Staggering Double Standard

Media elites may not be poor, but they often act in uneducated ways. On CBS's "Early Show" in June 2000, anchor Bryant Gumbel interviewed Robert Knight of the Family Research Council on the United States Supreme Court decision affirming the Boy Scout Association's constitutional right of association in denying the position of scout leadership to homosexuals. Gumbel, thinking the camera was off, was caught mouthing what appeared to be his judgment that Knight is a "f ing idiot." CBS refused to apologize or admit any wrongdoing. Its official response was: "A brief camera shot with no audio of Bryant getting up from his chair accidentally appeared on air. He was making a casual remark of some sort, but it is unclear what the comment was and in any case, it bears no relevance to the content of The Early Show." In an open letter to CBS demanding an apology, Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center chastised the network for its "staggering" double standard in "unequivocally" condemning racial bigotry but meeting religious bigotry with a "disinterested yawn."

But the disinterested media seem to perk up when they see opportunities to depict Christians as exclusive, intolerant, and unloving. MSNBC talk show host Phil Donahue routinely expresses his opinion that Christianity is exclusive and intolerant. In interviewing clergy members about social issues, he was often sidetracked by this seeming fixation of his, berating them incredulously for their adherence to the Christian proposition-articulated by Christ himself, mind you-that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. On December 17, 2002, Donahue titled his program "Do You Have to Be a Christian to Get into Heaven?" Throughout the program, Donahue focused on this Christian tenet and continually encouraged the characterization of Christians as hateful, intolerant, ignorant, and bigoted. On his show two weeks earlier, he had put that very question about heaven to Reverend Jerry Falwell. In response, Falwell quoted Jesus from John 14:6, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." After many in the audience applauded, Donahue reportedly expressed disdain and sometime later decided to pursue the question in a full program. On the December 17, 2002, program Donahue had five panelists, three of whom expressed the view that faith in Christ was necessary for salvation.

When one of the three, Reverend Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, expressed that position in response to Donahue's question, Donahue showed displeasure. "I just think that has the potential, and already has caused," said Donahue, "an awful lot of havoc here among the Lord's people. If you tell me that I'm not going to Heaven, then why should you respect me? If the Lord doesn't respect me, why should you?" Reverend Mohler replied, "Well, the Lord respects you enough to have sent Jesus Christ, His Son, to assume human flesh, to die for your sins." One of the other panelists, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an author and national radio talk show host, responded, "Well, Phil, sadly, Reverend Mohler is a spiritual racist ... who wants nothing less than a spiritual lynching." Boteach went on to accuse Mohler of converting Jesus from "one of the greatest teachers the world has ever known" to a KKK member and the "chief enforcer of anti-Semitism the world has ever known." Donahue implicitly concurred with the rabbi's rantings about Christianity, saying, "And he the Christian Klansman goes to Heaven. The guy in the sheet goes to Heaven, I think is what he's saying."

ABC Television apparently has a problem airing expressions of gratitude to Jesus. In its morning talk show "The View," panelist Joy Behar said she was ending her diet when she slipped in, "Thank you, thank you, Jesus, is all I have to say! Goodbye to that damn scale and this whole diet. I'm sick of it." The Media Research Center reported that the West Coast feed of the show bleeped "Jesus" but aired "damn." On a later show Behar complained about this. She said, "The other day... I used the phrase 'Thank you, Jesus' because my diet was over For the West Coast, they took it out. They would not allow me to say 'Thank you, Jesus.' I think that's wrong." She said the program had received about a hundred complaint letters. Behar said she was a Roman Catholic. "Jesus and I are pals, OK? Get with the program."

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