Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Media Distorts Sarah Palin's Record.

I'm quite disappointed in ABC News' Charlie Gibson as I write these words, but maybe I shouldn't be. I thought he was a good choice do do Sarah Palin's first televised interview since she got picked to be McCain's VP. He seemed like a fair person, and one who would do his research and ask solid questions. Maybe I was wrong.

Within minutes of looking at a released transcript of the interview on, one glaring error jumped out at me. Notice the dialogue here:

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln's words when he said -- first, he suggested never presume to know what God's will is, and I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words.

But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side.

That's what that comment was all about, Charlie.


Palin explains herself well here. But frankly, the question didn't even need to be asked, because that same meaning was clear in the original context in which Sarah Palin first made those comments. And ABC news knew this, but chose to ignore the plain truth, so they could come up with a question based on a phony assertion -- that she feels that the Iraq war is "from God".

Immediately, the Charlie Gibson's credibility is shot, in my eyes, because those may have indeed been Palin's "exact words", but those words are pulled blatantly out of their context, cut off from her words immediately previous to those quoted. This of course serves to misrepresent her original meaning. For those who care about truth, here are the the facts:

On June 8, 2008, Sarah Palin spoke at her home church, the Wasilla Assembly of God. During that speech she started speaking about her son Track, who was preparing to be deployed to Iraq. Palin says:

"Pray for our military. He's gonna be deployed in September to Iraq. Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for -- that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan. So Bless them with your prayers, your prayers of protection over our soldiers. "

Therein lies the key difference. Palin never stated the war was "a task that is from God". She asked that the congregation pray that the soldiers would be on a task that was from God -- in other words, she was praying that the soldiers would be in God's will in what they were doing, and that our national leaders would also be in the will of God. Let's be clear here. Her prayer is quite similar to the many such prayers that concerned mothers and fathers all across the country pray for their own children daily. That is VERY DIFFERENT from the Charlie Gibson's contention that Palin stated they were "on a task that is from God", as news outlets have been repeating for almost a week now. Looking at what was said, any adult with proper reading comprehension can see what was really being said. These media types are almost all college-educated individuals with excellent comprehension skills. For them to take a slice of what she said, and pull it out of context and simply use the piece that they did, simply creates an irresponsible and unconscionable distortion.

Clearly there are many who are eager to portray Sarah as someone who's an irrational warmongering religious kook. And for the media to falsely imply that she believes the Iraq war is "a war from God" just gives further ammunition to her political enemies, and the enemies of Christianity as well.

ABC News and other news outlets that are misrepresenting Palin's words had full access to the full context of what Palin said. (As so we all --- the video clip is all over YouTube.) But they chose to slice the part of her words that woud create a certain impression, rather than just let the truth speak for itself. And in so doing, they give us yet one more reason not to trust the mainstream media.

(The context of Palin's comments can be seen from 3:05 to 3:42 on this video.)

1 comment:

MeDotOrg said...

If you are serving in the United States Military, and you are an agnostic or an atheist, should you have to serve on a task that it from God?

I respect Governor Palin's right to her religious views, but she has to understand that she will represent a nation composed not just of Christians, but of agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and even Christians that do not agree with her interpretation of God's will.

She must articulate a foreign policy that can rally ALL Americans, not just those who share her particular religious viewpoint.

Governor Palin did not specify which quote of Lincoln she was referencing, but I find this one particularly appropriate:

"The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God can not be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party -- and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. (Italics added are mine.)