Online, CBS and FOX used an AP report about a Beliefnet.com interview with John Edwards, in which the Democratic Presidential candidate discussed some of his religious views. Since both articles drew from the AP’s reporting, both similarly fail to make significant connections with Edwards’ comments and his personal life. Edwards said that Jesus would be disappointed with the selfishness of Americans:
“I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs," Edwards told the site. "I think he would be appalled, actually."
The articles do not challenge Edwards’ assertions that the US is “ignoring the plight” of the needy while focusing on our “selfish short-term needs,” nor do any of the articles mention the truth about America’s generosity. The US gives more than any other country in the world in both foreign aid and private charitable donations; that doesn’t sound very selfish to me. In 2006, America gave more than $260 billion in private and corporate funds in 2005--an increase of 6%. In 2006, Warren Buffet announced that he was donating $31 billion to the Gates Foundation.
If Edwards is concerned about American selfishness and Christ's opinion of the way Americans supposedly ignore the needy, shouldn’t the articles have mentioned Edwards’ own recent “selfish” indulgence--his lavish North Carolina country estate? The house, with a projected cost of $6 million, sits on 108 acres in a secluded section of Orange County, NC and has 28,000 square feet, five bedrooms, six and a half baths, a covered walkway connecting to an addition known with its own living quarters, as well as a racquetball court, an indoor pool, an indoor basketball court and a small stage. Nearby, Edwards is clearing space for a soccer field. What, no private Starbucks cafe, gift-wrapping room or go-cart track? I guess Edwards missed those episodes of MTV Cribs. Maybe Edwards was talking about himself; I’m sure that hungry Ugandan children, who were displaced by flooding, might think that a house with six and a half bathrooms and an indoor basketball court is a little “selfish.”
Edwards was interviewed by former White House staffer, David Kuo, and the articles strayed from the topic to include unnecesary information that just happened to imply that the Bush White House is hostile to religious conservatives:
Edwards was interviewed by David Kuo, a conservative Christian who served as deputy director of President Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Iniatives until 2003. Kuo wrote a book, "Tempting Faith, An Inside Story of Political Seduction," that said Bush aides privately called conservative Christians "nuts," "ridiculous" and "goofy."
He also discussed the recent controversey over his chief bloggers, Amanda Marcott and Melissa McEwan and their previous online comments. Edwards downplayed the problems in the article:
Edwards told Kuo he stood by a decision to keep two bloggers on his staff despite their provocative writings criticizing the Catholic Church. Edwards said he also found the writing offensive, but "decided to forgive them and stand by them, knowing there would be potential political consequences for that."
The bloggers later quit, saying they didn't want to be a liability to the campaign.
Calling the bloggers’ writings “provocative” is quite an understatement. The level of disdain the article indicates that the White House aides had toward religious conservatives in no way approaches the level of vitriol and blinding hatred that Edwards’ bloggers seem to have toward Christian conservatives, especially Catholics. It is a glaring omission to not compare Edwards’ bloggers’ graphically offensive statements about Christians, the religious right and others. Before accepting the offer by Edwards, Marcott blogged at hard-left site, Pandagon, where she excused Cynthia McKinney's alleged violence against a police officer, indicating that women have the right to assault cops, simply because of “male dominance and white supremacy.” That is one of the more polite posts. If it was necessary for the articles to mention Kuo’s assertions, which were unfriendly to the Bush White House and unrelated to the topic of these articles, then wouldn't it be logical to include the comments from Edwards' bloggers, who treated the same people with even more disdain, calling them Bush's "right-wing Christofacist base?" They also ridiculed people for their beliefs and specifically targeted them just for their religion and background. The bloggers even called that same group of people that Kuo described White House aides mocking, even nastier names like Bush's "wingnut Christofacist base." Surely that kind of religious animosity is worth one small paragraph in glowing article talking about Edwards' "roaring" faith."
The AP does not address any of these issues involving possible conflict between Edwards’ statements, the carefully constructed public image and his behavior. Instead, they just write a rah-rah piece promoting his religion, while getting in subtle implications that Democrats care more about the needy and that Bush scorns religious conservatives. In addition to the pro-Edwards fluff, the articles let a Presidential candidate who runs on a blue-collar theme, often repeating his claims of a working-man past, label Americans “selfish,” without mentioning his opulent house and high-flying lifestyle. It is hard to tell whether this is just lazy and shoddy journalism, evidence of the media trying to influence political opinion or something else altogether.