Magazine article Insight on the News

Broadcast Views?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Broadcast Views?

Article excerpt

The 700 Club, the flagship program of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, or CBN, recently aired a report on political rumors circulated by the media. The story reported remarks attributed to Attorney General Janet Reno and printed by right-wing publications -- remarks in which she allegedly expressed disdain for Christians. The CBN reporter duly ex-plained that Reno in fact never made such statements.

Such even-handed reporting, along with more live coverage of breaking stories like the Oklahoma City bombing, indicates that CBN seems to be distancing itself from the ghetto of televangelism, positioning itself instead as a legitimate alternative to the major networks. A CBN news team just returned from Bosnia, and another covered the Middle East peace talks.

Starting October, CBN is airing a half-hour news program, according to Michael Patrick, executive producer for news. "We provide more in-context news rather than just bombarding people with more information," Patrick tells Insight. "But our commitment to the news and to reporting it fairly and accurately is the same as everyone else's."

Is CBN indeed edging into the media mainstream? "I have just the opposite feeling," says Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "CBN gives bigger play to stories on social issues that concern Robertson and these are clearly biased in nature."

Adds Boston's colleague, Joseph Kahn, whose job entails watching The 700 Club, "The objectivity varies wildly Nonideological issues are presented in a pretty straight forward manner. …

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