CBS Uses Democrat Helpers To Explain How Democrats Now 'Get Religion'
Monday’s Early Show on CBS picked up on Time magazine’s promotional cover story "How The Democrats Got Religion." Reporter Jeff Glor used two guides to explore how the Democrats would "level the praying field," but didn’t exactly tell viewers that these guides were involved in the drive to help the Democrats. The first expert was Time magazine’s Amy Sullivan, who wrote a "God Gap" essay for the magazine. CBS didn’t explain she was an aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and during her stint with the liberal magazine The Washington Monthly, she advised the Democrats on how to "get religion" in the last presidential election cycle, to no avail.
The other expert was so-called "conservative evangelical" Rev. Joel Hunter, a man eager enough to help the Democrats that he was selected by the people at the left-wing magazine Sojourners to ask Hillary Clinton a question at the CNN/Sojourners Democrat debate (clips of that event were sprinkled throughout the CBS story.) He asked Hillary Clinton a seemingly pro-life question that enabled her to proclaim that she's always been for abortion being very rare. Rev. Hunter’s also written a book titled Right Wing, Wrong Bird: Why The Tactics of the Religious Right Won't Work with Most Conservative Christians. (Since that doesn’t sound like he can claim the label "conservative," it will be republished next year with the title A New Kind of Conservative. As in the Hillary-helping kind?)
CBS isn't telling viewers that when it spots a favorable political trend for liberals, it's using people with a rooting interest in that trend -- and whose certainty that this trend will pan out is perhaps a little colored by their involvement. Here's Justin McCarthy's transcript of the CBS story:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: In the race for the White House candidates are discussing faith more often and more frankly than in previous campaigns but there's a twist and "Early Show" national correspondent Jeff Glor is here to tell us about. Good morning Jeff.
JEFF GLOR: Good morning Maggie. Good to see you. In 2004 62 percent of weekly church goers voted for President Bush. And a recent CBS News poll shows a large majority of voters want their candidates to have strong religious beliefs. Typically this would benefit Republicans but this year we could be in for a change.
RUDY GIULIANI: Religion is very important to me. It's an important part of my life.
JOHN EDWARDS: My belief in, in Christ plays an enormous role in the way I view the world.
MIKE HUCKABEE: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
GLOR: Across the political spectrum, the presidential hopefuls are paying homage to the almighty.
BARACK OBAMA: I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper.
MITT ROMNEY: And I'm a happy, proud member of my faith.
HILLARY CLINTON: I take my faith very seriously and very personally.
GLOR: From faith forums to stump speeches, talking about religion has become a political necessity.
AMY SULLIVAN, TIME: 70 percent of Americans say that they want their president to be a person of faith and that's a pretty astoundingly high number.
GLOR: "Time" magazine's Amy Sullivan is writing a book about the role of religion within politics.
SULLIVAN: It's very difficult to run given that belief and desire among the American voters if you don't have an open faith that you're willing to talk about.
GLOR: Sullivan believes the emergence of faith in politics stems from Watergate when the nation felt deceived and betrayed by President Richard Nixon.
SULLIVAN: Americans care more about than just policy positions of the candidate. They care about what their character is, what their kind of moral grounding is, and religion is one kind of proxy for that.
DR. JOEL HUNTER: Preserve justice and do righteousness.
GLOR: Dr. Joel Hunter is one of the nation's leading evangelical voices. Is it possible that an atheist could be elected president?
HUNTER: Very, very unlikely. Many of us want at least somebody who has some sense of a higher accountability. You want to elect somebody who you can have some confidence in personally.
GLOR: As mega churches continue going up across the country, including the $42 million building being put up by Dr. Hunter near Orlando, the debate over religion and politics is shifting.
HUNTER: There is a shift. There's a broadening. I think Christians are saying, you know, these other things are important, too, because they were important to Jesus. But to build for ourselves --
GLOR: Hunter is among a group of conservative evangelicals trying to broaden the political discussion beyond personal moral issues like abortion and gay marriage. He wants religious voters to consider issue he puts in the category of social morality.
HUNTER: Social morality is where you address the needs of your neighbor. You love your neighbor as you love yourself. And so you're concerned about poverty. You're concerned about disease. You're concerned about the environment. [As if conservatives aren't?]
GLOR: You talk about the environment a great deal.
GLOR: That's an Al Gore issue it seems like.
HUNTER: Well, no, it's not. It's a Biblical issue. We, we, our first order in the Bible is to take care of the garden. And to protect it.
GLOR: Democrats had a disadvantage among religious voters for some 20 years see a chance.
OBAMA: Faith got hijacked partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian right who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us.
GLOR: When you hear him say that, what's your reaction?
HUNTER: Well, I think objectively he's correct.
GLOR: While 78 percent of evangelicals voted for President Bush in 2004, Hunter says there's no reason a Democrat can't win over the faithful.
HUNTER: It's really bad for Christianity to be in the pocket of any one political party. It's just totally inappropriate.
GLOR: Then there are the candidates themselves.
SULLIVAN: We have never seen this many Democratic politicians who are both so sincerely religious and also very comfortable with the language of faith.
GLOR: From Clinton --
CLINTON: This is the day the Lord has made.
GLOR: To Obama.
OBAMA: We traveled because God was with us.
GLOR: To Edwards.
EDWARDS: I pray daily.
GLOR: So far in this campaign, the Democratic frontrunners are being more vocal about faith than their Republican counterparts.
SULLIVAN: I don't think Republicans can get back their monopoly on religion if only because the only reason they had it in the first place was that Democrats ceded that ground to them. Now that Democrats have kind of turned a corner this is a completely different game.
GLOR: What remains to be seen is how this will translate into votes. The Republican ground operation reaching out to religious voters still far surpasses Democratic operations, Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: Jeff, did this poll gauge whether voters cared if the candidates shared their particular religious beliefs?
GLOR: It did. It talked about that. A majority of Americans don't care what the particular beliefs are if they share their beliefs they're just concerned that these candidates hold some sort of a religious foundation.
RODRIGUEZ: And they all seem to be doing that.