CNN Host Derides Haggard Spiritual Counseling as a ‘Tremendous Reality Show’

Aren’t liberals supposed to be the tolerant ones? On Wednesday’s "American Morning," co-anchor Miles O’Brien derided a plan by disgraced former minister Ted Haggard to seek spiritual counseling as a "reality show." Haggard resigned his positions as pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado and head of the National Association of Evangelicals after being accused of drug use and a gay affair. He has announced that he will undergo an intense form of religious counseling known as restoration. Reporter Ali Velshi and Mr. O’Brien seemed to find the whole concept laughable. Velshi, describing the individuals who would and wouldn’t be involved, began by talking about "fixing" Ted Haggard:

Ali Velshi: "But one of the godly men, theoretically, asked to be involved was James Dobson of the -- he was the founder of Focus on the Family, also a Colorado-based Christian ministry. He's already backed out. Apparently, this is so tough, James Dobson says that he backed out because 'emotionally and spiritually, I wanted to be of help, but the reality is, I don't have the time to devote to such a critical responsibility.' I think this is more than just a PR thing. They really -- these guys believe it's going to fix Ted Haggard."

Miles O’Brien: "Well, I think it could be a tremendous reality show."

Velshi: "Can you imagine?"

O’Brien: "Have you thought about that?"

Velshi: "'The Restoration.'"

O’Brien: "Yes, 'The Restoration.'"

Apparently tolerance and counseling are concepts that should only be applied to liberals.

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:10am on November 9, is below:

Miles O’Brien: "Well, it's as American as a tell-all memoir and an appearance on Larry King. Disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard going the way of Mark Foley and so many others, into rehab. He's agreed to spiritual restoration. But what is that? 'American Morning's Ali Velshi joins us now, not having had direct experience, but-"

Ali Velshi: "No. Having read up on restoration, which I thought was about old houses and things like that. What -- how do you restore a soul? Well, in this case, in Ted Haggard's case, it involves a process that could take, we're told, between three and five years of regular meetings. When I say 'regular,' it could be six times a month. He's going to get together with a bunch of people who have agreed to oversee his restoration, a process that is so rigorous, that about 50 percent of people drop out of it because it's too hard to do. But it involves- what does it involve? Why is it so rigorous? Well, it involves the things you would expect: counseling, prayer, confession, advice, confrontation, meaning confronting your evils or whatever you're battling. And the one I like the best that I don't have any explanation for is rebuke from godly men. But there are godly men involved. Theoretically, that means other - other religious leaders, other pastors involved. We got this information-"

O’Brien: "You weren't asked?"

Velshi: "I was not asked to be involved. I'm on thin ice even talking about restoration, things like that. But one of the godly men, theoretically, asked to be involved was James Dobson of the -- he was the founder of Focus on the Family, also a Colorado-based Christian ministry. He's already backed out. Apparently, this is so tough, James Dobson says that he backed out because 'emotionally and spiritually, I wanted to be of help, but the reality is, I don't have the time to devote to such a critical responsibility. 'I think this is more than just a PR thing. They really -- these guys believe it's going to fix Ted Haggard."

Velshi: "Can you imagine?"

O’Brien: "Have you thought about that?"

Velshi: "'The Restoration.'"

O’Brien: "Yes, 'The Restoration.' All right. So what -- when he's done with this, he's newly ousted as a restored whatever, can he go back to preaching?"

Velshi: "Unclear. Unclear what happens. But we have seen examples of others, a preacher in Pennsylvania who had an affair with a woman. I don't know whether it takes longer or shorter, but he was restored after a year, and he's back ministering his flock. So who knows."

O’Brien: "We should give him a call."

Velshi: "He was -- a smaller flock than -- well, we'll check into it."

O’Brien: "Let's get him on. Let's check into that."

Velshi: "Okay."

O’Brien: "Well, I think it could be a tremendous reality show."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org