My Experience with Fake-News Journalism*
Fake News will most likely become the word of the year. Anytime there is a disagreement about this or that claimed fact or the positioning of a story, fake news will be the culprit. Of course, not every story a person disagrees with is fake news. At the same time, there is a great deal of fake news and biased reporting going on.
I’ve had first-hand experience with the media. Most of it has not been good
Some years ago I was interviewed by Tad Friend for New York Magazine. The title of the article was, “Does America Hate New York. . . Or Has it Just Stopped Caring?” The cover of the magazine carried a more provocative, thumb-in-the-eye title: “Why America Hates New York: What We Look Like to Folks Down in Newt Country.”
Former congressman and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Dr. Nelson Price, then pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church, a very large conservative church in Cobb County, Georgia, former Georgia governor Lester Maddox, and Dent “Wildman” Myers, the resident Confederate rabble rouser, were also interviewed.
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The article was rather strange because of the images that were included. There was Gingrich holding a bull whip, Tad Leithead, the outgoing chairman of Cobb County’s Chamber of Commerce, standing on the top rungs of an extended aluminum ladder in a way that OSHA would not approve, and Dent Myers holding a long rifle, with a Confederate flag over his right shoulder and a Klansman with a noose around his neck over his left shoulder. Bizarre!
The purpose of Friend’s article, of course, was to cast a cultural shadow over this part of the South by digging up old stereotypes while offering a backhand compliment to the progress of the so-called New South.
When Friend first sat down with me, to get the conversation going, I asked him who he had interviewed before me. He told me that he had met with former Gov. Maddox who is best known for refusing to serve black patrons at his Pickrick restaurant. Here is what I said in response:
“You northern reporters are all the same. You come down South looking for the usual stereotypes to reinforce a certain image for your northern readers. If Lester Maddox were dead and buried, you would go to the graveyard and dig him up just so you could say to your northern readers that you interviewed him.”
Here’s how Friend “interpreted” what I had said: “Maddox is an anachronism, a corpse that just smells bad.” As you can imagine, Maddox’s many friends were upset with me. Of course, if I had really said what Friend had me saying, they would have had every right to be!
But these rock-ribbed conservatives should have known better. Much of what we read in articles written by liberals is designed to distort the truth. Some are willing to lie for what they perceive to be their idea of the greater good. Others just put the worst spin on out-of-context statements to elevate the blood pressure of their targeted ultra-liberal audience.
About the same time, I was interviewed by John F. Sugg for Creative Loafing, a magazine that is difficult to describe if you’ve never seen a copy. The editorial writing is so far left that most people I know won’t even pick it up for fearing of being infected by the ink. The ads are downright disgusting. One issue carried a quarter-page ad for the “Largest Male Review In the U.S.A.: All Nude, All Male, All Gay.” There are pages of advertisements promoting homosexuality, pornography, and phone sex.
To say the article misrepresented what I believe and teach is an understatement. Of course, I expected some of this. It’s typical of left-wing journalists. If Sugg had been truthful, Creative Loafing never would have published the article, or, at least, I never would have been in it. Here’s what he wrote: “Gary DeMar makes a disconcerting impression for a firebrand revolutionary who wants to overthrow the established order of the United States.” And that’s the opening sentence! I carry “a Bible rather than an assault rifle.” Instead of wearing “camouflage” clothing, I’m “sporting khaki pants with razor creases, tassel loafers and, most of all, a warm smile. . . . He looks like your neighbor. He might be.” We all laughed out loud at that one. There’s something about tassel loafers that intrigue these guys. Tad Friend mentioned them too, describing me as a “tassel-loafered product of Pittsburgh.”
After doing a brief interview on the phone with Sugg, I mentioned that I was teaching a class on a biblical view government at our church on Wednesday evenings. He asked if he could come. “Sure,” I said. After listening to me lecture for 45 minutes and answer some questions from the audience, he came up to me and said the following: “You know, there’s really nothing you’ve said that I could disagree with.” But here’s how he tells it in his article.
“It’s Wednesday night in February and about 40 Midway parishioners are gathered for a class. They’re bedrock, anytown Americans — other than their monochrome white complexion.”
The article in New York Magazine followed a similar route. The reason we suburbanites avoid Atlanta is because it’s “a black hole,” as in because there are black people there. This is what passes for “objective journalism.” When you really get down to it, we’re racists, and we want to stone everyone who disagrees with us. I’m not kidding. Here’s how Sugg says it:
“A band of influential preachers is praying for the power to rule America. For those who disagree, they have a solution — stoning.”
It gets worse. Did you know that according to what I teach “the state’s primary purpose is assisting in the conquest of the Planet Earth for Christ”? I spent ten weeks in the Wednesday evening class showing that the State has a particular and jurisdictionally limited role in terms of civil government. But Sugg didn’t write what I really said because it wasn’t red meat.
To claim that I even intimated the idea of “conquest” goes beyond sloppy reporting to downright deceit. To reinforce the mischaracterization, the cover of Creative Loafing shows a Crusader with a sword and a “Christian flag” (as if there is such a thing) standing over a map of the United States.
America will change when people change, and people change when their hearts change, and their hearts cannot change unless God does the changing. God’s kingdom does not advance by the sword, either in the hands of the Church or the State. Sugg heard me say this, and since he had my book Liberty at Risk (now out of print), he also knew what I’ve taught in this area for more than 30 years beginning with my book God and Government. He knows that I am a believer in limited government and a jurisdictional separation between Church and State. But these ho-hum admissions would not satisfy the liberal piranhas. They want blood-in-the-water journalism.
To make the article even more laughable, I and my fellow-travelers have “established a beachhead in the White House.”
Sugg also claimed that “many in Congress pay tribute” and back “Reconstruction-inspired legislation.” If there are some Congressmen paying tribute, I’m certainly not getting any of it.
*This article was originally published as “My Experience with Red-Meat Journalism” at GodfatherPolitics.com.