Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fred Clarkson: Mainstream Media Just Don't Get the Religious Right

I blogged a week ago about the insubstantial--indeed, shoddy--coverage of the recent Rick Perry Response rally by the mainstream media.  As I noted in that posting (and have noted repeatedly at Bilgrimage), the American mainstream media are exceedingly weak when it comes to covering religious issues in the accurate, informed, and critical way that such an important topic demands.  They frequently take their talking points about religious news from spokespersons close to corporatist-political power centers and the religious right.  And they are woefully ill-informed, in general, about religious matters and their significance in the political sphere.

As a continuation of that discussion, I highly recommend Fred Clarkson's superb statement about these matters at Talk to Action on Friday.  Fred notes that Jack Cafferty and Wolf Blitzer recently allowed as how they had not heard of Christian dominionism until they just read a Daily Beast article of Michelle Goldberg about this influential movement of the religious far-right.  As Fred notes, the lack of basic knowledge of movements like dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism exhibited by educated and influential mainstream media talking heads is baffling, when one considers the rich array of resources about these movements that have long been available--including his own 1997 book Eternal Hostility:  The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, Goldberg's 2006 Kingdom Coming:  The Rise of Christian Nationalism and the rich offering of thoughtful, well-researched articles available on a daily basis at the Religion Dispatches site.

You have to wonder why journalists reporting on religious issues keep ignoring these valuable resources, while giving a free pass, over and over again, to the religious far-right at events like the Perry show.  Or why a "Today" show reporter would--astonishingly!--ask the parents of a little boy babbling pulpit nonsense if he has a gift of preaching that manifests a calling, when he's so clearly seeing what a father he admires do, from his own pulpit.

I don't know what I find most disconcerting in this video clip: the way in which a mainstream media representative seeks to present a child's imitative nonsense-babbling as a sign of a vocation he's far too young to have, or the enrapt attention many of those hearing the nonsense give to it as if they're encountering signs and wonders.  We've truly become an astonishingly dumb culture, particularly when it comes to religious matters and the use of religion by right-wing political leaders.

And the mainstream media are a huge part of the dumbing-down problem.

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