Pat Robertson: Why Do We Pay Attention to Him?
It's certainly not the first time the doddering Robertson -- who managed to keep his 700 Club TV show on air by contractually requiring its broadcast when he sold the Family Channel cable outlet to Fox -- has said something awful. He has implied other denominations such as Episcopalians and Methodists embody the spirit of the Antichrist, he has said the 9/11 terrorist attackes were caused by gay people and the ACLU, he has said America should assasinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and that the people of Dover, Pa. shouldn't be surprised if God brings a natural disaster after voting out school board members who supported the teaching of intelligent design.
Robertson's comments also bring a predictable media response. The cable newschannels and network TV morning shows, always hungry for controversy, crank out stories which spread word of Robertson's comments, prompting columnists and pundits to jump on board.
But when a daffy minister makes his umpteenth statement making God sound like some supernatural hitman, isn't there a point when skeptical journalists should stop listening?
Columnist Terry Mattingly wrote passionately for the Poynter Institute's web site about how mainstream journalists seem to use Robertson's off-the-wall comments to reinforce a stereotype about conservative Christians as nearly nutty ideologues. Rather than explore whether Robertson actually has any clout anymore, or how other conservative Christians feel about his often un-Christian remarks, many of us are content to simply wallow in the outrage.
It becomes a cynical exchange: Robertson basks in the attention such stories bring while news outlets rejoice in another button-pushing news story. And, yes, I've done it too.
I would love to see major news outlets take a pass the next time Robertson says something outrageous. I have a feeling the air would run out of his particular balloon awfully quick without worldwide media attention.