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Neil Cavuto Subs for Pat Robertson

Reported by Melanie - October 11, 2005

Fox News advertises its "premiere business news" program, Your World w/Neil Cavuto, as offering "news and insight on Wall Street and other market activities, while wrapping up the business news of the day." It says it brings "the most influential players in the business world to our viewers, offering insights on the day's news and the market's broader trends." It's "Business news that matters..."

The first words out of Cavuto's mouth today (October 11, 2005) were: "Well, earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, brush fires. What if I told you it's not all a case of disaster coincidence? Why a top religious expert says it's a higher warning."

Next, David Piper reported from Pakistan on earthquake rescue operations there, Jonathan Serrie reported on the "bird flu," and Cavuto interviewed the CEO of Pilgrim's Pride, a producer of chicken products.

After the Pilgrim's Pride segment (and after the fear was properly stoked), Fox ran a clip of Randy Travis saying: "Things like this happen because people have turned so far away from what the Bible has taught us to do as a nation."

(Comment: Since when does the Bible mention the United States, much less tell it what "to do as a nation"?)

Cavuto proceeded to introduce his three roundtable guests with: "Remember when Randy Travis was here, he was saying, look, maybe this is God acting here, with all these disasters, so a question we thought was timely: Could all these natural disasters be a message from God? That is again what Randy Travis was saying on this show just a couple weeks ago. Add'em up -- new worries about a bird flu pandemic, mudslides, and all these earthquakes, a hurricane season that just doesn't seem to quit. So, what's going on in this world and is it a message from above?"

All three guests - David Johnson, a "PR Consultant," William Ruddiman, a "Climate Scientist," and William Donohue of the "Catholic League" - disagreed. At one point, Donohue said he thinks this kind of speculation is "dangerous," because it gives people the impression that God is "into payback." He wondered why "He chose these people who are non-white? What is God? A racist?"

Appearing to enjoy playing James Dobson, Cavuto interrupted: "But William, to be fair, it's more than just discriminating against them, right? I mean, if you buy the argument from Randy Travis and others who see something powerful overseeing all this, then maybe there is something to all this because indiscriminately it's hitting poor people in Malaysia, and Indonesia, it's hitting innocents in Pakistan and beyond. The floods in the northeast certainly have cut across a largely white population."

Comment: Randy Travis may have said that we're being punished because we've "turned so far away from what the Bible has taught us," but Fox News chose to pick that statement out and turn it into a segment, with its supposedly neutral anchor advocating for the religious right. There was a time, in my lifetime, when this would have been an outrage. Religion, one kind of religion, is creeping - no, blasting - into places it doesn't belong. When we see segments like this on programs that claim to be "news" programs, we are well on our way down a very slippery slope.

By the way, I still wonder about that "top religious expert" Cavuto referred to in his opening. Since none of the panelists agreed that the recent disasters are "a higher warning," the "top religious expert" could only be Randy Travis or Cavuto himself.

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