Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerry Falwell Dies And All Other News Ceases To Exist (For Tuesday's First Hour Anyway)

Edit: I didn't have time to blog Tuesday's second hour. There was a lot more on Falwell and then coverage of the Republican debate, which I didn't even know existed. I guess I'm off my game. Either that or the Fox News repellent I have is working really well. One thing I did find interesting was Anderson smacking down the blog commenter. Wednesday's review should be up sometime Thursday evening.

Hi guys. Taking the baton from Larry King, we're beginning tonight (and ending actually) with Jerry Falwell's death. When I first heard the news this afternoon I literally gasped out loud, but then I didn't know what to do. I didn't like the man at all, but I'm not really going to take part in any of the happy dances going on across the country right now either. It's not because I believe you shouldn't speak ill of the dead. Actually, I think that's stupid. The thing is, when the next progressive dies there will be horrible things said about him/her by the right wing and I know if I were to read those horrible things I would find those commenters disgusting. I'm not becoming what I hate, so there's that.

Our first piece is from Anderson and in it we learn that Falwell was 73 and died of heart failure. I probably don't need to note this, but to say he was a polarizing figure would be an understatement. He began his career by turning a little church into a huge church and then got into televangelizing. In 1979 he founded the Moral Majority, which brought politics and the Christian Right together, thus boosting the muscle of conservatives and ushering in Reagan. Falwell initially had his sights set on abortion and pornography, but later expanded to gay hating, which became so bizarre that he actually accused Tinky-Winky, the purple Teletubby, of being an advocate of the evil gay agenda. Perhaps Falwell's most controversial comments came when he blamed gays, feminists, and others for the attacks on 9-11. He later "apologized", but, uh, not really. In an interview towards the end of his life Falwell said, "In the Bible, there's a story of a guy named Hezekiah, who was dying. And he asked God for 15 additional years. And he got it. Well, I'm praying the same prayer, with an option to renew." Apparently God said no.

Moving on now to a Tom Foreman piece on how Falwell made conservative Christians matter. Basically his whole thing was to get them riled up enough to get out and act and vote. Oh, he also helped tear down Jimmy Carter. Nice. At the end of the piece Tom notes that Falwell scared the devil out of politicians because he showed the "raw political power of people of faith." More like the raw political power of conservative people of faith. Some of us faithful wanted nothing to do with him. Next up we have Ralph Reed, one of my other favorite people. It really bugs me he can just go be an analyst or expert or whatever for CNN and nobody has to know his background. There needs to be a graphic: "Screwed over Indian Tribes." Anyway, Ralph and Anderson talk about Falwell's impact on politics and Anderson wonders why he was so successful. Ralph points out that even without bringing in politics Falwell was incredibly successful just with his church, televangelizing, and Liberty University. Anderson asks if he wanted power. However, Ralph acts like he doesn't know what Anderson is talking about. Right.

Continuing with people I love, we're joined by athiest Christopher Hitchens. Anderson begins by asking if he thinks Falwell will go to heaven. Hitchens says no and finds it a pity there's not a hell for him to go to. Ouch. Anderson then asks what's up with the hating. "The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing, that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called reverend," says Hitchens. He then calls him "a toad" and notes he's "glad to see he skipped the rapture." Damn Hitchens, tell us how you really feel. After some more ranting Hitchens asks Anderson, "Do you get an idea now of what I mean to say? "Yes, no, I think -- I think you're making yourself very clear," says Anderson. Ha! You think? Then Hitchens goes off about Israel and Gaza and since I'm not up on what he's talking about I have no idea if he's telling the truth. That's the thing about Hitchens, he's got a thing about manipulating facts. Anderson then asks if he believes Falwell meant what he spoke. "Of course not. He woke up every morning, as I say, pinching his chubby little flanks and thinking, I have got away with it again," says Hitchens. Dude, you're not exactly in shape yourself. And Hitchens doesn't think Falwell has even read the Bible and doubts he could read any long book at all. Wow. "The whole life of Falwell shows this is an actual danger to democracy, to culture, to civilization. That's what my book is all about," says Hitchens and I completely crack up. Got that book plug in there, didn't you? Well, that was entertaining anyway, though I wouldn't say it did much for discourse as a whole. The "Raw Data" graphics are different tonight. Hmm.

On now to a Randi Kaye piece on Falwell's gay hating history. Let's see where should be begin? Perhaps with how he thought AIDS was God's punishment for homosexuals. Lovely. And all the straight people who get it? More specifically Falwell has gone after openly gay representative Barney Frank, calling him a "moral pervert", Ellen Degeneres, calling her "Ellen Degenerate", and who could forget his campaign against Tinky-Winky the evil gay Teletubby? Yeah, that was about the time some of the population began to realize Falwell done lost his marbles. I worked in a daycare during college at the height of the Teletubby craze and my class insisted on watching every day. The show made me want to poke my eyes out, but I assure you, no evil gay agenda was seen. Of course, what many people really found over the line was Falwell's comments about 9-11, blaming the attacks at least partly on gays and lesbians. I remember the next Sunday my pastor, who hardly ever talks about hot button issues like abortion and gay marriage, referenced Falwells' comments and said, "God had nothing to do with those towers coming down." One religion, yet such different beliefs. Anyway, perhaps because of the spotlight Falwell has given them, gays and lesbians are making real progress. Perhaps the joke is on the gay hater.

Next up we're joined by Reverend Mel White, ghostwriter for Falwell who became friends with him before coming out as gay. Anderson asks what went through his mind when he heard Falwell died. Mel was sad, but also wished he'd gotten to hear him apologize to gays. Anderson wonders if Falwell hated gays. Mel thinks he was actually sincere in that he thought homosexuality was a threat to the nation. That just boggles my mind. This country is sitting on enough nukes to blow the world up probably a thousand times over and gay people are the threat? What about global warming? What about poverty? What about our failing schools? What about the brain drain? Seriously, I need someone to explain this to me.

Anderson then notes that Falwell would say his words weren't hurting gays and lesbians, but Mel said it wasn't true. Mel then tells us, "I have buried so many young gay people who have killed themselves from Christian families who have been influenced directly and indirectly by this rhetoric. And I have buried a lot of young gays who have been bashed to death by gay people -- by anti-gay people who quote these guys, who quote the Scriptures, to give them a reason, an excuse for killing us." Words matter. Anderson then brings up a story where Mel was riding with Falwell and there were protesters. Mel tells us that Falwell said he loved the gay protesters because of the attention they brought him. He then recounts how he made gays the scapegoat and got people to send him money, yet he insists Falwell was sincere in his beliefs. Now I don't know what to think, but I guess it really doesn't matter. The damage is done whether he meant it or not.

Erica joins us with the headlines and a story about Paris Hilton. Anderson for some reason has taken a vow not to mention her name (Paris, not Erica). And just what are you going to do if she robs a bank or something and you have to cover her like she's freakin Anna Nicole Smith? Didn't think about that, did you? I think you've screwed yourself, Mr. Cooper. Erica then brings us a little segment that kind of comes out of nowhere called "What Were They Thinking?" and it's fairly hilarious. This guy and his wife ate some pot brownies and he called 9-11. Hilarity ensued. The guy insists they're dying and then asks the score of the Red Wings game. Bwah! Anderson says the operator should have said, "Sir, you're stoned!" Ha! Well, now that operator has a story to tell, doesn't she? I never had to deal with a stoner on a job, but when I worked retail we got some drunks and crackheads. They, BTW, are not fun. Erica then takes the opportunity to pimp her own show out with no help from Anderson. Hey, she helped with your book. And why the HLN pimping all of the sudden? I love you Erica, but my news viewing is all booked up.

Moving on to an Anderson piece on Jim and Tammy Fayer Baker and their scandal with Falwell. Okay, so they were televangelists who founded Praise the Lord Club (PTL), which happened to make a lot of money. But then it all came a-tumbling down when it was found that Jim was using PTL funds to keep the church secretary quiet about their sexual encounter. Oooh, scandal! So amidst all that the Bakers handed PTL over to Falwell, but then they wanted it back and Falwell said no. Eventually Falwell resigned and PTL filed for bankrupcy. Tammy Faye has been trying to forgive and next we get to hear her crying about it on Larry King. Sort of on topic, but did you know the Baker's son has a reality show on the Sundance Channel called "One Punk Under God"? He's like this tattoo wearing, gay marriage supporting, minister. Wild, huh?

Finally tonight we're joined by Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham. Anderson asks for his best memory of Falwell. Franklin tells us that Falwell was actually a joker and a lot of fun. Yeah, if you believe as he did. He also tells us that all those critics saying he hated gay people are way off base. He loved him the gay people! Loved them so much he thought God was punishing them with AIDS and terrorist attacks apparently. "And he wanted to warn the gay people that God is going to judge sin one day, but God is willing to forgive if we're willing to repent of our sins and receive Jesus Christ into our hearts by faith. God would forgive us. But we have to turn from our sins. And he wanted to warn people," says Franklin. So see gay people, all you have to do is repent a part of yourself that you can't change and you're good to go. No sir, Falwell was not a gay hater. The Shot tonight is Falwell going down a waterslide in a suit.

Hey, you know how I've said that 360 often goes too far with a story? Yeah, this was one of those times. To be fair, it may have been all of CNN because I didn't watch any other shows (I don't count Larry King as news). Obviously it deserved to be covered, but the whole first hour and half of the second? C'mon! And man, I was so looking forward to that Jeff Koinange special. Apparently they're going to air it on Friday now, but I'm guessing not as many people watch on Friday nights. The lack of bees got bumped too. Anyway, a lot of the coverage could have been condensed to make room for other stuff. C-

2 Comments:

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10:55 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

I found the interview with Mel White the most interesting. He talks about his past with Falwell in the movie God and Gays (www.godandgaysthemovie.com) and now with Falwell's death, makes his comments in the movie that much more interesting and powerful.

2:10 PM  

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