Media's Always Seen Robertson As A Born-Again Freak Show

The contretemps, brouhaha, and (ten dollars please) rodomontades over Pat Robertson are only the latest proof that the very secular media see Robertson as a Born-Again Freak Show. And the latest outburst -- not prompted or prodded by a talk-show opponent, but calmly scripted -- doesn't help. The contrast between Love Thy Neighbor and Kill The Venezuelan Tyrant does cause a bit of whiplash.

But the media's complete overreaction yesterday fulfills a long-standing pattern. Their habit of dragging out a treasure chest of quotes that make them giggle (as CNN did yesterday) is a very old habit. Now compare that to Jesse Jackson, who also has a treasure-chest full of quotes that conservatives think show him to be a complete loon. When's the last time CNN anchors have chortled over Jesse Jackson quotes from 1992?

When Robertson and Jackson ran for President in 1988, Brent Baker and Marc Ryan found in a MediaWatch study:

"From his embrace of Yasir Arafat and communist dictators like Fidel Castro, to his desire for a unilateral U.S. nuclear freeze, Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson holds radical views that place him well to the left of liberal candidates like Michael Dukakis. But a MediaWatch Study has determined the evening newscasts of the four networks rarely reported Jackson's extremist positions. When it came to Republican Pat Robertson, however, the same TV reporters considered many of his beliefs "controversial" enough to report...

Since Pat Robertson's Republican opponents refrained from criticizing his beliefs, just as Jackson's Democratic opponents did until the very end of March, you might think the media would have given them equal scrutiny. But MediaWatch discovered just the opposite. In 13 stories that appeared on Robertson, ten (77 percent) negatively portrayed past Robertson statements that network reporters considered controversial."

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