I was on The Takeaway (New York Public Radio–WNYC) this morning to talk about evangelicals and the election. Listen here.
Here is a taste of Kelly’s New York Times op-ed, “Pompeo Called Me a ‘Liar.’ That’s Not What Bothers Me“:
There is a reason that freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution. There is a reason it matters that people in positions of power — people charged with steering the foreign policy of entire nations — be held to account. The stakes are too high for their impulses and decisions not to be examined in as thoughtful and rigorous an interview as is possible.
Journalists don’t sit down with senior government officials in the service of scoring political points. We do it in the service of asking tough questions, on behalf of our fellow citizens. And then sharing the answers — or lack thereof — with the world.
Read the entire piece here.
Mike Pompeo is Secretary of State. He is a defender of global religious freedom. He thinks Donald Trump is the new Queen Esther. He is affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. He is a Sunday School teacher. He believes that “Jesus Christ as our savior is truly the only solution for our world.” He spoke at a God and country rally.
He also berates female reporters with vulgar language and map quizzes.
Here is The New York Times:
Soon after that, Ms. Kelly said, an aide to Mr. Pompeo ended the roughly nine-minute interview, and Mr. Pompeo glared at her and left the room — hardly an unusual reaction in hurly-burly Washington.
But in a broadcast later on NPR, Ms. Kelly described what happened next.
She said the aide who had stopped the interview reappeared and asked her to come with her, with no recorder. Ms. Kelly said she was taken to Mr. Pompeo’s private living room, where he was waiting, and “where he shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself had lasted.”
“He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine,” Ms. Kelly, a co-host of “All Things Considered,” said on NPR. “He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the f-word in that sentence, and many others.”
Mr. Pompeo asked Ms. Kelly if she could find Ukraine on a map, and Ms. Kelly, whose reporting has taken her around the world — to Russia, North Korea and other countries — said, “Yes.”
“He called out for his aides to bring him a map of the world with no writing, no countries marked,” Ms. Kelly said. “I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, ‘People will hear about this.’”
Read the entire piece here.
Christian writer and priest Fleming Rutledge puts it well. I can’t do any better:
This is a cri de coeur from the depths of all I know of Christian formation. When a man who makes a great show of his Christian faith does this, at the heart of our government, what is left of us as a civilization?https://t.co/OUO3mjHqrF
— Fleming Rutledge (@flemingrut) January 25, 2020
ADDENDUM (1-25-2020 at 5:40pm)
It looks like Mike Pompeo has responded to this story on Secretary of State letterhead:
“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice. First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record. It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency.
This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration. It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.
It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.”
Hey Christian kids, when someone (allegedly) lies to you, you have every right to scream at them, mistreat them, degrade their expertise, and curse at them. Just follow the example of evangelical role model and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his boss Donald Trump. Don’t listen to all the evangelical anti-Trump losers who tell you to turn the other cheek. Just fire-back in a press release or get your public relations people to book you on Fox News. After all, we are in the middle of the culture war. We can’t let little things like Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount get in the way when we have so much work to do in our righteous quest to restore Christian values.
Today I was at my local public television/public radio station doing some media with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and took advantage of a photo-op with Big Bird.
I know I am a few days late here, but I needed to do a post in honor of the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street. The show premiered on November 10, 1969. I don’t know if I watched that first episode, but I am pretty sure I started watching the show at some point during the first season on Channel 13 (WNET)
I grew up with Gordon, Susan, Mr. Hooper, Bob, Maria, Luis and, of course, Jim Henson’s Muppets. I then watched thirty years later as my kids got to know some of these same characters in addition to new residents of the neighborhood including Alan, Gabriela, and Gina. Here is a song from 1998 that brings back memories because I remember watching it (and later singing it) with my daughter Ally:
Check out Terry Gross’s NPR interview with evangelical minister Rob Schenck. I first learned about Schenck through the documentary “Armor of Light.” The film featured his attempts to convince his fellow evangelicals that being “pro-life” and “pro-gun” were morally incompatible positions.
Schenck has also changed his views on abortion. Once an ardent anti-abortion activist, Schenk has now softened his position. Here is a taste of the summary of his interview with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air”:
On becoming an anti-abortion activist in 1988
There was a very close identification with the civil rights struggle, and I came to see this as a kind of civil rights struggle for the most vulnerable of human beings, those in the womb. And so as time went on, I embraced that. It took me a little while to become totally convinced of the rightness of that cause and I would take that into more than 20 years, actually 25 years, of activism.
On ways he and his fellow anti-abortion activists made it difficult for women seeking abortion
We engaged in mass blockades. Sometimes, we would have a dozen people in front of the doorways to a clinic. Other times, it would be hundreds. On occasion, we actually had thousands. And so we created human obstacles for those coming and going, whether they were the abortion providers themselves, their staff members, of course, women and sometimes men accompanying them that would come to the clinics. And it created a very intimidating encounter.
There were, of course, exceptions. There were women who would later thank us for being there. There were adoptions arranged where women would go through with their pregnancy, deliver their child, the child would be adopted through the pro-life network, but that was a relatively rare exception to the rule.
On reflecting on how his rhetoric while protesting abortion clinics and doctors may have contributed to the violence toward abortion providers, such as Dr. David Gunn, who was murdered in 1993; Dr. George Tiller, who was was wounded in 1993 and murdered in 2009; and Dr. Barnett Slepian, who was murdered in 1998
This became more about us, about me, about our need to win, to win the argument, to win on legislation, to win in the courts. I will tell you that my acceptance of that responsibility had to come only after a long period of reflective prayer, of listening deeply to those who were gravely affected by those murders, in therapy with my own — I will be careful to say — Christian therapist, who helped me come to terms with what really happened and how I may have contributed to those acts of violence through my rhetoric, and eventually in a confrontation, a very loving one but nonetheless an encounter, a very strong, very powerful encounter, with the relative of one of the doctors shot and stabbed. … And it was … actually at a Passover Seder table when I was confronted very gently and very lovingly by a relative who happened to be a rabbi of that one abortion provider. In that moment, I realized my own culpability in those in those terrible, terrible events.
Read or listen to the entire interview here. He also discusses evangelicals and support for Donald Trump.
Themes discussed and things learned:
- Julian Zelizer is writing a book about Newt Gingrich
- Zelizer says that we should be careful not to place Trump solely in “long term continuums.” There is a lot about him that is unique, new, and unprecedented.
- Giesberg trashes Newt Gingrich’s attempt to compare the culture wars with the American Civil War.
- Giesberg reminds us that Confederate monuments were erected during Jim Crow.
- Zelizer: If you think that we are living in “two different countries” today, try learning something about the 1960s.
- Giesburg assigns Eric Foner’s biography of Abraham Lincoln in her Civil War class at Villanova.
- Giesburg argues that Lincoln learned a lot during his presidency. So can Trump. (But she is not optimistic).
- Zelizer: In the 1990s, Gingrich pushed a kind of conservative populism similar to Trump’s base.
- Zelizer connects Trump’s populism to Father Coughlin and George Wallace. Trump is the first president to ride this wave of conservative populism to the White House.
- Zelizer: Race-based nativism never went away. Trump is not “restoring” anything.
- Evangelicals Christian do call NPR stations and make thoughtful comments
- Giesburg compares the Trump victory to the period of “redemption” at the end of Reconstruction.
Apparently 1000s of people come to Iowa in January every four years to watch the political frenzy leading up to the caucuses. The NPR show Here & Now has a nice piece on these political tourists.
Joy heard this on NPR today and when she came home from work she strongly encouraged me to do the same thing this week in New Hampshire. (I am on sabbatical, after all and this is a bucket-list thing for me!) For about ten minutes a frenzied brainstorming session took place in the Fea household about how I might be able to pull this off. Then we realized that my daughter has a volleyball tournament in New Jersey on Saturday and I need to take her to it. I love watching my daughter play volleyball, but this realization took the air out of the balloon.
I am still thinking about a Sunday through Tuesday visit, but I think it will be a long shot.
If you want to get a sense of just how the evangelical community is divided over its political candidates, especially Donald Trump, then Zoe Chace’s story at This American Life is a must listen. It begins at about the 8:15 minute mark.
Here is a taste of Episode 578: “I Thought I Knew You.”
This week, stories of people who are feeling the ground shift underneath them when people they are close to change. Including conservative radio host Tony Beam in South Carolina who is completely baffled by the candidate his audience has decided to get behind this election season.
Apparently I was on NPR today: