Tonight At 11

Jeff Sharlet: I was so completely wrong about the mainstream media ignoring Pat Robertson’s Big Idea (assassinate Hugo Chavez) that CNN Headline News asked me to talk about said Idea on TV. Apparently, it was on at 7; but it’ll be on again at 11, followed by real live guests talking about Pat and his foibles.

The Christian Right’s Sex Slaves

Holly Berman writes:

“Oversexed,” Debbie Nathan‘s report in The Nation on how a strange alliance of conservative evangelicals and antiporn feminists have joined forces to fight prostitution is so concise, sharp, and important that it’s a shame her editors let two ill-informed remarks slip by. Most evangelicals, Nathan claims, are afraid of “foreigners, leftists, and sex.” That’s absurd — evangelicals love foreigners. And although they do seem to have some, um, issues about sex, I’ve never had sex with one myself, so I really can’t say. I suspect their attitudes very, which leads me to Nathan’s second mistake — suggesting that there exists a “monolithic” sensibility on the Christian Right. Not at all — why, some even hate foreigners!

But don’t let Nathan’s missteps mislead you — overall she’s a first rate reporter with a keen sense for sexual panics and the way they drive politics. In this case, fear of “sexual slavery” has so clouded the minds of evangelical activists and allies amongst the feminist left that they’ve actually made things worse for immigrants forced into slavery — sexual or, as is much more often the case, otherwise.

Nathan’s excellent report follows a fine article in the liberal American Prospect on how the evangelical emphasis on prostitution has come to dominate human rights work around the world.

Good work, liberal press. But this issue deserves to be mainstreamed. Inasmuch as it has in the past, Nathan points out, it’s been in a hand-wringing-yet-lurid fashion. Now it’s time to follow Nathan’s lead and start doing the reporting that little magazines like The Nation and American Prospect can’t afford.

The Robertson Doctrine

Even USA Today — via AP — can report on Pat Robertson‘s announcement that “the time has come” for the U.S. assassinate the democratically-elected Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez without worrying about being accused of picking on poor persecuted Pat. They can play it straight and simple; Pat has done all the work of revealing his bloodthirsty insanity. Or has he? One irony of his remarks missed by the mainstream media is that Pat’s invocation of the Monroe Doctrine as a justification (so far, reported only by the conservative WorldNetDaily, which also alleges that the Latin American leader may be part of Al Qaeda) is rather historically apt; only Pat seems to recognize that American history is on his side.

The liberal media critics at Media Matters offer video of Pat’s Big Idea.

Sifting through the reportage in response to Pat’s declaration — sparse so far, with no major media other than USA Today picking up on the AP report — we came across a sharp little editorial in The Virginian-Pilot: “Thanks to the work of U.S. Sen. [and GOP presidential hopeful] George Allen, as well as U.S. Reps. Thelma Drake and J. Randy Forbes, the new $286 billion transportation bill includes a particularly curious $10.8 million for an I-64 exit leading to City Line Road, which doesn’t exist. Robertson is planning a $300 million collection of houses, shops and offices. It sounds promising, but that’s really beside the point. The behavior of the Robertson Trinity isn’t. Since 2002, they have received $16,000 in offerings from the televangelist…”

Just another pork barrel story? Sure. It’s also good religion reporting.

UPDATE: The NYT runs the AP story with a photograph of an impish, smiling Robertson, apparently imagining that he is crushing Chavez’ head between his fingers, a la Kids in the Hall.