Thug Radio

A few weeks ago in Jacksonville, Florida, the anchorman at a local television station named Lee Webb spoke before a Christian organization. His subject was how Christians can deal effectively with a media industry infected with anti-Christian bias. I'm speaking "on the condition that no one tell the media I'm here," Webb joked. "My brothers in the media probably would not appreciate my coming" to talk with you. Well, it turned out to be no joke. A reporter in the audience published Webb's comments on anti-Christian bias, and as a result he was temporarily suspended from the television station where he works. But within days, Webb's words proved to be prophetic. The Washington Post ran a front-page article exhibiting just the kind of bias Webb was talking about. The article described Christian political activists as "poor, uneducated, and easy to command." In fact, the whole article was laced with sarcastic comments describing Christian political action groups as the "Gospel grapevine," and referring to Christian phone networks as "dial-a-lobby." Immediately, the paper was deluged with phone calls protesting the slur. The author of the article, Michael Weisskopf, offered a lame apology, saying it was "an honest mistake." He had failed to catch the opinionated tone of the piece, he said, because in his view he was merely repeating notions that are "universally accepted." Well, perhaps in his world, the culture of the media elite, these put-downs of Christians are universally accepted. An explanation by the Washington Post's ombudsman revealed that several editors had read the piece-and not one had caught its derogatory tone. To them, its negative picture of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians was just common knowledge. And there's more. The same day that the Post article appeared, the New York Times ran a column by Anthony Lewis likewise criticizing Christian political activists. Theirs isn't "genuine" activism, Lewis implied; instead it is "orchestrated by the religious right and conservative extremists." He denounced Christian radio call-in programs as "Thug Radio." "Thug radio"-that's a good one. Makes you wonder what he'd say about BreakPoint. You see, media moguls posture self-righteously whenever they are accused of being anything but pristinely objective. Yet empirical studies, such as Lichter and Rothman's The Media Elite, consistently show that leading journalists tilt sharply to the left in their view of the world. This is not to say there's any actual conspiracy--just a weakening of journalistic standards of truth and objectivity. As Marvin Olasky shows in Prodigal Press, one of the consequences of loss of belief in God is the loss of belief in any objective truth. What really seems to irk mainstream journalists is that religious folks are finding ways to bypass them and share information directly, through faxes, phone messages, talk radio--yes, the "Gospel grapevine." Christians are not passively accepting the nightly news' version of truth; they're rejecting the media's self-assigned role as interpreters of the world. In fact, Christians are busy proving that we are not "uneducated and easy to command." We're independent and we think for ourselves. That's precisely what makes members of the media so nervous.


Chuck Colson


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