ABC repeatedly noted controversial comments by Obama's "allies," but has yet to report comments by McCain endorsers

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

During recent editions of Good Morning America and World News, ABC discussed and aired reports on the "explosive statements" of Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, but ABC has yet to report on controversial comments by two "allies" of Sen. John McCain. For example, evangelist John Hagee has said that "Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans," and pastor Rod Parsley reportedly wrote that "America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion [of Islam] destroyed."

On the March 14 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, host Diane Sawyer noted that "ABC played some explosive statements by [Sen.] Barack Obama's preacher about America and race," and asked: "Is it fair to hold the candidates responsible for their preachers, for their friends, allies?" However, while ABC aired reports on Jeremiah A. Wright, Obama's former pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, during the March 13 editions of Good Morning America and World News (in addition to Sawyer's mention of Wright's "explosive statements"), the network has yet to report on controversial comments by two "allies" of Sen. John McCain. McCain's supporters include evangelist John Hagee, founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, who has said that "Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans" for planning "a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came," and Rod Parsley, senior pastor of World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, who reportedly wrote that "America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion [of Islam] destroyed."

Hagee endorsed McCain on February 27. In a March 12 article, Mother Jones Washington editor David Corn reported that Parsley had endorsed McCain on February 26 at a campaign rally at which they both appeared. Parsley called McCain a "strong, true, consistent conservative," and McCain referred to Parsley as a "spiritual guide."

As Media Matters for America has noted, on the September 18, 2006, edition of National Public Radio's Fresh Air, host Terry Gross said to Hagee, "You said after Hurricane Katrina that it was an act of God, and you said 'when you violate God's will long enough, the judgment of God comes to you. Katrina is an act of God for a society that is becoming Sodom and Gomorrah reborn.' " She then asked, "Do you still think that Katrina is punishment from God for a society that's becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah?" Hagee responded:

HAGEE: All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are -- were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know that there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment. And I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.

Earlier in the program, Gross had asked Hagee if he believed that "all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews." Hagee replied: "Well, the Quran teaches that. Yes, it teaches that very clearly."

In his book, What Every Man Wants in a Woman (Charisma House, January 2005), Hagee wrote: "As I write this book, the issue of same-sex marriage rages on the front pages of America's newspapers and is seen on national telecasts each evening," and noted that "Massachusetts has just agreed to recognize same-sex marriages." Hagee added: "For a fact, Sodom and Gomorrah are being reborn in America." Several paragraphs later, he asserted that if the United States Congress failed to pass an amendment "recognizing only the marriage between a man and a woman," then "the gates of hell will be opened." He continued: "It will open the door to incest, to polygamy, and every conceivable marriage arrangement demented minds can possibly conceive. If God does not then punish America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." He also wrote: "It is impossible to call yourself a Christian and defend homosexuality. There is no justification or acceptance of homosexuality," and "Homosexuality means the death of society because homosexuals can recruit, but they cannot reproduce."

Additionally, investigative journalist Sarah Posner wrote in God's Profits: Faith, Fraud and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters (PoliPointPress, January 2008) that Hagee "complains that the military is downsized -- not that it matters since he predicts there will be a nuclear war to bring about Armageddon -- and blames it on Bill Clinton for making 'the military the habitat of homosexuals by executive order. ...The military will have difficultly recruiting healthy and strong heterosexuals for combat purposes. Why? Fighting in combat with a man in your fox hole that has AIDS or is HIV positive is double jeopardy' " (Page 83).

A March 7, 1996, article (accessed via the Nexis database) in the San Antonio Express-News reported that Hagee was going to "meet with black religious leaders privately at an unspecified future date to discuss comments he made in his newsletter about a 'slave sale,' an East Side minister said Wednesday." The Express-News further reported:

Hagee, pastor of the 16,000-member Cornerstone Church, last week had announced a "slave sale" to raise funds for high school seniors in his church bulletin, "The Cluster."

The item was introduced with the sentence "Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone" and ended with "Make plans to come and go home with a slave."

The Wall Street Journal also noted the incident in a July 27, 2006, article:

To help students seeking odd jobs, his church newsletter, The Cluster, advertised a "slave" sale. "Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone," it said. "Make plans to come and go home with a slave." Mr. Hagee apologized but, in a radio interview, protested about pressure to be "politically correct" and joked that perhaps his pet dog should be called a "canine American."

In What Every Man Wants in a Woman, Hagee wrote (Page 14):

Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist.

He further wrote that "[o]nly a Spirit-filled woman can submit to her husband's lead. It is the natural desire of a woman to lead through feminine manipulation of the man." He added that a woman is, "by instinct, a manipulator of the situation. Fallen women will try to dominate the marriage. The man has the God-given role to be the loving leader of the home" (Page 12-13).

According to Corn's article, Parsley wrote in Silent No More (Charisma House, April 2005):

I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

From Hagee's What Every Man Wants from a Woman:

Only a Spirit-filled woman can submit to her husband's lead. It is the natural desire of a woman to lead through feminine manipulation of the man. The battle of the sexes began in Genesis 3:16, when God said to the woman, "Your craving shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you." In the Art Scroll Tanach Series, author Meir Zolotowitz stated, "Woman's punishment is measure for measure. She influenced her husband and he ate at her command. Her punishment was that she would now become subservient to him."

Why did Saint Paul say, "I do not permit a woman to ... have authority over a man" (1 Tim. 2:12)? It was because it is the natural thing for a woman to try to do. She is, by instinct, a manipulator of the situation. Fallen women will try to dominate the marriage. The man has the God-given role to be the loving leader of the home. [Pages 12-13]

[...]

As I write this book, the issue of same-sex marriage rages on the front pages of America's newspapers and is seen on national telecasts each evening. Massachusetts has just agreed to recognize same-sex marriages. For a fact, Sodom and Gomorrah are being reborn in America.

The only hope morality has to survive in America is for a constitutional amendment to be passed stating that the only marriage recognized in America will be between a man and a woman of legal age.

I have carried seventy-five thousand petitions from our television partners to Washington DC and personally placed them in the hand of Senator John Cornyn of Texas. Senator Cornyn is the chairman of the subcommittee that will hear all evidence and expressions from the American people of their desire for a constitutional amendment.

I encourage every person who has biblical beliefs to contact their congressman and their senator on a regular basis and implore them to pass this constitutional amendment recognizing only the marriage between a man and a woman. If we fail to achieve this, the gates of hell will be opened. It will open the door to incest, to polygamy, and every conceivable marriage arrangement demented minds can possibly conceive. If God does not then punish America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.

What does the Bible call homosexuality? Let's look at Leviticus 18:22. It reads: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination."

Leviticus 20:13 states: "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them."

The word abomination in Hebrew means "something disgusting, and abhorrent," the strongest Bible word for the denunciation of sin. It is impossible to call yourself a Christian and defend homosexuality. There is no justification or acceptance of homosexuality. How many ways can you say "abomination" is Hebrew?

[...]

In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Bruce. Homosexuality means the death of society because homosexuals can recruit, but they cannot reproduce.

Once homosexuality gets out of the closet, it becomes aggressive. We are receiving every signal that intelligent humanity can receive from the homosexual community. They do not want mere acceptance, they want to be in charge. [Pages 68-70]

From the March 13 edition of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:

TAPPER: Clinton seemed to downplay Martin Luther King's achievements. Her husband compared Obama to Jesse Jackson.

But members of the Obama team also have been accused of playing the race card. Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the just-retired pastor at Obama's church, is a member of the Obama campaign's African-American religious leadership committee.

WRIGHT: Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich, white people. Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain't never been called a [bleep].

TAPPER: Party leaders worry that the longer this fight goes on, the greater the risk for whomever ends up the nominee of a party polarized by race.

Jake Tapper, ABC News, Washington.

From the March 14 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

SAWYER: Let me turn to this other series of land mines this past week. Matt, bring you in here. Because Geraldine Ferraro, as we know, said basically, "If Barack Obama were white or female, he would not be where he is," and she ended up resigning as a member of the finance committee for Hillary Clinton. At the same time, ABC played some explosive statements by Barack Obama's preacher about America and race.

This is my question: Is it fair to hold the candidates responsible for their preachers, for their friends, allies?

MATTHEW DOWD (ABC News political contributor): Well, I think the public views the candidates in a variety of ways, one of which is, who speaks up for them, and how will they talk and what do they say? And so I think it's fair to sort of hold them accountable for those folks, especially folks in official positions.

I mean, John McCain faced this a couple of weeks ago in a guy that introduced him and said some outrageous stuff. I think it's up to the candidate then to sort of say, "They don't speak for me. I have distance from them."

But it is a concern when you have -- sort of have freelancing folks that go out and say these sort of outrageous things, 'cause it does reflect ultimately on the candidate, and the candidate ultimately has to deal with it, and how they deal with it really is much more important than what actually those people said.

SAWYER: But, Cokie [Roberts], let me ask you. James Carville has written this morning an op-ed piece in which he said, "All these calls for resignation are becoming cries of 'wolf,' " and that "[r]ather than having to resign, Gerry Ferraro should have been dispatched to a cruise ship for a few weeks of sightseeing."

From the March 13 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

CUOMO: All right, we want to turn now to an in-depth look at a very important figure in Democratic front-runner Barack Obama's life -- his longtime pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Reverend Wright has made a number of controversial statements over the years. Now that Obama is a national figure, the question is, could the reverend become a liability? Chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is here with more on this. Good morning, Brian.

ROSS: Good morning, Chris, Diane. Senator Obama has been a member of the same church in Chicago for 20 years, where his pastor has been Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the man who performed the Obamas' marriage ceremony and the man Obama credits for the title of his book, The Audacity of Hope.

[begin video clip]

ROSS: Reverend Wright has built a large and loyal following at his church, the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's south side. With a powerful voice and his strong words, Reverend Wright can be a mesmerizing presence.

WRIGHT: The angels in heaven were singing, "God Never Fails."

ROSS: And he often uses the gospel to affirm his strong political views, as in this 2003 sermon, damning the United States for its treatment of blacks.

WRIGHT: The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing "God Bless America." No, no, no. Not God bless America, God damn America. That's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human.

ROSS: It's not known if Senator Obama was in the church on this day, but he has sought to play down Reverend Wright's overall approach.

OBAMA: I don't think that my church is actually particularly controversial.

ROSS: During the campaign, the senator has defended what he calls Reverend Wright's "social gospel."

OBAMA: So he was one of the leaders in calling for divestment from South Africa and some other issues like that, and he thinks it's important for us to focus on what's happening in Africa -- and I agree with him on that.

ROSS: But an ABC News review of more than a dozen sermons, which are offered for sale by the church, found Reverend Wright going far beyond issues of Africa. He refers to the U.S. as under the influence of the Ku Klux Klan.

WRIGHT: And they will not only attack you if you try to point out what's going on in white America, U.S. of KKK -- A.

ROSS: He regularly mocks black Republicans as sellouts.

WRIGHT: They live below the sea level; they live below the level of Clarence, Colin, and Condemnesia --

ROSS: In his first sermon after September 11, 2001, Reverend Wright said the U.S. had brought on the attacks with its own terrorism.

WRIGHT: We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant. Because the stuff we have done overseas has now brought right back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost.

ROSS: Reverend Wright retired last month, but members of the church say he left a lasting impression on them and Senator Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He spoke the truth, continues to speak the truth, and people can label that as "radical," but I think it's insightful.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, I wouldn't call it "radical," I'd call it being black in America. It's not radical. How radical is that?

[end video clip]

ROSS: Reverend Wright declined to comment or appear on this program, as did Senator Obama. In his most recent appearance in Ohio, when he was asked about it, Senator Obama said that Reverend Wright was "like an old uncle, who sometimes says things I don't agree with" -- Chris.

[...]

CUOMO: But is there a responsibility as a candidate for president to associate yourself, certainly as a spiritual adviser, with ideas that are consistent with your campaign? Senator Obama saying his campaign's about moving away from divisive politics, from sniping and attacks, and then to say your spiritual adviser is a man who says America should be damned, that it is to blame for 9-11, that Farrakhan deserves an award for epitomizing greatness? Does that go together?

SHAUN CASEY (Obama campaign adviser): I think he's repudiated that very clearly. If you had any evidence that, in fact, that Senator Obama had embraced those views, we would have seen that in the piece. But the fact that you didn't have any video of Senator Obama embracing those views; in fact, he's repudiated those views, I think it's very clear. I mean, it's interesting to me, you haven't vetted Hillary Clinton's pastor's sermons; you haven't vetted President Bush's pastor's sermons; you haven't vetted John McCain's pastor's sermons. So you're not holding them to that standard, which I think is very interesting.

CUOMO: And you believe that what the reverend has said doesn't go beyond the pale of what he preaches in terms of religion, it doesn't deserve any more scrutiny than that, it doesn't have anything to do with politics, this is just the media picking on Senator Obama?

CASEY: No, it's fair to ask those questions, but what -- you have to accept Senator Obama's answers, that he repudiates those specific political views on the three or four issues that you've outlined; and I think you have to take his word for that.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
ABC
Show/Publication
ABC World News Tonight, Good Morning America
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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