CNN: Bring Back Crossfire!

 

Mainstream news channel ratings come out, and normally there isn't a distressing situation afterwards.  This time, however, CNN faces a 40 percent drop in viewership since 2009.  Pretty large huh?  Say what you want about mainstream media news outlets, this isn't what this diary is about.

CNN has been in the bottom of the big 3 for awhile now.  Fox News Channel has been the leader for quite some time, and we are constantly reminded of this by Mr. Bill O'Reilly and other prominent noise-makers on that network.  MSNBC normally takes the second highest spot on the podium, however the difference in viewership between number 1 and number 2 is quite significant.  And then there is CNN.  Since the departure of Lou Dobbs, CNN has lacked any significant program along the lines of advocacy journalism

The lack of non-objectivity seems to be hurting CNN significantly.  Politico has noticed this (and this is where I pulled the stats for this btw) and has outlined a few tactics for Ted Turner's cable news creation to increase viewship.  One of these that I took notice to was advising CNN to bring back crossfire.

James Carville, Geraldine Ferraro, Pat Buchanan, and of course Tucker Carlson and his ridiculous bow ties. If anyone remembers Crossfire, chances are it's because of a Mr. John Stewart.  The youtube sensation of John Stewart ripping apart Tucker Carlson on air marked seemingly the end of Crossfire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFQFB5YpDZE

Stewart had a point.  His claim of partisan-hackery was certainly an issue, but I personally found Crossfire to be entertaining nonetheless.  I think its important to have open debates live on air between pundits, but talking points consuming the show over real issues unfortunately plagued the show in its past.

In my opinion, there is no show (with the exception of Meet the Press and other sunday news shows) that really allows for open debate with a slew of different individuals on both sides of the political spectrum, at least in the 3 big mainstream outlets.  Keith Olbermann seems to never bring anyone on his show for a serious and intellectual debate, Rachel Maddow does but not very often.  Chris Matthews and Harball normally has a decent track record of open debate, but still lacks a lot of consistency in my opinion and viewership from more right-wing sources are less likely to watch MSNBC... because its MSNBC.

Fox, on the other hand, as well all know is obviously truly fair and balanced.  Its hard to properly emphasize sarcasm via typed words so bear with me.

Glenn Beck's biggest stride in bringing on bi-partisan debate was having the esteemed guest Eric Massa on to talk about snorkeling and fondling men.  Of course, this actually was a big stride for Beck.. sadly enough.  Bill O'Reilly can sometimes have a decent guest in which to "debate" but that normally involves O'Reilly yelling louder to prove a point, to the degree of nearly soiling himself.  And of course, there is Sean Hannity and his "Great American Panel."  You can guess who is on this "Great American Panel."  Normally the token Reagan worshipers to the equivalence of Liz Cheney's and Bill Kristol's. 

I love watching open and fair debate.  Not constructed partisan ploys done by the other "debate" shows.

If CNN could craft Crossfire to actually contain a Fair and Balanced debate show, yes thats making a mockery of fox news, then they could potentially increase viewership significantly.

At least, I know I would be watching it nightly. 

Christian Backlash Against Beck Continues

The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, founded by the pro-life Bush supporter Rev. Rich Cizik, was the first to respond when Glenn Beck claimed that churches that support social justice are Communist or Nazis. They asked for $5,000 to put together a web video responding to Beck. Today, they debuted that video. Their message? "Lighten up, Glenn!"

Tea Party's Health Care Opposition Turns Racist, Violent

I can respect conservatives who can respect liberals. I can work with conservatives who are willing to work with progressives. If your goal is to move America rather than your party forward, than I'd like to shake your hand and find a way to do it together. What I cannot respect are people who think it's painfully obvious that their beliefs are the one and only definition of "right" or of "American." I cannot abide for half a second those people who think anyone even half an inch different than they are unpatriotic, socialist, elitist, stupid, or undeserving.

And that is why I loathe Glenn Beck and the Tea Party movement. You think government is too big? Okay, I get that. You think the President is taking us down a bad path? I disagree, but whatever. You believe Congress is broken? Who doesn't. You think black people who dare to disagree with you are Soviet Kenyan n------s who gas Jews? Well in that case, you represent none of the best and all of the worst of American history, you racist, uninformed, self-righteous, cowardly, unpatriotic, anarchist halfwit toads. Roll Call reports:

Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) said tea party protesters opposed to the health care reform legislation yelled racial epithets at Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Lewis’ chief of staff earlier today. Carson said the taunts against Lewis came as the three men — all African-American — walked out of the Cannon House Office Building for votes this afternoon.

“They were shouting the N-word,” Carson said. “It was like a page out of a time machine.” Carson said Capitol Police surrounded the group and escorted them across the street to the Capitol.

And staffers and Members reported seeing Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) slurred for being a homosexual and a protester spitting on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), another African-American lawmaker.

Do these addle-brained huns really think they’re going to change anyone’s mind with racist name calling? Do you they honestly think that this tripe passes for factual discourse? As conservative Joe Scarborough tweets, "John Lewis is a friend, a great man and an American hero. Anyone attacking such a man with racial slurs has a dark heart and a grim soul." And "Also, the attacks against Barney Frank were hateful and outrageous. Barney and I usually disagreed in Congress but he loves his country."

Also, check out this picture, H/T Think Progress:

Yeah, killing democratically elected leaders. That's real patriotic. You're just a regular John Wilkes Booth there, aren't ya.

To lighten things up, here’s Jon Stewart’s latest BRILLIANT style parody takedown of Glenn Beck. "It's not that I'm saying, I'm not saying that believing there should be a minimum standard for how much lead there can be in our paint might lead to a government right to sterilize and kill Jews, I'm not saying that that might be the case! I'm saying that's the case."

Beck Names Next Target, Compares Self To God

On his radio show earlier this week, Glenn Beck made it clear that his war on Christianity will continue for the foreseeable future. He has plans to target not another administration official, but prominent evangelical Jim Wallis.

He’s come up with this great system uh, of being able to have a religion just really run by the government. Or his religion running the government, I’m not sure which way it works, but he’s really for this big government kind of thing to even out all the things that Jesus came to even out…

So you go ahead and you continue to do your little protest thing, that’s great, I love it. But just know the hammer’s coming, because little do you know, for eight weeks we’ve been compiling information on you, your cute little organization, and all the other cute little people that are with you. And when the hammer comes, it’s going to be hammering hard, and all through the night, over and over, because you’ve got – this is why we’ve been working on it for eight weeks.

Wallis, a pro-lifer who eschews the term “religious left,” is the founder of the “Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace” community and magazine. Poverty, humane immigration reform, and pacifism are frequent themes in the liberal monthly, which also includes weekly Bible devotionals. I recently let my subscription lapse because the reporting is fairly shallow and does little more than cheerlead, not even preach, to the choir, but the online blogs and action alerts are insightful and thought-provoking. You can bet that Beck’s forthcoming character smears will hammer away at the fact that the magazine has given favorable coverage to Van Jones while completely ignoring that fellow Fox News host Mike Huckabee had the even higher honor of gracing the magazine’s cover.

Beck never knows what he’s talking about, but his attacks on Wallis will probably be his most uninformed yet. We already know that the man barely cracks open his Bible, but in his initial Sojourners rant, he referred to Jim Wallis as “Jim Wright” and called the Sojo blog “The Politics of God.” Its name is “God’s Politics.” Buddy, if you don’t even know your target’s name, how can we trust you to know the details?

Wallis has requested a public discussion with Beck on the meaning of “social justice,” but Beck will have none of it. I would have thought it’s because that’s just not his modus operendi – why risk your opponent throwing facts in your face when you can just stand at a chalkboard and taunt from behind the safety of a camera? But no, that’s actually not his rationale. Beck’s real reason for refusing to debate Wallis is that he believes himself too holy for that. Seriously:

Jim, I just wanted to, I just wanted to pass this on to you. Uh, in my time I will respond. My time, kind of like God’s time, might be a day or might be a week. To you, I’m not sure. But I’m going to get to it in my time, not your time.

I’m not as big a fan of Wallis as I used to be. He’s a great organizer and I heard him give a great speech about the values of Martin Luther King a few years ago, but there are others who make the same justice points in a less partisan way. He is the political face of his movement and I’m more inclined to look to the theological faces – folks like Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo. Their message does a much better job of cutting to the true values of justice. But having said that, I do know that Wallis would never compare his time to God’s time, and I do know that Wallis isn’t scared to face his critics. He is, in fact, able to respond to Beck with a more civil tongue than I’ll bet Beck even thought humanly possible:

Why is the idea of a civil dialogue such a threat to Glenn Beck? Glenn, let us please not resort to threats and attacks. To repeat, I have not and will not attack you personally, and I repeat my invitation to a civil dialogue on what social justice really means. Since you were the one to raise this issue and start this whole discussion, I just want it to end in a better and more civil way.

More than 30,000 Christian pastors and church members have written to you as Christians who believe in social justice and are asking you to reconsider your statements. This is a time for dialogue, not monologue, and I prayerfully ask you to consider my request for a conversation.

Glenn Beck’s War on Christianity Continues

Last week, Glenn Beck said that because the Nazis used the words “social justice,” Christians should run from churches that use those words on their websites, never mind that they are at the heart of Scripture. Beck renewed these attacks on Christ’s message yesterday, distorting the Gospels even more grotesquely than before:

Where I go to church, there are members that preach social justice as members–my faith doesn’t–but the members preach social justice all the time. It is a perversion of the gospel. … You want to help out? You help out. It changes you. That’s what the gospel is all about: You.

Social justice was the rallying cry—economic justice and social justice—the rallying cry on both the communist front and the fascist front. That is not an American idea. And if we don’t get off the social justice economic justice bandwagon, if you are not aware of what this is, you are in grave danger. All of our faiths–my faith your faith–whatever your church is, this is infecting all of them.

MyDD is by no means a religious blog, and it is certainly not a Christian one. But Glenn Beck, an enemy of the progressive movement and of the American people, has launched a broadside on my faith and on my Savior, and I will not stand for it.

His specious logic about language aside, Beck’s attacks on Christianity are perhaps the greatest distortion of the Gospel since the Crusades. If there is any one thing that the Gospel is NOT about, it’s “you.” You are to know that you are loved, yes, but you are also to join a kingdom and acknowledge a God far bigger than you. In fact, that’s exactly how evangelical pastor Rick Warren starts his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you.

Let’s take a quick look at the Bible, shall we? In one of the Gospels’ bedrock passages, John 13:34-35, Jesus tells his followers, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” How does focusing on yourself count as loving your neighbor? This call is repeated in Matthew 5:3-12, Luke 6:20-26, Matthew 22:36-40, and more. Mary the Mother of Christ even goes as far as to say, in Luke 1:52-53, that God “has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” In fact, the only end times judgment in the entire Gospel is not about posessing a certain faith or belief; it is about helping the poor (Matthew 25:31-46).

Okay, Beckians might say, clearly the Bible calls Christians to love others, but it does so because of how that transforms the helper, not because it lifts up the helped! Wrong. In Isaiah 51:3-7, we are told not to show piety for the purpose of finding promotion. “Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high… Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?”

As a person of faith and a student of theology, I don’t disagree with Beck that the Bible will transform us as individuals. Indeed, my last sermon was about the good that comes from trusting God and my Ash Wednesday sermon was about balancing our personal relationships to God with our need for community. But to ignore the second half of that equation, to focus only on the love we receive as individuals, is to ignore everything Christ ever said about Rome. It is to ignore the behavior of the original disciples and it is to distort the words of Jesus in a way even more perverted than did 19th century slave owners.

Christian organizations across the country feel the same way. Sojourners, an evangelical organization dedicated to justice and peace, is asking readers to tell Beck, “I'm a social justice Christian.” The anti-hunger group Bread for the World is gathering 35,000 signatures for a petition they’ll send to Beck about the Bible’s message. The New Evangelical Partnership is raising $5,000 to record a video rebutting Beck.

The best response I’ve yet seen comes from the Jesuit James Martin’s “Glenn Beck to Jesus: Drop Dead” who defends the Catholic Church’s history of social teaching. Martin’s response was joined in the top tier yesterday by Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches, who says that Beck “is advocating that [Christians] abandon the full Gospel message in favor of a hollow idol, and he is doing so for worldly gain. His statements cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged… If Mr. Beck's rants stemmed simply from an honest lack of familiarity with Scripture, that would be one thing. But what is perhaps most disturbing about Mr. Beck's recent statements is that he is urging his listeners to follow a piecemeal Gospel because it better fits his worldly political views.”

The Christian-specific response to Beck aside, people of other faiths and none can join us too. The best way to strike back at Beck is not to sign a petition, though that will help, and it is not to demand that his sponsors pull their support, though that will help too. No, the best way to respond to Beck is this: Keep loving your neighbor, and keep fighting for the poor and the oppressed. Do everything you can to bring down whatever unjust structures you believe exist in this country and on this planet, and always keep the values of charity, hope, and love in your heart. If we can all do these things, then it won’t matter what vocabulary we use to describe them or what faith banner we do them under, Beck’s selfish and evil words will have no place left to stand.

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