ABC has apparently never heard that phrase, “There are two sides to every story.” On Feb. 1, “World News Sunday” helped shamed former-pastor Ted Haggard take shots at the Christian conservatives who he says “shunned him.”
Reporter Dan Harris introduced the piece by qualifying Haggard as a former “insider, a powerful pastor at the highest levels of the Christian conservative movement.”
Haggard, who made headlines two years ago for getting caught in a gay sex scandal, is now offering advice to the Christian conservative movement; and ABC gave him the megaphone. Here is a portion of Harris' interview with Haggard:
HARRIS: But now, two years after he was fired in a sex and drug scandal, Haggard is back with some frank criticism of a movement he now says is off course. In his first broadcast news interview since he was brought down by a gay sex scandal, Ted Haggard says the movement he once helped lead has gone too far to the right.
HAGGARD: I think the religious right is increasingly impotent right now in
HARRIS: How is it impotent? Because --
HAGGARD: Well, this last election demonstrated that the only thing it did that it's proud of is proposition eight in
Harris offered no follow up question regarding Haggard's ironic statement that the movement, and not Haggard, is the one “off course,” or how a statewide majority passage of proposition eight is “not much to be proud of.” Instead, Harris allowed Haggard to continue preaching about the “mistakes” of the church.
“Just as the church made a horrible mistake, several centuries ago, insisting that the earth was flat, I think the church may make a major mistake in our generation saying that sexuality should be this, and nothing else,” Haggard declared. Instead of asking whether or not a flat earth and a deceitful pastor who hid a gay sex scandal can even be compared, Harris followed up with “You think the church should tell people its okay to be gay?”
Just moments earlier, Harris pointed out that Haggard used to “rail against homosexuality,” showing clips of Haggard preaching that “Its written in the Bible,” that homosexuality is a sin.
As a journalist, Harris might well inquire whether Haggard ever believed what he preached, or whether he should be considered credible now. But Harris continued to paint Haggard as a victim. “Haggard is still bitter at the way he says he was treated by fellow church leaders after the scandal,” Harris said. “Not just fired, but shunned.”
That statement set up Haggard for this hardball question: “You think there's a gap between the leaders of today's evangelical church and what the gospel preaches?” he askedHaggard.
“Yes I do,” responded Haggard.
If ABC tried to interview anyone Haggard accused of straying from the gospel, the three minute report didn't mention it.
Harris ended the segment with this doozy: “Some have said that the Haggard case is proof that religion and politics do not mix. Haggard says Christians should be involved in politics, only with a more moderate tone.”