The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

6 January 2006

This is no time to stand Pat

It's a rhetorical question, says Andrea, but it's a question just the same:

Why do people still pay any attention to what Pat Robertson says?

The answer, of course, is that they don't; the massive expansion of Christian media in recent years, largely under the national radar, has relegated him to the status of one voice among many, and not the loudest or clearest voice either. The reason he gets play in Big Media is twofold:

  • They know very few individuals in that particular marketplace, and Robertson has been around long enough to make a name for himself;
  • They naturally gravitate toward a spokesman who happily regurgitates their most blatant stereotypes.

For that segment of society who considers religion — well, this religion, anyway — an oddity committed by and for odd people, Pat Robertson is their worst fear personified; it would never occur to them that he's basically just a Bizarro World transmogrification of Al Sharpton.

And no, the right wing doesn't embrace him either: Robertson was one of the original prototypes for the term "idiotarian". If Pat Robertson did not exist, it would not have been necessary to invent him, but the temptation to do so would probably have proven irresistible.

Posted at 8:06 AM to Your 15 Minutes Are Up

People pay attention to Pat Robertson because it's estimated (by him) that 1,000,000 people who watch The 700 Club daily. His personal wealth, largely built on donations from those people who believed they were funding "God's Work," made possible his position as:

  • Founder and president of Regent University
  • Founder and president of the extremely active and litigious American Center for Law and Justice, explicitly named to seem like "ACLU" and founded solely to sue people into forcing state bodies to mandate Christian prayers and teachings
  • Founder and past president of the Christian Coalition (remember them?)
  • Founder and president of Operation Blessing, a charity that is alleged to have used its airplanes to further Robertson's private diamond-mining concerns, and of having donated much of its charitable funds to Robertson's TV operation
  • Confidant of President George W. Bush

Any of these would be enough to get an outrageous remark of Robertson's some airplay.

So, let me see if I have the current right-wing definitions correct:

Former Presidential candidate seen by 1,000,000 people every day who funds several multi-million-dollar conservative activist groups and schools: marginal figure to whom no one should pay attention.

Obscure ethnic studies professor at Colorado who publishes academic books and writes an essay that offends Bill O'Reilly: menace to society who must be attacked on national TV professoinally, personally, and politically, and held up as an example of what all "liberals" believe.

Just so we're clear on the standard of "influential."

Posted by: Matt at 12:09 PM on 6 January 2006

If you run the numbers, Robertson has about a third of the audience of Ryan Seacrest. The Christian Coalition, post-Ralph Reed, is mostly wandering in the wilderness; the fact that they won't shut up does not imply that anyone is listening.

As for Ward Churchill, a fool and a fraud and a few other F words, he's done a pretty good job of marginalizing himself; he doesn't need that insipid bloviator O'Reilly to help.

Oh, and the White House told Robertson to stuff it with that Sharon remark. Quite properly.

Posted by: CGHill at 12:58 PM on 6 January 2006

You know, twenty someodd years is hardly "15 minutes" being up. But, yeah, I do think that he's finally rendered himself useless.

Posted by: aldahlia at 1:48 PM on 6 January 2006

I've caught a glimpse of his show during the day and he has a son (scary spiting image) who is there to continue carrying the torch. Frightening! I think remarks like his should get him fined by the FCC because he is just as mean as Howard Stern.

Posted by: ceres at 3:44 PM on 6 January 2006

If Seacrest said that God was punishing Ariel Sharon, I'm pretty sure the AP would have noted it. Yes, fewer people pay attention to Pat Robertson than used to, but the point is that plenty of people pay attention to him and believe he's right. That's why his remarks still get wide distribution, as opposed to, say, Gary Hart's, or Dan Quayle's.

Posted by: Matt at 7:16 PM on 6 January 2006

Man, love the paranoia. I also love the transformation of attention hog imitation professor and fake Native American Ward Churchill into a shy little ivory tower mouse being unfairly hounded by an eville Fox News blabber show host.

But yeah, I'm sure that George Bush, a Methodist, gets special signals sent directly from 700 Club to his brain that tell him what to do. The camps are almost finished!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:09 PM on 6 January 2006

Trust me, Matt -- O'Reilly was late to the story on Ward Churchill, and had nothing whatsoever to do with most of rightblogdom's disdain for the Heap Big Phony Injun.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:48 AM on 7 January 2006

Yet "rightblogdom" had a heap of disdain for this professor guy for all the alleged damage he was doing, but a presidential candidate and broadcaster who reaches over a million people per day is a lone voice in the wilderness to whom no one listens.

Uh-huh. That's almost as reasonable as Lonnie Latham thinking the Habana Inn's parking lot was full of policemen to pastor to.

If anything, as Digby shows here, Robertson's influence is growing among the faithful. That audience was up in 2005 over 2004, and with GOP politicians visiting Robertson's studio to get his blessing on air, there's no sign it's diminishing.

Posted by: Matt at 1:04 AM on 8 January 2006

That's called "sucking up for potential votes," a process that clearly any Democrat should be able to comprehend.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:28 AM on 8 January 2006

Yet "rightblogdom" had a heap of disdain for this professor guy for all the alleged damage he was doing...

No, the disdain was because Churchill is an abject idiot on the public payroll, calling the people who died on 9/11 "little Eichmanns" who deserved what they got.

Matt, stop digging before that hole gets any deeper.

Posted by: McGehee at 1:23 PM on 8 January 2006