According to veteran ABC journalist Sam Donaldson, evangelical voters are longing for a "Christian theocracy" to rule the United States. Donaldson, appearing on the December 9 edition of "This Week," made the comment while discussing GOP candidate Mitt Romney's speech about religious faith. He also labeled the address "very, very frightening."
Responding to host George Stephanopoulos's assertion that the speech was an inversion of John Kennedy's famous 1960 address, Donaldson asserted, "That's right and that's far we've come. [Romney] talks about the public square. Now, he would say, 'I'm don't mean a Christian theocracy in the White House.' But it's getting much, much closer." Returning to the subject several minutes later, the former ABC anchor, in a slightly horrified tone, remarked, "...Talk about a Christian theocracy in this country, many evangelical Christians believe... that's what we should have, that government should favor people who have the right and understand what God wants us to do."
Lawrence O'Donnell, already infamous for his in-your-face rant at John O'Neill of the Swiftboat Veterans, is at it again. This time, the object of O'Donnell's obloquy is Mitt Romney, and in particular his Mormon religion. Appearing on last night's McLaughlin group, O'Donnell indulged in an angry, protracted condemnation of Mormonism.
This was the worst political speech of my lifetime. Because this man stood there and said to you "this is the faith of my fathers." And you, and none of these commentators who liked this speech realized that the faith of his fathers is a racist faith. As of 1978 it was an officially racist faith, and for political convenience in 1978 it switched. And it said "OK, black people can be in this church." He believes, if he believes the faith of his fathers, that black people are black because in heaven they turned away from God, in this demented, Scientology-like notion of what was going on in heaven before the creation of the earth.
The mainstream media have been fawning over the atheist inspired film "The Goldan Compass" and ignoring the fact that the author (upon which the movie is based), Phillip Pullman, has bragged about killing God in his novels. Well, according to CNN, the real focus should be on the fact that the film raises "awareness" about the plight of polar bears. No, really.
In 2007, ABC's investigative reporter Brian Ross has provided hard-hitting looks at Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani. He's focused only one such segment on a Democrat, Hillary Clinton. And, unsurprisingly, each of his investigations into a GOP candidate has been accompanied by snarky, sarcastic comments.
The Christmas season is upon us, which means it’s that special time of year for the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to make sure no wayward city council will allow a whiff of frankincense on government property. They must send out direct-mail fundraising letters asking "Help Us Crush a Creche at Christmas!"
The Christmas season is also that time of year when the business world implores us to consider the material as more important than the spiritual, all in the spirit of “the holidays.” So we celebrate instead the arrival, on Christmas Day, of iPods and DVDs.
This year there’s a new twist. The Nativity scene has become commercialized – but in a way you would never imagine.
Does Mitt Romney believe atheists should enjoy freedom? "Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer apparently isn't too sure. On Friday's edition of the ABC program, the co-host discussed the 2008 presidential candidate's speech on his Mormon faith and wondered about Romney's comment that "freedom requires religion." "Is there going to be a question whether humanists or even atheists, agnostics deserve freedom," she asked "This Week" host, and former Clinton operative, George Stephanopoulos. (This is the same Diane Sawyer who has repeatedly objected to '08 contender Mike Huckabee using the phrase "Christian leader" in a campaign spot. She derided that as "heavy handed" and possibly crossing a line.)
In response to the loaded question, Stephanopoulos simply replied, "I think that's a fight that Romney is willing to pick." In a segment setting up the interview, reporter Dan reiterated the same themes and fretted, "What about non-believers?" He then negatively spun the speech: "Did Romney go too far in blurring the line between church and state?"
Diane Sawyer and other "Good Morning America" journalists offered a surprisingly substantive look into religion on Thursday's edition of the ABC program. The show featured a three part, 12 minute-plus series of segments on Mitt Romney, Mormonism and his faith's relationship with evangelical voters.
The discussion wasn't perfect, certainly. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer simply couldn't let go of her discomfort in regards to Mike Huckabee's use of the phrase "Christian leader" in a recent Iowa campaign ad. On November 27, she wondered if the spot might have "crossed a line" and called it "heavy-handed." On Thursday's program, while talking to the Southern Baptist Convention's Dr. Richard Land, Sawyer pointedly noted that "many people thought [the ad's point] was unmistakable, what he was doing. Do you think that was fair?"
Pat Buchanan was very moved. Chris Matthews "heard greatness this morning." Joe Scarborough said Romney "hit it out the park." But with his speech on faith this morning, Mitt clearly didn't make a believer out of Sally Quinn, doyenne of the DC establishment and wife of former WaPo editor Ben Bradlee.
SALLY QUINN: I have to say that I'm really stunned because I think it was an obliteration of the idea of the separation of church and state. He eliminated anybody who was a doubter, an atheist, an agnostic, a seeker. It's like, if you believe in God or Christ, if not, you're not.
Following the recent GOP debate in which CNN chose to air a YouTube question putting candidates on the spot as to their belief in the literal truth of the Bible, there was much breast-beating as to the inappropriateness of religious tests for office.
But that didn't stop Tucker Carlson's two liberal guests this evening from taking potshots on religious grounds at President Bush and Mitt Romney.
Hi everybody! Thanks so much for all your well wishes and supportive comments. I sure will miss being with you every morning. I have thought often over the last week about how God's plan is different from my own... and how important it is to embrace that.
At that point Storm then quoted from Cardinal John Henry Newman:
After discussing the British woman in Sudan charged for naming a class teddy bear Muhammad on Friday’s "View," with no outrage directed towards the Sudanese government, the ladies again discussed the topic. Barbara Walters inquired to the panel what would happen if someone named a teddy bear Jesus in the United States.
Unlike Rosie O’Donnell, who exclaimed "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam," Joy Behar, to her credit, said "Christians in this country would not be as uptight about it." Later she added "in the Sudan is that it’s, it’s state sanctioned there. Here it would just be an uproar from certain people." [Video embedded below the fold, courtesy of user pundital on YouTube]
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley, who referred to Iranian President Ahmadinejad as "friendly," "modest," and "incorruptible," compared American forces in Iraq to barbarian hordes of the past while examining the plight of Iraqi Christians since the war began in 2003: "The Iraqi Christian community, which had survived invasions by Mongols and Turks, was driven out under American occupation."
During the segment, Pelley interviewed an Anglican Reverend in Baghdad named Andrew White:
PELLEY: He was first sent to Baghdad by the Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, well before the Christian persecution. You were here during Saddam's reign, and now after. Which was better? Which was worse?
WHITE: Well, it's difficult to describe. The situation now is clearly worse now, but --
PELLEY: Worse than Saddam?
WHITE: Oh, far. There's no comparison between Iraq now and then. Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians. Probably ever in history. They've never known it like now.
PELLEY: Wait a minute. Christians have been here for 2,000 years.
WHITE: Yes. And it's now the worst it has ever been.
All the co-hosts of "The View," a show intended to advance women’s voices, do not get offended by women’s persecution in the Islamic world. On the November 30 edition, in discussing the British woman charged for naming a class teddy bear Muhammad, the co-hosts did not direct any anger at the Sudanese government, but rather blamed the woman for not adapting to their culture.
Co-host Sherri Shepherd opined "you would think that with her being in Sudan, she would know the rules and customs." Whoopi Goldberg said Europeans and Americans are "not as anxious to learn the customs before we go places." And of course that’s why we’re called "ugly Americans."
The show was recorded before news of the woman’s 15 day sentence. The entire transcript is below.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Now in the Sudan, there’s a British teacher who is possibly going to be stoned or lashed.
Furthering the media’s love affair with Hillary Clinton, Friday’s CBS "Early Show" featured a segment on her recent speech at Saddleback Church in Southern California and how Evangelical Christians may be moving to the left in 2008. As co-host Harry Smith wondered at the top of the show, "Hillary Clinton addresses an Evangelical megachurch in California. Is it really possible that the Christian Right could be convinced to turn left?" Later, co-host Julie Chen further teased:
Also, the Evangelical vote in the 2008 presidential race --is it up for grabs? Hillary Clinton believes the Republicans no longer have a lock on it...We'll ask Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback if it's really possible that the Evangelical Right, President Bush's key voting block, could be moving to the left.
The segment began with a report by CBS Correspondent Bill Whitaker, who described the uphill battle for Democrats to win such votes:
To detractors and supporters alike, Democrat Hillary Clinton walking into an Orange County Evangelical bastion was like Daniel entering the lion's den...Four years ago, a Democratic presidential candidate coming to speak at an Evangelical megachurch would have been unthinkable, even politically futile.
"Should all have been forgiven or does the teacher's sentence send a fair message that foreigners sholud [sic] be more sensitive when it comes to religion?"
Thus concludes Manya Brachear's November 29 post to the Chicago Tribune's "The Seeker" religion news blog. Brachear was opening discussion up in her comments thread to the case of British subject Gillian Gibbons, a 54-year-old private school teacher in Sudan who faced the potential punishment of 40 lashes. Her crime: allowing her students to name a class teddy bear Muhammad.
The case had sparked international outrage and official protest by the British government. Perhaps in no small part from all the scrutiny, the Islamic clerics who have sentenced Ms. Gibbons handed down a relatively "light" sentence: 15 days in jail followed by deportation back to the United Kingdom.
Perhaps hoping to evince detached balance and objectivity, the Tribune's Brachear, a religion reporter and blogger, entitled her blog post, "Who's Insulting Islam?"
While Brachear did find moderate Muslims who decried charges ever having been filed against Gibbons in the first place, she failed to find anyone to insist that Sudan's government, or at least its judicial system, is held sway by a backwards, intolerant, theocratic imposition of Sharia law. What's more, Brachear found space to hint that the British government may be to blame for nearly causing Gibbons to face the lash:
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show,"co-host Hannah Storm, who tvnewser.com reports will soon be leaving the show, teased an upcoming segment about the controversy over the atheist-inspired movie, "The Golden Compass": "And Nicole Kidman on why the Church doesn't want your children to see her new movie." Of course, the "Church" has said no such thing, but rather the Catholic League has called for a boycott of the movie.
Later during the segment, Storm talked with Catholic League President, Bill Donohue, as well as Ellen Johnson, the president of American Atheists. To Storm’s credit, she challenged Johnson by quoting the atheist author of the "Golden Compass" book trilogy, Phillip Pullman:
STORM: Now let's talk about some of the things that Pullman has said. Back in 2003, he was comparing himself to the Harry Potter series, he said "Hey, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor Harry has said. My books are about killing God." Is he promoting atheism? Does he have an agenda here?
ELLEN JOHNSON: Killing has nothing to do with atheism. I think that the movies are about questioning authority, and I think that's a good thing. Questioning the authority of the state, questioning the authority of the Church. I think that if more children were taught to question authority, maybe a lot fewer of them would have been sexually molested by priests. Questioning authority is a good thing.
Newsweek’s Devin Gordon is certainly not objective when it comes to Philip Pullman, the atheist children’s author behind the new movie The Golden Compass. He really appreciates it when the atheist denounces conservative Catholic leader William Donohue as a "nitwit."
In person, Pullman is tall and inviting, with ruddy features and thatchy gray hair, and when he gets going about the attacks on the film, it's a reminder of how enjoyable it is to observe a polite English gentleman properly outraged. Pullman does, in fact, describe himself as an atheist, but his vocation is storytelling, and his only agenda, he said during an interview with NEWSWEEK, is "to get you to turn the page." "To regard it as this Donohue man has said—that I'm a militant atheist, and my intention is to convert people – how the hell does he know that? Why don't we trust readers? Why don't we trust filmgoers?" Pullman sighed. "Oh, it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world."
"Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer apparently has a significant problem with 2008 GOP contender Mike Huckabee's new ad that identifies the candidate as a "Christian leader." On Tuesday's program, Sawyer fretted over whether "we crossed a line here" and asked guest Newt Gingrich if the campaign spot is "just too heavy-handed about specific denominations?" The GMA host also speculated that Huckabee might be playing the "religion card."
Sawyer simply couldn't let go of the "Christian leader" phrase, which appeared in an onscreen graphic of a new ad for the Arkansas Governor. After playing a clip of the spot, Sawyer sputtered, "He put up there on the screen, Christian, Christian leader. Not spiritual leader, Christian leader." She then asked the former House Speaker, officially appearing to promote a pro-religion documentary he worked on, if Huckabee's usage of the term would "backfire" on him. After pointing out the political benefit that the 2008 candidate might receive, Gingrich dryly noted, "You know, he's not running in New York State." Not to be deterred, Sawyer pressed for specifics. "But do you approve of that 'Christian leader' on his ad," she wondered.
A recent episode of Nova about the high-profile 2006 Kitzmiller v. Dover intelligent design trial has been cited for numerous false facts and false insinuations. The episode, entitled "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on trial," contains "blatant misrepresentations" and "misinformation," according to the Discovery Institute, the leading think tank of the intelligence design movement.
(Note: This is about a local Northeastern Ohio column, but deals with a media bias issue of broad significance.)
What Feagler revealed gets to the very heart of journalism's failure, why blogs exist, why many news consumers pay attention to them (in fact, feel that they must), and why they matter.
I really want to admire guys like Dick Feagler (and the relatively few gals, back in the day). Their telephones, steel trap memories, and Rolodexes were the "databases" of that era. They worked, and their modern counterparts still work, in an underpaid, underappreciated job that, when done correctly, is something you don't clock out of, and can go crazy in the blink of an eye. The Dick Feaglers used the old-fashion tools and applied the old-fashioned work ethic to do their jobs as best they could. Their successors are typically doing the same, with better tools.
But that avoids the real question: What was, and still is, their job?
On Friday's "Countdown" show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, while condescendingly chastising FNC's Bill O'Reilly for erroneously remarking that the "Book of Revelation" was written 5,000 years ago, made a mistake of his own in explaining O'Reilly's error, as the "Countdown" host claimed Jesus Christ "died roughly 2007 years ago." Olbermann: "Now, he [Christ] was supposed to have died roughly 2007 years ago, which is where we get the number on the calendar thing with the years in it. It's A.D., Anno Domini, Year of Our Lord, it's sort of dated back to the death-" [Stops talking and sighs] (Transcript follows)
On CBS’s "Sunday Morning" this past weekend, reporter Martha Teichner did a profile of recently deceased ultra left-wing author, Norman Mailer, who she described as "... a hell of a big man for a short guy, scrappy, brilliant, controversial. Slugging away at life and letters until the very end." Of course, this was the same Norman Mailer that said of the World Trade Center in October 2001: "Everything wrong with America led to the point where the country built that tower of Babel, which consequently had to be destroyed."
Later Teichner remarked that "Mailer was unapologetically liberal, anti-war, anti-Nixon, anti-establishment." Well, he certainly was "anti-establishment" when he said to a "London Telegraph" reporter in February 2002, "America has an almost obscene infatuation with itself...The right wing benefitted so much from September 11 that, if I were still a conspiratorialist, I would believe they'd done it."
At another point, Teichner observed that "Norman Mailer loved playing the political provocateur." That proved true when in 2003, Mailer asserted to the "London Times" that, "Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That's where Iraq came in...."
"The View’s" Joy Behar considers prayer a "distraction" from achieving scientific results. On the November 14 edition of "The View," the co-hosts discussed Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s prayer service for drought relief. Whoopi Goldberg, surprisingly defended the governor, but Joy Behar, just like Rosie O’Donnell, fretted about the "separation of church and state," and hinted the Georgia residents should be praying to Al Gore instead.
"Well, they need to be praying to people who will fix global warming and take care of the environment because that's more realistic."
Planned Parenthood is at it again -- lying about its construction plans. Catholic News Agency reports the Catholic bishops of Colorado (Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs) are calling out the abortion industry giant's tactics:
The bishops write, “In early November, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) broke ground on a new headquarters and clinic in northeast Denver.” They “purchased this property secretly under the guise of Fuller 38 LLC.”
“Planned Parenthood told the Denver Post that PPRM planned to complete the entire project in secrecy to avoid protests and delays that other Planned Parenthood buildings have encountered around the country.”
As the movie studios gear up for a big Christmas movie season, one trailer that looks like a blockbuster is “The Golden Compass,” which must be trying to cash in on the “Narnia” movies. It has flashy special-effect polar bears in armor and a young heroic damsel in distress facing off against evil forces. The casting is top-notch, led by Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, the current star spy in the James Bond movies.
But buyer beware: Narnia it’s not. It’s the anti-Narnia. Instead of a Christian allegory, it’s an anti-Christian allegory. The author of “The Golden Compass,” Philip Pullman, is an atheist who despises C. S. Lewis and his much-beloved Narnia series. “I thought they were loathsome,” he said of those books, “full of bullying and sneering, propaganda, basically, on behalf of a religion whose main creed seemed to be to despise and hate people unlike yourself.”
For Rolling Stone’s 40th anniversary magazine, one of the celebrities interviewed was the atheist, leftist HBO comedian/pundit Bill Maher. Even as Maher has long professed his support for Bill Clinton's sexual freedom (remember this gig as Clinton's talking little Willy?), he still says of Hillary, "F— them and their Clinton baggage...when the Democrats want a sure winner, John Edwards looks like it." Whoever wins for the Democrats, Maher hopes they’re good at lying to the voters:
ROLLING STONE: What’s your best case scenario for the future?
MAHER: First of all, some Democrat better win it in 2008. Then that person should go for broke and say to the people, "Now I have to tell you the truth. I couldn’t do it when I was running, because you are a bunch of babies who can’t take the truth, and you know damn well you wouldn’t have voted for me if I said that. But we’re going to take these painful measures."
The sad part of it is, the money is there to do almost anything we want. It’s not as if you’d have to raise taxes so much. If you took the money being wasted on Iraq, corporate welfare and the drug war, you would have trillions of dollars to work with. That’s the core of it. Whoever is the next president has to get at this corporate state we’ve found ourselves living in.
Over the course of his political career, Bill Clinton was literally and figuratively embraced by countless pastors, most of whom presumably went to their pulpits on Sunday to preach traditional values, including marital fidelity. If memory serves, neither Gail Collins nor other liberal pundits noted any irony in people of the cloth endorsing the spectacularly straying Clinton.
But let a preacher praise a Republican with a personal history, and Gail Collins thunders like Billy Sunday with a bad migraine. Here's the opening paragraph of her "Pat Loves Rudy" in today's New York Times [emphasis added]:
Recently, Bill O'Reilly used Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) to illustrate that he condemns extremists on the right as well as those on the left, but the problem is that Phelps isn't one of the “far right nuts,” he's one of the “left wing loons.”
On the November 1 “O'Reilly Factor,” the Fox News talker criticized the Kansas-based WBC as a “far right group” that loudly protests military funerals because they disagree with the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy that allows closeted gays in the military.
Update (Nov. 8 | 13:00 EST): International and Beijing Olympic officials are denying any such Bible ban exists. Click here for the story.
"Olympic agencies of the free world shouldn't tolerate this kind of intolerance. But will the media notice?" NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham asked in a Sunday blog post, referring to a November 2 Catholic News Agency article reporting the Communist Chinese government's plan to bar athletes from bringing Bibles along with their other personal effects in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Unfortunately, a full four days after the CNA article, it seems major print and television media have ignored the story. A Nexis search of major newspapers from November 2-6 yielded no stories on the matter. Ditto with a search of ABC, CBS, and NBC news transcripts, as well as a search of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News.
A notable exception to the general media silence: Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto. Just after the half-hour mark to his November 6 program the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" covered the controversy as he interviewed evangelist Bill Keller, who is urging the United States government to boycott next year's Summer Games should China not repeal the policy.
Cavuto and Keller noted that the Koran, unlike the Bible, was not similarly on the censorship list.