Is Anderson Cooper 360 correspondent an NYT editor?

My apologies if the title of this post does not make sense — it is based on a recent post I wrote: “Do New York Times editorial writers pray? Ever?”

I’d like to add CNN’s Randi Kaye, of the Anderson Cooper 360° program, to that list of folks who either don’t pray or don’t seem to understand what it means to ask for God’s will to influence ours. On her CNN blog post “AC360° Exclusive: Palin’s former Pastor speaks” she makes the same mistake (I’d like to assume innocently) about Mrs. Palin’s comment about God’s will and the Iraq war as the NYT editorial writers. But with a twist…

Here’s Ms. Kaye’s comment:

She also talked to church members about “being saved” at the Assembly of God and suggested to them that the war in Iraq is a mission from God. Palin said, “our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we are praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”

I’d like to assume these are innocent mistakes, but let me highlight them for you so that you can judge for yourself.

Ms. Kaye says here that Mrs. Palin, “suggested to [church members] that the war in Iraq is a mission from God.” Did Mrs. Palin do this? To “support” the assertion a quote is given. However, it is not a quote. It’s what James Taranto would call a “dowdification” (and does so today on “Best of the Web”) — where only part of the quote is given in such a way that the meaning of the quote is changed. Even the Bible can be dowdified to say “There is no God” — see Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1.

If Ms. Kaye did it on purpose, it is horrible journalism (in fact, not even journalism). If she did it on accident, it is sloppy journalism. Here’s the full quote: “Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do also what is right for this country–that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God.” Isn’t that what we want our leaders doing? Praying that their decisions will reflect God’s will and not their own?

If Ms. Kaye wanted to shorten the quote and yet keep the meaning intended, she could have simply added four words and an ellipsis: “Pray… that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God.”

She did not “suggest to them that the war in Iraq is a mission from God.” She told them to pray that our leaders are making choices that are in line God’s will. In fact, her statement indicates just the opposite of what Ms. Kaye asserts: it indicates a lack of commitment on Mrs. Palin’s part (at least publically) as to whether or not the war is God’s will.

As I asked last time I brought this up, why don’t some of these media folks understand prayer? Why don’t they understand what it means to ask others to pray that our leaders actions be in line with God’s will? Again, I do not want to assume the worst, but they sure make it hard. Some “loose cannon” bloggers with obvious partisan motivations — I can understand. They are so blinded by their worship of their own ideas that they probably don’t even realize they are lying. (True for bloggers with PhDs, as well — an advanced degree is no cure for a Jeremiah 17:9 heart.) But someone we’re supposed to trust to bring us the facts so that we can make up our own minds? I expect better.

I just can’t keep commenting on this, because I suppose it will be with us for at least a few more months — and if McCain & Palin win, a few more years. So, I will try to make this the last.

And I would hate to communicate the wrong message because, in a very real way, I have no dog in this hunt. I have no idea what Mrs. Palin thinks about the Iraq war and God’s will. Maybe she thinks it is God’s will, in which case her statement to the church is an example of restraint not advocacy. Maybe she has a room in her house where she lights candles, burns incense, and worships a small statue of the Donald Rumsfeld — I have no idea. And her religion is not my religion. Given her background, it seems (as far as I can tell) that she is a Sunday-keeping, Trinity-believing, the-law-is-done-away “Christian” — positions I believe to be Satanic perversions of the Bible truth. And, finally, I am not a voter, and I will not vote in the upcoming election. (In fact, the sermon I gave last week in one of my congregations was a review of why we do not vote in the Living Church of God. I comment on some of those reasons in my 9/21/2007 post “My struggle with the word ‘pacifist’” but even more could be read in our current Tomorrow’s World magazine article, “How Would Jesus Vote for President?“)

However, for some reason seeing the media’s twisting of this simple request that a gathering of church folks pray that our leaders’ actions would be within God’s will has just gotten my goat. And it is a lesson for me: In my zeal to make what I believe to be a true point, I hope I do not give into the temptation to misrepresent a fact, even subconsciously. It’s easy to allow yourself to do — again, see Jeremiah 17:9. But the ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16) applies to everyone — even newspaper editorial boards and reporters.

[UPDATE, 9/11/2008: Just to demonstrate that I’m willing to pick on conservative papers, too, and not just the liberal ones, the Wall Street Journal messed this one up, too, today (at least online). Reporter Susan Davis described portions of Mrs. Palin’s interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, including the following in that description:

In a recent church appearance, Palin made the statement that “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God” in reference to the war.

“I don’t know if that was my exact quote,” Palin responds — it was.

Ms. Davis actually makes it worse by captializing “Our” and making it seem like it was the beginning of the sentence. (See post above, again, to see the snippet in context.) Mrs. Palin sensibly replies, “I don’t know if that was my exact quote.” Ms. Davis: “[I]t was.” Now, is Ms. Davis simply explaining that Charlie Gibson said it was an exact quote (I missed the interview tonight) — which would mean she missed an opportunity to correct the record and communicate’s poorly that it is Gibson’s statement — or is she interjecting her own inaccurate “confirmation” of this inaccurate “fact”?

Why can’t anyone get this straight? If I request of someone, “Pray that I’ll make the right decision,” am I saying, “I’ll make the right decision”? If I say, “Pray that we’re making a decision that pleases God,” am I saying “We’re making a decision that pleases God”? If I say, “Pray that God will send us a million dollars,” am I saying “God will send us a million dollars”? Why is this so hard for the media to figure out?

Mrs. Palin apparently says when pressed, “I don’t know if the task is from God, Charlie.” That is completely, 100% consistent with the quote from her talk to the church congregation. Still, if they are true to form, many in the media will decide that she is backtracking from her original statement. Unbelievable.

I’ve come to suspect that part of the problem is that so many in our culture, in particular our media — the cultural elite — are shocked at the idea that anyone would think that God has any part or place at all in our wars. After all, isn’t He simply the Great Source of Comfort — a mere divine teddy bear or security blanket that we hug when we’re sad and that helps us get “through it all”?

Anyway, this has gotten rather long for a simple “Update” — I’m going to go now…]

6 thoughts on “Is Anderson Cooper 360 correspondent an NYT editor?

  1. Ed Ewert

    I expect that the MSM will be both distorting and inventing Sarah Palin’s religious views, out of ignorance and out of hostility to conservative Christianity (the MSM can hardly abide an anti-abortion stance), just as they seek to do so on every other aspect of Sarah Palin’s life.

    http://hotair.com/ is a good (conservative) site for political happenings, and currently has intense coverage on Palin and the controversies that surround her.

    http://www.israpundit.com/2008/ is a more conservative Jewish site which frequently examines political happenings and what they mean for Israel. They are trying to develop a notion of where Palin stands on issues, especially as they relate to Jews.

  2. INDIRA MARTIN

    SARAH PALIN IS A ‘FAKE MOM & POLITICIAN!’. Simply because she is leaving a ‘special needs child behind, with a pregnant teenager to take care of it, and her other two daughters to fend for themselves when daddy is on the trail too! it happens every day in allot of homes, with moms who have to work 8 hour shifts, but there’s one difference, their not running for office! she is a poor example of a mother!
    secondly, she has no experience or has any idea what the job demands, is contrary to john Mc Cain on ‘many issues’, and is lying repeating her lies NON-STOP!
    I also hate the fact she doesn’t give squat about the environment! Especially her comments during her convention speech! what exactly is our opponent’s plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet? she isn’t even aware ALASKA ice cap IS MELTING ALL AROUND HER! All she really cares about is lying, defaming others and hunting, and being in the ‘spotlight’.

    Look at her POOR record of protecting wildlife! LET THE GUNS BLAZE! DECLARE OPEN SEASON ON THE POLAR BEARS, MOOSE, CARIBOU, AND WOLVES! WHAT’S NEXT!? SHOOTING SOMEONE IN THE FOOT? LIKE DICK CHANEY? DON’T TRUST HER AMERICA! I DON’T FOR-SURE!!

  3. Uh… Wow. Thanks, Ms. Martin, for writing.

    First, let me say that your comments have nothing to do with my post. That you used my post — a discussion about how the media doesn’t seem to get Mrs. Palin’s prayer request — as an excuse to froth at the mouth in such a manner almost got your post deleted. But I thought, “Why not keep it?” So there it is.

    Secondly, I hope you don’t mind, but I deleted the first third of your original post because it seemed to be a “copy and paste” error. It was exactly the same as the first half of the remaining post, so nothing was left out. I can’t imagine you did that on purpose, but let me know if I am wrong.

    Thirdly, you have some issues to work on. Many of the things you say seem unfounded (that she “doesn’t give squat about the environment”), irrelevant, or downright silly (“All she really cares about is lying, defaming others and hunting, and being in the ‘spotlight'”). Some are relevant (e.g., differing from Senator McCain on a variety of political issues), but said with such invective I don’t even want to listen to you. And, really, who would?

    If you have something worthwhile to say, please say it in a civil manner. (Although, do it elsewhere, as such topics are not related to the purpose of this post.) We can be passionate and civil at the same time.

    Fourthly, sometimes, wolves ought to be shot. (And as long as it weren’t illegal, I’d be happy to try a Caribou burger. My apologies, but I’m a Leviticus 11 carnivore.)

    And lastly, your comment (invective and insults aside) about Sarah Palin and motherhood has more merit than the rest of your comment (and attitude) would imply. I hope to write something about that in the near future, but it will have to wait until a good time arrives.

    So, Ms. Martin, I hope you will forgive me for having a little instructive fun at your post’s expense, and — actually — I hope you will come back again. And feel free to post a comment again. All I ask is (1) that you actually comment on the topic at hand, and (2) that you would aim at being more civil, however passionately you may feel.

    Thanks,
    Wallace Smith

  4. Craig

    I can see why there is such confusion over what Ms Palin meant by her comments. Because her comments were ambiguous they get interpreted. I can easily see why anyone would state that she is saying the Iraq war is God’s will. That is what I initially took it to mean. In light of your comments Mr. Smith (and others), I spent a lot of time (far too much) trying to figure out exactly what she meant. Her exact words are:

    “Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan.”

    The context was her son going to Iraq. Assuming you are right and all she was saying is to pray that the task is in line with God’s will, I submit that it is a trifle late to pray this 5 1/2 years after the fact. Leaders should have sought God’s will six years ago!

    I’m not convinced that the alternative mentioned is not correct. That at that time, she is subtly saying the task (i.e. Iraq war) is God’s will. Why? Because if you back up a few moments in her address, she makes a prayer request that is NOT so ambiguous.

    She is telling the audience she is doing her part in trying to get a $30B pipeline for Alaska, and the audience has to do their part. She says:

    “I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.”

    So here she presumes she knows God’s will concerning the pipeline and sure enough it is God’s will to have it built!

    The problem with evangelicals like Ms Palin, is that many times they act like they know God’s will (and they certainly do not), and it is in line with what they, as humans, have decided it is. In other words, we’ve decide what to do, so pray that God’s will is in line with ours!

    Apparently last evening (Sept. 11) she clarified the issue and said we should pray that we are on God’s side. We can agree with that for sure. Last June she was being candid (Matt. 12:24b). Now as VP candidate she has to be more politically correct.

  5. Howdy, Craig, and thanks so much for your comment.

    I’m afraid that I have been too unsympathetic in my rants about the issue, and your post highlights it. Part of the problem for me is that I have seen her interpreted in the generally-liberal press (NYT, WP, ABC, et al.) as expressing a statement that the war is God’s will, while only in smaller venues have I seen that others seem to see it as I do.

    Even listening to the entire quote, as I have several times, I would think that at the least she should have been given the benefit of a doubt — and all the more since the view she stated in the interview matched the interpretation I have been pressing. It still seems very clear to me, but you’ve helped me to see that I should be a bit more forgiving of those who see it otherwise (thanks for that!). Still, I am only willing to concede that it is vague and could be taken both ways by some, but the most natural interpretation — even given the context — still seems to me the understanding I have given in these posts. However, I will try to be more understanding of folks who disagree. Who aren’t in the media.

    OK, OK — in the media, too. But the standard to which they are held should have made a real difference in how that quote was “reported.”

    That said, your comments about evangelicals and the presumption of God’s will is to be taken to heart. I have seen it quite a bit myself. An acquaintance of mine who is a professor at Abilene Christian University and I were taking on the phone a few months ago, and he observed that the generations of “Christians” coming into college these days are obsessed with a twisted idea of “God’s will” that matches the sort of twist you are describing.

    Over all, I would agree with an analysis I read just today in the WSJ. The Iraq War/God’s Will quote speaks well of her, whether you are for the war or against it. Taken as is, it indicates that she wants the tasks our leaders send our children to accomplish to be God’s will: If it is, we should dive into it completely; if it is not (and learning 5 1/2 years later is better than never learning), then we need to cease post-haste. However, as you mention, her Alaska Pipeline/God’s Will comment is an understandable concern. I would think that a thinking journalist would make more of an issue about that one, but the other makes for a juicier soundbite.

    Thanks, again, Mr. Marley. Great input as always, and I will try to temper my ranting in the future!

  6. Credit where credit is due — in this case, the apparently-somewhat-repentant Associated Press. James Taranto reports today in his Best of the Web feature that the Associated Press has begun editing some old articles and removing references that make it seem as though Mrs. Palin’s later remarks are contradicting her comment to the churchgoers — an implicit recognition that their earlier interpretations are wrong, methinks — although the AP is apparently not pointing out the change in any sort of published correction notice.

    ALSO, Taranto points out that on World News last night ABC had edited out the part where Palin disputes Charlie Gibson’s phrasing, as well as the part where Gibson says, “Exact words,” and and replaced it with YouTube footage showing the entire quote rather than the misleading snippet.

    Nice to see some rectifications — although it’s nicer when things are done right the first time. (Says the smirking comment writer, who regrettably knows too well how easy it is to get things wrong the first time…) — WGS

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