Dobson clarifies Thompson remarks

posted at 11:53 am on March 31, 2007 by Bryan

Via Newsmax:

“We welcome the opportunity to clarify Dr. Dobson’s remarks that were first reported in Dan Gilgoff’s online article titled ‘Dobson Offers Insight on 2008 Republican Hopefuls: Focus on the Family Founder Snubs Thompson, Praises Gingrich.’

“At the outset, it’s important to note that this headline is an outright mischaracterization of the views Dr. Dobson expressed. His words weren’t intended to represent either an endorsement of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich or a disparagement of former Sen. Fred Thompson. Dr. Dobson appreciates Sen. Thompson’s solid, pro-family voting record and his position that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.

“In his conversation with Mr. Gilgoff, Dr. Dobson was attempting to highlight that to the best of his knowledge, Sen. Thompson hadn’t clearly communicated his religious faith, and many evangelical Christians might find this a barrier to supporting him.

“Dr. Dobson told Mr. Gilgoff he had never met Sen. Thompson and wasn’t certain that his understanding of the former senator’s religious convictions was accurate. Unfortunately, these qualifiers weren’t reported by Mr. Gilgoff. We were, however, pleased to learn from his spokesperson that Sen. Thompson professes to be a believer.

Read the rest, as it gets into Dobson’s recent conversation with Newt Gingrich as well.

The MSM pulled a similar stunt on Jerry Falwell regarding the Teletubbies a while back. Very few bloggers of any stripe bothered to wait for the facts or correct the record then, and I suspect an equal number will do the same now. When the MSM’s target is a much villified Christian leader, corrections and retractions are hard to come by.

There’s a lesson in this, both for Christian leaders and for bloggers. For Christian leaders, expect your words to be twisted by MSM reporters. Grant them interviews, but have your own tape recorder standing by so that you can publish your remarks in full when your words get twisted. Because they will get twisted — you can count on it.

For bloggers, many of us got into this game to counter MSM spin on the war and politics. But many of us accept MSM hit jobs on Christian leaders whole. We ought not to do that. I for one am fed up with bloggers jumping to the attack on Christians and Christian leaders. The MSM gets very few things right, and treats very few subjects fairly. Christian groups and leaders are perennial MSM targets, usually getting either an anthropological treatment a la the NYT or getting treatment that is outright dishonest and hostile. Treat every MSM report on both with the same skepticism that you treat MSM reports on war and politics, and expect that there is another side to the story that the MSM is leaving out. That’s almost always the case.

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Just my personal opinion but i think that Dobson realizes he stepped in it and is trying a little damage control by blaming the media.

Unless he was completly misquoted(which Dobson isnt claiming) I dont see any way you can spin this much:

“Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for,” Dobson said of Thompson. “[But] I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression,”

And even if the above statement somehow means the complete opposite of what it actually says why would Dobsons spokesman feel the need to say:

He said that, while Dobson didn’t believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless “has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith…We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians,”

My reading of this is that Dobson doesnt think that people who believe and act exactly like he does is not a true Christian.

I cant think of many qualifiers that could have been left out to make it seem any other way.

amish on March 31, 2007 at 12:07 PM

Heres a Cool Story:

Five Year Old Boy Survives 90 Foot Fall

This is real it seems as hard as it is to believe. Heres a better pic of where he hit the ground. Its like something out of a cartoon:

Pic

amish on March 31, 2007 at 12:15 PM

For bloggers, many of us got into this game to counter MSM spin on the war and politics. But many of us accept MSM hit jobs on Christian leaders whole. We ought not to do that. I for one am fed up with bloggers jumping to the attack on Christians and Christian leaders.

Better late than never. Thanks Bryan. It really bothered me to see all the hate spewed from this site directed at such a fine man overall. We all have faults, but Dr. Dobson has done far more good than most.

wytammic on March 31, 2007 at 12:21 PM

My view still stands that one doesn’t have to pass the “Dobson Christianity Test”, to be either a Christian, or a Presidential candidate.

amerpundit on March 31, 2007 at 12:29 PM

My view still stands that one doesn’t have to pass the “Dobson Christianity Test”, to be either a Christian, or a Presidential candidate.

And that’s my view as well.

Bryan on March 31, 2007 at 12:34 PM

I don’t really like any of those so-called Christian leaders much. Anyone who tells someone they are or aren’t a Christian, is no Christian themself.

Ian on March 31, 2007 at 12:39 PM

This is why intelligent conservative leaders do not even talk to the MSM. The worldviews are so contrasted that the published result is inevitably disastrous.

Valiant on March 31, 2007 at 12:39 PM

The reason the MSM reports on any Christian is usually to foster dissent/diagreement, and then point the finger(probably the middle one) and report on how those judgmental Christians are just like everybody else.

The good that is done, hospitals founded, charity work, the volunteering after Katrina and other hurricanes….all forgotten.

Vanquisher on March 31, 2007 at 12:42 PM

Well, I guess no one here is really willing to eat crow. Keep it spinning kids.

wytammic on March 31, 2007 at 12:45 PM

Anyone who tells someone they are or aren’t a Christian, is no Christian themself.

Read the statement, Ian. Dobson was asked about the Thompson boomlet and offered his opinion, which was that it was his impression that Thompson hadn’t said publicly that he’s a Christian and that might constitute a barrier to supporting (for the record, I disagree with that). That’s more nuanced that what was reported, and what the blogosphere ate up. The blogs always eat up these hit piecs on Christians. Perhaps it’s time we asked ourselves why we do that, when we grant the MSM little credibility on most of its other work.

And be careful throwing around such broad statements as yours. I can say that a Muslim is not a Christian and remain a Christian, no? I’m just stating a fact.

Bryan on March 31, 2007 at 12:46 PM

I don’t really like any of those so-called Christian leaders much. Anyone who tells someone they are or aren’t a Christian, is no Christian themself.

Ian on March 31, 2007 at 12:39 PM

Ian, I think you’re a good kid — but read the freaking article. He didn’t call someone “not a Christian.” And I’m glad we can count on you to say that “he is no Christian themself”. You are really contradicting yourself.

wytammic on March 31, 2007 at 12:48 PM

Dobson’s entitled to complain about the headline but he has only his own spokesmen to blame for the rest. If what he meant was “I honestly don’t know what religion Thompson belongs to,” his spokesman could have and should have said that. He didn’t. Here’s what he said.

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson’s claim. He said that, while Dobson didn’t believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless “has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith.”

“We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians,” Schneeberger added. “Dr. Dobson wasn’t expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to ‘read the tea leaves’ about such a possibility.”

His spokesman makes it sound like Dobson meant, “I suspect he’s a Christian but he’s not nearly vocal enough about it to please evangelicals,” which of course is a veiled political threat given Dobson’s own political influence. It would be like the head of the AFL-CIO saying that Hillary’s record on labor might make it hard for union members to support her — while quickly adding that of course he’s not endorsing or non-endorsing her in saying that, just “reading the tea leaves.” Nonsense.

I don’t know if I’m one of the unnamed “bloggers” mentioned in this post who’ve allegedly smeared Dobson, but (a) I posted on his clarification the other day, and (b) I don’t think he’s been smeared unless it’s his own spokespeople who are doing it.

Allahpundit on March 31, 2007 at 12:49 PM

Well, I guess no one here is really willing to eat crow. Keep it spinning kids.

No, I’m sorry to break your heart but no one’s going to be eating crow if there’s no crow to eat. Go complain to Dobson’s spokespeople.

Allahpundit on March 31, 2007 at 12:50 PM

Dobson’s “clarified” remarks still stand as an implied threat — i.e. that Fred Thompson should “communicate his religious faith” in a way that is acceptable to Dobson and those of like mind, or else he won’t get their votes. Of-course Dobson is free to make such threats, and everyone else is free to find Dobson’s attitude repugnant.

I agree that the mainstream media consistently distorts statements by Christian leaders, and indeed consistently distorts, undermines and attacks Christian belief in general. I just don’t particularly see much difference in this case between the original story on Dobson and the clarified one.

RWB on March 31, 2007 at 12:51 PM

He didn’t call someone “not a Christian.”

yeah he did. Thats exactly what he said. And he hasnt denied it. He only said that the reporter left out qualifications that made his statement more “nuanced.”

How can you read this statement any other way:

“Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for,” Dobson said of Thompson. “[But] I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression,”

amish on March 31, 2007 at 12:53 PM

How about we complain to the MSM while we’re at it. And how about we be a little less quick to compare preachers to mob-owned union bosses. Just a thought.

Bryan on March 31, 2007 at 12:53 PM

This is why intelligent conservative leaders do not even talk to the MSM. The worldviews are so contrasted that the published result is inevitably disastrous.

Valiant on March 31, 2007 at 12:39 PM

Just a couple of months ago, Michelle Malkin did an interview with Howard Kurtz for the Style section of the Washington Post. The hit job made her look anti-social, weird, and “lonely.” The MSM has no interest in giving a positive or accurate representation about conservatives or Republicans. Bush, for one, will never learn.

januarius on March 31, 2007 at 12:54 PM

well crap. Allah clearly types faster than i do. My fingers must have a drawl as bad as Fred Thompson.

amish on March 31, 2007 at 12:55 PM

Allah, I really think you enjoy trying to get arguments started among Christians. That’s your right.

Really, most of the commentators on this blog are just upset that Dr. Dobson wields as much influence as he does. Because of men like Dobson, candidates like Rudy don’t have much of a prayer of winning the Republican ticket. Not to mention what a good time it is to blame the “religious right” for losing elections. I think the “religious right” can just as easily blame the “secular conservatives” for losing elections.

I’m just happy it’s such a “big tent”.

wytammic on March 31, 2007 at 12:58 PM

Mischaracterization, my ass. Damage control more like it. Yuck.

honora on March 31, 2007 at 1:07 PM

For bloggers, many of us got into this game to counter MSM spin on the war and politics. But many of us accept MSM hit jobs on Christian leaders whole. We ought not to do that. I for one am fed up with bloggers jumping to the attack on Christians and Christian leaders.

Hello, AllahPundit?

I didn’t see anything different with what Dobson said versus what Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and others were saying about John Roberts and Samuel Alito about not knowing the personal or political beliefs of someone who will have such influence on the future course of the country.

Dobson: “I don’t know if Thompson is a Christian.” Translation: I’m worried he is a RINO because if he is not Christian he probably will have no moral backbone to stand up for conservative values.

Dobson’s “clarified” remarks still stand as an implied threat — i.e. that Fred Thompson should “communicate his religious faith” in a way that is acceptable to Dobson and those of like mind, or else he won’t get their votes. Of-course Dobson is free to make such threats, and everyone else is free to find Dobson’s attitude repugnant.

What’s wrong with that? Some you guy’s attitudes right now remind me of the Bush administration’s attitude when conservatives questioned whether Myers and Gonzalez were really suitably conservative enough.

All Dobson is doing is questioning whether Thompson has RINO tendencies. People who are not Christian usually do. As a Catholic, I see nothing wrong with what Dobson said.

januarius on March 31, 2007 at 1:08 PM

How about we complain to the MSM while we’re at it. And how about we be a little less quick to compare preachers to mob-owned union bosses.

The mob aspect has nothing to do with it. I chose the AFL-CIO purely for comparable scale. Pick the political movement of your choice with millions and millions of followers and put the same words in one of its leaders’ mouths. “I’m not sure members of our movement could support Fred because he’s not XYZ enough, but of course that’s not an unendorsement. It’s just me reading the tea leaves.”

Whether Gilgoff was right to call that a “snub” is debatable, but I don’t see any grand mainstream media conspiracy here to smear Dobson. His spokesman did most of the damage, a fact I tried to draw out in my last post on this.

Allahpundit on March 31, 2007 at 1:10 PM

Mischaracterization, my ass. Damage control more like it. Yuck.

honora on March 31, 2007 at 1:07 PM

It’s great when the leftist loves what you do;)

wytammic on March 31, 2007 at 1:12 PM

Well the fact is, you chose an ogre for your comparison with Dobson. You can’t just “pick the political movement of your choice” and keep the comparison valid, because not all political movements work in the same way. And the fact is, what Dobson said isn’t a “threat.” He’s not in a position to make threats. He leads by persuasion alone. Speaking for myself as an evangelical, he’s one among many voices I might listen to on a variety of issues, but he’s not the first or last voice I’ll listen to. And re Thompson, I’m inches away from jumping on that bandwagon no matter what Dobson says.

You don’t understand how Christian leadership works or where its limits are. Union bosses can strongarm union members in a variety of ways that are not available to Christian leaders. And I hasten to add, nor should they be available to Christian leaders. Or union bosses, for that matter.

Bryan on March 31, 2007 at 1:18 PM

And be careful throwing around such broad statements as yours. I can say that a Muslim is not a Christian and remain a Christian, no? I’m just stating a fact.

True. Sorry, let me restate. Anyone who denies a Christian of their Christianity isn’t a Christian themself.

Anyways, yes, the MSM misconstrued what he said — would it happen any other way. Just because I don’t like the guy, doesn’t mean I want what he said mischaracterized.

Ian on March 31, 2007 at 1:20 PM

All Dobson is doing is questioning whether Thompson has RINO tendencies. People who are not Christian usually do. As a Catholic, I see nothing wrong with what Dobson said.

Wow. Just … wow.

nukemhill on March 31, 2007 at 1:23 PM

It wouldn’t be so easy for the MSM to misconstrue what they say if they didn’t say such stupid things.

James on March 31, 2007 at 1:26 PM

I don’t really like any of those so-called Christian leaders much. Anyone who tells someone they are or aren’t a Christian, is no Christian themself.

Ian on March 31, 2007 at 12:39 PM

What is the definition of “Christian”? And, what would be the definitive source for that definition?

Bryan on March 31, 2007 at 1:18 PM

Very well said, Bryan.

.

GT on March 31, 2007 at 1:30 PM

Wow. Just … wow.

nukemhill on March 31, 2007 at 1:23 PM

Who is more likely to go RINO on abortion, gay marriage, Terry Schiavo, global warming, “winning hearts and minds,” etc.? Someone that follows a religion in which absolute truth exists, or atheists and agnostics who believe everything is relative?

Anyone who denies a Christian of their Christianity isn’t a Christian themself.

Not true. I and many other Catholics denied John Kerry was really a Catholic based on his political and personal beliefs, which is why Bush overwhelmingly won the Catholic vote (if measured by Catholics who go to mass every week, which real Catholics do).

januarius on March 31, 2007 at 1:31 PM

Hey, did Dobson just fall off the turnip truck or what? He knows (or should know) the games these people play. Why talk to them at all? If he wants to do interviews, have a camcorder there and explain that the entire interview will be taped for the record to ensure accuracy of any quotes used. When in doubt SHUT UP.

TheBigOldDog on March 31, 2007 at 1:35 PM

Someone that follows a religion in which absolute truth exists, or atheists and agnostics who believe everything is relative?

So anyone who is at all unsure about the existence of a supreme being automatically believes that everything is relative?

Watcher on March 31, 2007 at 1:39 PM

I think there needs to be a clarification here, that there’s a difference between attacking Dobson, and questioning or disagreeing with him. I see it as Allah’s been disagreeing with him. I’ve not yet seen campaign flyers from Allah, launching a PR attack against Dobson. I’ve no doubt that the MSM does take every opportunity to attack Christian leaders.

However, there can’t be a double standard. If the MSM is going to attack religious leaders, then other religions can’t be left out. It’s not ok to attack a Christian leader, for saying something amongst Christians, but not attack a Muslim leader, such as CAIR, who have said in the past that Sharia should be supreme law.

amerpundit on March 31, 2007 at 1:39 PM

I have to say that the quality of the commenting here really sucks.

Im sick of all this Jesus stuff. Im going back to Aces so i can talk about porn and make fun of brown people.

Toodles

amish on March 31, 2007 at 1:40 PM

Who is more likely to go RINO on abortion, gay marriage, Terry Schiavo, global warming, “winning hearts and minds,” etc.? Someone that follows a religion in which absolute truth exists, or atheists and agnostics who believe everything is relative?

So, anyone who is not a Christian is automatically an atheist/agnostic, and therefore a relativist? Thanks a bunch there, big guy. I’ll be sure to tell my rabbi you send your love!

nukemhill on March 31, 2007 at 1:44 PM

Anyone who denies a Christian of their Christianity isn’t a Christian themself.

Now we’re on the same page.

Amish–one post you don’t like and you’re abandoning us? How very tolerant of you.

Bryan on March 31, 2007 at 1:47 PM

Because of men like Dobson, candidates like Rudy don’t have much of a prayer of winning the Republican ticket.

What you meant to say was, “Because of men like Dobson, we’ll have a Democrat in the White House in 2008.”

What’s wrong with that?

Here’s what’s wrong with it. Having different factions in a party is great, provided that all are willing to compromise. However, when one of those factions, or at least someone who sets himself up as a spokesman for that faction says, “It’s my way, or the highway,” then he’s holding the party hostage. I have no problem with evangelicals at all, but sorry, they don’t get to set the litmus test, and those who will behave like little children, stamping their feet and refusing to vote aren’t mature enough to be allowed to vote in the first place.

The President is the President, not a king. He doesn’t make law; Congress does. If people spent a tenth the time and anxiety over their congresscritters as they do the Presidential candidate, we wouldn’t have half the liberal laws on the books we do now. But no, the same people who refuse to vote for a Presidential candidate because he’s not conservative enough will pull the lever to re-elect Bayh to the Senate or Murtha to the House.

It’s like when people were complaining that Bush didn’t do enough for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. What did they expect him to do? What do they think this nation is, an absolute monarchy? Bush can’t do anything. This little thing called the Constitution gets in the way.

If we have a conservative Congress, it doesn’t make any difference what the President’s views on social issues is, with the exception of those issues that fall under his Constitutional authority, such as appointing judges and the attorney general. It makes absolutely no difference what the President thinks about gay marriage or any other hot button social issue, because he doesn’t get to decide those issues.

rightwingprof on March 31, 2007 at 1:54 PM

There’s a lesson in this, both for Christian leaders and for bloggers. For Christian leaders, expect your words to be twisted by MSM reporters.

I’m not one to say I told you so but I TOLD YOU SO!

Mojave Mark on March 31, 2007 at 1:57 PM

I don’t usually agree with Allahpundit when we talk about Christian leaders on this site but his first post is very clear and accurate. Bryan is completely avoiding the Dobson’s spokesmen comments. This is not a MSM hit job, it is a screw up on Dobson and his people part. Bryan wants us to read Dobson’s statements. Great, go back on this and other post and read them all. Put it all together and Dobson is blowing smoke, I don’t know about the mirrors.

CharlestonCritic on March 31, 2007 at 2:12 PM

Bleh.

Everyone hating on the guy in the previous threads have a problem with Dobson. He, and Falwell, and all the other openly evangelical leaders are easy targets, low hanging fruit. Attacking them on the merits is of secondary importance to getting in the self-satisfied digs on “yet another Pharisee hypocrite Christian being an idiot.”

I’ve stopped expecting safe harbor on such issues given the sacrilicious nature of much of the content here. I still like the site, but this is Allah’s gig. Allah isn’t much on Christians, so I don’t expect Christians to get much of a fair shake without a side-order of sneer, albeit usually sweetened with teh funny.

spmat on March 31, 2007 at 2:15 PM

So, anyone who is not a Christian is automatically an atheist/agnostic, and therefore a relativist? Thanks a bunch there, big guy. I’ll be sure to tell my rabbi you send your love!

nukemhill on March 31, 2007 at 1:44 PM

You sound like an expert at sophism. The subject of this post is James Dobson and Fred Thompson, and Dobson’s questioning whether Thompson is a “Christian.” What Dobson is saying is that those who are Christian in name only usually do not have the moral backbone to not turn into RINO’s on many social issues. Therefore, he wants to make sure Thompson really is Christian. Nothing wrong with that, despite AllahPundit having a meltdown over his comments.

januarius on March 31, 2007 at 2:19 PM

True. Sorry, let me restate. Anyone who denies a Christian of their Christianity isn’t a Christian themself.

Ian, is there no objective definition of what a Christian is? Related, are you not doing exactly what you condemn? I.e., if a Christian denies the Christianity of another Christian, you deny his Christianity, thus negating your own Christianity. That just sounds like tortured logic.

spmat on March 31, 2007 at 2:20 PM

Turtles all the way down…

spmat on March 31, 2007 at 2:23 PM

Anyone who denies the Christianity of those who deny other’s Christianity is probably a Unitarian.

frankj on March 31, 2007 at 2:27 PM

The Deity sez,

His spokesman makes it sound like Dobson meant, “I suspect he’s a Christian but he’s not nearly vocal enough about it to please evangelicals,” which of course is a veiled political threat given Dobson’s own political influence. It would be like the head of the AFL-CIO saying that Hillary’s record on labor might make it hard for union members to support her — while quickly adding that of course he’s not endorsing or non-endorsing her in saying that, just “reading the tea leaves.” Nonsense.

This is exactly how I read it Allah, and his spokesman’s comment was to me was the proof. Either his spokesman screwed up royally as well as the media, and they both need a reprimand or fired for incompetence, or Dobson was demanding Ol’ Freddie kiss the Dobson’s ring. There’s no way he sends his spokesperson out there with a sloppy statement out there given the situation. The incompetence is on him, even if he was mischaracterized, he oughta know better with the media & blog watchdogs.

Bad Candy on March 31, 2007 at 2:28 PM

And yer AFLCIO comparison is dead on Allah. Which scares me. And yes, I’m Christian…shoot that oone down quick.

Bad Candy on March 31, 2007 at 2:30 PM

Let me clarify a couple of things. First, I reject out of hand any notion that any of us at Hot Air are “spinning” for or against anyone. That’s not how we operate around here. We call ‘em like we see ‘em, and sometimes even those of us who work here don’t see ‘em the same way. There’s nothing wrong with that. It would get boring if we all agreed on everything all of the time. As for me, I’m on the record criticizing Christian leaders, here and on the JYB, when they deserve it. I’m not a spinner for anyone.

As for the spokesman, I’m less interested in that than how the original story got reported. The comments highlighted in this post are about that. Suggesting that I’m ignoring the spokesman (whose “clarification” wasn’t too smart or helpful, btw) to serve an agenda is a challenge to my integrity, no less than accusations that we’re spinning. Is it possible for some of you to disagree with us without immediately resorting to name-calling or questioning our motives? That’s a tiresome way to discuss issues. It’s how the left routinely operates. I don’t want to see us on the right get stuck in that kind of thinking.

Agree or disagree with this post, fine. Just don’t jump from that to some dark motive behind it. I’m just calling the issue as I see it.

Bryan on March 31, 2007 at 2:30 PM

What you meant to say was, “Because of men like Dobson, we’ll have a Democrat in the White House in 2008.”

Actually, that is not what I meant to say — however, if Rudy does win the Republican ticket, he’ll win the democrat vote, because he basically is one.

Your comment and the twisting of my words basically prove my point. Thanks.

wytammic on March 31, 2007 at 2:31 PM

despite AllahPundit having a meltdown over his comments.

APs not the only one. Go check out FR to get a sense of how well this idiocy was received by conservatives.

Dobson stuck is foot in his mouth and then his spokesperson came along and pushed it deeper down his throat. Now the good Dr claims the reporter is lying about the whole thing. Which means, he’s either stupid for thinking he could talk about such things with a reporter or he’s a narrow minded, self-righteous dope who thinks he has the God given power to determine who is and is not a Christian.

TheBigOldDog on March 31, 2007 at 2:32 PM

Anyone who denies the Christianity of those who deny other’s Christianity is probably a Unitarian.

frankj on March 31, 2007 at 2:27 PM

Or a liberal. The Pope has been stating repeatedly that those who call themselves Catholic cannot support abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, etc.; otherwise, they are not truly Catholic. According to Ian’s logic “Anyone who denies a Christian. . .,” the Pope isn’t Catholic. And when Pope Benedict repeated the longstanding Catholic teaching that Catholics cannot be freemasons, according to that logic, he wasn’t Catholic because he denied that freemasons can be Catholics.

januarius on March 31, 2007 at 2:35 PM

Not being a Catholic is not the same things as not being a Christian. Not being a Catholic means you don’t follows the teachings of the Catholic church. It says nothing about you not being a Christian.

TheBigOldDog on March 31, 2007 at 2:42 PM

Let’s work this wedge in just a little deeper, shall we?

I think AlP’s right that the “clarification” offered by the spokesman, Gary Schneeberger, is what is alarming here. Note back in the original article that Gilgoff allowed Schneeberger to follow up on something Dobson said that he thought was unusual. That’s more thoroughness and courtesy than most MSM reporters would give Dobson in a similar situation.

Unfortunately, if that’s an accurate quote (and this latest defense doesn’t deny it) Schneeberger complicated things even more. Bryan, this wasn’t a matter of trusting what the MSM says about Dobson. This is a matter of trusting what his own people said he meant–which was quite reasonable to do, for the MSM or for hair-trigger bloggers like myself who were upset by the slam.

Incidentally, I noticed that when the third clarification came out, the new spokesperson was identified as “Nima Reza“, and the suspicion was still there–he “professes to be a believer”. I think that’s either redundant or skeptical–one step short of “claims to be”. He’s a believer. He maybe as much a Church of Christ saint as Rudy is a good Catholic, he may have faith but not works, he may never go to church, but there’s something there.

Bryan, I think you’ll at least agree that Dobson handled this badly, and this spokesmen and their series of clarifications and semi-apologies before this last one didn’t do anything to help his cause.

see-dubya on March 31, 2007 at 2:44 PM

Ah, and I see you pretty much did at 2:30, while I was writing that 2:44. Things are moving fast around here.

see-dubya on March 31, 2007 at 2:46 PM

I’m worried he is a RINO because if he is not Christian he probably will have no moral backbone to stand up for conservative values.

Well, I wasn’t aware that a true sign of Conservatism was Christianity, nor that you were less likely to have a “moral backbone” if you didn’t qualify as a Christian. For the record, I am.
As for defending Falwell (and Robertson for that matter), his comments on 9/11, which were impossible to misconstrue, are indefensible.

SouthernDem on March 31, 2007 at 2:50 PM

That’s a tiresome way to discuss issues. It’s how the left routinely operates. I don’t want to see us on the right get stuck in that kind of thinking.

I thought the way the commentators jumped all over Dobson over the last few days was exactly how the left routinely operates. That’s where my disappointment stemmed from. I find that many who commentate over here are no better than many at DU and HuffPo.

Not to mention Allah always does his best to insult Christian leaders and stir up a hornets nest regarding them. Thanks for trying to set the record straight Bryan, but some people are beyond admitting the errors of their ways.

wytammic on March 31, 2007 at 2:55 PM

FWIW, I don’t think that anyone here is spinning anything. AP has no ax to grind, and he’s solid and essential on 99% of what he posts. He just gets obnoxious at times on the religious stuff.

Like my mom said, Dobson’s opinions on this or that doesn’t matter a hill of beans to folks like her and me. I don’t much care what Dobson thinks about candidates. I like what he has to say on certain topics, but his authority on political particulars is vanishingly small.

spmat on March 31, 2007 at 2:56 PM

Thanks for trying to set the record straight Bryan, but some people are beyond admitting the errors of their ways. wytammic

Before Bryan jumps all over me, let me just say I love you Bryan, love is a little strong for AP, but it was he, not Bryan that set the record straight.

Peace & Love!

CharlestonCritic on March 31, 2007 at 3:12 PM

Bryan wrote:

The MSM gets very few things right, and treats very few subjects fairly. Christian groups and leaders are perennial MSM targets, usually getting either an anthropological treatment a la the NYT or getting treatment that is outright dishonest and hostile. Treat every MSM report on both with the same skepticism that you treat MSM reports on war and politics, and expect that there is another side to the story that the MSM is leaving out. That’s almost always the case.

You’ve defined the problem. And you’ve admitted that you, as I did, fell for the MSM’s spin and smear.

One of my fellows in my gun club used to be a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He is now the editor of an independent financial new site. Hey says that liberalism rules the newsrooms and the editorial boards of just about all newspapers. Some editors do a fairly good job of being even handed as editors, others are not.

The Chicago Tribune’s then Public Editor Douglas Kneeland wrote a column on September 8, 1992, he wrote:

The Chicago Tribune, as have most of the big newspapers and a good many smaller ones, has moved steadily over the last decade toward writing stories that give context and perspective to the most important news. Instead of just laying out one purported fact after another, we have increasingly tried to explain and analyze to give your our best understanding of the truth to which those facts add up.

This is not something new. The weekly news magazines have been doing it since their beginnings, often especially in their earlier years, with what, frequently seemed to be transparent points of view. With cable television and other 24-hours sources of immediate news available, the major newspapers have more and more turned to putting out daily something resembling the old weekly news magazines in content, heavy on behind-the-scenes reporting, explanation and analysis, but hopefully without the overtones of partisanship.

. . . Sometimes we are not as shophisticated as we should be and allow gratuitous opinion to substitute for needed context and factual wisdom. We must avoid point of view and polemics. [any typos are mine]

This is now an open secret that just about every MSM organization has adopted. It comes from the elitism of liberals who belived that the great unwashed masses are too stupid to make the “correct” interpretation of events so it is the annointed job of the MSM to make sure that we do.

This is especially true when they cover Christian opinon makers. Their goal (taken from Gramsci’s Notes)is to destroy them and the religion they espouse.

The Dobson article, by misstating his position, not only lied to us, but in doing so, insulted my intelligence in the process.

I have been treating the MSM as my enemy for years (since I read Kneeland’s column, in fact). Occassionally, I forget why — as in this case.

At this moment, my emotional reaction to “being had” by the MSM on this (and others) article is summed up by the following Ann Coulter quote:

My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.

God help me for feeling this way, but I do.

The irony is that Coulter is persona-non-grata here. So let me use a more politically correct quote, this one from H. L. Mencken:

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.

georgej on March 31, 2007 at 3:28 PM

You sound like an expert at sophism. The subject of this post is James Dobson and Fred Thompson, and Dobson’s questioning whether Thompson is a “Christian.”

You’re the one who put up the false dichotomy about either following a religion with absolute truth or being an absolute relativist, not me. If you can’t handle having your words handed back to you, don’t participate.

nukemhill on March 31, 2007 at 3:59 PM

Mr. Dobson should not have commented on this at all. Mr. Thompson doesn’t owe him or anyone an explanation. If asked in a forum himself, he can chose to answer or to say “this is between me and my God”, or whatever he decides to share.

The few times I’ve seen Mr. Dobson in itnerviews he left the impression of a good-natured/benevolent/well-intended man. This kerfuffle is of his and his spokesman’s own doing, and the media’s usual shenanigans.

AP reported, then adjusted; here Bryan reported the latest adjustment, all in good faith and with accurate backing.

The entire ‘issue’ is really a non-issue – completely irrelevant.

however, if Rudy does win the Republican ticket, he’ll win the democrat vote, because he basically is one.

wytammic on March 31, 2007 at 2:31 PM

I’m for Fred! if he runs, and I believe he will. Once the wife is for it…well, it’s almost sure. The left is very nervous about it – I tested it in the last 2 weeks, repeatedly.

However, if he doesn’t run, nothing would scare the terrorists more than having the New York Mayor of 9/11/01 be the U.S. President. This is extremely powerful and the lefties and independents know it too. All other isn’t that important, comparatively.

Entelechy on March 31, 2007 at 4:24 PM

Hey guys,

I think Dobson is being too coy in this case. He’s a political operator offering an opinion to a weekly news mag. You can’t do that an then claim it was a “personal” statement in my opinion. If you were overheard whispering something to your mom, maybe. When you talk to Dan Gilgoff, sorry that’s different.

Maybe I read you both wrong, but it sounded like Allah and Bryan were both suggesting that it would be wrong for Dobson to make a judgment about the Christian conviction of a candidate. I’m not sure I see the problem with that.

Last election we had Kerry and Dean talking about their faith. It was pretty clear, to me anyway, that there wasn’t a great deal of sincerity there, especially in Dean’s case. Even in Kerry’s case, I felt the Catholic church (I’m not Catholic btw) was onto something when they suggested that politicians that publicly bill themselves as Catholics need to actually hold to some significant portion of what the church stands for. Sort of an Ambrose and Theodosius moment, in my view.

Hillary has hired a high-profile faith consultant (Burns) to help her burnish her “faith image” in ’08. Now it may well be that Hillary is a Baptist preacher under the skin. David Kuo seems to think so, but having watcher her since ’92, forgive me for being a bit skeptical. Ditto for Bill, who carries a big Bible for the Sunday morning cameras and then heads to the golf course to “talk p*ssy” with Vernon Jordan. We have RINOs and we also have CINOs on the political stage. Christians should be allowed to be just as skeptical of faith claims made by politicians as atheists. More so really, since we think this really matters.

But I do agree with Bryan that Christians regularly get shafted by the media in interviews and profiles, especially when it involves social issues the left holds dear. Sure, sometimes they bring it on themselves (Robertson) but just as often they are targeted by hostile interviewers masquerading as unbiased reporters. I have a blog full of examples of this sort of thing.

John on March 31, 2007 at 4:45 PM

A test of your level of Conservatism isn’t whether or not you’re a Christian. I know of at least one aethist Conservative, and many Jewish Conservatives. Does that make them less of a Conservative, because they have different religious beliefs? No.

As someone mentioned before, go take a look around the Conservative blogosphere. Take a look at FR, Dobson’s remarks weren’t received well.

amerpundit on March 31, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Bryan, have you ever stopped to wonder why these and other similar evangelical remarks are received so poorly, even by (and I hesitate to use the term, since it evidently doesn’t apply in some people’s world) Christians who don’t happen to be evangelicals?

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, people don’t like having their religion questioned and marginalized by people who don’t know the first thing about them? Can you not see how grating that would be? You were very defensive about our comments about Dobson, and you struck back to defend him…well face it, he struck out at all non-evangelicals first with a bold swipe at Thompson.

Yes, perhaps you don’t like having the people you identify with ridiculed or scorned because of their religious beliefs. Well, duh…neither do we. Dobson’s comments, both as directly quoted and as explained by his several spokespeople, are indefensible to anyone but a fellow evangelical. News flash…he wasn’t at his pulpit or whatever he uses, he was talking publicly and he got no less than a public reaction.

Now if you want to go all Somali taxi driver on us and say that we can’t expect you or Dobson to have a public way of doing things when dealing with people who don’t believe the same way you do, that’s fine…just expect the same reaction that they got.

James on March 31, 2007 at 5:05 PM

Bryan is absolutely correct about MSM bias against Christians and Christian leaders. Everything they report should be highly scrutinized and taken with about six grains of salt. That being said, if James Dobson or one of his spokesmen says something like this–

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson’s claim. He said that, while Dobson didn’t believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless “has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith.”

“We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians,” Schneeberger added. “Dr. Dobson wasn’t expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to ‘read the tea leaves’ about such a possibility.”

–don’t be surprised if some of us have the audacity to call them on it.

I love the whole idea that if you say something remotely critical about James Dobson, even if it’s about something that he or his spokesman actually said, there are people that are willing to challenge you to duel over his honor. (Note to literalists: I was speaking figuratively about the duel part.) I just love that. News flash, folks: he’s a man. Not God, not even a saint. A man. A man who has accomplished good things in his life, and who I believe is a good person at heart. But he’s flesh and blood just like the rest of us, which means that he can make mistakes. So anybody that expects me to kiss James Dobson’s ring or his ass–or anybody else’s for that matter–is doomed to a life of disappointment. Nobody that steps into the public arena gets a free pass, and anybody that can’t wrap their brain around that concept needs to find a nice comfy echo chamber to hide from the world in.

ReubenJCogburn on March 31, 2007 at 5:33 PM

ReubenJCogburn on March 31, 2007 at 5:33 PM

I think what bothered some people about the criticism of Dobson was not so much the criticism about what he said but some people calling him a**hole etc. in the other thread….or maybe I am wrong…would not be the first time.

EnochCain on March 31, 2007 at 6:14 PM

So what do we call someone who makes a**hole remarks, then?

James on March 31, 2007 at 6:36 PM

Where do you all stand on the whole Mac vs. PC thing?

Vinnie on March 31, 2007 at 6:38 PM

I love the whole idea that if you say something remotely critical about James Dobson, even if it’s about something that he or his spokesman actually said, there are people that are willing to challenge you to duel over his honor.

That’s the problem I still have with this. Either the first spokesman was off the reservation, which has not been alleged, or the spokesman correctly understood what Dobson was saying, reiterated those remarks and is now being contradicted because there was such a firestorm.

Slublog on March 31, 2007 at 8:09 PM

AP is so married to his “Iconoclast” status that he’s gonna pee in our Wheaties every now and then, get used to it, I have.
As to Dobson…….Thompson/Squarepants ’08

TBinSTL on March 31, 2007 at 8:12 PM

Oh noes! Someone criticized The Infallible Dr. James Dobson! Blasphemy!!!

(And I see Wytammic is still spouting nonsense about people of whom she obviously knows absolutely nothing! LOL!)

/more Jesus, less Dobson pls

bamapachyderm on March 31, 2007 at 8:52 PM

Where do you all stand on the whole Mac vs. PC thing?

Vinnie

I think the PC is more evangelical, according to their spokesman anyway.

CharlestonCritic on March 31, 2007 at 9:23 PM

One of the defining characteristics of evangelical Christianity is that there is no “leader.” There are prominent individuals like Dobson who are leaders in the sense that they have a certain constituency, but that doesn’t mean they represent the whole group. I beleive most evangelical Christians consider one’s Christian comitment to be something completely separate and apart from what church they happen to attend. It is an individual decision that has nothing to do with one’s group identity.

Now, how about some news about what the World Council of Churches (an organization supported by most of the prominent non-evangelical churches) has been up to lately, not to mention the last several decades.

Coyote D. on April 1, 2007 at 12:48 AM

You don’t understand how Christian leadership works or where its limits are. Union bosses can strongarm union members in a variety of ways that are not available to Christian leaders. And I hasten to add, nor should they be available to Christian leaders. Or union bosses, for that matter.

Bryan on March 31, 2007 at 1:18 PM

I disagree with this observation in regards to the churches (and do agree about unions) because it is kind of an apples and oranges comparison. Ministers and congregations have an enormous influence in the local communities, but not in the same manner as unions. It definitely can extend to local politics as to who is supported or into the local schools in regards to which kids get “special treatment” status, scholarships and the like.
Living in the south for much of my life has shown me this from the Baptist church in particular. Having your kids told “they are going to hell” by classmates because they are not of the same faith is strong arming of the unkindest type and is apparently tacitly condoned by all levels of the church leadership. I lived in the midwest for a number of years and this type of thing NEVER happened.
Go back in history and view the church stance on segregation and slavery in this country and it is easy to understand why it took a civil war plus another 100 years to change that mindset.

I am not attacking your personal beliefs but I do believe that the church has strayed very far from what I personally think Christ’s view of what role the church should play. It is not the faith or message that is bad or flawed, but rather the implementation of it by humans.

Bradky on April 1, 2007 at 1:10 AM

Though I didn’t grow up in the South, Bradky’s point has been confirmed to me by several whose judgment I trust implicitly, complete with the gory details. Mostly this happened in small-town/rural areas, places city slickers might call “unsophisticated”, perhaps unfairly, perhaps not.

Though I’m admittedly not sophisticated enough to appreciate the same level of nuance as Bryan, I believe him and trust his judgment. To someone attuned to the nuts and bolts of institutionalized evangelical Christianity, there are probably enough ways in which the two (it vs. AFL-CIO) differ to make an apples-to-apples comparison seem foolish if not outright dishonest.

But regardless, Allah’s main point still stands: the context of Dobson’s comments transformed them from honest opinion into both political speech and a veiled threat. How many evangelicals had formed an initial opinion of Fred Thompson’s Christianity, unfavorable or otherwise, until Dr. D opened his mouth?

RD on April 1, 2007 at 11:55 AM

Where do you all stand on the whole Mac vs. PC thing?

Vinnie on March 31, 2007 at 6:38 PM

Just had to bring the discussion back on-topic didn’t you :-)

My vote: In favor of Big Macs (can’t do without the special sauce) and can’t abide political correctness in any form…

RD on April 1, 2007 at 12:02 PM

Re: januarius

That’s the Pope. That’s different. I’m talking about so-called Christian leaders.

Ian on April 1, 2007 at 12:25 PM