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Fox Argues in Favor of Pat Robertson's Ariel Sharon Remark (and Loses)

Reported by Melanie - January 6, 2006

Shortly after Your World w/Neil Cavuto began today (January 6, 2006), Fox opened a segment with a video clip of the remarks Pat Robertson made yesterday during which he implied that Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke as punishment from God due to his policy of "dividing God's land." Media Matters has the full clip which, in my opinion, is at its strongest and most vicious at the end. Fox, surprise, surprise, aired the milder, middle portion:

God has enmity against those who quote divide my land. God considers this land to be his. If you read the Bible, he says this is my land and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he's going to carve it up and give it away, God says no, this is mine.

Then, with a graphic, "Divine Punishment" over his shoulder, substitute host Stuart Varney introduced Father Jonathan Morris, a "Fox News Contributor": "Is Ariel Sharon's illness divine punishment for the Gaza pullout? That's what televangelist Pat Robertson just suggested on his show, the 700 Club. Last summer Sharon ordered Israelis out of the Gaza Strip to further a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Well, Father Jonathan Morris is live with us now. He's a Catholic priest joining us from Rome. Father, there's an expression which I'm sure you've heard, which is, God is working his purpose out. So, does God order such a thing as a stroke in a leading politician, a world figure?"

Shaking his head and looking disgusted and flabbergasted, Morris said, "It hurts my soul to hear those type of words coming from Pat Robertson. You know, he said a lot of beautiful things in his day. He said a lot of holy things. This is not one of them. I'm hoping he comes out very soon" and says, "I'm sorry." Sharon "is a man who's on his death bed." We "need to be with him, not just because he's Jewish, not because he's a prime minister, but because I'm a human being and he's a human being and I'm with him at this moment." We can't say God makes things happen. He "permits things to happen." Sharon "was 77 years old. He was overweight, we know that. He was sick. I think that's why he had a stroke."

Varney: "Pat Robertson referred to the Book of Joel in the Old Testament implying that there is such an area as God's land. Do Christians believe there is land that God claims as his own?"

Morris: "That's not, in my opinion, what the Book of Joel is speaking about. So, I think we have to be very careful not to be reading the scriptures from a fundamentalist point of view and then using that fundamentalist point of view in order to make very political statements."

Varney looked bewildered and dumbfounded as he ended what was a very short segment. (My gut feeling is that Fox cut it short. It lasted only 2 minutes, 6 seconds, not including the video clip of Robertson.)

Comment: It is so like Fox to take Robertson's position, and it's so like Fox not to air the threat Robertson made at the end of his remark. Fox has been very supportive of Robertson (one of the leaders of Bush's "base" after all) during the past year when he has repeatedly stuck his foot in it and started to sound as vicious and unreasonable as "the people who want to kill us." On September 17, 2005, Neil Cavuto embraced Robertson by reiterating Robertson's August 22, 2005 call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. On October 22, 2005, Cavuto expanded on Robertson's assassination remark, wondering whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad might be better off dead too. Well, at any rate, thanks to Father Jonathan Morris for bringing a few seconds of sanity to Fox News.

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