In the "this takes the cake" department, I have two stories for you to refer to. But first a question-- which is more unlikely, the birth of baby animals after a virginal conception, or Fox News deliberately reporting false information about Barack Obama?
However unlikely it may seem to you, both things are true.
First the story about parthenogenesis (reproduction without the aid of a male). Here's the link---
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16784022/. It's a very interesting story about Flora, the female komodo dragon who without ever having or having been with a male partner conceived and gave birth to five little sprogs. I'm thinking if Flora can do, so could the Virgin Mary :)
The other story is less interesting but actually more disturbing. Here's the link--- http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/1/24/213257/082. The story is about the claim that Barack Obama was educated by his Muslim father and possible in a Muslim school of sorts in Jakarta. It has been repeated in several places and in several ways. It was even in Insight Magazine in some form.
What is the truth of the matter: 1) Obama's father was an atheist; 2) Obama's school was not a Muslim school; 3) Obama professes to be, and has publicly shared his testimony as a Christian. He belongs to a church in the Chicago area.
What troubles me about this latter story is the issue of ideology trumping the facts, or leading to 'trumped' up versions of a person's curriculum vitae. I personally do not know what to think of Barack Obama yet, any more than I know what to think about some of the eight other Democrats and nine other Republicans already in the Presidential sweepstakes. Time will tell.
But what I do know is that Christians should not put up with lies about anyone just because they like or dislike somebody's politics. The big problem with ideologically driven news channels and stories (and there is plenty enough bias to go around from both ends of the political spectrum)is that when they don't even do good reporting, don't even check the facts, don't even bother to correct themselves or apologize for smearing another human being needlessly or making errors, then we should simply not listen to such sources of reporting. I want accuracy first, and opinions last in my news. I do not want ideology first and a fast and loose way of handling the facts, however comforting the ideology may be to my predilections.
What has been my experience with the media? Well its not a scientific sample that's for sure but I will share a couple of experiences. I have done a great deal of TV over the last decade, especially since the James ossuary story came out (and by the way Yuval Goren of the IAA now admitted under oath at the trial of Oded Golan that there is genuine patina in two of the letters of the name Jesus on the James box-- in other words, that word is clearly ancient and genuine. The box will be vindicated! More on this later).
In the first place, I have found the old major networks CBS, ABC, NBC, and some of the cable channels particularly Discovery Channel, National Geographic, to be very careful both in the reporting of facts and in allowing a person to share their own point of view fairly. Almost any interview I have done with those folks I was told to be myself and say my piece, and after the fact I never felt misquoted or misrepresented, though there have been plenty of times I wish they used more of the interview of course. There is a difference however between doing an interview for the news side of a network and doing an interview for the entertainment side of a network. The latter asks you to sign a waver, the former does not because of the issue of journalistic ethics. By this I mean the news side of a network is held to a higher standard of accuracy, the entertainment side is allow to be more creative not surprisingly.
My experience with the old non-cable networks, including working with Bob Simon and Miguel Sancho at CBS, Stone Phillips at NBC and Peter Jennings and Liz Vargas at ABC has been at the other end of the spectrum from my experience with working with one particular Fox show---the O Reilly show.
For an hour before an interview I was to do on O'Reilly at Easter time a couple of years ago, I was drilled by the producer on the cell phone about not quoting the Bible, not saying anything theological, and only answering the direct questions of O' Reilly succinctly. After listening to this lecture politely I finally asked the producer wasn't he concerned about offending his conservative Christian audience by stifling me and not really allowing me to share what I was there on the show to share about Jesus' bodily resurrection. His response was chilling-- "we are more worried about offending our secular conservative audience." I guess he assumed that conservative Christians have no other channel or programs to turn to for their information so he was less worried about offending them.
And then the interview happened. O' Reilly asked me if I had seen the Shroud of Turin. I simply said no as did the other guest, John Dominic Crossan. He then went on about having seen it. It seemed to me like the lecture I got was all about not showing up O'Reilly, and about stroking his ego, as apparently he doesn't know much of the Bible or the history of the study of the resurrection, but he had seen the Shroud in Turin.
In the old sense of the word 'liberal' as in open-minded and trying to be fair I would much prefer the 'liberal' networks to this, as they allow you to have your say. Yes, I often disagree with some of the politics and viewpoints I hear from those folks, but frankly I want a 'free' press to be 'free'-- not pre-censored like that Fox show. I want to hear a variety of points of view, and I want to make up my own mind. I frankly don't trust folks who are prepared to report false facts for the sake of their own opinions, regardless of whether I agree with some of their other views or not.
And herein lies one of the big problems in conservative Christianity. Evangelicals are not encouraged to think for themselves, not encouraged to do critical thinking, not encouraged to be open minded in the good sense of that phrase. They have too often been taught to blindly accept what they are told. This of course becomes dangerous when it is applied to watching the news and we are dealing with vital life and death matters and some aspects of politics. Of course it is true as my granny used to say that "we should not be so open minded that our brains fall out". Christians should be leading the search for the truth. Christians should be committed to finding out the truth, however uncomfortable and however much it makes us adjust our political or even religious views. The question is can we handle the truth? Nuff said.