Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 06/24/22 I interrupt my blogging break (I’ll be back Monday, July 21) for this comment on today’s historic Supreme Court abortion decision. For what it’s worth, I think it’s the right decision. The question now is where do we go from here. Below is […]
Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 03/28/22
Centerpoint (Monday-Friday @ 7:30 PM ET) launches tonight on TBN. The new half-hour current events news and commentary program will cover the headlines of the day from a Christian perspective. The special 90-minute premiere edition focuses on the Ukrainian crisis. Fox News veteran Doug McKelway, who anchors Centerpoint with TBN host Blynda Lane, spoke with me about what he hopes the series achieves.
JWK: How will Centerpoint differ from other news programs?
Doug McKelway: Well, we’re not gonna try to copy news programs or cable news fare. I think we’re just going to be very, very selective in stories and try to focus on things that really matter to our audience…As you are well aware news in this day and age is difficult to ferret out in the sense that virtually everybody in the digital age is their own reporter. As a result of that, misinformation (or) active disinformation perpetrated either by special interests, by political opposition or even foreign governments is profuse in that it’s difficult to separate the truth from fiction. We’re gonna try to separate some key stories on a daily basis (and) focus on those, dive deep on them (and) elucidate our viewers with guests who have great insight and can look beyond the headlines and try to tell people what they mean for them in terms of their lives and what the consequences are for them in their every day lives.
JWK: I saw you on Mike Huckabee’s show where you spoke about your concerns over disinformation – but you also spoke about your concerns over censorship in the Big Tech/Big Government age. How do you balance those competing concerns?
DM: That’s a great point…One of the guests I would love to have is Robert Epstein, a Harvard-trained researcher who has researched this kind of stuff. I saw (him on) Joe Rogan a couple of weeks ago. He’s got an organization which is devoted to researching censorship and banning and has found that when you factor in what some of these social media companies are doing to suppress thoughts they don’t like it can potentially swing elections.
Now, it’s not gonna swing an election in a heavily blue state or a heavily red state but in these key five or six swing states where the margins in elections are very, very thin just by what people type into their Google search – and Google is a major offender in this regard, along with Facebook – it can potentially eliminate neutral perspectives or advocacy perspectives…(and sway a person susceptible to being) guided by what Google thinks is appropriate thought.
DM: Exactly. That’s one of the most recent examples which is still alive and well right now. It’s obscene to me that The New York Times is finally coming out with this…but it appears to be a defensive mechanism on their part to alert their readers to the fact that indictments could be coming down the pike…and they’re, in some respects, trying to cover their rear ends. It’s simple journalistic malpractice.
I also said on the Huckabee show – and a firmly believe – that my ideas about all this sort of stuff come from in large part from my grandfather who is my journalistic hero. He started out as a copy boy after World War I at The Washington Evening Star newspaper and rose to become a reporter there (then) city editor, managing editor, editor-in-chief, executive editor (and) president of the Associated Press during the Cold War during the dangerous times of the McCarthy Era and all that.
I’ll just read a segment here – because I have it (here) – from a New York Times obituary when he died. It said “Mr. McKelway once summed up his own philosophy in a…lecture that he delivered in 1964 at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.” I’m paraphrasing here and adding my own (thoughts when I say) back when the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism was a real journalism school. (The article) goes on to quote him: “The concept of any form of a referee or a policeman sitting in judgment upon the performance of the press…is fundamentally opposed to the concept of press freedom.”
He’s obviously not alive today but I suspect if he were to see this world that we’re living in right now where these social media companies with very, very powerful influence and that align themselves very, very closely with the Democratic Party…he’d be beyond dismayed (with), you know, red lights flashing “WE’VE GO TO END THIS RIGHT NOW!” It’s not what the First Amendment is all about.
JWK: I agree. I think it’s one of the greatest threats facing our country right now. Now, Centerpoint straightforwardly promises to offer a Christian perspective on the news. In your view why is that important – and do think that’s not out there right now?
DM: Well, it is going to offer a Christian perspective but, as I told my bosses in my job interview, I’m not the ideal candidate to offer a Christian perspective. I told Matt Crouch who owns the company that I go to church primarily for weddings and funerals and I made more mistakes in adult life than anybody could make and still remain alive. So, I’m a flawed Christian broadcaster. I don’t consider myself a Christian broadcaster. I’m a broadcaster who happens to be Christian and not a very good one at that – but what I bring to it is years and years of experience. I’m gonna be sitting side by side with Christian broadcasters so I’ll hear their perspective loud and clear.
What I told Matt Crouch – and this is the key part here – is that I have absolute reverence for the United States Constitution which elucidates these fundamental rights from natural law and from God. “One nation under God” – little kids used to say it in the Pledge of Allegiance every day in school. They no longer do. Maybe there are some schools where they do. What that phrase means – “One nation under God” – is profound and it really delves into the concept of individual liberty as defined by God and put into practice by the United States Constitution. Even if the Founders did not live up to their ideals, we continue to be a work in progress. We continue to seek a more perfect union. It is absolutely fundamental, I believe in many respects, that that loss – the fact that people are not practicing faith and they don’t follow The 10 Commandments anymore – is a leading contributor to the decline of our culture and our society which is snowballing downhill in a rapid fashion.
JWK: What can people expect to see on Centerpoint?
DM: The show is gonna be guest-centric. We’re lining up a number of panelists and guests who can speak with great expertise on some of these issues and delve deep into them – some of these cultural issues that we’ve already been talking about, as well as the Ukraine War. We’ve got a lot of military experts (and) political experts who can examine the geopolitical situation with great credibility and credence…We’re not gonna be competing with cable news. We don’t want to do that. One example of that is we’re gonna let people talk for longer periods of time. If necessary, we’ll divide it up into two days worth of interviews and things of that sort if it’s really good.
Maybe it’s the consultants who run TV news or cable news these days (but) they seem to be catering to the shortened attention spans of Americans but, at the same time, Americans, I believe, and people across the world are longing for deeper, more meaningful information. One piece of evidence of that – and this is anecdotal but I see it repeated time and again everywhere I go – is my youngest son, for example, who’s 18 years old (and) does not watch TV. He doesn’t look at those big fifty-inch screens. Everything is devoted to his iPhone. Yet, he does not have a shortened attention span. He listens to the Joe Rogan podcast. He’ll listen to three hours of it. He listens to Ben Shapiro (and) finds him really interesting. This is sort of quietly happening across the country under the radar screen – that even young people that consultants say have shortened attention spans are thirsting for something of substance. I hope we can provide some of that. It’s hard to do in a half-hour but, you know, the interviews will run a bit longer than you’re used to seeing.
JWK: I think there’s a great desire for that. So, looking ahead toward the Midterms, what do you think are the big issues that you’ll be covering?
DM: It’s perhaps the most key Midterm election we’ve seen in a long time. I think with the Democrats holding total control over of the White House, Congress (and) longing for more Supreme Court picks, we need to have balance in this country. I think the Biden Administration and its allies in Congress have moved the country in a further left direction than it has ever moved before – way beyond anything FDR might have envisioned. So, his unpopularity at this point is an opportunity for Republicans, obviously, to retake the House and Senate and create that bulwark against this far-left agenda which, I think, will sink the American Ideal – the Constitution that we’ve been talking about – (by) sort of leaning more and more toward this world government idea.
The President said it just the other day…He (said) the words “the New World Order.” He backtracked on that but the words came out and God knows exactly what he meant by that but we don’t need a New World Order. We need a strong U.S. Constitution that people abide by. That document is absolutely ingenious and the fact that it can be infringed upon in any way (is disturbing). There’s a way to change it. It’s through the amendment process. But the fact that it can be changed in any way or disregarded or amended by some sort of world view or world constitution is antithetical to the American system. You look at the United Nations Security Council. Who are the members that have veto power? Russia. China. Really? Do we want them to be part of our world government? I don’t.
JWK: What I find disturbing is how certain words are used to absolutely cut off debate. Like they’ll blurt out “science” when talking about climate change as if there is absolute scientific consensus and to question anything about it is somehow anti-science. In reality, I think it’s the shutting down of questioning that is anti-science. I mean that’s what science is – questioning.
You find the same thing with words like “racism” where political issues are framed like do you agree or are you a racist? And then there’s the overuse of the adjective “false” such as with questions regarding the handling of ballots during the 2020 election. The media will matter-of-factly use phrases like “false claims” when they have no idea if they’re false or not. I’m not saying the election skeptics are necessarily right but, from a strictly journalistic perspective, you can say “controversial claims” if want but “false” is a judgment call that doesn’t belong in a straight news story – but it’s done over and over again. It just seems like there’s a deliberate use of words that is designed to shut down by the mainstream media.
DM: There absolutely is. This complicity between the mainstream media, the Federal Government and the Democratic Party is troubling on a scale that we’ve never before seen in this country.
Looking back, the whole Russian collusion story, which was just incessantly reported day in and day out over the entire span of the Trump presidency, has proved to be false. I truly believe it is the most damaging scandal in United States history but no one’s reporting it in the mainstream media. A few are. They occasionally make reference to it but not in the full-scale way that it should be examined.
We’re seeing that again with the story that you just mentioned, the Hunter Biden laptop. They tried to shut down debate on malfeasance in the 2020 election. We’re again seeing that resurrected with some big time questions about ballot harvesting in Georgia (and) ballot harvesting in Wisconsin. You’ve seen these reports (about) an investigation by a former member of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court who found that was all kinds of malfeasance in nursing homes – where people were (allegedly) getting nursing home patients to sign their ballots (for the) candidate (for whom they) wanted them to sign – stuffing those ballots with those votes. What is the scale of this? It could be potentially thousands. Whether they were enough to overturn an election, I don’t know – but when you combine that kind of stuff with the silencing of voices that Big Tech is doing – and Big Tech campaign contributions show they are aligned with the Democratic Party – this nexus of that sort of thing (along with) secretaries of state changing election law allegedly because of the Covid pandemic against state constitutions, all these things have not been fully examined. And those news organizations which are courageous enough to examine them are branded as heretical and loony right-wing organizations paid and funded by some oil baron or whatever it may be when, in fact, the left news organizations are every bit what the accusers on the left are accusing the right of being.
JWK: The wild card new element is how Big Tech can literally shut down people and news organizations they disagree with.
DM: The Covid pandemic is a perfect example of this, Twitter especially. If a scientist or a Phd at an esteemed school came forward to suggest that these lockdowns were not the answer – that what we needed to do was protect the vulnerable, i.e. those with comorbidities – the obese, people with diabetes, the elderly, people over a certain age – and let younger people for whom Covid 19 was no worse than an ordinary flu (go about their lives)…Twitter and Facebook posted all sorts of warnings of misinformation or whatever or sometimes outright banned people from expressing those views – but now we know they were right. They were absolutely right and the Faucis of the world were absolutely wrong.
JWK: In any event, all these sites need to do is say something like “Opinions expressed on this site are opinions.” They have no business declaring what the truth is and literally banning people from what what are essentially public squares. That takes things to a whole other level. Anyway, great talking with you. Is there anything you’d like to add as we wrap this up?
DM: No – except that we invite all viewers regardless of their religion or lack thereof. Come join us. We’re gonna have interesting shows with provocative viewpoints.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11