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Terry Mattingly makes the case – in terms of the Journalist’s Rolodex, at least

Still, you have to ask: Are journalists missing good stories and ignoring solid sources because they remain fixated on this fading evangelical alpha male? These days, it’s hard to find evidence of Robertson’s clout in the public square. His influence was nowhere to be seen in the months leading up to the 2004 election, although he tried to create news.

Back up another four years. During the media storm following the 2000 election, the Ethics & Public Policy Center held a forum about the role religious faith played in that election (click here to see a transcript). Michael Barone of Fox News, during a conversation about the faith-based stories that journalists missed during the campaign, made the most interesting point.

One of the overlooked stories, he said, was the behind-the-scenes effort by Bush campaign insiders to keep the old lions of the Religious Right out of the news. This could not have been easy, seeing as how Jerry Falwell, Robertson and others crave camera time. But someone cut them out, or convinced them to stand down. In their place, new faces emerged — such as Rick Warren and Kirbyjon Caldwell.

Someone bluntly said: "I wonder who managed to get Pat Robertson to shut up?" Right, I replied. That task would have required a miracle worker.

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