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Fox & Friends “Fair and Balanced” Discussion Underscored By Unfair and Unbalanced Chyrons

Reported by Priscilla - December 29, 2008 -

This morning, on Fox&Friends, Brian Kilmeade discussed the issue of Rick Warren’s invitation to the inaugural with two men who took opposing sides of the issue. Former Clinton pollster, Bernard Whitman was critical of Warren while Pastor Robert Jeffries was not. While the interchange appeared to meet the criteria of “fair and balanced,” the chyrons were not; but Fox does need to reinforce the propaganda and chyrons present not so subliminal messages – in this case designed to reinforce the negativity towards gays that is part of the religious right’s credo. The gospel is aided and abetted by Fox News, particularly Bill O’Reilly whose coverage of Prop 8 protests was anything but “fair and balanced.” The choice of Pastor Jeffries was interesting as this clergyman makes Rick Warren look normal!

The segment opened with a clip of Obama Senior Strategist David Axelrod’s defense, on yesterday’s “Meet the Pres,” of the choice of Rick Warren to do the inaugural invocation. Kilmeade didn’t “understand what the problem is.” (Comment: Has Brian been living under a rock for the last couple weeks?) Jeffries said that Warren is no “hate monger” but is “simply reflecting what many millions of Christians believe about marriage and sex" which is that "it should be reserved for one man and one women in marriage.” He also worked in a Fox meme when he said that the protest over Warren “proves what a lot of us feel about liberals – that they’re all for inclusivness except when it’s someone who doesn’t agree with them." (Comment: there has been no liberal criticism of Obama’s right of center cabinet picks – but hey, if you’re a right wing “pastor,” who needs facts!) The chyron read, “President Elect choses Rick Warren, are gays acting intolerant towards this?” Whitman stated that he was not questioning Warren’s religious beliefs; but that it is a “matter of civil rights.” He said that what Warren preaches leads to “intolerance, hate, and sometimes violence.” He noted the offensiveness of Warren’t comparisons of gays to pedophiles and child abusers. Jeffries again defended Warren. While the second chyron “Inauguration Invite, gay rights outrage by choice” was legit, the next one was getting back into the propaganda zone – “President Elect choses Rick Warren, are gays acting intolerant towards Rick Warren” – as it reinforced the first chyron. (Comment: A Fox chyron question is really a statement of fact.) Jeffries then talked about how what Rick Warren says is what Jesus said in Matthew 19 about marriage being between a man and a woman. (Comment: In Matthew 19, Jesus talked about divorce, allowed only for cases of adultery, being a man’s decision. Same sex marriage wasn’t the topic – but then, I’m not a bible scholar!) Jeffries added that God designed sex and marriage and that anything other than one man/one woman was a deviation from God’s plan. (Comment: So then the Old Testament dudes were deviants. Who knew!)

Comment: On the surface, a fair and balanced discussion. On the chyrons, not so much. And BTW, Pastor Jeffries is “out there.” On the billboard, outside his Texas church, he posted this gem: “Matthew 19. Why being gay is not OK.” He “said Mormon Mitt Romney was a member of a "cult" and who, in September, said that "Christians are uniquely favored by God, [while] Mormons, Hindus and Muslims worship a false god." And in the 1990s, he said that homosexuality causes "the deaths of tens of thousands every year through AIDS." When he was a pastor in Kansas, he was upset that the local library carried “Heather has two mommies” and “Daddy’s roommate.” So yeah, he’s reallllly tolerant! But here’s the question – how can Fox News talk about intolerance when they tolerate Bill O’Reilly’s homophobia and Sean Hannity’s racism and anti-Semiticism? The whole “war on Christmas” crap is all about intolerance of those who are different. As Bernard Whitman said, during the discussion, it’s a matter of “civil rights” - something that doesn’t seem to be a concern for Fox News and the religious right!