It is easy to see media bias when the discussion is between the Left and the Right, the Democrats and the Republicans. But the place where media bias is most dangerous is when it mucks inside one of the parties. Media bias for a contest is making far more out of Bernie Sanders than is really there and driving Hillary to the left faster than Dale Jr. at Daytona. But the media bias covering the Republican primary is more subtle.
Ben Carson appeared at Liberty University yesterday. The coverage I have reviewed mentions that he is Seventh-Day Adventist, but that is all. Now consider this second paragraph covering Romney’s commencement address at that university in May of 2012:
Romney sought to root his candidacy in faith with a commencement address at Liberty University in which he spoke of a shared “Christian conscience” to bridge his Mormon faith with that of evangelical Christians. [emphasis added]
Coverage of Carson’s appearance acts, more or less, as if Carson is just part of the family at Liberty while Romney was a distinct outsider trying to get in. Yet, as I have mentioned before, both The Latter Day Saints and the Seventh Day Adventists are heterodox Christian sects born in the burned out region of upstate and western New York during the Second Great Awakening. In less theological terms they are Evangelical spin-offs with beliefs quite distinct from each other and mainstream Christianity. Based on faith, Carson should be trying to dig himself out of the same hole Romney spent eight years trying to climb out of. So what is it that accounts for the difference in the coverage here?
The answer to that question is pretty simply, really. Everybody knows that Democrats cannot win a election for dogcatcher without the African-American vote. Pretty much the same thing applies to Republicans without the Evangelical vote. Thus with Romney, a so-called Republican political insider, emphasizing his religious differences served to separate Evangelicals from the party and thus served to pave the way for Obama. With Carson, the ultimate outsider, making him appear clubby with Evangelicals serves the same purpose; this time making way for the increasingly left-leaning Hillary. Thus the media bias evident in the distinctions in faith coverage between Romney and Carson is really media bias for a far left and Democratic agenda – subtle, but not surprising when you think about it.
What is immensely sad is that Evangelicals keep falling for this. As far back as February of 2008, I argued that Evangelicals were at risk of putting themselves in a sort of political ghetto given their reactions to Romney. I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I think I am being proven right on that “evangelical ghetto” call.
Evangelicalism is the predominant Christian expression in the United States today. Evangelicals should be leading political lights in a nation that remains predominantly Christian. And yet when it comes to conservative politics, Christians find themselves lead more by Roman Catholics than any other expression. I am most grateful for the leadership for without it where would we be?
But I do so wish Evangelicals would wise up to this game. We could be winning.