From PBS, pre­dictable soft­balls for the Rev. Wright

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - DEN­NIS PRAGER

When Air Amer­ica, the left-wing talk ra­dio net­work, be­gan, I pre­dicted that it would not suc­ceed. One of the main rea­sons I gave was that lib­er­als al­ready had their views ex­pressed in the main­stream news me­dia — the ma­jor net­works, PBS and NPR (Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio), and just about ev­ery ma­jor city news­pa­per. There­fore, the need lib­er­als have for lib­eral talk ra­dio is nowhere near the need con­ser­va­tives have for con­ser­va­tive talk ra­dio.

To its credit, The New York Times — through its pub­lic ed­i­tor — has ac­knowl­edged that the Times is lib­eral; and any­one in­tel­lec­tu­ally hon­est un­der­stands this is true re­gard­ing vir­tu­ally all of the news me­dia. But for those still need­ing proof, Bill Moy­ers sup­plied it on PBS this past week­end dur­ing his in­ter­view of one of the most rad­i­cally po­lar­iz­ing fig­ures in Amer­ica to­day, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Sen. Barack Obama’s men­tor and pas­tor for 20 years.

The Rev. Wright’s de­ci­sion to al­low him­self to be in­ter­viewed by Bill Moy­ers was, from his per­spec­tive, an ex­cel­lent one. It is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a less chal­leng­ing, more fawn­ing, in­ter­view. How bad was it? Given that one of the most egre­gious of the Rev. Wright’s state­ments was his charge that the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment de­vel­oped the AIDS virus and in­flicted it on black Amer­i­cans, one as­sumed that the first ma­jor re­porter to in­ter­view Wright since the com- ments were made pub­lic would ask him about it. Not Bill Moy­ers. Be­yond men­tion­ing in the open­ing in­tro­duc­tion, “Wright re­peat­ing the ca­nard heard of­ten in black com­mu­ni­ties that the U.S. gov­ern­ment spread HIV in those com­mu­ni­ties,” the sub­ject was never raised.

But Mr. Moy­ers did ask Wright tough ques­tions like th­ese:

“When did you hear the call to min­istry? How did it come?”

“What does the church ser­vice on Sun­day morn­ing mean in gen­eral to the black com­mu­nity?“

In­stead of chal­leng­ing Wright’s un-Chris­tian, anti-Amer­i­can and im­moral “God damn Amer­ica, God damn Amer­ica” state­ment, Mr. Moy­ers asked three ques­tions about it:

Here they are (I could not make up such puff­ball ques­tions):

1. “One of the most con­tro­ver­sial ser­mons that you preach is the ser­mon you preach that ended up be­ing that sound bite about God damn Amer­ica.”

The Rev. Wright’s re­sponse was to de­liver a 300-word in­dict­ment of Amer­ica for its vi­o­lence against the world.

And how then does Mr. Moy­ers re­spond? With an­other killer ques­tion:

2. “What did you mean when you said that?”

So the Rev. Wright then de­liv­ered an­other, 174-word, in­dict­ment of Amer­ica for its evils.

But in­stead of chal­leng­ing the Rev. Wright or de­fend­ing Amer­ica, Mr. Moy­ers’ third ques­tion was:

3. “Well, you can be al­most cru- ci­fied for say­ing what you’ve said here in this coun­try.“

Mr. Moy­ers changes the Rev. Wright’s “God damn Amer­ica” to “Poor Rev. Wright.”

And why not? It is soon clear that Mr. Moy­ers es­sen­tially agrees with the Rev. Wright about Amer­ica:

“What is your no­tion of why so many Amer­i­cans seem not to want to hear the full Monty — they don’t want to seem to ac­knowl­edge that a na­tion ca­pa­ble of great­ness is also ca­pa­ble of cru­elty?”

For the many Amer­i­cans who sus­pect that most Amer­i­cans on the left silently agree with nearly all of the Rev. Wright’s views of Amer­ica, Mr. Moy­ers pro­vided proof.

Nev­er­the­less, Mr. Moy­ers’ to­tal fail­ure to con­front the Amer­ica-hat­ing, race-pre­oc­cu­pied men­tor of a man who may be the next pres­i­dent of the United States does not mean the in­ter­view was worth­less. Any time the Rev. Wright speaks pub­licly, even with the most sym­pa­thetic of ques­tion­ers, we learn more about the two mo­ti­va­tors of his think­ing: race and con­tempt for Amer­ica.

Here is the Rev. Wright in his ser­mon the Sun­day af­ter 9-11 as re­played dur­ing the Moy­ers in­ter­view:

“Ter­ror­ism! We bombed Gre­nada and killed in­no­cent civil­ians, ba­bies, non-mil­i­tary per­son­nel. We bombed the black civil­ian com­mu­nity of Panama with stealth bombers and killed un­armed teenagers and tod­dlers, preg­nant moth­ers and hard­work- ing fa­thers. We bombed Gadafi’s home and killed his child. ‘Blessed are they who bash your chil­dren’s head against a rock!’ We bombed Iraq. We killed un­armed civil­ians try­ing to make a liv­ing. We bombed a plant in Su­dan to pay back for the at­tack on our em­bassy. Killed hun­dreds of hard­work­ing peo­ple; moth­ers and fa­thers who left home to go that day, not know­ing that they would never get back home. We bombed Hiroshima! We bombed Na­gasaki, and we nuked far more than the thou­sands in New York and the Pen­tagon, and we never bat­ted an eye! Kids play­ing in the play­ground, moth­ers pick­ing up chil­dren af­ter school, civil­ians — not sol­diers — peo­ple just try­ing to make it day by day. We have sup­ported state ter­ror­ism against the Pales­tini­ans and black South Africans, and now we are in­dig­nant? Be­cause the stuff we have done over­seas has now been brought back into our own front yards! Amer­ica’s chick­ens are com­ing home to roost! Vi­o­lence begets vi­o­lence. Ha­tred begets ha­tred and ter­ror­ism begets ter­ror­ism.”

To which Mr. Moy­ers of­fered an­other lac­er­at­ing re­sponse:

“You preached that ser­mon on the Sun­day af­ter 9-11, al­most seven years ago. When peo­ple saw the sound bites from it this year, they were up­set be­cause you seemed to be blam­ing Amer­ica. Did you some­how fail to com­mu­ni­cate?”

Fi­nally, as re­gards the Rev. Wright’s Africa-cen­tric form of Chris­tian­ity, this was the Rev. Wright’s ex­pla­na­tion to his young church mem­bers as shown dur­ing the PBS in­ter­view:

“We wanted our stained-glass win­dows to tell the story of the cen­tral­ity of Africans in the role of Chris­tian­ity from its in­cep­tion up un­til the present day. We play some in­ter­est­ing games ed­u­ca­tion­ally with the kids to help kids un­der­stand — ‘Can you name the seven con­ti­nents?’ As a kid, you learn that in school. All right, on what con­ti­nent did ev­ery­thing in the Bi­ble from Ge­n­e­sis to Malachi take place?”

And, of course, the Rev­erend and his church’s an­swer is: Africa.

Now, as it hap­pens, the Mid­dle East is not Africa. It is Asia Mi­nor, or South­west Asia, if one must have an iden­ti­fy­ing con­ti­nent. And Je­sus was not black, nor were the apos­tles. It’s all racial pride. And not true. Africa in the Bi­ble is over­whelm­ingly Egypt, which was not black and not a moral model.

In sum: PBS has done some won­der­ful pro­gram­ming. But when it comes to the news or any­thing con­tro­ver­sial, it is as po­lit­i­cally cor­rect and lib­eral as the rest of the news me­dia. As for Bill Moy­ers, had Mrs. Wright in­ter­viewed the Rev. Wright, the ques­tions and re­ac­tions could not have been less chal­leng­ing or even sup­port­ive. And as re­gards the Rev. Wright, the more he talks, the more one wor­ries about Barack Obama’s val­ues.

Den­nis Prager is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cataed colum­nist.

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