CNN Invites Charles Barkley to Trash Conservative 'Fake Christians'

Eyeblast has the video: On CNN's The Situation Room on Friday, former NBA star (and current TNT basketball analyst) Charles Barkley trashed conservatives as "fake Christians." You could tell how much CNN was going to enjoy this. At the top of the hour, anchorman Wolf Blitzer promised: "Plus, he's rooting for Barack Obama and he's taking shots at Republicans and the religious right. You're going to find out who NBA great Charles Barkley is calling fake." The screen graphic also read: "Barkley Takes on the Right: Blasts 'Fake' Christians." Blitzer made no attempt to ask the basketball star how a "real" Christian can whole-heartedly support Obama's liberal social agenda.Ted Turner may no longer own CNN and TNT, but his spirit -- "Christianity is a religion for losers" and pro-lifers were "bozos" and "idiots" -- is still strong in his former properties. Does TNT really want to invite all this political and religious controversy to turn people away from watching their basketball broadcasts?Blitzer began the interview by asking Barkley why he's endorsed Barack Obama for president, especially since he was well-known in earlier days for lamenting how the Democrats raised his taxes. On Friday, Barkley said we was all for Obama's tax-hike schemes: "This country is divided by economics between the rich and the poor and I’m going to support him all the way to the wall." Then the conversation turned to John McCain, and that's where Barkley unloaded his attack on conservatives:

BARKLEY: Hey, I live in Arizona. I have got great respect for Senator McCain. Great respect. But I don’t like the way the Republicans are taking this country. Every time I hear the word "conservative," it makes me sick to my stomach, because they’re really just fake Christians, as I call them. That’s all they are. But I just — I’m going to vote Democratic no matter what.

Barkley discussed how he plans to run for Governor of Alabama in 2014. He's been talking about running for that office for years. Does Barkley have any idea that it might be a little tougher to win in Alabama now that he's trashed all the "fake Christians" in that state who disagree with him on the social issues? (Is this the kind of help Obama needs in allegedly bringing people together?)  Blitzer gently brought Barkley back around to the "fake Christians" issue, and basically waited until Barkley had tried to explain himself before noting at the very end that perhaps some (or, perhaps, most) Christians are sincere:

BLITZER: All right. One quick point before I let you go. You used the phrase "fake Christians" for conservatives. Explain what you’re talking about.

BARKLEY: Well, I think they — they want to be judge and jury. Like, I’m for gay marriage. It’s none of my business if gay people want to get married. I’m pro-choice. And I think these Christians — first of all, they’re supposed to be — they’re not supposed to judge other people. But they’re the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country. And it bugs the hell out of me. They act like their Christians. And they’re not forgiving at all. BLITZER: So you're going to get a lot of feedback on this one, Charles. BARKLEY: They can't do anything to me. I don't work for them. BLITZER: You feel comfortable saying all that? BARKLEY: I feel very comfortable saying I'm pro-choice, and I'm for gay marriage. Very comfortable. BLITZER: But you can't lump all these conservatives as being fake. A lot of them obviously -- most of them are very, very sincere in their religious beliefs. BARKLEY: Well, they should read the part about they're not supposed to judge other people. They forget that one when it doesn't fit what they want it to say. BLITZER: All right. we have got to leave it there, Charles. Thanks very much for joining us.

CNN knew these comments were going to be controversial, so why did Blitzer treat Barkley with such kid gloves? Blitzer made no attempt to ask the basketball star how a "real" Christian can wholeheartedly support Obama's liberal social agenda. Conservative Christians would ask: How is it authentically Christian to support abortion and homosexuality? Or they might ask: if Barkley is against judging your neighbor harshly, what is it he's just done? CNN and Blitzer would not be so gentle if they came on the air and called liberal Christians "fakes." If CNN brought on Barkley knowing full well what he was going to say, where was the other side to round out the debate?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis