This past Monday Pat Robertson offered his Christian Broadcast Network audience a conspiracy theory, as a legitimate response, to Fox News contributor Eric Bolling’s suspension from the network for allegedly sending unsolicited nude photos to at least three female coworkers. Robertson said:
If you wanted to destroy the Fox News, you really wanted to destroy them, what would you do? Well you would send some salacious material, ostensibly from one of their popular co-hosts or hosts and you’d send it out and then get it publicized and then you have some woman complain that she had gotten this salacious material from this particular co-host.
Sadly, there are Evangelicals who will accept Pat Robertson’s theory as fact. The ungodly union between the reactionary wing of the Evangelical movement and the conservative media has produced an analytical paralysis in the minds of those who only receive information from sources inside their bubble. This paralysis obscures rational thought and hinders dialogue. It’s easier to believe conservative media outlets are the victims of a sinister liberal plot than to address the misogyny and patriarchy that seem to be constitutive parts of their political and religious dogma.
Eric Bolling’s suspension comes a month after Charles Payne’s suspension pending the findings of his sexual harassment allegations. In April of this year Bill O'Reilly was fired from the network after it was revealed that he and 20th Century Fox had been settling sexual harassment cases since 2004. In July of last year, the recently deceased, Roger Ailes was forced to resign as CEO of Fox News amid his sexual harassment scandal involving female employees at the network.
None of this history matters. A closed mind rarely sees patterns. These sexual allegations are not viewed as a sign of a toxic atmosphere. The “good guy” is a victim of an illegitimate media. This is the kind of thinking that allows people to look at videos of unarmed people shot by police and disconnect what they are seeing from any historical context.
The allegiance some Evangelicals have pledged to the conservative media is so strong that it ignores, tolerates and even defends sexual assault. The "Access Hollywood" audio of Donald Trump admitting to sexually assaulting women didn't faze this crowd. Bill Clinton’s 20-year-old consensual affair with Monica Lewinsky is more offensive to many of them than Donald Trump hanging around the dressing rooms of young women or his willingness to just, “Grab ’em by the p___y.”
There are religious and secular people who, foolishly, believe these Evangelicals can be reached with better arguments. These good folks are prisoners of their own hope and optimism. There is a hatred at the core of this kind of Christianity. Pat Robertson was talking to people who spent eight years believing every nonsensical story about FEMA camps, gun grabs, Sharia law and a host of other lies fed to them by the conservative media.
In America, our hatred is often hidden behind the Bible or wrapped in a flag. More than 80% of our fellow citizens identify with some denomination of Christianity, yet the rhetoric disseminated from Christian television, social media, too many pulpits and from our elected officials doesn't comport with the gospel of Jesus. Pointing this out is useless. There are Evangelicals who believe the media is fake news, science is a form of secular opinion and universities produce more snowflakes than data. This isn’t hypocrisy. It’s a pernicious worldview that can’t be penetrated with a better argument. The church and the truth are collateral damage.