Christian Islamophobia’s Grip on the Middle East

In what has to be the single most disgusting false witness ever published, Christianity Today — that bastion of truth for white evangelicals founded by none other than Billy Graham — asks “Can Christians Trust Muslim Hospitality?” People, let me be honest here: this article is straight from the pit of hell and is not fit for human consumption. It twists lies and half‐truths and out‐of‐context “teachings” to argue the dangerous and tired old madness that Islam is the greatest evil in the world. It makes me sick, and to the church I say, “Shame on you.”

We walk around parroting the damning lies of political propaganda never once stopping to question whether these lies might just be a little too convenient to be true. The narrative that Israel is the shining beacon of light to the region is so out of touch with what’s taking place on the ground as to make sanity seem the enemy. You can choose for yourself what’s real and what’s not, but for crying out loud, at least do the bare minimum of research for yourself and not just repeat what you’ve heard in church.

Let’s set the stage. This article claims, among other things, that Islam has an “alleged permission to lie” and goes on to actually urge caution in all dealings with Muslims. The piece quotes Tharwat Wahba, professor of mission at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (note: It’s a Christian institution):

“Accept kindness and friendship, but be alert and awake. Don’t be naïve. Some have agendas.”

Come on, man! You mean Christians don’t have agendas?

Christianity Today “Middle East correspondent” Jayson Casper is absolutely spinning in his own spinning when he makes the following false statements:

…some Christians today are comfortable delving into the conscience of everyday, ordinary Muslims, finding deception at every turn.

…Muslims are permitted by their faith to lie if it will advance the cause of their religion.

…in much anti‐Muslim discourse, taqiyya has been redefined into a religious obligation for Muslims to lie to non‐Muslims not simply for survival…but to serve the expansionist agenda of their religious community.

…an anti‐Muslim website draws attention to several references which seem to imply a license to lie.

Seriously? I mean, let me ask again, seriously? Where do I start with this utter nonsense? Firstly, taqqiya isn’t in Islam at all; it’s a part of the Shia religion, which is a far different animal. The West insists the Shia represent Islam, because their extremism makes for a better foil than the actual religion, but the differences between this small sect of fundamentalists and the religion as a whole can be profound. When arguing religion, it always helps to have your facts straight. Correspondent Casper surely knows where to turn to find “experts” who’ll validate the absurdities of his predisposition, and what good Christian would doubt a Middle Eastern “Christian” expert anyway, right?

There is MUCH at stake in proselytizing these falsehoods, for Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, largely because at its essence, the faith speaks to the poor and disenfranchised. Christianity — especially as its defined today — most certainly does not. It is now the great defender of the rich and, of course, the Republican Party tenets that favor the rich. As such, the war underway between Christians and Muslims is for the souls of that great mass of have‐nots globally, and in this battle, Islam is surely winning. It’s a war not only for souls but for resources, and little do the Christians realize how their sliding numbers are impacting the movement of global resources. America, especially now with Donald Trump, is seen worldwide as an oppressive tyranny of lust and greed that cares little for anyone other than themselves. And it is seen as such, in very large measure, due to its dominant religion — Christianity — supporting such a culture.

Just last week, Donald Trump ended America’s fiscal support for the oppressed Palestinians. While Pat Robertson claimed that we’re “sticking our fingers in the eyes of God” over cross‐dressers reading to children in a library, yanking the rug out from underneath people who are being systematically destroyed is the real rejection of God in the West. After forcing the UN to discontinue aid, we’ve now completely bowed out of any direct help to the oppressed, and we WILL pay the price.

This is just part of the reason this article in Christianity Today is so damning for the church. By dehumanizing Muslims, the magazine is giving its stamp on the process of eliminating them altogether, because they stand in the way of the global dominance of Americans, which is surely not that for which Jesus suffered and died.

“Serve Allah, and do not join any partners with Him. Do good to parents, relatives, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near and neighbours who are strangers, the friend by your side as well as the traveller, and what your right hands possess. Allah does not love the arrogant and proud ones.” (Qur’an 4:36)

(Psst: And let me repeat that Allah is the Arab word for “God.” Do you think God cares what language is used to worship Him? How will you deal with that?)

The “We Know Better” Bubble

“I know better than you” is a mother’s claim that ends many an argument with her 5‐year old, but it becomes problematic when used among adults to obtain a position of authority absent evidence. It’s a tool that political and cultural manipulators also use to get their way, citing some unknowable form of knowledge to claim victory in a debate. It’s never all that obvious, however, for it can be hidden from the view of spectators while communicated directly to followers who’ve been led to believe that they’re in on the secret.

This is not necessarily the case with Christians and Christianity, for who doesn’t like to claim a little insight that the other guy doesn’t possess? It can be omnipresent, however, in arguments involving the church, like whether or not church attendance is a prerequisite for righteous living. In a recent essay in Christianity Today, Megan Hill adapted her work from the book Identity Theft: Reclaiming the Truth of our Identity in Christ in a piece that cites “Four Lies That Keep Us from Church.”

Though the world would tell us that church is an option, an irrelevance, or a human invention—a group of people who thought it would be a good idea to get together since they share the same beliefs and spiritual practices—we know better. The body is established by Christ, protected and nourished by him, and governed by him.

A great many Christians live in this “we know better” bubble, which is afforded them by separation from the enemy they know as “the world.” The bubble is a truly remarkable place in that “we know better” governs absolutely, and it’s one of the key reasons we have Donald Trump as our President. Those who live in the bubble have their own rules — both written and unwritten — their own language, their own worship, the Bible to support every expression of faith, self‐restriction of the senses, and “fruit of the spirit” to validate their presence “in” Christ. But the most politically significant trait of the bubble is that “we know better” means a willingness — perhaps even a need — to deny logic and rationality in the name of claiming a higher authority.

Thomas Paine, the 18th Century philosopher and pamphleteer, whose writing bolstered the American Revolution, noted this phenomenon in his series, The American Crisis, and it’s as apropos today as it was when it was written:

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.”

This is why attempts to reach the occupants of the “we know better” bubble about the Trump Presidency produces such a vociferous and strident defense that includes a comparison to the ancient Babylonian king Cyrus, who though corrupt and an unbeliever, permitted the Jews in captivity to return to Jerusalem. God used him, the bubble thinking goes, to give favor to the Jews regardless of his status as a reprobate. And, in this theorem, nothing of Donald Trump’s behavior matters; it’s all about the favor he’s showing to white evangelicals. Such is the fruit of “we know better.”

But the biggest concern we all should have with the “we know better” bubble is the ease with which ulterior motives (usually of a self‐serving nature) can be used to guide and manipulate the people who fully trust the bubble. The real and artificial podiums found within speak (down) to the masses with an authority that insists it’s alright — sometimes even necessary — to deny common sense.

We used this every day at The 700 Club when I was the show’s producer in the years leading up to Pat Robertson’s run for President in 1988. The revival ushered in by the Televangelists in the early 80s was in part due to this bubble, for when we acted as though God Himself was blessing us, it was a powerful draw for new members. We’d just come out of the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the failure that was Jimmy Carter. People were hungry for something meaningful, and Reagan and the Televangelists provided it. What nobody knew at the time was that this attraction was based on the self‐centered desires of the masses. It’s so easy to switch the Bible into a self‐help manual, and that’s what we did. Pat Robertson was an aristocratic politician first and a minister of the gospel second, and it was just a matter of time before the GOP altogether was shifted to the far right under his puppetry. We set and prioritized the agenda for the right. Pat always knew and expressed that “Christians” could be turned into a valuable voting block, largely through manipulating the “we know better” bubble.

And, we were really, really good at it. The greatest communications accomplishment of the Twentieth Century was to get Christians to vote against their own best interests and in favor of the rich and prosperous. We painted them as of the same ilk; told them that God wanted them blessed and prospered; taught that they could save themselves and their families by voting Republican; and showed them a path that ran right through giving to the ministry of CBN. This web of desirable outcomes was compliments of the “we know better” bubble. Just listen to us and learn God’s ways, we postured. The world may hate you for it — personally, professionally, and politically — but fret not, for God is with you. “They” think they know it all, but we know better.

In debate parlance, “we know better” is an unacceptable and weak response designed to thwart an opponent’s argument. It’s an appeal to tradition or faith in order to shut down the adversary’s narrative. It’s a response that’s really not a response, similar to a street argument that ends with the flummoxed loser’s comeback of, “Well, oh yeah?”

Of a truth, the church and the study of theology, through the process of exegesis, relies on certain conclusions within the sphere of “we know better,” so it’s not that the concept is inherently evil. When institutions of mankind run into difficult questions, they’re often met with a variant of “we know better,” so the idea is fairly mainstream in the West. But, I’m speaking of those Christians who use the bubble for selfish gain, and such a heresy can only be judged from within. This is why I’ve been saying for years that God isn’t judging the world today; He’s judging believers and the institution that represents them. And, it’s really not very pretty.

Those Christians who rely on the bubble to defend their political beliefs and their Christianity will never be convinced otherwise by an opponent from outside the bubble, for that would be a fundamental denial of the bubble’s purpose. It’s the perfect manipulator’s tool. To those on the outside: “Well, they’re of the world, so their eyes are deliberately blinded. After all, God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” To those who call themselves Christians but don’t abide by the rules of the bubble: “Well, they’re not true Christians. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof, and we are to run from them.” These are actual responses, so the futility of arguing directly is obvious.

However, there are some within the bubble who are quietly expressing their concern, and it’s to those that we must offer our encouragement, for they are the only ones with the chops to make a difference from the inside. I can only hope that they will be emboldened by reading this and the work of others who rail against manipulation of the bubble.

It’s a heady thing to think of yourself as among “the elect,” the promise from the pulpit that fuels the “we know better” bubble. The only way to arrive at this conclusion, however, is to deny the red words of the New Testament, and that, I believe, is to also deny the very essence of the gospel.

You may think otherwise, but I know better.

Trump’s “Fake News” Insult is a Steaming Pile of Bullshit

President Trump and New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger butted heads over the weekend on the matter of “fake news” and public references by the President calling journalists “the enemy of the people.” Sulzberger made his points via a statement after Trump broke the off‐the‐record agreement he had made with Sulzberger following a July 20 private meeting on the issue. Using his Twitter account, Trump spoke of the meeting while again attacking the press. This prompted a reply from Sulzberger:

“I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people,’ ” Sulzberger said. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

This apparently angered Trump who went on to assail journalists and — as NPR put it — “dismissing them as unpatriotic and irresponsible.”

Needless to say, this has become a very ugly, nasty, and highly dangerous dispute, if for no other reason than it shifts press focus away from the bigger issues impacting everyone one in America under the anti‐leadership of this slick and manipulative salesman that we put in office. But, perhaps that’s his purpose in this whole charade anyway.

So, let’s try this again. There is not now, nor has there ever been a liberal political bias as part of the mainstream news media. I’ve had people actually laugh in my face when making this claim, but my evidence is conclusive. It’s just that some people shut down when they hear it, because they are so absolutely convinced of the opposite. And this belief is nothing new. Remember that Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew said the exact things we’re hearing today coming from the right, yet people examining media history today would hardly view Walter Cronkite as a flaming liberal. The problem Agnew had was that he had no media outlet to back him up, except perhaps William F. Buckley’s National Review.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propagandist.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s make a distinction between the words “news” and “politics.” While it’s true that the discussion of political matters may be a necessary part of the news, it does not follow that the news business IS a political instrument. This is the fallacy that has clouded our judgment in the arguments over what is and is not “fake news.” When our President uses the term to tag the mainstream press, he is bearing a false witness and demeaning an institution that needs, instead, our protection. This is the nut of it.

I’m one of the people who helped originate the concept of non‐liberal‐biased TV news by calling it conservative and including conservative political arguments. But this strategy is based on the assumption that the mainstream is, in fact, political, and that is simply not true. Hence, the best we could rightly claim is that we were feeding viewers the kinds of propaganda that we claimed that liberals were doing with the mainstream press. Do you see the inherent conflict in the argument? From the manual on manipulation, The Thinker’s Guide To Fallacies: The Art of Mental Trickery and Manipulation, this tactic is Dirty Trick number one: Accuse Your Opponent of Doing What He is Accusing You of (or worse).

And yet, those convinced of this fallacy LAUGH at me. I spoke to a group of such people in Colorado last year, and when I started talking about this, they ended the meeting through their astonishment, mockery, and disdain, choosing instead to bring their Christianity into the discussion. I suppose I deserved this by presuming the right to challenge their beliefs directly, but the current political situation in our country demands honesty and open‐mindedness in our thoughts and speech, regardless of what anybody thinks.

One must be a fringe conspiracy theorist to actually believe that “the Democrats” are somehow behind the actions of the press. This is absurd on its face, and to argue it is a waste of everybody’s time. It gets traction, however, because it’s said so often, and it fits so well with the grand narrative of the political right. The suggestion likewise that the press might instead be behind the Democrats’ thinking is even more absurd, and yet this is the position into which we are forced by those who have a beef with the progressive culture.

The press does not speak on behalf of the culture; it speaks to the culture. It speaks about what is NEW. That’s why it’s called “the news!” If the culture is moving in a progressive manner, of course we’ll hear about it from the press (and we do), but that doesn’t mean there’s anything of a political (read: manipulative) nature behind it. The press isn’t dictating to the culture how it believes the culture should behave. Of course, the press does provide the editorial page as a separate entity and includes letters to the editor, but this isn’t what Trump is talking about.

The culture doesn’t decide anything based on the news that the press provides. If anything, in providing its observations, the press gives the culture information upon which it can make its own political decisions. If one doesn’t like the current culture, they have every right to resist and object, but it accomplishes exactly nothing to shout “liberal conspiracy” at the messengers. Except, that is, to demonize the press as a political opponent. It is not.

Dog bites man, it’s not news. Man bites dog, it is news. To accuse the messenger of bias in this account is like saying, “Why is the press reporting on these idiots who bite dogs?” or “Oh, Lord, let us please go back to the time when men didn’t bite dogs.” In this sense, so‐called “conservative” news isn’t really news; it’s “olds.” I say so‐called, because news that is birthed of a political purpose (that’s what we have when we say that this news or that news is “conservative”) is actually propaganda, the kind of which is calculating and deliberate.

And there is nothing righteous about a society that’s built around a backbone of propaganda.

When propaganda is presented as news

Statements this week by our slick salesman President shine a light on how obsessed the man is with the destruction of the profession created to be a check on his behavior in and out of the White House. Unless some serious remedies are found, he and his followers will make it impossible to judge between what is news and what is propaganda, and the very future of our democracy is at stake.

To a group of veterans in Kansas City on Tuesday, he criticized the press and made this remarkable statement:

“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening. Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.”

Many observers responded with fear and noted that the statement was eerily similar to Orwell’s dystopian 1984. That’s a problem, because the press seems to have no response to the corner into which they are being painted.

At the same time, Trump’s FCC took steps to block the merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media, which enraged the President. Tuesday night he tweeted: “So sad and unfair that the FCC wouldn’t approve the Sinclair Broadcast merger with Tribune,. This would have been a great and much needed Conservative voice for and of the People. Liberal Fake News NBC and Comcast gets approved, much bigger, but not Sinclair. Disgraceful!” Very briefly, local news groups have so far escaped the claims of bias and are trusted a great deal more than the national press. Sinclair owns more TV stations than anybody else. They’re famous for forcing anchors to read conservative scripts and editorials penned by Sinclair managers. One day they’ll destroy that trust between viewers and local news, but that’s downstream a bit. The point is that the President of the United States has called the move “disgraceful” in his attempts to control the Washington narrative.

One of the roles of journalism is to write the first draft of history, including all the stuff taught to our children. Without the chronicles of observers — professional observers — where would we begin in drafting the various narratives that make up the grand narrative that is certified as history? Much of my writing life has been dedicated to understanding this process, and we’ve now entered a new era where political propaganda has replaced professional journalism in a bold, manipulative, and dangerous plan to capture the minds of the masses.

My book, The Gospel of Self, is largely about how I helped Pat Robertson produce a form of point‐of‐view journalism in my substantial role at The 700 Club during the 1980s, up to and including Robertson’s run for President as a Republican in 1988. We literally wrote the book on presenting a politically conservative form of “news,” and as I’ve said many times, long before there was Fox News, there was The 700 Club. The most visible fruit of this unholy snow job today is Donald Trump, President of the United States and a master of propaganda as news.

What’s lost is the need of free people to access truth in current events and thusly our writing of history. News organizations aren’t politically liberal just because their product is often progressive. That’s because news is “new,” not only in its name but also in its mission to report what is new. It is not now, nor was it ever birthed as a form of political propaganda, but the same cannot be said for so‐called “conservative news.” I know, because I was there when it was created.

The press simply must stop playing defense in all this and go on the offensive, which should include the use of its own facilities to educate the masses about journalism. All who carry the banner of “professional press” should join together in this process, for the Trump right takes advantage of the ignorance of the masses in this area.

We need to do this now, before this mischief is dragged into yet another presidential election year.

Dirty Trick #33: Rewriting History

Public manipulation by special interests has become a giant and painful carbuncle on the skin of the West today, and it threatens the very foundations of our liberty. We witness it every day, and yet people get away with it, because the public doesn’t have a clue. From the controlling narcissist to the special interest, manipulation is a dangerous game being played at all levels of our culture and something I think we ought to be teaching in high school (along with journalism). Permit me to offer two quotes by Edward Bernays, the father of professional public relations. He was one of the original thinkers on the subject and literally wrote the book on propaganda:

From his 1947 essay and 1955 book “The Engineering of Consent:”

If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it.

From his 1923 book Crystalizing Public Opinion:

Those who manipulate the organized habits and opinions of the masses constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

This is the most under‐reported story in the West, because the press not only views it as standard operating procedure in a civilized culture, but it also participates in the manipulation, sometimes knowingly but more often unawares. Again, if smart manipulators are going to be on the loose plying their trade, then we must somehow arm our citizens to recognize what’s going on. My recommended reading for this task is a little book that would serve well as a textbook for the class, The Thinker’s Guide To FALLACIES: The Art of Mental Trickery and Manipulation. I can’t possibly over‐recommend this guidebook.

Today, I want to talk about Dirty Trick #33 from the book: Re‐write History (Have it your way). It’s a very clever way to win an argument, because it undercuts your opponent by removing their foundational support evidence. It’s one of the most evil and seditious manipulations of all, and its practitioners can be so slick that it’s often difficult to figure out what’s really going on. Here’s part of what the book says:

“The fact is that human memory is continually working to re‐describe events of the past in such a way as to exonerate itself and condemn its detractors. Historical writing often follows suit, especially in the writing of textbooks for schools. So, in telling a story about the past, manipulators feel free to distort the past in whatever ways they believe they can get away with. As always, the skilled manipulator is ready with (self‐justifying) excuses.”

Sometimes, this appears obvious, such as what happens when the victor in a war is given the responsibility to write the history of the war. It’s guaranteed to be skewed. Other times, however, it is very, very subtle, and I want to point to two current examples of this taking place in our midst, one from the political right and one from the political left. That way, I can be criticized by everybody.

On the left, we have the transgender community — in an effort to justify itself — creatively rewriting history by redefining what it means to be normal in terms of gender identification. This is vitally important to the movement, because words like “normal” shove them into a corner labelled “abnormal” or “deviant,” and this bias comes naturally without people even giving a thought to the idea of gender preference. So, in order to make “trans” more palpable with the rest of society, it’s necessary to offer the idea that all gender difference is a result of nature, for if this can be done, then those who used to be tagged as abnormal or deviant can no longer be labeled as such. It’s just the luck of the draw.

And so, we have a new term inserted by the trans community into the English language: cisgender, cisgendered, or any derivative of cis, which is the opposite of trans. According to Google, it means “denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.” It’s presented as a privilege, which means those so labelled can be the oppressors in society. So, what used to be considered “normal” is now just another position on a spectrum of gender identification. There is no normal. Everybody naturally exists along a linear scale with cis on one end and trans on the other end. Variations on the gender thought stream exist between the extremes, but we’re all just one, big happy family of different personal gender hands that we have no choice but to play, and that is a rewriting of history to the nth degree.

The term was originated in 1991 by German sexologist Volkmar Sigusch, so it’s a brand new piece of thinking. However, as Dirty Trick #33 advises, historical writing will ensue, and our children will be presented with this concept as historical fact. Mission accomplished through a manipulative logical fallacy. Those who oppose the thinking are deemed intolerant, and so it goes.

On the right, we have something that is even more sinister in its manipulation and one in which I participated in my role as executive producer of The 700 Club in the years prior to Pat Robertson running for President in 1988. We innovated what we called “TV Journalism With a Different Spirit,” news from a Biblical, Christian, and conservative perspective. We took ourselves seriously, and to present ourselves to the public, we needed to rewrite history. We did so by presenting as fact the assertion that all “news” is determined by political bias. Therefore, we simply took a position to the political right on the thought spectrum of journalism. This action meant that everybody else — from CBS News to the New York Times — was to the political left of us. This was a core principle upon which we functioned.

This, however, is a total fallacy, because “the news” is not a political product. Political information vehicles are called propaganda, and we’re back to the whole public manipulation theme. Think about it. News organizations used to operate on a belief in objectivity, and while we’ve all come to believe that objectivity was an unattainable ideal, we were always careful to be fair and present opposing thinking to anything that was presented as “new.” We took seriously the responsibility of writing the first draft of history, and our ethical rules were built upon that role. But the news is new, and that’s a cultural problem for conservatives, who are happiest with a tamper‐proof status quo. New is progressive, and therein lies the rub.

As I wrote in my book, The Gospel of Self, before there was Fox News, there was CBN News, and we wrote the playbook for propaganda as news. It’s important to note that in the practice of this, there’s no need to provide balance. In fact, opposition to a right wing perspective can be mocked freely, because, after all, this isn’t journalism at all. It. Is. Propaganda. Once again, as Dirty Trick #33 warns, historical writing has ensued since we rewrote history, and now our children are taught to believe that all news is political, and that there are two distinct “sides” in the institution of journalism.

Don’t get me wrong; I do think the arrogance of the press has contributed to its own demise and that objectivity was an unrealistic ideal in the first place. However — and this is what’s important — as long as the press plays only defense in the game of public manipulation, those quietly guiding the disruption — the fundamentalist conservatives — will continue to advance in the culture. The left is being defined by the right today, and this is the dangerous fruit of logical fallacies. For as long as we view justice and mercy as two opposing sides of the same coin, we will always favor one or the other, depending on who’s in charge.

We need to avoid these stacked decks by understanding logical fallacies when they are presented. Otherwise, we’re like punching bag wives in the hands of evil but gifted narcissist husbands for whom all of this is as natural as breathing.

The press needs a complete reinvention

Jay Rosen

The press doesn’t really believe that it bears any direct culpability in the election of Donald Trump, nor does it believe accusations today that it is biased against him. They KNOW they’re playing it down the middle, so any beliefs otherwise are false and don’t deserve a response. This forms a barrier impossible to penetrate when it comes to covering the Trump Presidency, because there are serious ramifications for all of us so long as the press maintains a business‐as‐normal disposition regarding its own work. Con artists require a certain equilibrium within which to present their logical fallacies, and the press — by being its same old self — is providing exactly that. In its current state, the press is simply being outmaneuvered by expertise it cannot overcome, because the playing field isn’t even.

As the brilliant Jay Rosen has pointed out — and I have written about subsequently — the press, especially the Washington press corps, operates in a thought stream that it considers “savvy.” To understand this, Jay pointed us to the three spheres of objectivity that the press uses as authored by Daniel C. Hallin in his book, The Uncensored War. It’s comprised of three concentric circles, the sphere of consensus in the middle, surrounded by the spheres of legitimate debate and then the outside sphere of deviancy. Wikipedia:

In the sphere of consensus, journalists assume everyone agrees. The sphere of legitimate controversy includes the standard political debates, and journalists are expected to remain neutral. The sphere of deviance falls outside the bounds of legitimate debate, and journalists can ignore it. These boundaries shift, as public opinion shifts.

The public is unaware of these classifications, but they surely understand that there is something wrong within the mainstream press that blinds them to certain realities they regularly confront every day. Things are not alright, but the press seems stuck in some obscure mindset that assumes they are. This is the pinpoint of the “why” of Donald Trump, but to cover the administration in this light would be to admit the press has been wrong in their foundational thought stream. What we have today is what happens when the press operates with the public’s opinion in the sphere of deviancy. They simply refuse to look at reality in America through any other lens than that provided by their own self‐serving savvy. Perhaps it is the press itself that has entered deviant status.

The below meme appeared on my Facebook feed last week, and it’s very clever. It’s also highly persuasive to people who don’t feel they’re getting a fair shake from the press.

You can say all you want that this is merely a fool’s folly, manipulation, or the feeding of ignorance, but to deny it resonates with a great many Americans is just plain dumb. It’s also highly press‐destructive and revealing about how we don’t seem to have learned anything since November of 2016. I’d call this completely within Professor Rosen’s admonition for the press to get off its “normalcy,” because the best it can do in its current state is produce the above. I believe this set of images speaks directly to the inability of the press to behave in any way differently than it always has, and it has profound consequences for our country.

And, while this is most certainly suicidal for the press, it doesn’t surprise me, because the press — especially in Washington — suffers from oxygen deprivation atop the pedestal it created for itself in the wake of Watergate. Watergate created the celebrity journalist, a different animal than the columnists of old who knew such status. Woodward and Bernstein were garden‐variety reporters being spoon‐fed by the number two guy at the FBI. There were books. There was a movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. It doesn’t get any more celebratory than that.

J‐schools began encountering masses of wannabe Woodwards and Bernsteins, and the dye was cast for a different role for journalism in the culture, the “gotcha” journalist. Gotcha was the pathway, and the higher up the person “got,” the better for the journalist. Not content to just cover the news anymore, reporters saw themselves on the same cultural level belonging to the people it covered. It has produced transparent sitting ducks for spin, because everything hinges on access to a special class on the status ladder — those in charge.

Objectivity has totally failed, and we have to question whether there ever was such an animal in the first place. Christopher Lasch has brilliantly argued that it was manufactured by those who needed a sterile environment within which to sell advertising, and I don’t disagree. That sterile environment was also very useful for the selling of ideas, which is the role of public relations — the spin doctors.

Here’s another great deception that has been sold as a part of an objective press: the press has a duty to be fair. Any honest examination of this postulate will reveal it to be an assumption, a logical fallacy used to defend what Rosen calls “he said, she said” coverage of the news. The press has no obligation whatsoever to be fair. We proved that at The 700 Club 35 years ago, and Fox News proves it every day. “The press” as conceived in the First Amendment is not a bastion of fairness, for why would such an institution need protection from the government if this were true?

At CBN, we positioned ourselves to the right of the mainstream press. The act itself made two false claims: one, that the mainstream press represented a liberal, therefore political view of life, and two, that we should be taken just as seriously as they were in the overall presentation of journalism. Politicizing the press was designed to excuse our own politicalization. Since we were a propaganda arm of the political right, we couldn’t escape the fact that our presentation of the news was political, so in order to claim status as journalists, we needed to paint the entire institution as one, giant political land grab.

The point is that the press operated believing itself to be fair, and we did not. It’s not by accident that Fox News uses the word “fair” in its marketing slogan, for the whole idea is to confuse everything so as to provide an air of legitimacy to what is actually political propaganda.

Professor Rosen has seen this coming for decades and has tried to apply his academic mind to not only uncovering all of this but to also provide suggestions and recommendations on what to do about it. His latest,  “It’s time for the press to suspend normal relations with the Trump presidency,” is spot on but doesn’t go far enough.

I think the press needs to first suspend normal relations with itself.