ABC Anchor Admits to Being ‘Very Fearful’ About Discussing Her Faith

Appearing on last Sunday’s "Reliable Sources," "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts provided a look into the secular world of America’s newsrooms. She told CNN host Howard Kurtz that although her faith is very important, she admitted to, in the past, being "very fearful" about discussing religion on GMA. Prompted to explain why, the ABC anchor elaborated:

Robin Roberts: "Because, because you don't do that. You don't let – You're not supposed to, we're not supposed to talk about faith. We're not supposed to let people-- I bought into that."

Mr. Kurtz also asked Roberts about a late March town hall meeting with Hillary Clinton that ABC televised. According to the GMA anchor, the reason there’s been no follow-up event with any of the Republican candidates is because Clinton has thus far been the only one to respond. She also explained why the ABC program allowed the New York Senator to pick the topic for discussion:

Howard Kurtz: : "Why leave that up to the candidates? Why not decide what you want to discuss?"

Robin Roberts: "Well, we have a play in it, but we want them to be able to have a say in what they want to do, because so many times now -- and you know this -- it's sound bites. It's all sound bites. And how can a viewer, who's a voter, make a decision, if always you're hearing in sound bites? So, we want to be able to give them the forum to be able to talk in full sentences -- not so much our questions, but questions from the viewers and what they want to discuss."

There's no doubt that Mrs. Clinton talked in full sentences. In a previous blog, I discussed how the 26 minutes of air time given over to Clinton amounted to a campaign infomercial. Roberts allowed the Senator to talk unchallenged and uninterrupted for 18 of those 26 minutes. It will certainly be interesting to see if a Republican contender is permitted to give what amounts to an extended speech at a future GMA town hall meeting. (That assumes, of course, that there are any additional ABC-sponsored events.)

And on the subject of letting the candidates to pick their own topics, apparently that extended to allowing Clinton to pack the audience with supporters. I noted at the time the oddity of how a member of Mrs. Clinton’s 1993 health care task force just happened to be in the audience:

 Robin Roberts: [to Clinton, regarding health care]"What you said then in, in ‘93, many people felt it was just, in some ways, ahead of its, ahead of its time. Somebody that was there, and wants to ask you what is different now, between what happened then, and he is Dr. Steve Eckstat. He is, he works at the free clinic of Iowa. Doctor?"

A partial transcript of Mrs. Roberts’ interview, which aired on "Reliable Sources" at 10:38am on May 27, follows:

Howard Kurtz: "Some weeks ago, you conducted a town hall meeting in Iowa, in which Hillary Clinton talked about health care. Didn't do great in the ratings. Will you do more of those?"

Robin Roberts: "Absolutely. We've extended invitations to all the top candidates, and we're waiting for them to respond. She was the first one to do that. We let them also decide what it is they want to discuss. We were a bit surprised that Senator Clinton said, ‘I want to talk about health care.’ So–"

Kurtz: "Why leave that up to the candidates? Why not decide what you want to discuss?"

Roberts: "Well, we have a play in it, but we want them to be able to have a say in what they want to do, because so many times now -- and you know this -- it's sound bites. It's all sound bites. And how can a viewer, who's a voter, make a decision, if always you're hearing in sound bites? So, we want to be able to give them the forum to be able to talk in full sentences -- not so much our questions, but questions from the viewers and what they want to discuss."


10:44


Kurtz: "You write in your book that religion is very important to you, personally. What kind of job do you think the media do covering religion?"

Roberts: "I think we are better at doing that. I think that we're more open about talking about faith and religion. And I think, again, it's because people respond to that. I was very fearful the first time that I did something talking about my faith. And it was a simple piece about morning routines, things that we do in the morning."
Kurtz: "Why fearful?"

Roberts: "Because, because you don't do that. You don't let – You're not supposed to, we're not supposed to talk about faith. We're not supposed to let people -- I bought into that."

Kurtz: "Yes."


Roberts: "And so, we did the piece. And the producer said, ‘No, this is very authentic. You're not trying to impress anybody here. This is your authentic self. Let's air this.’ And it was a prayer that I say every morning. That was about seven years ago. I'm telling you the truth. Barely a week has gone by that someone hasn't asked for that prayer." 

Kurtz: "Still?"

Roberts: "Still. That, you know, that much time later. But I remember that distinctly. I was, like, oh, I don't know if I should do that. I don't think – That's just not what you're supposed to do, but have become more comfortable with doing it since."

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