There’s a saying that goes “there are no atheists in foxholes.” Not even for lefty MSNBC hosts facing a global pandemic.
MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin surprised many of his network’s viewers when, during a live news broadcast on March 30, he asked Bishop T.D. Jakes to pray for the world as it entered the storm of the coronavirus pandemic. It was more surprising when, during an interview with “Pure Flix Podcast,” he revealed his request was “totally unscripted,” and that none of MSNBC Live’s producers knew it was coming.
On the podcast, Melvin described the moment with the Christian pastor as a spontaneous gesture, motivated by the thought that Americans needed spiritual healing amidst the natural disaster. “We got to the end of the segment … in that moment it felt like we could collectively use a little prayer.”
“And he was there and I was there, and without giving my producer or director a heads up, I asked him to bow and pray,” Melvin said of the makeshift media moment.
March 30 was about two weeks after social distancing measures were mandated by the federal government and churchgoers hadn’t been allowed to congregate for two or three weeks by this point. In the now-viral MSNBC clip, Melvin addressed the preacher “For folks who aren’t able to get to church yesterday, I’ve never actually done this on the air -- Can you lead us in prayer for 30 seconds?”
As prompted, Pastor Jakes offered a prayer of humility and supplication to the Father, recognizing that we as humans “are not competent in and of ourselves,” that we need His help, to get us through this “global calamity.” It certainly was an appeal antithetical to usual media punditry about how we should’ve done this, or if certain leaders had only done that then everything would be gravy.
In the podcast interview, Melvin said that his appeal to faith resonated with viewers, and the reaction was “very positive.” He observed that perhaps the worldwide pandemic might be bringing out a better side of humanity than we anticipated.
“We are living in the most unusual time of my life, where people … are being asked … to stay away from each other,” the host observed, adding, “But at the same time, I maintain there is this new connectedness that has emerged from this.”
Melvin then offered a nice kernel of faith-inspired wisdom, saying, “I don’t think as many people fully appreciated how much we need to interact with each other face-to-face -- that’s who we are as creatures of God.”
Huh, from MSNBC? Really? Perhaps the producers could make some more of these moments “scripted,” you know, for the millions of Americans who would rather rely on God in a crisis than cynical political commentary.