “Irving's Berlin's White Christmas” who sang a medley of songs from the Broadway show.

Performers on NBC left politics alone but still failed to highlight beloved religious Christmas carols, except for Faith Hill's (“Joy to the World”) spirited rendition of “Joy to the World” during the Nov. 24 “Today” broadcast and choral ensemble Chanticleer's version of “Christmas Bells are Ringing” on Dec. 5. Hill also performed “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland” during her appearance.

Other “Today” performances included Harry Connick Jr.'s “Please Come Home for Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland” (“What a Night!”) on Dec. 3. Connick performed a tiny portion of “Winter Wonderland” during an earlier appearance on Nov. 13. Tony Bennett (“A Swingin' Christmas”) appeared on Nov. 20 to croon, “I'll be Home for Christmas.”

Overall, CBS demonstrated the most Christmas spirit. “The Early Show” featured performances of four religious songs. Andrea Bocelli performed “Silent Night” on Dec. 2, Mary Donnelly Haskell sang the title song from her album “Just in Time For Christmas” on Dec. 13. On Dec. 15, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and singer Allison Krause performed “O Come All Ye Faithful” and the “Wexford Carol” from the album “Songs of Joy and Peace.”  

Other performances on CBS included Tony Bennett's Dec. 1 “Santa Claus is Comin' to Town” duet with his daughter Antonia and his swinging version of “I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” on. On Dec. 9, Amy Grant and Vince Gill (“The Christmas Collection”) offered audiences “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree” and “Baby It's Christmas.” R&B star Brian McKnight (“I'll Be Home for Christmas”) performed “Let It Snow” with his three sons and a solo version of the title track from his album “I'll Be Home for Christmas” on Dec. 13.

Most of the songs featured on the morning shows have their time and place during the Christmas season. But with the lone exception of Bennett's, each of the albums the artists were promoting contains at least one religious song. Even Etheridge's has an interpretation of “O Holy Night.”

Instead of highlighting those traditional songs, artists chose to water down the meaning of Christmas. It's enough for all the Linus's out there to say, “Lights, please.”

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.