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The End of Biased Journalism

12/03/2004

"Those who think they won on 'moral values' may be in for a surprise." So goes the subhead on an essay in this week's Time Magazine. The writer goes on to assert that despite this year's election results, "evangelical leaders" cannot succeed in their effort to "retard" American culture. Even if we don't give in to gay marriage, the argument goes, our children will succumb to liberal indoctrination (especially through the entertainment industry) and embrace the enlightenment of gay sex.

But perhaps the most interesting tidbit of the article comes when the writer explains how liberal Democrats gasp, "Why do churchgoers hate us?"

In reality, average "red state" Americans do not hate Democrats, liberals, or homosexuals. That's why Hollywood movies still make money, television networks still have viewers, and juries still punish criminals guilty of hate crimes. So why would prominent members of the American left hold fast to this misconception of middle America?

Perhaps one reason: Dan Rather.

My life as an evangelist began the very week that Dan Rather came onto the national scene as he covered Hurricane Carla in September of 1961. I remember driving through torrential rains on my way to attend East Texas Baptist College while the then-unknown news reporter clung to a telephone pole, wiped rain from his face and shouted into the microphone in order to be heard over the fierce winds pounding Galveston Island.

Two decades later a production team from 60 Minutes followed me for weeks as I helped encourage evangelical Christians and those in favor of family values to become actively involved in the 1980 election. The CBS crew came into my home, my office, traveled with me on an airplane, interviewed me numerous times, and covered the watershed event known as the National Affairs Briefing. But when it came time to air the story, my comments were left on the cutting room floor. The producer was so livid that he told me what had happened. "Robison answers too well," Dan Rather had told him. The producer was then instructed to go out and get interviews with people who were more radical, intolerant and inarticulate.

This pattern of slanted journalism disguised as national news continued for years. That is why talk radio, alternate outlets such as Fox News, and, most recently, the internet have become so popular. And that is also why those living inside a liberal bubble view mainstream Americans as antiquated, bigoted idiots lacking the intelligence required to discern the truth and make rational decisions.

One of the tenants of my book The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope is that truth withstands debate. Conservatives do not fear dialogue. Christians are not afraid to openly and reasonably discuss any issue. But issues cannot be legitimately debated when the media refuse to allow intelligent, articulate representatives into the arena of ideas or purposely edits their comments to appease their bias. Dan Rather, and many others, have mastered this craft.

Every group has a few extremists and truly unbalanced thinkers. Pairing a well-spoken individual with a raving lunatic does not comprise a serious discussion of an issue. Truth can only withstand debate when truth is allowed a voice. Understanding can only come when both sides are allowed to speak.

The only way that the people of this country will ever find common ground, enabling us to truly find solutions to the difficult questions that we face, is to bring the best ideas to the table, express them clearly and completely, and allow the truth to emerge. Misrepresenting a side, focusing on fringe elements, or suppressing an idea may get good ratings, but it gets no good results.

So as Dan Rather takes his place in history, we should all hope that the era of biased journalism will follow his exit.

 



Author: James Robison

Word Count: 630

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, randy.robison at loi.org

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.