MSNBC's Bashir Subjects Conservative Black Theologian to Hostile Interview on Contraceptive Mandate

MSNBC's Martin Bashir has been off for a few days, but he was back in the studio and in fighting form today, eager to push the network's leftist talking points on the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate that would force religious institutions to provide contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans.

Bashir opened up an interview segment with Baptist theologian Craig Mitchell entitled "Full of Grace?" by furthering a misleading liberal talking point about a February 16 hearing before the House Committee on Government Reform, which featured opponents of the mandate affiliated with various religious institutions:

Nancy Pelosi is promising to uphold a woman's right to testify. Yes, the House Minority Leader plans to hold a rebuttal hearing to last week's show trial about the White House compromise on birth control. A hearing that featured no women whatsoever during the first three hours of testimony. Conservatives say they didn't need to be there because their focus was less about reproductive rights and much more about freedom of conscience.

You'll notice that Bashir was careful to not erroneously say women did not testify at all during the Feb. 16 hearing, only that they were not in the first few hours of testimony. The women who did testify during the hearing's second panel, Dr. Allison Dabbs Garrett and Laura Champion, M.D., represented Oklahoma Christian University and Calvin College, respectively, and they slammed the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate as an affront to religious liberty and conscience. Reported Brian McVicar of last Thursday:

“Abortion causing drugs are not prescribed, nor are they covered in our health care plan,” Champion told the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Oversight & Government Reform on Thursday.

“These agents are profoundly inconsistent with the belief system of our college and our religion. Requiring coverage of abortion drugs is in direct contradiction to the spiritual and behavioral standards that Calvin College expects of ourselves and our students,” according to prepared remarks Champion sent

But rather than quoting Garrett or Champion, you'll notice Bashir laced the introduction to his segment with leftist talking points. The hearing was a "show trial" that was not concerned with "reproductive rights" and was anti-woman (despite featuring two successful, professional women of conservative religious conviction).

But of course, Bashir was only getting started. After airing a clip of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Dr. Craig Mitchell, Bashir set out on a hostile interview with the African-American theologian.

What follows are Bashir's questions to Mitchell, where it's clear that the MSNBC host was patently uninterested in the policy implications of the contraception mandate but rather to marginalize Mitchell and recite a bill of indictment against President Obama's conservative critics, all on unrelated matters to the policy question at hand in the contraceptive mandate (emphases mine):

  • Upon reflection, sir, do you not think now that it might have been more sensible, even reasonable, for last week's main panel to have not been so one-sided and without a single woman?
  • [After Mitchell said that was a matter for Rep. Issa, who chaired the hearing to comment on] I do understand that, sir, but I'm asking you personally. You were a participant. Upon reflection, do you not think it might have been more sensible to have women there for that first panel?
  • [After Mitchell said that it wouldn't have hurted to do so] Thank you, because, many women feel that they're owed an apology for a panel that took place which dealt with their reproductive rights. Do you feel that perhaps, for example, that Georgetown University student who went there to testify about a friend, that she deserves an apology for not being allowed to speak?
  • Well, you willingly took part in that congressional hearing, so it's all very well criticizing the political process, [but] you took part in it. You say this debate is about religious liberty, but the president's opponents seem to think that it's also an opportunity for them to attack him about his own personal faith. May I ask you sir, as a learned professor of theology yourself, what is your reaction to the endless attempts to imply that the President of the United States is somehow sub-Christian, not a Christian?
  • I'm interested to know, which other president you can remember who's been smeared in the way President Obama has, where people have questioned his place of birth, questioned his identity, suggested that he's a Muslim and a practicing one as such. Can you tell me another president in history who has suffered that kind of barrage of attacks?
  • So, sorry, sir, but you just said that this is nothing new, and there are other presidents in the past who have been subjected to this.
  • But, I went on to explain what that means, and what that means as far as this president's concerned is everything from where he was born to whether he's a Muslim, that relates to whether he's a Christian. Can you tell me which other president in history, I'm offering you the opportunity, sir, which other president in history has been subjected to this kind of barrage?
  • Do you believe he's a Christian? Sir, do you believe he's a Christian?
  • [After Mitchell said he takes the president at his word] But you know sir, that kind of response is damning someone with faint praise. This president has repeatedly said, in everything that he's written, you've read his books, I've read his books, in every public meeting where he's been asked, he has made a very clear statement that he is a committed Christian. He appears to be conversant with the Scriptures, Old Testament and New Testament. Do you believe that he is a Christian? I'm not asking you if you take him at his word, I'm asking you, do you believe that he's a Christian?
  • [After Mitchell answered, "I don't know if he's a Christian or not."] You really don't know?
  • [Mitchell replied, "I don't. I've never met the man..."] No, it doesn't, but sir.... Indeed, because we know that "by their fruits you will know them."  That is also a text from Scripture, so, given the fruits of this man's life, if you won't take what he says, and if you look at his life, does his life not speak to the fact that he's a committed Christian? Is he an adulterer in the way that Newt Gingrich is? Is he a hypocrite about giving to charity in the way that Rick Santorum is? Or is this president a Christian?
  • That's sufficient, so now you're saying that you do accept that he's a Christian, am I right to understand you? Is that what you mean?
  • Do you understand, sir, why, I'm asking you these questions? Because, this president appears to be fair game on issues that nobody else appears to be fair game on? We've seen disrespect for this president in ways that we've never seen before. Just recently the governor of Arizona pointing a finger in his face. Other people smearing him. Rick Santorum suggesting that what we have in the White House is a man akin to Hitler, where he describes the social circumstances of 1939 and compares them with now. That's why I'm asking you, that's why this is important sir. That's why you, as an academic, a learned academic, and a representative of the Baptist church and that denomination, have a certain power and influence. If you were to say with confidence, yes, this man is a Christian, it would be influential, and that's why I'm concerned to ask you these questions, but as you've repeatedly said, you simply take him at his word.
  • Dr. Craig Mitchell, thank you very much for joining us.

There you have it. No substantive exploration of the actual policy, just attack after attack on conservatives and a single-minded focus on defending President Obama's religious faith, all with a view of marginalizing Mitchell as a partisan hater, not as someone with a valid policy concern.

Classic fire and brimstone liberalism from Bashir.

Birth Control Abortion Sexuality Christianity Anti-Religious Bias Religion Religious Right Culture/Society 2012 Presidential Campaigns & Elections Martin Bashir MSNBC Government & Press ObamaCare Obama Watch Craig Mitchell Martin Bashir