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Tilting at Windmills

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March 6, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

JOHN HAGEE UPDATE....Steve Benen remains agog that the press isn't showing much interest in John Hagee's endorsement of John McCain:

John McCain actively sought the support of an anti-Catholic, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-woman, and anti-Semitic televangelist, and despite widespread condemnations from a variety of circles, reporters simply won't cover the story or push McCain for an explanation. As Andrew Sullivan put it, John Hagee is "a white Farrakhan, but the media has essentially given McCain a pass."

It's funny, but in a way I think this is a demonstration of the condescending attitude that a lot of urban reporters have toward evangelicals. Call it the soft bigotry of low expectations. Basically, they figure that these guys are all lunatic nutballs with weird beliefs, and they're so used to this idea that they give it a pass when it pops into the news. It's just Uncle Bob. You know how he gets. If they actually took evangelicals seriously, instead of treating them like members of long-lost Amazon tribes, they'd pay more attention to stories like this and they wouldn't give McCain a free pass on Hagee's endorsement.

Kevin Drum 12:19 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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I'm not following your logic here, Kevin. The media don't care about John Hagee because he's not just one nutjob but a representative of an entire large demographic of nutjobs? I think it makes more sense to say that reporters simply are convinced that, regardless of facts, Republicans are sensible adults while Democrats are marihuana-toking hippy radicals. McCain, being a Republican and a Vietnam vet, is ipso facto sensible.

Oh, and frist, woot, etc.

Posted by: ChristianPinko on March 6, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

There's no soft bigotry of low expectations here. McCain is gettting a pass here because the reporters-members of the right wing media machine- want to give him a pass. These evangelicals are dangerous but the press chooses to look away.

Suppose Senator Clinton happened to get an endorsement from this lunatic? She'd be getting killed int the RWCM right now.

Posted by: bobbyk on March 6, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Kevin. If a Dem did this, they would be all over this. IOKIYAR.

The corporations who own the media want McCain. The reporters love him 'cause he makes them feel important.

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on March 6, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's a consequence of all the oxygen getting sucked out of the room by the ongoing Dem primary. Or maybe it's a consequence of the ongoing romance between McCain and the beltway press. It's amazing that sympathetic coverage only costs as much as a plate of ribs.

Either way, once the Dem primary is resolved, the MSM will dismiss the Hagee talk as "old news," and we won't hear any of it.

Posted by: Killjoy on March 6, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

One of the Democratic candidates should take a whack at McCain over it, that's pretty much the only way to drive press coverage. That or Tim Russert gets his idiosyncratic undies bundled over it.

Posted by: McSame on March 6, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Reporters follow the main stream media narratives because

1. They are intellectually lazy.
2. They are devoid of professional integrity.

and, finally, they do not care for the real consequences of their slothfulness and dishonesty, even if the consequences include a war that lead to deaths of tens of thousands and misery for millions of people.

Posted by: gregor on March 6, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Has Hagee advocated violence against Americans?

Farakahn and the Nation of Islam have.

The two are not similiar at all. Hagee may be a nut exercising his rights of free speech but as long as he remains within bounds of what acceptable in a civil society then his endorsement is no different than that of other wingnuts.

The Nation of Islam however preeches an anti-american, anti-white, anti-jew gospel of hate. They may have a legal right to do so but no respectable person need tolerate them.

I personally find Hagee repugnant but would not be offended if he supported a liberal candidate instead of a conservative one. I would not want anything to do with any Black Muslim close to my candidate in any way at all.

Posted by: ken on March 6, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

While it's roughly true that Hagee is the white equivalent of Farrakhan, the bigger story remains that not only does McCain refuse to denounce, but that he ACTIVELY sought out Hagee's endorsement. Obama never sought out Farrkhan's endorsement and should never have been questioned about him in the first place. Underlying all of this is the tacit admission that McCain AND the press fear losing the support of Hagee and his type. I think this is an important extension - it's not just McCain who fears losing this wackjob's support. Otherwise one has to postulate that the press just generally agrees with Hagee's viewpoints - and that is an even scarier proposition.

Posted by: HungChad on March 6, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Hypothetical Russert/ McCain interview:

" TR: I gave Sen Obama a lot of flack for the unsolicited support he received from Louis Farrakan. You on the other hand actively sought the support of Hagee, can you address this?

JM: Well Tim I have already said I don't condone or agree with all of his views, this is old news, I respect Mr. Hagee and am grateful for his support, even if we don't see eye to eye on every issue.

TM: Thats good enough for me! Sen. McCain, you're the greatest!"

Posted by: dontcallmefrancis on March 6, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

It's because Hagee has no lips. Seriously. The pundit class expects that real leaders don't have lips. Look how many haven't: bush, Bush Sr, Frist, and look at almost any other big-time Gooper of the last decade or so. McCain's a weirdo because he *has* lips and he's a Republican.

Posted by: Altoid on March 6, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Nonsense, the media is giving McCain a pass because the corporate American media loves McCain. The silence those like Russert, Matthews, Dowd is especially laughable given their oft-professed Catholicism and deep concern for 'moral' issues.

Posted by: on March 6, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Tell Tim Russert, Kevin.

Posted by: Garuda on March 6, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

I personally find Hagee repugnant but would not be offended if he supported a liberal candidate instead of a conservative one. I would not want anything to do with any Black Muslim close to my candidate in any way at all.
Posted by: ken

I find this says more about Ken than anything else; to wit, I would be surprised if anything a white christian nutjob would say or do would bother him as much as anything a Black Muslim said or did.

As for setting the bar at violence against americans, what makes our country so fucking pure, asshole? This dipshit advocates the indiscriminate bombing Iran for the purpose of bringing about the death and/or conversion of Israel, and that doesn't somehow rise to levels of unacceptable discourse?

Posted by: on March 6, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Not to disregard any of the foregoing, but short of blatantly criminal behavior, the media is most reluctant to denigrate any professional Christian. This is partly because most Americans identify as Christian, and partly because doctrinal differences across the Christian spectrum are enormous, bitter, and papered over by a media truce of silence. When that truce is broken by suggestions that any part of the spectrum is illegimate, accusations of bigotry start to fly -- especially from those who believe they are "persecuted for Christ" 24/7, and see controversy as an opportunity to "witness" -- and things get nasty in a hell of a hurry. It's the kind of headache the press would rather do without.

Posted by: penalcolony on March 6, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Has Hagee advocated violence against Americans?

It seems to me that trying to promote the start of Armagedon would entail some violence against America, or at least that part of it that wasn't caught up in the Rapture.

Posted by: tomeck on March 6, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK


Did you not get the memo?

Posted by: lilybart on March 6, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the members of the press who cover the McCain campaign, are still reminiscing of the barbeque McCain just recently held for them at his ranch in Arizona?

Posted by: John on March 6, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Freaking out about Hagee's endorsement is really counterproductive. It is actually kind of funny, if true, that McCain actively sought the endorsement. Maybe a reporter can ask him exactly what role he expects to play in bringing about the end times. If he expects to be raptured, will he choose an unraptureable VP to keep the White House in Republican hands?

Posted by: Emma Zahn on March 6, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hagee is worse than Farrakhan in the sense that Hitler is worse than Charles Manson-- he has more power to act on his evil. Farrakhan couldn't get in the door in any Congressman's office, and he has far fewer devotees than Hagee. It doesn't really matter what results you get when you compare their mythologies.

Kevin, your theory of condescension is possible, but I fail to see why it's necessary. The laziness and snuggly relationship with McCain theories seem to do the job just fine.

Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg on March 6, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, everybody says those baby back ribs were some of the best they'd ever tasted. Ol' John is one fantastic Barbecue man. Hagee? You mean the guy who just withdrew from the race for the GOP nomination? S'cuse me [BURP]

Posted by: Jim Strain on March 6, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

The only kind of scandal that mainstream journalists care about when it comes to Republicans are financial scandals. The media fully expects Republicans to be immoral, hyprocritical, lying bastards. That's OK as far as the mainstream media is concerned, so long as the Republicans can be trusted with taxpayers' money. The media applies a higher standard to Democrats. Thus, for most "scandals", IOKIYAR.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on March 6, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Not to underestimate the intellectual sloth of the press or the hypocrisy of McCain regarding Hagee's endorsement, the real and screaming scandal is McCain defrauding the American people in terms of how he got onto the Ohio ballot.

IMHO, McCain has committed financial fraud by avoiding the signature gathering process in Ohio and qualifyng himself on the Ohio ballot by using the sly artifice of declaring himself as being enrolled in the public campaign financing program. Then he backtracks and says he isn't in the public financing program AFTER he got on the ballot with no signatures. This is financial fraud. Just imagine if you applied for a mortgage, insurance, testified in court, or whatever on the basis of one factual declaration, and then decided to change your mind for another attestation. So why isn't the financial and general press all over this financial and electoral fraud? That's what it is - fraud based upon a false entitlement to avoid signature gathering. FRAUD.

Posted by: PeterG on March 6, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I absolutely agree with Elvis above. Hagee is much more dangerous than Farrakhan could ever be simply BECAUSE McCain and other Republicans actively seek his support. It's more than a little troubling that a neocon, End Timer, whom beats the drums of war against Iran and other Middle East countries and longs for Armageddon has the ear of a Presidential candidate.

Posted by: ckelly on March 6, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I guess there is a difference between the word "reject" and "repudiate". Who would have thunk it? Now the story is about McCain-Hagee not Obama-Farrakhan. You suppose the Obama camp is going to send HRC flowers and a thank you card?

Posted by: Radix on March 6, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

But that's just it, Radix. The story ISN'T about McCain-Hagee and people are STILL talking about Obama-Farrakhan.

I asked my Fox-watching father about this a few days ago. He had no idea who Hagee was. He sure does know about Farrakhan, though. And the fact that Obama rejects, denounces, and repudiates? Doesn't really matter.

Posted by: LAS on March 6, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm active in my local Republican party, and follow national politics very closely. I've never heard of Hagee. Who is he?

Posted by: DBL on March 6, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I've never heard of Hagee.

This is precisely the point. If the MSM was doing its job - you would have.

Posted by: ckelly on March 6, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Las, to a large extent you are correct about the coverage. However, when there is an Obama spokesman there or any DNC type, Dean comes to mind, these folk always point out the difference, using the word "repudiated". Imagine if Obama had just stuck with "reject", what a field day for the press.

Posted by: Radix on March 6, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hagee actively promotes conditions that he believes will bring about Armageddon...

And he endorses McCain.


Posted by: RCB on March 6, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Basically, they figure that these guys are all lunatic nutballs with weird beliefs, . . .—Kevin Drum

How else would you describe someone who believes in god and thinks the Bible is the word of god?

Posted by: on March 6, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Why worry about this in March?

If the endorsement's still there in October, that's the time to get interested.

Posted by: Andrew on March 6, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Freaking out about Hagee's endorsement is really counterproductive. Posted by: Emma Zahn

No one is "freaking out" about the endorsement. However, I think we're all pretty pissed-off that the MSM doesn't examine it and make the obvious contrast with Obama's rejection of Farrakhan.

Contrary to most polling data, most Americans aren't religious in the least. So, if Hagee's opinions were made more public, his would hardly be the kind of endorsement someone hoping to sway the middle mass next November would find very useful. It will help McCain with the "religious" right, but it should hurt him with normal people.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 6, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Anti-Catholic, huh? Are some Americans really that atavistic? Toronto used to have huge Orange (anti-Catholic) parades down University Avenue, but they are long gone. You have to be seriously weird to be anti-Catholic now. I don't even know what it means -- no jobs for Catholics, no schools, no citizenship? Yeah, right. That's going to fly for 25% of the population. What a clown! Even visually: "By 50, every man gets the face he deserves." - George Orwell, Essays. If you have a pudgy, corrupt, weak face, what does that say about your moral character, Mr Hagee?

Posted by: Bob M on March 6, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

McCain, being a Republican and a Vietnam vet, is ipso facto sensible.

Being a Vietnam vet is only sensible if you're a Republican (John McCain and, uh, um, are there any others?). Being a Vietnam vet if you're a Democrat (see, e.g., Al Gore, John Kerry, Jim Webb, etc.) is a sign that you're a marijuana-toking hippie radical.

Posted by: Stefan on March 6, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

If you have a pudgy, corrupt, weak face, what does that say about your moral character, Mr Hagee?

What does this say about his moral character? Granted, it's from wikipedia but if you google Hagee you find he's a real piece of work.

Hagee and Martha divorced on grounds of Pastor Hagee's infidelity in September 1975, and Hagee married Diana on April 12, 1976. [2]. Due to the bylaws of his Assemblies of God denomination, Hagee could no longer be ordained or licensed within. He was defrocked but sued the denomination for millions of dollars due to defamation of character.

Posted by: ckelly on March 6, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin got the reasons wrong.

Obama has to justify the endorsement because he is not a normal American--he is Black, and rumor has it that he might be a Muslim.

McCain is a white Christian, so he's just like us, except he exudes Maverickness more than the best of us. McCain must be totally awesome, because there's no way that a white Christian could ever act against our interests--he is one of us. Just try to name one white Christian President that has ever done anything wrong.

Posted by: reino on March 6, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think the simple answer is probably the correct one: The media have been so cowed into having to respect "faith" that they're afraid to scrutinize even the most nutty, demagogic, and dangerous ideologues as long as they cloak themselves in the mantle of Christianity.

Posted by: Steve Reuland on March 6, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

DBL wrote: 'm active in my local Republican party

You don't say.

Posted by: Gregory on March 6, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II,

Contrary to most polling data, most Americans aren't religious in the least.

Please cite your source for this assertion.

Posted by: Edo on March 6, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

What do you want to bet Ken is white?

Anti-white? That's terrible.

Anti-Roman Catholic? That's free speech.

Supporting Israel so the Jews will be there to be killed in Armageddon? That may be wacky, but it can't compare to being anti-white.


Did you see Kay Bailey Hutchinson defending Hagee on the Sunday Gas Bags (Press the Meat?) because he has a "big congregation"? So if a racist whack job can get enough other people to listen to him, he's OK?

Give me a break. The MSM should ask McCain over and over whether he rejects OR deplores Hagee more, and if not, why not? (I know that doesn't make sense, but did Russert's questioning of Obama on Farrakhan make sense?)

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 6, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Contrary to most polling data, most Americans aren't religious in the least.

Please cite your source for this assertion. Posted by: Edo

See below. Furthermore, of the 25% to 40% or so of Americans who attend church weekly, how many actually believe or lead what the "religious" right consider "Christian lives"?

If so many Americans were seriously religious and attending church (or temple), why are malls, golf course, ski areas, parks, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, soccer pitches, spectator sporting events, and restaurants all so crowded on Sundays? And don't contend it's because everyone is attending early service.

Americans claim to be religious and certainly more of us attend services than do the wiser Canadians, Australians and Europeans. But, still, most Americans are not really religious.







Posted by: Jeff II on March 6, 2008 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Absurd, the press presumably also has a similar towards Farrakhan. I think the thing here is that the press knows that these voters comprise about 30-40% of the Republican vote and a Republican can never brak with them.

And if the press pushes too hard on this, it will totally rupture the relationship between the Republican party and the press. Hence this is like the pink elephant in the room.

Posted by: Ali on March 7, 2008 at 4:56 AM | PERMALINK

Say what you will about Hagee--I think he sucks, too--but McCain wasn't Hagee's first choice (remember Huckabee?). More importantly, John McCain doesn't go to Cornerstone Baptist Church, much less for 20 years. John McCain also doesn't consider Hagee his "spiritual mentor."

Can't say the same for Obama and the TUCC/Jeremiah White, though. Sure, Obama said he rejects Farrakhan's hateful ideology--did anyone expect he'd do otherwise? It looks to me like "just words" again, though, considering his only distancing IN ACTION has been to try to keep Jeremiah Wright "quiet" during the presidential campaign so as not to attract attention to the TUCC's hateful ideology.

It's not just a minor difference--it's a huge difference, and you have to be either lying or just plain old stupid to not see it.


Posted by: Beth on March 13, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Also, when did you guys start parroting Bill Donohue? (NTTAWWT--hey, it's a refreshing change.)

Posted by: Beth on March 13, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Has Hagee advocated violence against Americans?

Yes, he has, as a matter of fact. He has both condoned and incited violence against Americans. And the fact that you don't know this is eloquent testimony to the truth of what Steve Benen and others have written -- that the MSM has given fascistic bigots like Hagee a total pass.

And I don't buy Kevin's thesis that it's because the media assumes all evangelicals are religious nuts. Are we to assume from that, that the media jumps on every slightly controversial statement by a black public figure because the media assumes most black people don't have controversial opinions?

Posted by: Kathy on March 23, 2008 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Are you insane?... I think its well known that the vast majority of media/press/reporters/news stations are far left democrats. If they find a shred of dirt on conservatives they will spin and smear them into the ground. I think its obvious they know theres nothing to the endorsement from Hagee except that he thinks mccain would be the best person to be president of the united states,which I think is a logical choice. Mccain does not attend hagee's church,Hagee didnt marry him and his wife,he didnt baptize his children,Hagee is not his mentor,but you better believe if he was I doubt he'd even be in the race now unlike obama who has a radical pastor that is all those things to him that the dems ignore

Posted by: Righto on March 30, 2008 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK



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