It looks like CBS has officially sanctioned anti-religious bigotry on its network. Last Thursday on the CBS "Early Show," host Bryant Gumbel was conducting his standard interview with a conservative guest, which is to say that he was brawling. The subject was the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Boy Scouts' ban on homosexual scoutmasters. The guest - which is to say: target - was the Family Research Council's Robert Knight, who had the audacity to defend the morality behind the decision. Naturally, Gumbel was openly hostile to anything Knight had to say, which is not surprising given that he's openly hostile to anyone to the right of Kweisi Mfume.
At the end of the contentious segment, CBS cut away to Mark McEwen who began the weather report. But then the camera unexpectedly cut back to Gumbel as he was rising from his seat, unsnapping his mike. And there was the very unsuspecting Gumbel, live on national television, sneering and mouthing the words: "What a f--ing idiot!"
Gumbel and CBS can conjure up all the excuses in the world, but it won't matter. It doesn't matter that he didn't know he was live. It doesn't matter that the mike was off so that his words weren't actually spoken. You can parse this one all you want, but not even Bill Clinton could get himself out of it. Gumbel said it, and millions witnessed it.
Imagine for a moment a network journalist interviewing an official from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and making that same comment on national television. There's not a scintilla of a doubt that his network would summarily have him fired before the sentence was finished, and probably would have a half-dozen apologies to the homosexual movement issued, too.
But Bob Knight's a conservative. Even less, he's a Christian. As far as CBS is concerned, it's about as serious an offense as insulting wallboard. This network (and NBC beforehand) has allowed Gumbel to hurl one insult after another against Christians for years, with never a word of complaint.
Gumbel was hosting the monumental failure "Public Eye" program on CBS when Matthew Shepard was murdered. He could not have been more forceful in his analysis:
"The Christian right per se and some particular members of Capitol Hill have helped inflame the air so that the air that (the murderers) breathed that night was filled, filled with the idea that somehow gays are different, and not only are they different in that difference, they're bad and not only are they bad, they are evil and therefore evil can be destroyed."
For good measure, Gumbel proceeded to list conservative leaders and organizations responsible for creating the climate that led to Shepard's murder, including Bob Knight's employer, the Family Research Council.
(If the argument about "creating a climate of evil" sounds familiar, it is because Gumbel used the same line to blame conservatives in general, and some like Rush Limbaugh, Ollie North, Michael Reagan and Bob Grant specifically, for the terrorism of Oklahoma City.)
"(Gumbel's) unable to disguise his contempt for conservative viewpoints on any number of issues," Knight told CNSNews.com in the understatement of the year. But Gumbel's disdain for Christians trumps any anti-conservative bias, which he makes clear at every opportunity. Regularly he'll call them "intolerant" or "the so-called religious right" or "extremists" or "ideologues." Never just ... Christians.
In February of 1993, Gumbel (then with NBC) referenced an attack by outgoing GOP chief Rich Bond on conservatives. "As he stepped down as RNC Chair," Gumbel stated matter-of-factly, "he had some parting shots for the religious right and fringe fanatics like Phyllis Schlafly." A year later, discussing the political scene, he announced: "We're back in just a moment to talk about the president's problems with the extremists of the religious right."
There is no attempt - none - to mask a bias here. That by itself should be inexcusable for a network that purports to be giving its audience impartiality on its news programs, of which "The Early Show" is one. But Gumbel is not simply biased; he's a bigot - a hate-filled, insulting, anti-Christian, anti-religious bigot.
The Family Research Council has formally demanded an apology. Not a word from Gumbel, of course. But the official response from CBS to Gumbel's bigotry is simply amazing, reproduced here in its entirety:
"During a weather segment on Thursday morning's 'Early Show,' a brief camera shot with no audio of Bryant getting up from his chair accidentally appeared on air. He was making a casual remark of some sort, but it is unclear what the comment was and in any case, it bears no relevance to the content of 'The Early Show.'"
In other words, as far as CBS is concerned, Christians offended by Gumbel's obscene performance can go fly a kite. Thus speaketh the Christian Bashing System.