CNN's Bash, Roberts, and Phillips ignored Hagee's comments linking Hurricane Katrina to gay pride parade

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

Reporting on a New Orleans campaign event at which Sen. John McCain's "carefully scripted imagery was interrupted by a voter's question about Pastor John Hagee," CNN's Dana Bash aired a clip of Hagee -- who has endorsed McCain -- saying of Hurricane Katrina, "What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God." But Bash did not air the portion of Hagee's comments in which he reaffirmed his previous assertion that Hurricane Katrina was at least in part the result of "sin" that Hagee identified as "a massive homosexual rally." CNN's John Roberts and Kyra Phillips similarly noted that Hagee said that "Katrina was God's punishment for sinful behavior in New Orleans" without mentioning that among the "sinful behavior" Hagee referenced was the gay pride parade.

In a report that first aired during the 4 p.m. ET hour of the April 24 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash said of Sen. John McCain's recent visit to New Orleans, "[H]is carefully scripted imagery was interrupted by a voter's question about Pastor John Hagee, who endorsed McCain and says things like this." Bash then aired an audio clip from the April 22 edition of Salem Radio Network's The Dennis Prager Show, in which Hagee said, "What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God." However, Bash did not air the portion of Hagee's comments in which he reaffirmed his previous assertion that Hurricane Katrina was at least in part the result of "sin" that Hagee identified as "a massive homosexual rally" that was scheduled in New Orleans that week. Similarly, during the 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. ET hours of CNN's American Morning on April 25, co-hosts John Roberts and Kyra Phillips, respectively, noted that Hagee said that "Katrina was God's punishment for sinful behavior in New Orleans" without noting that among the "sinful behavior" Hagee was referring to was the gay pride parade. Bash's report aired again during the 6 p.m. ET hour of The Situation Room on April 24, as well as on the April 24 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, the April 24 edition of CNN Election Center, and the April 26 and 27 editions of CNN's Lou Dobbs This Week.

By contrast, on the April 25 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, guest host John King noted: "Televangelist John Hagee, who has endorsed McCain, has said things like God punished New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina for -- in part -- for planning a gay pride parade."

As the blog Think Progress noted, after stating that "[w]hat happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God," Hagee went on to have the following exchange with Prager:

PRAGER: The only question, and this is not a challenge as much as my own theological question to that, is this is really Dennis speaking, not you know, not some official questioner. But if that's the case so that would hold true for the earthquake and the tsunami, the earthquake in southern California, the tsunami that hit Indonesia. Is that, so is there any natural disaster that is not the result of sin?

HAGEE: Well, I'm not saying it's a result of sin, I'm saying it's a result of God's permissible will. You cannot say that everything on the Earth that happens is sin. It was carried in a newspaper that there was going to be a massive homosexual rally there the following Monday. Ah, but and I believe that homosexual marriage is sin and I believe that it's an abomination because Moses said it was. But it is wrong to say that every natural disaster is the result of sin. It is a result of God's permissive will, but who no man on Earth knows the mind of God...

PRAGER: Right, but in the case, did NPR get, is this quote correct though that in the case of New Orleans you do feel it was sin?

HAGEE: In the case of New Orleans, their plan to have that homosexual rally was sin. But it never happened. The rally never happened.

PRAGER: No, I understand.

HAGEE: It was scheduled that Monday.

PRAGER: No, I'm only trying to understand that in the case of New Orleans, you do feel that God's hand was in it because of a sinful city?

HAGEE: That it was a city that was planning a sinful conduct, yes.

Additionally, while simply airing Hagee's assertion that Hurricane Katrina "looked like the curse of God," Bash did not note that Hagee made that remark while defending his comments from the September 18, 2006, edition of National Public Radio's Fresh Air, in which he specifically cited the gay pride parade while asserting that "New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they ... were recipients of the judgment of God for that":

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.

As Boston Globe deputy national political editor Foon Rhee noted in an April 25 blog post, Hagee released an April 25 statement that said, "As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses ... But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise. No matter what the cause of the storm, my heart goes out to all who suffered in this terrible tragedy. There but for the grace of God go any one of us."

As Media Matters for America noted, on the April 21 edition of NPR's Morning Edition, NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts asserted that on the April 20 edition of ABC's This Week, McCain said "it was a mistake to seek and accept" Hagee's endorsement. In fact, while McCain answered, "Oh, probably. Sure" when asked whether it was "a mistake to solicit and accept" Hagee's endorsement, he went on to say of Hagee: "I'm glad to have his endorsement."

From the April 24 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BASH: But his carefully scripted imagery was interrupted by a voter's question about Pastor John Hagee, who endorsed McCain and says things like this.

HAGEE [audio clip]: What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God.

McCAIN: When someone endorses me, that does not mean that I embrace their views.

BASH: And, on his bus, a dig at [Sen.] Barack Obama.

McCAIN: I didn't attend Pastor Hagee's church for 20 years. And there's a great deal of difference, in my view, between someone who endorses you and other circumstances.

[end video clip]

BASH: That, Wolf, despite McCain's emphatic promise to run an above-the-fray campaign.

From the 6a.m. hour of the April 25 edition of CNN's American Morning:

ROBERTS: John McCain is going to be in Little Rock, Arkansas, today. It's the final stop on what he called his listening tour. In New Orleans yesterday, McCain blasted the response to Hurricane Katrina by all levels of government calling it a, quote, "perfect storm of mismanagement." McCain also had to answer for accepting the endorsement of televangelist John Hagee, who has repeatedly said Katrina was God's punishment for sinful behavior in New Orleans. McCain called Reverend Hagee's comments, quote, "nonsense," but didn't reject his endorsement.

From the April 25 edition of CNN's American Morning:

PHILLIPS: John McCain will be in Little Rock, Arkansas, today, the final stop on what he called his listening tour. In New Orleans yesterday, McCain blasted the response to Hurricane Katrina by all levels of government, calling it "a perfect storm of management."

McCain also had to answer the accepting of the endorsement of televangelist John Hagee, who has repeatedly said that Katrina was God's punishment for sinful behavior in New Orleans.

McCAIN [video clip]: May I just say that when someone endorses me, that does not mean that I embrace their views; that means that they are supporting me.

PHILLIPS: McCain called Reverend Hagee's comments "nonsense," but didn't reject his endorsement.

From the April 25 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:

KING: Now, out of fairness, we should mention John McCain also has a bit of a pastor problem. Televangelist John Hagee, who has endorsed McCain, has said things like God punished New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina for -- in part -- for planning a gay pride parade.

Senator McCain yesterday in New Orleans repeatedly called those remarks "nonsense."

From the April 22 edition of Salem Radio Network's The Dennis Prager Show, as transcribed by Think Progress:

PRAGER: Now, they have you on Hurricane Katrina, quote, from NPR two double-o six: "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 were recipients of the judgment of God for that." Go ahead.

HAGEE: Yes. The topic of that day was cursing and blessing. Moses taught in the book of Deuteronomy that everything in life is either a blessing or a curse. There are days that things happen that at the time look like a curse. In the passing of time, they may become what appears to be a blessing. An illustration is Joseph, when he was sold into slavery it looked like a curse, it looked like the worse day of his life. When his brothers came into Egypt looking for food, what looked like a bad day 13 years before turned out to be a blessed day. What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God, in time if New Orleans recovers and becomes the pristine city it can become it may in time be called a blessing. But at this time it's called a curse.

PRAGER: Right, but what you were saying and, I want to just make it clear that there is a divine hand in these natural acts and you see the divine hand in the hurricane that hit New Orleans.

HAGEE: If God is almighty and God is all powerful, God controls everything. If God does not control everything, he is not God. So the answer of that is yes.

PRAGER: Right. The only question, and this is not a challenge as much as my own theological question to that, is this is really Dennis speaking, not you know, not some official questioner. But if that's the case so that would hold true for the earthquake and the tsunami, the earthquake in southern California, the tsunami that hit Indonesia. Is that, so is there any natural disaster that is not the result of sin?

HAGEE: Well, I'm not saying it's a result of sin, I'm saying it's a result of God's permissible will. You cannot say that everything on the Earth that happens is sin. It was carried in a newspaper that there was going to be a massive homosexual rally there the following Monday. Ah, but and I believe that homosexual marriage is sin and I believe that it's an abomination because Moses said it was. But it is wrong to say that every natural disaster is the result of sin. It is a result of God's permissive will, but who no man on Earth knows the mind of God...

PRAGER: Right, but in the case, did NPR get, is this quote correct though that in the case of New Orleans you do feel it was sin?

HAGEE: In the case of New Orleans, their plan to have that homosexual rally was sin. But it never happened. The rally never happened.

PRAGER: No, I understand.

HAGEE: It was scheduled that Monday.

PRAGER: No, I'm only trying to understand that in the case of New Orleans, you do feel that God's hand was in it because of a sinful city?

HAGEE: That it was a city that was planning a sinful conduct, yes.

PRAGER: Ok, so that is the only I think, frankly, it's the only one they can get you on because people don't like to hear that sort of thing. But even so, I think that, I've always given religious people leeway, religious leaders on saying that we ourselves have sinned, and God has his own judgments. I mean the prophets used to do that, so that's you know, that's up to anybody to interpret the way they want. I mean, when the left says that we sin against the environment and we end up getting x or y, nobody says that that's illegitimate.

HAGEE: Well, I know that in our society, that is what I call politically correct, no one likes to hear that there is a God who has the power to correct man for his behavior that does not fall within the parameters of the word of God. That's why secular humanists hate the bible because it gives a definite standard of right and wrong. There's light and darkness, there's wheat and pears, there's sheep and goats. You can't be all things to all people. You either do live by the word of God or you don't live by the word of God. And there's nothing in between. And...and our secular permissive society, that's just a hateful idea.

PRAGER: Alright, I'm going to let you go, but...and I'm going to take calls that are coming in on this.

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