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Okay, I’m not going to say that Tim Russert’s questions to Barack Obama about Louis Farrakhan are racist.  

Not directly, anyway.

Instead I’m simply going to ask you about a white religious leader who has been accused of anti-Semitism, and tell you whether primary candidates have been asked to denounce him.

You tell me in the comments whether you think there is a double standard.

This diary has three parts:

• Robertson’s New World Order and anti-Semitism
• How primary candidates treat Pat Robertson
• Does the media apply a double standard?

• Robertson’s New World Order and anti-Semitism

There have been many critiques of Robertson’s New World Order that have highlighted his explicit borrowing from famous Anti-Semitic tracts, notably Nesta Webster’s thesis that most of the revolutionary movements of the 20th century were part of a Jewish plot and Eustace Mullins’ theory that a group of international Jewish bankers control the U.S. government.

The clearest discussion of this is Jacob Heilbrunn’s “His Anti-Semitic Sources” in the April 20, 1995 The New York Review of Books (which I don't have a link to because I wasn’t able to find it online). Heilbrunn makes Robertson’s reliance on the above sources clear (even showing evidence that in my opinion demonstrates Robertson plagiarizes from those source). Heilbrunn doesn’t mince words in his conclusion:

But if he were honestly to clarify his views Robertson would have to acknowledge that his book amounts to a new version of the bizarre conspiracy theories of Nesta Webster and Eustace Mullins. Robertson avoids the word "Jew" in his book, but he has exhumed and embellished some of the most poisonous anti-Semitic canards in European history.

In "New world order, old world anti-Semitism - Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition” The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner writes in the Christian Century  that Robertson’s conspiracy theories are broad enough to include both anti-Enlightenment and anti-Semitic ideas. But the latter are clearly there:

Conspiracy theories and the economics of self-regard have historically lent themselves to social and usually racialist scapegoating. It's hardly surprising that Robertson's preoccupation with interest and debt have led him to link his antiusury principles to a distinct form of anti-Semitic propaganda: the Jew as Shylock, insidious money lender.

This seems pretty clear to me, but I urge you to read the articles themselves to appreciate just how convoluted and repulsive Robertson’s views in his 1991 book were.

Does it measure up to Louis Farrakhan? Frank Rich addressed this question in the New York Times over ten years ago:

Like Mr. Farrakhan, Mr. Robertson overdramatizes Paul Warburg's role as the "true draftsman" and "catalyst" of the sinister U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, in 1913. Such is Mr. Robertson's fascination with the Rothschilds that he calls The Economist, an independent magazine that once had a Rothschild as its chairman, "the Rothschild publication."

"The New World Order" and Mr. Farrakhan's tirade have the same pedigree. Among its "original historical sources," Mr. Robertson's bibliography does not include either Paul Warburg's papers or books, but it does list Nesta Webster's "Secret Societies," a notorious anti-Semitic tract from the 1920's. Our two most prominent extremists of the 1990's are both dipping into the same well of pseudo-history that once served Father Coughlin and Henry Ford.

Note here that Rich is neither excusing nor equating the two, simply pointing out that many of the arguments made about Louis Farrakhan apply in spades to Pat Robertson.

In the end, is Robertson an Anti-Semite? I don’t presume to say and don’t really care – I’ve simply demonstrated that he has endorsed the same conspiracy theories about  Jews that Louis Farrakhan has. Because my ultimate question is: Do we apply the same standard of guilt by association to white candidates?

• How primary candidates treat Pat Robertson

In 1995, Frank Rich noted that: “ At its ‘Road to Victory’ convention last fall, Phil Gramm, Lamar Alexander and Elizabeth Dole, standing in for her husband, all kissed Mr. Robertson's ring.” Is that surprising?

I thought I would look at whether current primary candidates are asked being to denounce Pat Robertson.

Let’s start with Rudy Giuliani, who basked in Robertson’s endorsement. You can google image search those two names and find tons of pictures of the two together doing their Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon impression. I don’t recall Giuliani ever being asked to denounce or reject Robertson, and a Lexis search turned up no evidence of it.

When Giuliani endorsed McCain, the Arizona Senator did not automatically get Robertson’s endorsement. You see, he was still mad about McCain’s 2000 statement branding Robertson and Falwell “agents of intolerance.” Robertson sniffs: “I had spent years and lots of money getting him and his buddies and his chairman on various Senate Committees. And then to have him come down to my city and make a statement like that, it was outrageous.” (See Steven G. Vegh, “Robertson declines to give second-round endorsement” Norfolk Virginian-Pilot 2/7/08).

But McCain did give the 2006 commencement address at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, and you can google their special moment. He also dropped his opposition to a financial-reporting provision that many say was the real reason for televangelist opposition to him (Lee Bandy, “Christian Right weighs in” Columbia State, 1/12/07). Still, while David Kuo wrote that Mike Huckabee is actually campaigning to become the next Pat Robertson, Pat Robertson is the one evangelical leader with whom McCain may shy away from being seen in public. Still, as he says in an interview with Robertson’s CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) reporter David Brody:

"I'm so proud of Justice Alito. I'm so proud of playing a role in getting his nomination through the United States Senate, he and Justice Roberts; and, I've said many times that my nominees as President will be people like Roberts and Alito"

[And canines all across America raised their heads, for the sound of the dogwhistle was so piercing.]

Before I get accused of Clinton-bashing, let me point out once more that my point in this diary is about race. Granted, Clinton did get a dig in at Obama about failing to adequately condemn Farrakhan, and so this might be read as talking about hypocrisy. But I’m not making an argument about her, I’m making an argument about our discourse, and asking why no one has asked her about her recent interview on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club.

I’ll be succinct. On Tuesday, David Brody, the Christian Broadcasting Network “Senior National Correspondent”  did a one-on-one interview with Hillary Clinton, that was broadcast on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club”. You can see the whole faith-based affair at the link, introduced by Robertson, ending with Pat Robertson calling her a “brave lady.”

Just to underscore that this is not primarily about Clinton, let me note that Barack Obama’s appearance on CBN was by email with the same reporter. It hits on some of the same faith-based rhetoric, in characteristic cerebral Obama style. But that’s not the end of the saga. Steve Benen records Robertson’s response when someone else alluded to Obama’s remarks, on the “700 Club”:

“I think what [Obama] says is dangerous,” Robertson blustered. “I think that it has a veneer of sophistication and it has a veneer of moderation, a veneer of intelligence, but underneath it he basically is selling out, well, the origins of our nation.
“America wasn’t built on Hinduism,” Robertson continued. “America wasn’t built on Islam. America wasn’t built on Buddhism. America and our democratic institutions were built on the Christian faith. There is no question about it…. And I think to put Christianity on a par with Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., I believe this man is doing a grave disservice to our nation.”


• Does the media apply a double standard?

Briefly, I want to point out that Russert was talking about Obama’s pastor’s associations with Farrakhan, and had nothing about any direct tie between Obama and Farrakhan.

Did Russert ever ask Liddy Dole, Lamar Alexander, or Phil Gramm to denounce their direct ties with Robertson?

Did Russert ever ask Rudy Giuliani to denounce his numerous appearances with Robertson?

Did Russert ever ask Hillary Clinton or John McCain (or even Barack Obama) to denounce their personal interviews with Robertson’s televangelist network?

[And let's say that Barack Obama were to give an interview to NOI's The Final Call, would there be the same silence?]

I'm not even going to speculate on why, but in my opinion there is a double standard at work. [Disclaimer: I'm not equating Robertson with Farrakhan, simply pointing out that they are both purveyors of anti-Semitic theories. I don't they have to be "equally" objectionable for the question of double standards to be asked.]

The poll and comments below will tell me if you agree.

Originally posted to MarkC on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:41 AM PST.


Does the MSM use a double standard in asking Obama to disavow anti-Semitic remarks by black figures to whom he is indirectly linked, but not asking other candidates to disavow anti-Semitic remarks by a white figure to whom they are more directly linked?

81%91 votes
5%6 votes
13%15 votes

| 112 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Okay (13+ / 0-)

    I brought race into the poll, when I should have left it out and let you provide your own theories about this in the comments. Mea culpa. But feel free to disagree below!

    •  I live in VA Beach. (8+ / 0-)

      We have had more than our fair share of Pat Robertson's bullshit. Though, I guess I should be thankful for his least he prays away the hurricanes. -->insert eye-roll here<--</p>

      There are pages of examples of the racist, anti-semitic, anti-gay, anti-woman and anti-anythingnotwhitechristianmale from the pompous asshole. I am frustrated with both Clinton and Obama for appearing on CBN....he and the channel/program he started should be shunned by all Democrats.

      Just my 2 cents.

      "In your hands lies the future of your world and the fulfillment of the best qualities of your own spirit." -RFK

      by carolinadreamer on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:51:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Now that is a Diary to die for ! Bottom lined (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MarkC, FXDCI

      verified and cut and dried..! Fukin double standards..Cut me a pice of that 3.14 and top it off with some Ben & Jerrys french vanilla..Ben & Jerry are like Gawds to me !

      "Better a little late, than a little never"..Doctor Julian Winston

      by Johnny Rapture on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:54:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  and let's not forget his traitorous remark (7+ / 0-)

      On 9/11/2001, where he said on live TV that the attack was God's revenge against America for tolerating gays and abortionists, even as the monitors behind him showed the buildings coming down.

      By analogy think of a commentator on December 7, 1941, saying, as Imperial Japan was in the midst of attacking Pearl Harbor, that the attack was God's revenge against America for repealing prohibition.  

      We deserved it, did we?  Treasonous wretch, may he burn a very special hell of his own making.  

      •  Wasn't that Falwell? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I thought Jerry said that on Robertson's program.

        The White House told Falwell to retract, or not be invited to the national memorial service at the National Cathedral. He did, but his son gave supporters a wink-wink nudge-nudge message by email or online, IIRC.

        I think Robertson declined to actually repudiate Fallwell's comments and did a "blame the messenger" or misdirection.

        "We're up to our alligators in assholes around here!" --Me

        by homogenius on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 11:25:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Both! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, sfbob, Judgment at Nuremberg

          It was Falwell onRobertson's program:

          JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way--all of them who have tried to secularize America--I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."

          PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

          •  oh yes and the pagans too. (0+ / 0-)

            Yes, Falwell always had a special thrill for "pointing the finger in (peoples') faces."  

            Really showed his character there.  A finger-pointer, someone who got his big thrill in life from being more righteous than thou.   God!, how I despise that sort of personality.  

            Here's me wishing he'd dropped dead while having sex with someone other than his spouse.  And been caught at it.  

            At very minimum someone should have checked the surfaces under his desk for traces of "DNA."  

    •  McCain needs to denounce HIMSELF (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MarkC, Judgment at Nuremberg

      McCain called the U.S. a Christian Nation.

      ADL, who has already said that Obama has done enough to denounce Farrakahn, was specfically unhappy with McCains half-hearted backtracking on his statements.

      McCain... the real antisemitic and racist candidate.

  •  great diary, race is important here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    nothing wrong with using race in the poll. Black candidates and public figures are asked to do WAY more than others.

    Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. ~Mollie Ivins, Dec 2006.

    by catchaz on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:45:53 AM PST

  •  I denounced Pat Robertson...twice... (6+ / 0-)

    I was in a trendy nightspot in Atlanta when Pat bought me a beer. We got to talking and agreed to go back to his place. On the way, he bought powder cocaine for me and crack cocaine for himself. We used the drugs, after which I denounced him, once on the couch and once in his bathroom. He told be it was the best denouncement he ever had. Afterwards, he asked me to renounce him, something I did not feel comfortable doing. I did, howeverm given him a quick rejection before I left.

  •  and john hagee and ann coulter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and tons of others

    I shall not rest until right wing conservatives are 4th party gadflies limited to offering minor corrections on legislation once or twice a year.

    by davefromqueens on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:48:28 AM PST

  •  Can we make the Republicans (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MarkC, jimreyn

    Denounce Dobson?

    When we are together it isn't me who matters, but the other person

    by AHiddenSaint on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:53:44 AM PST

  •  Don't call the media mainstream. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You give the media too much credit when you use the MSM acronym.  There is nothing mainstream about the media we now have before us.

    They are the corporate media - bought, owned and paid for.

    Any party that would lie to start a war would also steal an election.

    by landrew on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:53:46 AM PST

  •  Denunciations and disavowals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are only expected from us on the left. That's why Pat Robertson is on TV all the time. The double standard is one of ideology, I think, not race - I mean, look at Alan Keyes.

    " I don't like labeling people....but MBNYC is scum." - Found on PFF

    by MBNYC on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:58:59 AM PST

  •  Did Rev Robotson evur see that 262' tall Geezus ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MarkC, jimreyn

    No he didnt..Rev Robotsoon aint half the preecher man that Gerry Foulwell, Oral Robbers or Jimmy "The Swag" Swaggert are or wuz..Jim and Tammy are also still much missed by us true believerrs..I didnt need my pension and retirement muney nohow cuase when you give youse reeeve back 10 fold..Sorta like the fukin Reagan trickle down..down his leg

    "Better a little late, than a little never"..Doctor Julian Winston

    by Johnny Rapture on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:59:42 AM PST

  •  God n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    St. Ronnie was an asshole.

    by manwithnoname on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 11:03:21 AM PST

  •  The problem with your logic here is that (0+ / 0-)

    our standard of being an inclusive political coalition is not shared by the Republican Party.  In other words, we don't don't embrace divisive people regardless of race, creed or color.

    Neither Farrakhan nor Roberts represent Democratic values as I see them - they are both divisive and destructive people - they are both the kind of people who are right at home in the Republican Party, but really have no place in ours.

    The really logical question would be for the Republicans and it would go something like this: "If Republicans can embrace divisive people like Pat Robertson then why can't they embrace Farrakahn?"

    •  Not my point actually (0+ / 0-)

      My point is about the media, and how they ask Obama about a six-degrees-of-separation connection to a figure known for anti-Semitic statements, when there is a much closer relationship between other candidates and a similar white figure. It seems to me the underlying assumption is that all blacks are alike while the same is not true for whites.

      I don't understand what it has to do with party -- I tried to show their double standard is applied to Republican and Democratic candidates.

      •  Well, Farrakhan did just endorse Obama (0+ / 0-)

        and frankly the fact that Obama had the opportunity to renounce/denounce his support in front of a wide audience was a gift.  The last thing we need is a nominee who is perceived to be connected to Farrakahn - we've been down that road before and it sucked.  Having two of our key constituencies - African Americans and Jews - at each other's throats would be a very bad thing.  

        •  Oh, I see! (0+ / 0-)

          You have to make this about your candidate.

          Okay. Please note the diary is nonpartisan. But if you want to get into it, then answer me this. Why did your candidate give an exclusive interview to Pat Robertson's show yesterday? That's getting a lot closer to raw anti-Semitic views than receiving and then denouncing a veiled endorsement. And why didn't Russert ask your candidate about it?

          •  My candidate? (0+ / 0-)

            Who is my candidate?

            I'm voting for "The Democrat" in November and I want "The Democrat" to win.

            I don't want Louis Farrakhan anywhere near the Democratic Party or our candidates because he has consistently shown himself to be divisive and destructive to our party over the many years he has been on the national stage.

            I think it was good that Obama got to be in front of a huge national audience and politely express pretty much exactly what I said in the paragraph above.  I mean do you think that with Farrakhan's history, he will help Obama with the bullshit attacks that are being launched against him from an extreme wing of the Jewish community?  Are you not aware that Obama and his campaign have been working very hard to combat those erroneous emails and slanders of him?  Do you not understand that doing anything but denouncing Farrakhan under the circumstances would undermine months of work to correct the lies and misimpressions of that smear campaign?  I know its tinfoil, but when I heard that Farrakhan endorsed Obama, I wondered if the GOP were paying him to do it.

            As for Russert - he is an asshole - he thinks talking about UFO sightings is an important part of the national debate.  If it had occured to him that his question about Farrakhan might actually help Obama - I would bet money that he wouldn't have asked it.  I think we got lucky.

            •  I get it! (0+ / 0-)

              You're really not disagreeing with the diary at all, then. You're arguing that it might be a double-standard, but that it might be a good outcome in the end. Is that it? I still am completely at sea about the "problem in [my] logic" in your original comment -- but you're right and sorry that I misread your most recent comment.

              •  What I was trying to say about the logic is that (0+ / 0-)

                it makes sense for our party to be asked to reject creeps because we hold ourselves to a higher standard - while what doesn't make sense to me is that the Republicans don't embrace all creeps because they are all creeps.  

  •  What about Pat Robertson and Diamond Mining... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MarkC, homogenius, jimreyn, eddie233 Africa?

    Cozy with famous dictators? Check.

    Blood diamonds? Check.

    Complicit in genocidal struggles for diamond rights? Check.

    If class war is being waged in America, my class is clearly winning... - Warren Buffett

    by dj angst on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 11:24:14 AM PST

    •  This has never gotten enough coverage. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MarkC, jimreyn, eddie233, dansmith17

      Pat has built his fortune by staying just a hairsbreadth within the law and IRS regulations. Behind the avuncular smile is a take-no-prisoners media mogul on par with Murdoch. The word reptilian comes to mind.

      "We're up to our alligators in assholes around here!" --Me

      by homogenius on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 11:29:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's just such a Christian, thing to do; to.. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MarkC, eddie233

        ... take profit from institutions that routinely force children into becoming soldiers, who routinely hack their enemies apart with machetes and eat the hearts as counting coup.

        I'm surprised he doesn't brag about it proudly, since he appears to have misunderstood the scriptural command to "Suffer the little children..."

        If class war is being waged in America, my class is clearly winning... - Warren Buffett

        by dj angst on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 11:48:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I already did. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I actually got to call Pat a liar in my LTE in the L.A. Times mid-90s. My first LTE, too.


    "We're up to our alligators in assholes around here!" --Me

    by homogenius on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 11:27:45 AM PST

  •  Who really gives a crap about Pat Robertson? (0+ / 0-)

    A burned out gasbag not worth any thinking person's time or energy to denounce. He is a  pathetic joke.

    For my friends justice, for my enemies the law.---Benito Juarez
    What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.---G.K. Chesterton

    by Marcello the Roman on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 12:10:34 PM PST

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