Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Is Pat Robertson Really a Kook?

...well, yeah.

But Sunday's January 8th issue of the New York Times had an interesting article about Robertson's control over the media. Here's an excerpt from the article written by Laurie Goodstein:

Every day, two people pay particularly close attention to Pat Robertson's religious news and variety show, "The 700 Club." They have notepads in hand, and the VCR set on "record."

They work in Washington at two of the nation's most ardent enemies of the Christian Right: People for the American Way and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. They lay in wait for Mr. Robertson to say something truly jaw-dropping - like his suggestion on Thursday that Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "Dividing God's land," and giving away Gaza to the Palestinians.

Within hours of such comments, the remarks are disseminated by e-mail to journalists around the country, and soon video clips of Mr. Robertson are the subject of news broadcast and nationwide ridicule.

Most politicians can't buy that type of PR - forget the fact that it's negative PR. If Robertson says something like how the abortion rate provoked Hurricane Katrina (but oddly enough, he considers people who are concerned about global warming to be environmental wackos), you can bet the next day you Google Pat Robertson, you will find three or four news articles about him from credible news organizations. They have to cover what he says, because it's news.

Many Christian leaders have long since denounced Robertson. Several liberal institutions have written Robertson off as a washed up flake. But someone who can generate this sort of publicity with these remarks can hardly be called "washed up." Take into account his "700 Club" averages more than 800,000 viewers on average. This surpasses the prime time ratings of CNBC and MSNBC.

Not all who watch the "700 Club" watch it for comic relief. To many fundamentalist Christians, Robertson's program is the news. In short, it's gospel. It's powerful enough to snag Bill Frist, Tom Delay and Rick Santorum. Unfortunately, for journalists, Robertson represents the cold sore that you just can't leave alone. He's the Courtney Love of fundamentalist pundits. Unfortunately, Robertson seems to be a lot more savvy in getting his audience to vote for the candidates he favors than Ms. Love.

Current listening selections
Aimee Mann - The Forgotten Arm
Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah - s/t
Wilco - Kicking Television - Live in Chicago


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