From PBS, predictable softballs for the Rev. Wright
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.