Yes, that stale accusation is making the rounds once again. After a diversion of several weeks, Big Media is now in panic mode since early voting has started. Big Media was distracted by Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, and used that as the launch pad for attacks on white women, in an attempt to shame and bully white women who were leaning towards Republican candidates. They showed how desperate they are to wedge voters away from the GOP and President Trump. Now they are returning to more familiar ground, which is continued attacks on white Evangelicals in an attempt to wedge them away from President Trump’s GOP.
Of course the New York Times is leading the charge. They ran an article that purported to provide a political history of Evangelicals: “Religion and Right Wing Politics: How Evangelicals Reshaped Elections.” It is mostly forgettable. It contains several howlers, such as “American evangelicals had long steered clear of politics,” which is silly. It would be better to say that American evangelicals had long been politically divided. This article incorrectly cites the Moral Majority as the beginning of political realignment of Evangelicals. I think that is really clueless. The Moral Majority got its start and gained traction because the Democrat Party started kicking traditionalists and conservatives out and embraced moral confusion. Along the way, the NYT quotes Michael Gerson as part of the “Religious Right.” Ha.
The New York Times also did a feature where they invited young Evangelicals to comment on their personal politics. They said they received 1500 comments. They printed ten or so. It was pretty much what you would expect. The New York Times’s favorite Evangelicals are actually ex-Evangelicals. The young Evangelicals the NYT chose to quote expressed quite a lot of confusion and dissatisfaction with their Christianity.
NeverTrumper David French wrote a column at National Review in which he riffed on the NYT comments from young Evangelicals and blamed this youthful religious confusion on Donald Trump. He charged “tribalism.” How tedious.
My favorite media critics noticed all this, but in this case they are very clever but ultimately less than helpful. They are pro-life Democrats, though, so it is not surprising that they are not up to the challenge of giving this mess the thorough mocking that it all deserves.
They did manage to pass along this nice observation:
“…it’s amazing the degree to which the voices in this unscientific survey that ended up in print — in the world’s most powerful newspaper — sound exactly like you would expect young evangelical Timesreaders to sound.”
Elsewhere, NPR is rooting for liberal Evangelicals, hoping that they will persuade some traditionalist Evangelicals that Trump is so immoral that they should not vote for him.
Mass media, the legacy media, you know, those “Lamestream” guys, are keeping me busy tracking their continued attempts to wedge Evangelical voters away from President Trump. One way they do this is to pound on the hypocrisy angle at every opportunity. Of course, Evangelicals continue to provide lots of opportunities.
Hence the #MeTooForChurch series of exposes to detail those Evangelical pastors who have been caught in sin. Particularly notable this summer was the philandering scandal at Willow Creek, which is an Evangelical megachurch with a network of associated churches. Pastor Bill Hybels and his leadership team are out and the church is reeling. Almost every mass media outlet covered it, but all the articles seemed to be derivative of reporting by the Chicago Tribune and Religion News Service. There wasn’t an anti-Trump hook to this story, so it played out in the press the way most church scandals do.
Russkies at the Prayer Breakfast
The New York Times wins the prize for this latest reporting period for an article about the National Prayer Breakfast. The article ran on July 27. The National Prayer Breakfast happened back in February. Why such a late-breaking article? Well, the obvious answer is Russians.
Yes, the NYT ran a hatchet job about the National Prayer Breakfast in which they noted that a couple of Russians were in attendance, including Maria Butina, which, according to them, taints the whole affair and confirms Trump colluded with the Russkies to derail her highness’s path to victory. Now, I would have been content to scoff them and mock them and call them “fake news,” but I saw that one of my favorite media critics, Julia Duin, took them seriously and provided a better response. Here is an excerpt from her post, which includes a quote from the NYT:
The bottom line: I’m just surprised it took the Russians this long to discover what everyone else knew – that the breakfast and its parent organization, the International Foundation, have been organizing “secret” meetings between foreign government leaders and U.S. politicians … for years.
Doesn’t the same sort of thing happen at Vatican embassies around the world? Is this news all that surprising? The key question is documenting the money involved.
What’s more, participants appear to see ultimate value in meetings and relationships seemingly irrespective of the motives of those present.
I would sub in “evangelistic value,” in that the motive behind the breakfast is to pave the way for the spread of the Gospel in foreign countries by inviting their government officials to the breakfast.
Remember, the folks at the breakfast – and the Foundation – are using this as an opportunity to reach the Russians (and others) just as much as the folks from overseas are using it as a way to reach influential Americans.
Well, yes, one of the original reasons for holding a prayer breakfast targeted to Washington politicians was to use it to reach out to leaders of non-Christian nations to persuade them to treat their Christians better, and possibly to persuade both American and foreign politicians of the truth of the Gospel.
Of some interest over the summer were media digs at Evangelicals in ways devised to emphasize that journalists think Evangelical Trump voters are all hypocrites. Salon ran an article, but since it is Salon, maybe they don’t qualify as news media. Their article excoriated Evangelicals for being hypocrites on account of Trump’s immorality, and then they paused to celebrate the general rise of sexual immoralities, and then they also celebrated the rise of people who have dropped out of traditional churches. Typical.
The only reason to mention Salon is because they get promoted in the feed at the Google News aggregator. Google promotes their catchy headline, and that is what puts them on my radar. Their headline stayed in the Google News Spotlight for several days.
Mike Pence, Christianist monster
There was a spate of articles that seemed intended to wedge Mike Pence away from President Trump, or to simply portray Mike Pence as a monstrous theocrat. Since they were all simply rehashing stuff I have written about before, there is no need to give a blow-by-blow. SSDD.
There was a more recent example. It was from an Alabama newspaper, but it also got featured prominently near the top of the default Google News page. This one was also intended to chide Evangelicals because they support immoral President Trump. They found a liberal Baptist history professor (he also has an MDiv but I don’t know if he was ever ordained). They quote him extensively saying the usual Leftist stuff:
There are broader issues at play, too, with Trump’s stand on Muslim immigration echoing past religious right alarms against non-Protestant immigrants changing the nation’s faith demographics.
“Trump is, at best, racially insensitive, if not racist,” said Leonard, a former religion professor at Samford University and retired divinity dean at Wake Forest University.
But many evangelicals like his style, Leonard said.
“Fundamentalists vest great power in the authoritarian leader who brooks no disagreement,” Leonard said. “They have an appreciation for Trump as an authoritarian figure.”
Baptists traditionally supported the separation of church and state, but shifted with the rise of the Moral Majority in 1979 and the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980. Despite being divorced, Reagan was the choice of evangelicals over Jimmy Carter, a born-again believer and Baptist Sunday school teacher who did not agree with the religious right on many issues.
That is pitiful dreck through and through. “Trump’s stand on Muslim immigration echoing past religious right alarms against non-Protestant immigrants changing the nation’s faith demographics.” This assumes the Leftists’ worst construction of “religious right alarms” about Muslim immigration, insinuating that the concern is with all “non-Protestant immigrants” and alleging that the problem with Muslim immigrants is demographic, which of course is code for racist. I am calling B.S. on Dean Leonard and AL.com and the reporter, Greg Garrison.
I think Dean Leonard has slandered Fundamentalists as well as President Trump.
I recall debates among traditionalist Christians regarding the difficult choice between irreligious divorcee California actor Reagan versus Baptist Georgia farmer Carter. We voted for Reagan. I don’t recall anyone being called “immoral” for making that choice. But I have been called immoral for voting for President Trump, and in fact, I saw that “immoral” smear tossed around again just this week by NeverTrumpers.
And I resent Dean Leonard’s slander that “Baptists traditionally supported the separation of church and state, but shifted with the rise of the Moral Majority….” Did Baptists stop supporting the separation of church and state? He alleges in that article that Baptists want to use the power of the state to re-establish their dominant political position. He is wrong. Baptists are appealing to government to stop coercing Christians into forced speech that celebrates the sins of the protected classes. Baptists and other traditionalist Christians are appealing to government to stop meddling in local bathrooms. The key for Baptists and other Evangelicals is that Team Obama was using the federal government to elevate non-traditional religion over traditionalist religions; we simply wanted the State to cease establishing Leftist religion.
Evangelicals, whether Baptist or not (I am not a Baptist), are politically active because we are defending ourselves against the attacks of the Left, who have been using the power of government, as has been discussed here at Ratburger.org on previous occasions. Leftists may cry “theocrat” but the truth is that they are the ones on offense and we are the ones on defense, and it has been this way ever since the Reagan Administration.
I will close this time with an opinion column that ran at The Atlantic. It was by Peter Beinart, a professor of journalism at CUNY. It was more of the ‘Evangelicals are racists’ stuff that I have been writing about all year. This one seemed to pivot; Beinard did not address himself to Evangelicals and gave no indication that he expected to have any Evangelical readers. He was not trying to wedge Evangelicals away from President Trump. He was giving Leftists permission to consider Evangelicals to be horrible racist, sexist, homophobic, mean persons, as a way to encourage Leftist political activisms. He wrote on the topic of corruption, brushing off all allegations of corruption by Hillary, and focusing on the corruption of Trump. He wrote that Evangelicals were more concerned about people of color corrupting the complexion of America than about Trump’s political corruption.
I think we will see less of the media attempts to wedge Evangelicals away from President Trump. We have seen a number of pundits and journalists wailing about how, for all their attacks, articles, shows, editorials, histrionics and shouting, the needle has not moved; Evangelicals who support President Trump have remained unmoved.
“This is how the news should sound.” That is the introduction to a new radio news talk show that I have been hearing on NPR. The name of the show is “The Daily.” It is a real howler. It both gives me great laughs and raises my blood pressure. It is anti-Trump, anti-conservative, anti-Republican Leftism brought to you with all the outragey feels you want when you are nostalgic for the pepper-spray whiff of street demonstrations.
“The Daily, with Michael Barbaro” is a production of the New York Times. The broadcasts are available as podcasts. They are a parody of themselves. They are short (22-minutes) and focus on a single issue each episode. Sometimes they do a series of two or three episodes. I have listened to all the usual Leftist bilge. What gives the laughs is the hushed tones and atmospheric music (violins swells in a minor key to let you know that you are about to hear the latest real outragey dirt on Trump). They whisper the introductions to experts who pontificate about how awful the Trump Administration is. They whip up sympathies with sob stories from the most appealing of illegal immigrants. They really like to interview minor officials from the Obama Administration who now have impressive-sounding titles at Leftist think tanks.
In addition to yelling at my car radio about how selective and dishonest this material is, I get a kick out of how seriously they take themselves. Last week I laughed and laughed while listening to an activist lawyer describe peeking through the windows at an office building in Phoenix that previously had been used by ICE as a temporary holding facility for minor children who were awaiting transportation one way or the other. Bear in mind that ICE had moved out several days before our intrepid activist found the site. She described her tears as she looked in through a window and saw an empty carton of baby formula sitting on the otherwise empty floor. Her emotional distress over the plight of those beautiful babies was the focus of several minutes in the short broadcast. Then they noted that ICE had not used it as an overnight facility, but was simply a processing/transfer point where the kids were only there for a couple of hours. Her tears of distress prompted my tears of laughter. They were really playing their audience, pushing hard on emotional buttons. It was an overreach that was such a grasping at staws that I found it laughable.
You really ought to sample this some time. The hushed tones and mood music accents are over the top.
It is time to brush off last year’s letter to my congressman and write again to request that he work to repeal the Public Broadcasting Act.
They acknowledged that they lean Left. Far Left. They determined to hire additional conservative voices. So they hired two “conservatives” away from the Wall Street Journal.
Of course, both of the new hires are NeverTrumps.
That is what passes for intellectual diversity at the New York Times.
I saw an interesting attack on the New York Times that complained about the new hires. Here is Glenn Greenwald:
On CNN, the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, chided critics of the Stephens hiring this way: “Didn’t we learn from this past election that our goal should be to understand different views?” He claimed that “the New York Times has a history of trying to bring in different voices,” asking rhetorically: “Don’t we want to surface all ideas?”
And I was thinking that Greenwald was right. But then I continued to read Greenwald’s post, and discovered that he was attacking the NYT for being thoroughly establishment and centrist.
Few things are more laughable than watching the incomparably homogenized New York Times op-ed page justify itself with appeals to the virtues of diversity. If your goal were to wage war on media diversity in all of its forms, and to offer the narrowest range of views possible, it would be hard to top the roster of columnists the paper has assembled: Tom Friedman, David Brooks, Nick Kristof, Paul Krugman, Roger Cohen, Ross Douthat, Maureen Dowd, Frank Bruni, David Leonhardt, Charles Blow, Gail Collins, Bret Stephens, with Bari Weiss as a contributor and editor.
Beyond the obvious demographic homogeneity, literally every one of them fits squarely within the narrow, establishment, center-right to center-left range of opinion that prevails in elite opinion-making circles. Almost all of them, if not all, supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election, and now have politics close to that neighborhood. None is associated with or supportive of the growing populist left or the populist right; they all wallow in the vague, safe, Washington-approved middle ground, members in good standing of the newly overt neoliberal-neoconservative alliance. As long as Stephens avoided talking about climate change and Douthat steered clear of abortion, most if not would all be capable of giving a speech that would be cheered at a so-called #Resistance rally, or at an AIPAC conference.
We need to laugh long and hard at the New York Times as it enjoys its waning days of influence.