TV preacher Pat Robertson lashed out at his critics recently, asserting that watchdog organizations such as Americans United distort his words.
Speaking on his “700 Club” July 15, Robertson groused that employees of Americans United, People For the American Way and Media Matters watch his show every day and alert the media when he says extreme things.
“They have people assigned to monitor every word, and then to take those words, change them often, take connectives out of them, change the sense of it, and then feed it to the, a, willing agent in the Associated Press,” groused Robertson.
Americans United was quick to point out that Robertson was not telling the whole story. AU Assistant Director of Communications Rob Boston wrote on AU’s blog, “The Wall of Separation,” that an AU staff member does watch Robertson daily and that the organization does alert the media when Robertson says something particularly outrageous. But Boston noted that Robertson’s words are never changed.
“Sometimes when Robertson says something unusually intolerant or just plain off the wall, we prepare a transcript and alert the media,” Boston wrote. “The Religious Right is extreme, and the American people need to know that.”
Continued Boston, “What we don’t do is change anything. Our transcripts are word-for-word, straight from Pat’s big mouth. It would be foolish for Americans United to alter the transcripts in any way, since broadcasts of the ‘700 Club’ are online at the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Web site. Any reporter can check out what Robertson said right on the CBN site, so tinkering with them would be a sure way for AU to blow its credibility.
“More to the point,” he added, “we don’t have to change the transcripts. The stuff Robertson says is nutty enough on its own. His outbursts are frequently so wacky we couldn’t improve on them even if we wanted to.”
Boston, who in 1996 authored a book about Robertson titled The Most Dangerous Man in America? Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition, included a short list of some of Robertson’s most recent outbursts.
They include a prediction of “mass killing” on American soil in 2007, a 2005 warning that God will turn his back on Dover, Pa., for voting to remove creationist members from the school board, a 2005 appeal for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and a 2003 call for the dropping of a nuclear bomb on the U.S. State Department. Boston noted that Robertson has also attacked the popular “Harry Potter” children’s books for “bringing in heathen, pagan practices to the United States of America.”
On Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the horrific terrorist attacks that left nearly 3,000 dead, Robertson blamed it all on advocates of church-state separation, remarking, “We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God’s eye and said we’re going to legislate you out of the schools…. We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And, then we say, ‘Why does this happen?’ Well, why it’s happening is that God Almighty is lifting his protection from us.”
Boston concluded by observing, “As someone who has followed Robertson’s career for more than 20 years, I have some advice: If you don’t want to be seen as an extremist, Pat, then stop going on television and saying extreme things.”