Tucker Carlson

Kavanaugh agonistes: Only Fox News covered faith factor in this high-stakes drama

Kavanaugh agonistes: Only Fox News covered faith factor in this high-stakes drama

If you had any free time yesterday, I hope you were watching the political theater of the year with the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of Brett Kavanaugh v. Christine Blasey Ford.

In the midst of all the riveting moments — and there were a bunch — in the back-to-back hearings, religion played a small role. Near the very end, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy posed the penultimate question:

“Do you believe in God?” Kennedy asked the nominee.

“I do.”

“I’m going to give you a last opportunity right here in front of God and country,” said Kennedy, who then asked if three allegations were true. Kavanaugh answered no to each one.

“Do you swear to God?” Kennedy asked.

“I swear to God.” This was a Methodist from the South quizzing a conservative Ivy League Catholic. Those are very different backgrounds for two men who understand that Kavanaugh wasn’t simply on trial before a human court (even though folks at the hearing kept on saying it was not an actual trial).

But it was. And what Kennedy was doing during this exchange was saying that Kavanaugh was also standing before a much higher court than the U.S. Senate. And it was to that heavenly court he would ultimately answer were he lying about his past.

Yet, as I scanned innumerable comments on Facebook Thursday evening, I saw some folks who were triggered by Kavanaugh invoking his faith as part of his defense. There were several references if you knew where to look, starting with at the beginning of his opening statement (from a New York Times transcript), he referred to “sowing the wind” and how the country will “reap the whirlwinds.” That’s taken from a verse in Hosea 8:7: "They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind."

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Kudos to Washington Post for accidentally revealing diverse forms of Oscar hate/apathy?

Kudos to Washington Post for accidentally revealing diverse forms of Oscar hate/apathy?

I was looking through Twitter and it appears that the Academy Awards were on the other night. Can someone confirm whether or not that's true? Has Snopes looked into that rumor?

Apparently, I was not the only flyover America person (I am not teaching in New York City at the moment) who missed this barometer of trends in American life, humor, politics and virtue.

Besides, I saw very few of this year's films -- again. When it's movie night at my house, we tend to curl up and watch classics like this, this, this or even a modern film like this or maybe even this. Then again, there's always time to visit the doctor.

Anyway, the Oscars were not a big hit there and everyone wants to talk about why. Here are the basics from The Hollywood Reporter:

A comparatively uneventful Oscar telecast led the way on TV Sunday night -- though updated numbers have the telecast somewhat predictably stumbling to an all-time low.
The kudocast, nearly four hours long, stumbled 19 percent from the previous year to 26.5 million viewers. That's easily the least-watched Oscars in history, trailing 2008 by more than 5 million.

When it comes to this "why" question, GetReligion readers will be stunned to know that this was all about politics and, especially, President You Know Who. Thus, the Washington Post opened it's Oscars ratings wreck story like this:

The 90th Academy Awards show was two things: an evening of pointed political statements and a telecast with record-low Oscars viewership. And many on the right have been quick to claim that those things went hand in hand, though the critic-in-chief blamed a lack of star power. ...
The dismal ratings for the ABC broadcast were a hot topic on Fox News, discussed at the top of the hour on both Tucker Carlson’s and Sean Hannity’s evening shows Monday, and again on Tuesday’s edition of “Fox & Friends.”

Now, whether the Post team intended to or not, this same report -- toward the end -- included some interesting voices that hinted that morality, culture and maybe even religion played a role in this story. Hold that thought.

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Gender-neutral God story: Have we hit the point where wins on Episcopal left are not news?

Gender-neutral God story: Have we hit the point where wins on Episcopal left are not news?

Old people on the religion beat (my hand is raised) will remember the 1980s, back when the mainline Protestant doctrinal wars over sexuality started breaking into elite headlines -- big time.

Year after year, some kind of mainline fight over gender and sexuality would score high in the annual Religion Newswriters Association poll to determine the Top 10 stories. More often than not, the Episcopal Church led the way in the fight for feminism and eventually gay rights.

These national headlines would, of course, inspire news coverage at the regional and local levels. Some Episcopal shepherds went along and some didn't. All of that produced lots of news copy, no matter what Episcopalians ended up doing.

At one point, while at the Rocky Mountain News, I told Colorado's Episcopal leader -- the always quotable former radio pro Bishop William C. Frey -- that a few local religious leaders were asking me why the Episcopal Church kept getting so much media attention.

Frey laughed, with a grimace, and said that was a strange thought, something like "envying another man's root canal."

Eventually, however, the progressive wins in Episcopal sanctuaries stopped being news, at least in mainstream news outlets.

Take, for example, that recent leap into gender-neutral theology in the District of Columbia, an interesting story that drew little or no attention in the mainstream press. Thus, here is the top of the main story from the Episcopal News Service:

The Diocese of Washington is calling on the Episcopal Church’s General Convention to consider expanding the use of gender-neutral language for God in the Book of Common Prayer, if and when the prayer book is slated for a revision.
He? She?

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Stopping short of Pascha: The New York Times did cover the quiet courage of the Copts

Stopping short of Pascha: The New York Times did cover the quiet courage of the Copts

I guess the big news this Easter is that there isn't any really big news at Easter. Yet.

Obviously, there was big news during Holy Week -- as in the lockdown in Egypt and in other Christian communities across the Middle East in the trembling aftermath of the hellish Palm Sunday bombings. That led to this somber New York Times feature that ran with the headline, "After Church Bombings, Egyptian Christians Are Resigned but Resolute."

It's a fine feature, one that -- as it must -- focuses on the political framework that surrounds the latest wave of persecution of Coptic Christians. After all, this is a tense land in which a near totalitarian Egyptian government that helps lock Christians in their place is also the only force strong enough to weakly protect them from the Islamic State and other truly radicalized forms of Islam.

Orthodox Christians who read this piece may not make it to the end, growing tired of the politics and violence. Where is the ultimate message of Pascha? Where are the voices of those who still believe, who continue to keep the faith despite all the suffering? Aren't they part of the story?

They are. And that theme emerges at the end of the piece -- so wait for it.

The veneration of Christian martyrs is felt most keenly at the monastery of St. Mina, an hour’s drive from Alexandria. There, barren desert has been transformed into a lush compound of gardens and monastic cells around a soaring cathedral. The seven Christians killed in last Sunday’s bombing were taken there for entombment in a martyr’s church under construction for the 2011 bombing’s 23 victims.
“The new martyrs will be buried beside the old ones,” Bishop Kyrillos Ava Mina, leader of the monastery, said as he walked around the site, weaving through a maze of wooden beams. “It is a gift for them to be buried here.” ... 
Many Coptic clerics are careful of engaging in public debate. Asked what was driving the Islamic State attacks, the monastery’s spokesman, Father Elijah Ava Mina, chuckled dryly. “I don’t know,” he said. “Ask them.”

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Thinking about two newsy people: Atlantic listens to Tucker Carlson and also David Gelernter

Thinking about two newsy people: Atlantic listens to Tucker Carlson and also David Gelernter

It isn't hard news, but sometimes the best thing journalists can do with really interesting people who is sit down and talk to them -- with a recorder turned on.

The Atlantic has two interesting Q&A features up right now offering chats with men representing two very different brands, or styles of conservatism.

The first interview is a familiar byline for those who follow Beltway journalism -- Tucker Carlson of The Daily Caller (where I knew him as an editor who welcomed news-writing interns from the Washington Journalism Center program that I led for a decade). Of course, now he is best known as the guy lighting up the Fox News ratings in the prime evening talk-show slot formerly occupied by Megyn Kelly.

The second interview is with the noted Internet-era theorist David Gelernter, a Yale University computer science professor who is also known for his writings (often in The Weekly Standard) on art, history, politics, culture, education, journalism, Judaism and lots of other things. Many readers will recall that he survived an attack by the Unabomber. I would think that, for GetReligion readers, his book "Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber" would be of special interest, because of its blend of commentary on journalism, faith and public life.

Why point GetReligion readers to these two think pieces? The Carlson piece is interesting because of what is NOT in it. The Gelernter interview (and an amazing 20-point attached memo written by Gelernter) is must reading because of what IS in it.

Here is the passage in the Carlson piece -- focusing on his personal worldview and its roots -- that is creating some buzz:

To the extent that Carlson’s on-air commentary these days is guided by any kind of animating idea, it is perhaps best summarized as a staunch aversion to whatever his right-minded neighbors believe. The country has reached a point, he tells me, where the elite consensus on any given issue should be “reflexively distrusted.”
“Look, it’s really simple,” Carlson says. “The SAT 50 years ago pulled a lot of smart people out of every little town in America and funneled them into a small number of elite institutions, where they married each other, had kids, and moved to an even smaller number of elite neighborhoods. We created the most effective meritocracy ever.”

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Weekend think piece: Yes, some evangelicals are ready to smash GOP, but why?

Weekend think piece: Yes, some evangelicals are ready to smash GOP, but why?

It's the faith-based question that almost everyone is asking right now about the madness in the culturally conservative wing of the Republican Party.

What are lots of those evangelical voters in Iowa (and elsewhere) thinking when it comes to hugging billionaire, New Yorker, gambling czar and world-famous (onetime, maybe) playboy Donald Trump?

The other day, I argued -- in this podcast -- that the key word is anger, linked with disappointment. Is that anger at President Barack Obama? Not really. They never expected anything from Obama other than what they've been getting. My headline on the post that went with that podcast: "Big question: Falwell Jr. is so mad at (fill in the blanks) that he's ready to hug Donald Trump?"

So who or what goes in that (fill in the blanks) space?

You can call them the "country club" Republicans. You can call them the "establishment." You can call them all kinds of things, but the key is that it is that upper-crust GOP brain- and money-trust crowd that drives around in Washington, D.C., in limos listening to National Public Radio. The folks running the show are not the angry and often ignored folks whose brand of conservatism is a mix of conservative culture and economic populism.

This leads me to that Tucker "Daily Caller" Carlson think piece that ran the other day in The Politico, of all places.

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