Friday, October 11, 2013

Why Pat Robertson's AIDS-Origin Theory Is So Dangerous

Yesterday, introducing a segment where an HIV-positive woman's immune system "miraculously" recovered after she was given a new antiretroviral therapy ("she believes the treatment was an answer to prayer"), Pat Robertson very matter-of-factly informed his audience that AIDS originated when the World Health Organization was experimenting in Africa on a monkey virus with…polio vaccine given to humans?  Oh, screw it, here's the quote:
“AIDS.  Where did it come from?  Well, I can gather, it came from Africa.  I think the World Health Organization was doing some experiments in the Congo on a monkey virus, a monkey injection to fight polio.  And it wasn’t an injection, they put it in sugar cubes and they gave it to these Africans, a couple hundred thousand in the test.  And this is the first time when monkey diseases crossed into the human condition.”
The theory—that HIV was caused by a polio vaccine developed in infected monkey tissue cultures and administered to Africans in the 1950s—originates in a 1992 article in Rolling Stone magazine and a subsequent 1999 book (by another journalist), The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS, both of which have been thoroughly discredited in the intervening years.   (You can find a concise history of the debunking of this theory at Right Wing Watch or The College of Physicians of Philadelphia's History of Vaccines project.)

It's curious that Pat put the blame on the World Health Organization.  The Rolling Stone article specifically points out that WHO denied sanctioning the vaccine trials, by all accounts conducted by a private researcher, Hilary Koprowski, who invented the first live polio vaccine.  But then, it's easy to imagine Robertson being quick to incriminate a United Nations affiliate, what with a lifetime of UNphobia under his belt (one-world government!).

But WHO does come into the picture in that they are presently working to eradicate polio in Africa with oral polio vaccine.  And one of the problems WHO faces in Africa is local suspicion of the vaccine, unfounded yet widely regarded fears that the vaccine is a Western plot to spread sterility—or the HIV virus.  As a result, several Nigerian states ban the polio vaccine outright; in February, gunmen shot up two polio clinics in the Nigerian state of Kano, killing 10 clinic workers.  Consequently, more than half of last year's worldwide documented polio cases were found in Nigeria, and 17 African countries that had previously been declared polio-free have seen the polio virus re-emerge.

If you think Pat Robertson's blathering this discredited AIDS theory half a world away in the United States won't have any effect on rumormongering in Africa, you might want to think again.  The 700 Club airs in 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with extensive broadcasts in Nigeria.  And are they proud of their African reach:

Admittedly, the African broadcasts of The 700 Club are a 30-minute digest rather than the 1-hour version broadcast in the United States (in some places every week, some places everyday).  But ultimately, it's Robertson's own Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) that decides what airs in Africa.  Do you trust them not to broadcast Pat Robertson's lies, spread unwarranted fears, and allow hundreds more to contract polio?

Or will Pat Robertson be the next Jenny McCarthy?


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pat Robertson Thinks $90 Is "Big Money" for Welfare Recipients, But $100 Is "Not Worth a Whole Lot" to His Viewers

Former 700 Club co-host Ben Kinchlow (who has a regular column at WorldNetDaily, so that probably tells you something about him) returned to his old stomping grounds last week to promote his new book, Black Yellow-Dogs, where he actually calls the 88% of African-Americans who routinely vote Democratic "house slaves."  (Except it's not a new book, just a new version of the same book he wrote in 2008 and he was on The 700 Club to promote it back then, too.  Curiously, the fact that an African-American was about to be nominated by the Democratic Party at the time goes completely unmentioned.)

I could bother to dissect Kinchlow's petulance about how the African-American community is really socially conservative and if only that 88% could see things clearly, they'd recognize that they agree with the Republican Party on principle, but that chestnut's been going around for 25-30 years, at least.  I could also dissect Kinchlow's equally tired but recently resurgent bit about how a family can make more on welfare benefits than people holding a job, but that one, most recently repeated in a  Cato Institute study [PDF file], has already been discredited elsewhere, like Bill Moyers & Company, or this other blog which I admit I only found while looking into the study's accuracy.

Instead, let's focus on something Pat Robertson says in the middle of Kinchlow's welfare presentation (about 2:40 into the video):
KINCHLOW: "The reason that 70-some-odd-percent of African-American babies are born out of wedlock is because they reward mothers for having children out of wedlock."
ROBERTSON: "That's right.  Big, big reward.  I mean, about 90 bucks a month a child, or something—whatever they pay you, it's big, big money."
Big money!  Three dollars a day to feed, clothe, and diaper a growing child.  And it's not even accurate.  Ninety dollars was the standard addition for a new child under the OLD welfare system, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, before Clinton signed welfare reform into law.  Today, welfare, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, is distributed through the states, and half of the states impose a family cap that prevents families from getting more money for an additional child.  In most of the other half, the benefit increase is usually a percentage increase from the previous benefit, as opposed to a set dollar amount.  Also, TANF has a lifetime time-limit of five years, so the whole concept of welfare as a permanent way of life is out of date.

But to make this extra special, here's Pat Robertson in 1997 telling his viewers that $100—which in today's dollars is actually $146—is "not worth a whole lot":

You can spend $100 in a hurry.  But if you subtract 10 dollars, you can live large.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Pat Robertson Prays for the Republican Congressional Leadership, Omits President Clinton (Jan. 10, 1995)

Here's Pat making no secret about how much he's in the tank for the Republican Party, as only they are "trying to do something for this nation."  Co-host Ben Kinchlow had to remind Pat to pray for the President, too.  You can tell that he doesn't really want to.

Pat Robertson's Advice to the Unemployed: "Ask God. Or Consider Telemarketing." (Oct. 1, 2013)

Pat Robertson thinks there are 90 million Americans out of work, which I guess is true if you're counting children as "unemployed."  (Damn freeloaders!)  Last week, one of those 90 million 11.3 million wrote in to ask Pat if it would be a sin to work in a local casino that's hiring.  Pat's response?
“Get another job.  There have to be—ask God to open a job for you… I'm a great believer in these telemarketing things, you can get work from home, you can do all kinds of things.”
Ask God.  What a great idea!  I'm sure that none of the millions of other people looking for work—and remember, Pat thinks there are 90 million of them—even thought to pray for a job.  Oh, you'll be the first!  The rest of the unemployed probably aren't Christian, anyway.  I mean, if they were, they'd be praying to God for jobs too, right?

But hey, there's always telemarketing—because what the world needs is even more people calling us up to sell us stuff.  Anyway, there's plenty of work out there besides that sinful casino job.  The rest of the 90 million are just lazy bums.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Jet Stream is Just God Pushing You Along Faster (May 8, 1997)

Hey, remember that Saturday Night Live sketch where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler played Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, and Fey/Palin said that global warming is "just God hugging us closer"?  Ha!  Parody. We laugh because it's not real!  What's that, Pat Robertson?
“Put God's laws to work for you!…If I can get a jet airplane up into the jet stream going from west to east, the law of God works for me, and I start going about 100 miles an hour faster.  I was in a plane coming back from someplace on the West Coast…it was real slow going out, but coming back, we got in the jet stream, and it was about 100 miles an hour of extra speed! Because God's law was carrying us along!”
God pushes you faster when you fly from the west to the east, but he's a real sonofabitch if you fly in the other direction.  Maybe he's afraid we'll find out that if you fly east-to-west fast enough, you can in fact stop the earth's rotation, reverse it, and turn back time.  But how else could we save Lois Lane from the earthquake?  She has to live!  If only for the sequels!

Pat Robertson Admires Justice Scalia…Even If He IS Catholic (Sept. 9, 2013)

You might not have seen this relatively minor story where Republican superhero Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave a talk at a Houston theological institute on whether capitalism or socialism was more conducive to Christian values.  What a not-loaded question!  What a random person to answer that question!  Scalia's answer (from the Houston Chronicle):
“The cardinal sin of capitalism is greed, but the cardinal sin of socialism is power. I'm not sure there's a clear choice between those evils.  While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism…it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is. For in order for capitalism to work—in order for it to produce a good and a stable society—the traditional Christian virtues are essential.”
And of course what could be construed as a semi-official endorsement of Christianity gets picked up by CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) News, because The 700 Club's newscast mostly cherry-picks items that either further their agenda (Obama is bad! Republicans are fighting the good fight! Christianity is the bestest!) or illustrate how America is losing its moral compass (anything gay homosexual, anything abortion, anything that keeps anyone from praying or advancing Christianity anywhere, even if it's a public institution doing the promoting because damn it, we're a Christian nation and what happened to that?).

Um…where was I?  Oh right, Scalia likes Christianity.  And Pat Robertson likes Scalia!  Mostly:
“He's a terrific guy, a very charming man, and very, very, very intelligent, and he's right.  You don't have capitalism without the Protestant ethic, without…the idea that before God, you're able to fulfill your destiny, and it's that ethic that's lifted people up out of slavery, poverty, and he's right.  Scalia, by the way, is a dedicated Catholic.  I don't know what that means, but he's a good man.”
Wow.  Pat could have just stopped after his Cliffs Notes edition of Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and it would have been fine, more or less.  (Is his analysis of Weber correct?  Did I read Weber in college?  I don't remember.  Hey, this isn't a sociology blog!)  But he just couldn't let that Catholic thing go, could he?  That "I don't know what that means" at the end?  What he's really saying is, "Protestantism is responsible for capitalism, but Scalia's Catholic, so I don't know exactly where his admiration for capitalism comes from."  But hey! He may be Catholic, but he's still a good guy!

It's not apparent just from watching the on-air 700 Club program, but hostility to Catholicism has historically been pervasive behind the scenes at CBN—and given that CBN is Pat Robertson's ministry and is completely dominated by him, it's difficult to believe that that sort of prevalent hostility operated independent of Robertson's influence. Robert Boston, in The Most Dangerous Man in America?: Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition recounts this incident:
“In 1986, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights…complained to Robertson after one of its members protested anti-Catholic bias at a Houston office of The 700 Club.  The Catholic League member was a volunteer at CBN and alleged that telephone counselors were making anti-Catholic comments to callers.  Reportedly, Catholic callers were told that their church is the 'Whore of Babylon' and were urged to 'come out of her' to be saved.  When the Catholic League volunteer complained about the matter, he was told his services were no longer needed at CBN.”
Then there's what former CBN producer Gerard Straub (1978-80) had to say in his insider account, Salvation for Sale:
“The fundamentalists I worked with at CBN vehemently attacked the satanic Catholic church's belief that the saints could help in a person's healing… They think that if a Catholic prayed to a saint for healing, Satan would heal the person because it would be to his advantage to deceive the person into thinking that the healing was the result of their prayers to the saint.  The Bible never mentions anything about praying to saints.  The fundamentalists believe that Satan uses the church teaching about saints to trick people into not finding God and into following unbiblical teachings.”
Uh-oh.  Scalia believes in the saints.  Oh, well.  Such a nice man.  Too bad he's going to Hell.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gordon Robertson's on the Paula Deen Comeback Bandwagon

This aired TODAY.  I'm current!

Remember Paula Deen and that whole thing?  With the racism, and the N-word, and the dream plantation wedding complete with tap-dancing N-words?  Of course you do, because you are on the Internet, and if you were on the Internet in June, you could not escape the Paula Deen deposition and the tearful, questionably sincere apologies and the firings from all her endorsements and everything because now her brand stunk like babyback ribs that had been left too long on the griddle.  (Is that even remotely correct?  I don't know anything about Southern cooking.)

Anyway, last month Paula Deen started her comeback, because it really only takes less than three months for people to forget all the racism and resume eating her sugar-flavored butter or butter-flavored sugar or whatever it was she was famous for making.  And here's Gordon Robertson, Pat's son and heir to the throne, helping her along by choosing her as the inspirational story for a viewer who wants to know if she should follow her dream even though she can't afford to:
“Here's a story for you.  There was a single mom with two kids, and she got the idea to follow her dream.  And so she said, 'I want to cook, I want to be known as a cook.'  And so she created a lunch service for the business district where she would hand-deliver home-cooked meals to offices in the downtown area.  Well, it turned into a thriving business, turned into a huge success, and that lady's name is Paula Deen.  So follow your dream, even when it seems that there's no dream left.”
 Follow your dream!  Except maybe not the one with the tap-dancing minstrel wedding.

Pat Robertson Practically Trashes a Suicidal Gay Viewer's Prayer Request (April 28, 1997)

If homosexuality were truly a choice, you wouldn't have thousands upon thousands (millions? sure, why not) of devout evangelical Christians struggling with these "sinful" urges of lust and attraction towards members of the same sex—but we do have those people, because being gay isn't something you just decide one day: "Today's a good day to go to the beach!" "I feel like having waffles for breakfast!" "I think I'll be a lesbian!"

So maybe you can begin to imagine how a devout evangelical Christian wrestling with his homosexuality just might be suicidal after a steady diet of being told how his fundamental impulses are wrong and evil and bringing down society.  Well, you can imagine that, but Pat Robertson can't.
“We've got all these prayer requests… Here's somebody, just for example, saying, 'I want deliverance from homosexuality,' you know, they're contemplating suicide DAILY.  Don't talk about being gay when you're trying to kill yourself every day!”
He really thinks it's two separate things!  This guy's struggling with homosexuality, and he just happens to be suicidal.  Goodness, let's fix these suicidal inclinations first, then let's talk about your being gay.  That the guy was suicidal because he's gay—no, Pat can't grasp that.  After all, why would a man want to kill himself just because he's gay?

Can't imagine.  Up next: Are homosexuals ruining our country?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lt. Gov. Candidate E.W. Jackson, Back When He Was Pat Robertson's Minority Outreach Coordinator (May 16, 1997)

If you've been following campaign politics this year, you've probably come across the Reverend E. W. Jackson, the semi-obscure minister who became the surprise choice of the Virginia Republican Party to be their nominee for Lieutenant Governor in this year's election. And then it turned out Jackson had a documented history of totally crazy statements, the kind of politico-religio-socio-nutballery that you don't want to have dogging you when you're running for office—in other words, exactly what you'd expect from a Republican candidate in the 2010s.  Stuff like:
“Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.  And the Democrat Party and their black civil rights allies are partners in this genocide.”
“[Homosexuals'] minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally, and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality.  When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.”
“[President Obama] knows the Koran and so he seems to have a lot of sympathy for even radical Islam, unwilling to call it terrorism, unwilling to deal with it. I think had he been white I think people would’ve said, ‘no I can’t, we can’t trust this guy.’ ”
This is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg; Right Wing Watch responded to his nomination with a whole treasure trove of fascinating awfulness that the Reverend had been spewing out in only his fairly recent years.  And he's only added to the pile of wingnut mouthings since, but my favorite just has to be this, his response to the original kerfuffle over his past statements:
“Every one of those comments has a context and were spoken in my role as a minister, not as a candidate.”
Don't judge me by the things I said when I wasn't running for office!  They don't count!  Plus the bit about context—always the fallback for people who don't want to face up to their embarrassing utterances: If you read the whole transcript, what I said about the President and the First Lady being Communistic doesn't sound as bad as you're making it out to be. (Oh, yeah, he said that too.)

So…sixteen years ago, before Jackson had a political career or a ministry of his own, he signed on with Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition as head of its minority outreach program, dubbed "The Samaritan Project," and here he is with Pat on The 700 Club to talk about it.  Actually, the interview followed up a segment covering the People for the American Way's campaign against the Christian Coalition over Robertson's positions on civil rights, public education, and the like—or as The 700 Club decided to put it: "The Christian Coalition has come under attack for their plan to achieve racial reconciliation."  You might want to watch the full clip, because in this instance, you really do need to know the context:

Unfortunately, if you're looking for another, yet-to-be-reported wingnut statement emanating from Jackson's mouth, I think I'm going to have to disappoint you, because I didn't hear anything that rises to the level of what we've already been treated to.  Well…
  • Jackson: “The American way is a way of faith… [People for the American Way] are frightened, I think, by the idea of people who love Jesus Christ, white and black, coming together to deal with the social problems confronting this country.”
  • Jackson eagerly agrees when Pat lays this down: “There's just no reconciliation—you're not going to get some government mandate to get black people to love white people and vice versa, it's only going to come about in Jesus! Jesus is the reconciler.”
  • Jackson: “Teen pregnancy, gangs, violence, school dropouts, poor education—[we're] trying to find faith-based groups and churches that are addressing these problems, support them…and say to the country, 'Folks, government can't solve these problems.  But faith in Jesus Christ can.”  Did you catch that?  Government can't do anything to improve poor education.  This from the guy who wants to be a heartbeat away from overseeing the Commonwealth of Virginia's school systems.  (Um, if government can't solve these problems, why are you running for office?)
So I don't know if anyone can make any new hay out of this, but at the very least, now there's some footage I don't think we had before of E.W. Jackson chatting and laughing with and fawning over Pat Robertson.

Oh, one last thing.  The Samaritan Project originated as a program to assist black churches during the wave of seemingly racially motivated church arsons that grabbed national attention in 1996, and its official purpose was "to build bridges between the races."  Yet here's CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) News anchor Lee Webb on The 700 Club reporting its launch and describing it as "intended to combat poverty," and the story prompts Pat Robertson to remind viewers of how much assistance CBN's Operation Blessing provides to the poor every year.  Uh…is the sum total of minority outreach in their minds antipoverty measures?  Because that's how it reads.

Pat Robertson Thinks 90 Million Americans Are Out of Work (Sept. 9, 2013)

If you haven't read the introductory post, or noticed from some of the other posts, this blog is going to be spending a lot of time around 1997.  In a bid to avoid taunts of irrelevance, we'll be posting current Pat Robertson/700 Club clips on a regular basis.  You may also notice that compared to the robust Pat Robertson of yesteryear, today's 83-year-old version is—how can I put this delicately?—comparatively enfeebled.  (Was that delicate enough?  I did say "comparatively.")

The U.S. unemployment report for August 2013 was 7.3%, or 11.3 million Americans who are looking for work.  The report was released at 8:30 AM on Friday, September 6, but The 700 Club, which airs at 10 AM, did not make mention of the report.  Nor did its CBN News segments on the following Monday, September 9, mention the report, either.  Instead, we were treated to this from Pat Robertson:
“We understand that there are ninety million people—ninety million people—out of work in America right now… It approaches the Great Depression time.”
And no, he did not say "nineteen"—a number that is still wrong, not to mention larger than the worst unemployment level of the 2007-09 recession—he clearly said "ninety."  And of course, longtime co-host Terry Meeuwsen sat stunned and gasped, "That's unbelievable!" because even if she knew Pat was wrong—and it's not clear whether she recognized his blunder—you simply do not correct Pat Robertson on the air of his own show.  Or maybe she wanted us to take "That's unbelievable!" literally.  Because it is unbelievable that 90 million people—58% of the workforce—are unemployed.  (That 58%, by the way, would more than double the unemployment rate of the Great Depression at its worst, not just "approach" it.)

It's enough to make you wonder whether Pat's going senile, but no one has the power to tell him it's time to retire from the show.

Pat Robertson Says the Nepalese Beat Dogs Because They Were Bad People in a Past Life (May 7, 1997)

This is what Wikipedia has to say about Nepalese Hindus and dogs:
“Dogs have a major religious significance among the Hindus in Nepal… The dogs are worshipped as a part of a five-day Tihar festival that falls roughly in November every year. In Hinduism, it is believed that dogs guard the doors of Heaven and Hell. This is a day when the dog is worshipped by applying tika (the holy vermilion dot), incense sticks and garlanded generally with marigold flower.”
And this is what Pat Robertson has to say:
“Nepal—you know, Kathmandu is the place where they beat the dogs 'cause they're so into this reincarnation, they think that the dog was a bad person in a previous life, and they beat him to make him unhappy.”
Hmmm…who should I believe?

CBN Prayer Counselors Are Available to Save You from Psychics, Planned Parenthood, Satanism—Wait, Back Up

(This aired on the April 15, 1997 broadcast of The 700 Club, but it's the kind of promotional spot that could have been produced months or years before and brought out every so often.)

The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) operates a bank of prayer counselors who are available 24/7 for adherents and 700 Club viewers who are seeking support and guidance in times of crisis…and great, I'm already writing a press release for them.  (CBN is Pat Robertson's media operation, of which The 700 Club is its flagship program.)  Anyway, you get the idea: anyone can call in to talk to a CBN prayer counselor about whatever, and I understand that they usually take the opportunity to ask for your name and address so they can add you to their mailing list and start sending you fundraising letters.  Win-win!

But this video spot was produced not so much to inform viewers that there are prayer counselors who are just waiting for your call, but to remind viewers of the kind of thing The 700 Club does with the money you give them, and if you're not a member of The 700 Club, won't you join today?  Because ultimately, all of these promotional spots are about getting people to give them money.

Of course, not all of them mention Planned Parenthood in the same breath as Satanism:
“What if the CBN counseling center wasn't here?  What are the alternatives for those desperately seeking answers?  Psychic hotlines…New Age gurus…crystal balls and tarot cards…Planned Parenthood…meditation…even Satanism.  People are searching now more than ever, and they risk falling into the clutches of the occult.”
There is actually a not-inconsiderable strain of "Planned Parenthood is occultist" thinking running through Christian fundamentalism that is little more than a Google search away.  Accusations that Margaret Sanger believed in the occult (and of course if Sanger believed something, then it necessarily infests all of Planned Parenthood, decades after her death); the purported historical roots of abortion in witchcraft and paganism; "this abortion clinic I know is totally occultist, you guys!"  It's like they think Citizen Ruth was a documentary, and all us pro-choicers are lesbians who pray to the moon.

Now, for all I've seen of Pat Robertson, I've never heard him say anything about Planned Parenthood being occultist, and you'd think that if he did believe that, he'd trot that out every chance he got.  (Instead, he usually pushes the tired "Margaret Sanger favored eugenics just like the Nazis" argument, which is an oversimplification of the facts.)  So I won't say that Pat believes this "Planned Parenthood is occultist" jazz.  But it looks like someone at CBN did.

The Time Ellen Came Out and Everyone Lost Their S--t (April 30, 1997)

It's 2013.  Gay and lesbian marriages are legal and recognized in 13 states (are we counting New Jersey and saying 14 yet?) as well as the District of Columbia, and apparently parts of New Mexico, too.  Both the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell have been repealed.  Polls indicate that a majority of Americans supports same-sex marriages, and even wider margins support prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment and housing.

You can imagine how much Pat Robertson and the Religious Right are up in arms over this increasing (and overdue) acceptance of homosexuality in our society, or as they think of it, this "normalization," this encroachment on traditional family values.

Now watch how much they lost it in 1997 all because a TV character came out of the closet.  And not just some supporting character, but the lead!  Goodness gracious!
  • Note how CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) News anchor Lee Webb actually says that having Ellen Morgan (Ellen DeGeneres's character on her Elleny show Ellen) come out on the TV show is a bigger deal than the same-sex marriage advancement taking place in Hawaii.
  • "Part of a prime-time television onslaught! Part of a coordinated effort to force America to accept the homosexual lifestyle!" It's a gay conspiracy!
  • Yes, Brent Bozell is that guy who tells us every week that the latest episode of Family Guy or American Dad! or whatever's on MTV is destroying the American family.  He's been doing this for over 25 years and if we believed him every time, the American family would have been obliterated long ago.
  • Also note how Pat makes the distinction between lesbians and homosexuals.  He does this a lot.  I know what you're thinking: "Lesbians aren't homosexuals?"  I can only conclude that Pat uses "homosexuals" as a synonym for "gay men" because he can't stand using the term "gay" in that context.  (I get the impression he never got over how a perfectly good word like "gay" got co-opted by those people and now it's all sullied by their man-on-man sex and he can't touch it. Notice how he says "so-called gay characters" later in his rant.)  So why not just leave it at "homosexuals" and lump lesbians and gays together?  Who knows.
And here's what ran the next day, the day after Ellen's coming-out episode aired.  It's pretty unremarkable, but look for the then somewhat obscure, now recognizable celebrity comedian who CBN News used for comment.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Introductory Post, Or: Why Are So Many of These Clips from 1997?

The, er, "genesis" of this project—yup, not ten words into my blog and I'm already cracking wise—began in 1996 when I started recording every day's broadcast of Pat Robertson's The 700 Club for a public-access cable show I was planning that would critically analyze the Religious Right—and let me stop right here because I know everyone just went, A public-access cable show? How quaintly pathetic.  Well, yes, but let's keep in mind that in 1996, there were no video-hosting services like YouTube, no blogging platforms, no social networking media to get your message out—hell, most people still didn't have Internet yet, and those that did were more likely to have dial-up then, so you either had to watch jittery low-resolution video or wait a couple hours for the whole thing to download before viewing it made your computer freeze up.  Not to mention that video files aren't small, and a top-of-the-line computer back then might have had as much as 1 GB of capacity, so storing video files was a bear.  Oh, and DVDs hadn't been introduced yet, and I don't remember if there was a way to transfer something from your VCR to your computer—I think there was, but it probably wasn't pretty.  Basically it was the Stone Age, and I don't think it even crossed my mind to try to put up video clips on the Web.  So, yeah, public-access cable was the only way to go back then.

ANYway, I recorded 700 Club broadcasts for about 18 months (August 1996 to February 1998) before aborting abandoning the project.  I couldn't devote enough time to it, and too much of the time I was devoting to it was spent transcribing the show and fact-checking too many details, and ultimately I don't think I was ever going to put it together into a weekly 30-minute show with which I would be satisfied.  But I didn't want all that time and work to be for nothing either, so I boxed up the videotapes and vowed to return to the project someday, somehow.

That day came earlier this year when I revisited the boxes of videotapes and I realized that with YouTube and Twitter, I could share some of the more outrageous or (unintentionally) funny clips that could entertain/nauseate everyone who's fascinated by such things as, to take the latest example as of this writing, Pat Robertson's whopper about HIV-positive gay men using special rings to give their enemies AIDS.  And since I had a lot of good material (well, I think so, anyway) that didn't stand on its own but required context and explanation, I decided that tweeting raw video wasn't enough—hence this blog to try to make sense of it all.

Now at this point you could tell me that it's pretty self-absorbed to think that just because I have all this video from the mid-'90s, people will care or want to see these relatively ancient clips.  And that is in fact a honkingly good point that is still riddling me with doubt as I write this and prepare to launch this blog.  Is this relevant?  I can think of several reasons why the answer is Yes.