‘American Morning’ Anchor on Christian Boycott of Elections: Start Them Now!

October 17th, 2006 4:11 PM

For the second time in less then 24 hours, CNN featured David Kuo, a vocal Bush critic and the former deputy director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Kuo, who appeared on Tuesday’s "American Morning," has written a book that accuses the White House of using Christian conservatives for political gain and ignoring the issues they care about. Co-Anchor Soledad O’Brien interviewed the author and seemed perturbed that Kuo wouldn’t call for conservatives to boycott the midterm elections:

Soledad O’Brien: "Here's what you write -- you say, 'Christians vote our money, our energy. Every politician needs evangelicals. 'You go on to say, 'It's like a teenaged boy out on a date with a beautiful girl; they'll say anything and everything to get what they want. Let's not give it to them. Let's tell them we are fasting from politics for a season.' Are you saying, stay away from the polls? Three weeks, when we go to the midterm elections, don't vote?"

David Kuo: "Absolutely not."

O’Brien: "What's fasting mean?"

Kuo: "When I'm talking about the fast, I'm talking after the election."

O’Brien: "What kind of a fast is it if you stuff yourself silly and then you go on a fast?"

Kuo clarified that his recommendation is for conservatives to withhold money from the RNC and other Republican affiliated groups beginning in January of 2007 through December of that year. O’Brien continued, somewhat incredulous about the scheduling of the "fasting" period:

O’Brien: "That season starts after the midterm elections?"

Kuo: "Yes, I certainly didn't write this for the midterm elections."

O’Brien: "That's interesting timing."

Although Ms. O’Brien clearly didn’t get what she wanted, the CNN host still closed the interview, which began at 8:36a.m. EDT, with a recommendation:

O’Brien: "The book is called 'Tempting Faith.' There are not a lot of books that I can finish in time, read cover to cover. This is one that I did, though. It's a really interesting book, but it's also a very political book as well. Thanks for talking with us. We certainly appreciate it."

As noted yesterday on NewsBusters, the media have been heavily hyping this book. The fact that it could potentially drive a wedge between Christian conservatives and the GOP certainly cannot be overlooked.

Wolf Blitzer, who interviewed Kuo during Monday’s edition of "The Situation Room," seemed anxious for the author to pin the blame on White House political strategist Karl Rove. He began the segment, which aired on October 16 at 4:31p.m., by asking Kuo to name names:

Wolf Blitzer: "Your book is generating lots of commotion out there because, among other things, you write this. On page 229, you say: ‘National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy.’ Who, who specifically in the White House was uttering such, such words?"

Kuo attempted to defer, saying he wasn’t out to hurt either those who were doing the mocking or the ones being made fun of. Blitzer, however, persisted and later in the interview he asked the same question:

Blitzer: "And the charge you're making is that these guys, who I assume, from the President, Karl Rove, and other top officials in the White House, you're making the charge they are a bunch of hypocrites?"

Kuo: "Wolf, I'm making a spiritual point to Christians about politics. I'm saying before you invest so much of your soul, so much of your lives in politics, yeah, understand how you are viewed. You know, I think that it's important for evangelical Christians to take a temporary step back from politics to fast."

There are two points that need to be mentioned here: First, Kuo does not provide specifics as to his charges. They are just general hearsay. Secondly, since Kuo doesn’t offer names or actual, detailed allegations, why is CNN giving him so much publicity? Could the purpose be to drive down voting among evangelical Christians?

Blitzer continued his questioning on what exactly Karl Rove said about Christian activists, or, as it turned out, what he didn’t say:

Blitzer: "Here is what Pat Robertson said in reacting to your book: ‘I find it hard to believe again that someone like Karl Rove who depends so terrifically on what he calls ‘the base,’ that he would behind the scenes make snide remarks. It just doesn’t compute.’ Did Karl Rove make snide remarks about evangelical Christians that you heard, that you were an eyewitness to?"

Kuo: "No, and I never say that in the book that Karl said that. I mean, I never say that about Karl. And I know there have been media reports that have said it was Karl and I simply never said that in the book. What, what Dr. Robertson said, however, is untrue, if you, you know, expand it to the White House as a whole, if you expand it to the people who work there."

Blitzer: "What about the notion in the book, you spoke about Karl Rove eye-rolling when he was talking about these people?"

Kuo: "I don't think I specifically say that Karl Rove eye-rolled. I said, I think lots of people did eye-roll and that’s true."

Blitzer: "Was Karl Rove one of them?"

Kuo: "No, I never saw it from Karl. I never did. I think that there have been a lot of people who wanted to, to see that and somehow make that more powerful."

Again, part of this can be blamed on Kuo for being rather vague in his accusations. But doesn’t it also seem as though the media are treating this story with the same excitement they delivered to the "indictment" of Karl Rove?