Vice President Pence gave an interview to Axios‘ Mike Allen Wednesday. Pence was asked about comments Joy Behar made this week on ABC’s The View. During a discussion of Pence’s faith, Behar said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus, it’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness if I’m not correct.” Behar was reacting to some comments by former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault. Asked for his reaction the comments, Pence never mentioned Behar by name but did question ABC promoting comments he labeled “religious intolerance.”
“I actually heard that ABC has a program that compared my Christianity to mental illness and I’d like to laugh about it but I really can’t,” Pence said. He continued, “Tens of millions of Americans today will have ash on their foreheads to mark the beginning of Lent. [The] overwhelming majority of Americans cherish their faith.
“We’ve all different types of faith in this country. And I have to tell you to have ABC maintain a broadcast forum that compared Christianity to mental illness, it’s just wrong. And it’s an insult not to me but to the vast majority of American people who, like me, cherish their faith.”
“I just think it demonstrates how out-of-touch some in the mainstream media are with the faith and values of the American people,” he said.
Pence concluded, “It’s just simply wrong for ABC to have a television program that expresses that kind of religious intolerance. We’re better than that.”
Pence is walking a fine line here. As Vice President, he doesn’t want to say anything that would suggest he doesn’t support free speech, even for someone like Joy Behar who is calling him mentally ill on television. So instead, he focuses on ABC which is amplifying her often absurd musing.
I don’t think Behar should be fired because of her comments, but there is an obvious double standard at play. Had she made this comment about a devout Islamic believer or Jewish believer, she would have been called out for the religious intolerance of her statement. You might even have seen CAIR or the ADL make a statement condemning her comments. That, in turn, would be taken seriously by ABC. There would be conversations behind the scenes and maybe even some sort of half-hearted apology.
As it is, Behar will likely get a pass. We may even see the View playing this clip tomorrow to give her another chance to mock Pence’s faith. It’s ugly but not surprising. Contrary to what Pence suggested, Joy Behar is not better than that.