Cover Story

A Caveman with Convictions

"A Caveman with Convictions" Continued...

Issue: "Caveman with convictions," April 20, 1996

Providentially, a number of talk-show hosts asked Mr. Barnes to be a guest and one of the shows was The McLaughlin Group. The guest appearance led to a permanent gig. In 1985 Mr. Barnes left newspaper reporting to join The New Republic, and today he is executive editor of The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine.

Mr. Barnes was hissed for asking a question about faith, but the powers of the press are applauding homosexuals who have not only come out of the closet but are on parade. Back in June, 1994, when Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote that a Gay Pride Day was filled with boasting of "carnal desire" and questioned "whether the essence of our selves is merely the total of our thirsts and desires," about 13 homosexual Globe journalists protested to the Globe's top brass: "We think some of his statements violate the Globe's policies on the treatment of minorities." To his boss's credit, the accusations were dismissed. But Mr. Jacoby couldn't help noting later in The Lambda Report on Homosexuality: "For a group of 13 journalists-some of whom are critics paid to make judgments about other people and their works-to attack a fellow journalist for expressing his opinion is shocking." He added that the gays' expressed goal of promoting "'an environment where individual dignity is respected' is stunningly hypocritical."

Nowhere was the hypocrisy more evident than at last October's gathering of the 1,200-member National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Among those making donations and/or sending recruiters: Knight-Ridder, Gannett, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, Scripps Howard, Hearst Newspapers, NBC News, and CBS News. The group's president and founder, Leroy Aarons, a former L.A. Times and Washington Post editor, exclaimed at the fifth annual meeting: "So much has changed in the last five years. Many of us are out now in our newsrooms [and] fighting publicly and courageously ... educating our non-gay counterparts to understand the complexities and the nuances of the gay and lesbian community." After the national press masters gay "nuances," maybe it can move on to evangelical "complexities."

A 1995 poll by the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press showed that only four percent of the national media think "homosexuality should be discouraged in society." Moreover, the MRC reports that, in 1995, 59 evening news shows and 48 morning shows were devoted to almost completely positive portrayals of the gay lifestyle.

Perhaps it took a caveman with convictions to reawaken Christians to challenge the prevailing anti-Christian sentiment of America's newsrooms-whether it's at the L.A. Times or elsewhere. Whatever the case, the war stories from the files of Christian media professionals can be summed up in the blunt assessment of The Weekly Standard's Mr. Barnes: "The media is basically hostile to Christianity."

On this score, Johnny Hart's not surprised his strips are creating waves. "I think it's God, really. Because he's orchestrating all this. He's a little early for me, because I'm not totally prepared.... This is like a firestorm almost."

Still, B.C.'s best friend says he has no plans to pull out of the L.A. Times, which, by the way, relented and ran late the B.C. Palm Sunday strip, as well as the Good Friday and Easter panels, albeit on the religion page. No, says Mr. Hart, with trademark impishness, "I think I'd kind of like to hang around. If we take the strip away from them, they win the victory. If we hang in there, they are just simply exposing themselves. They are showing the world what they are."

All this, of course, could be avoided if "they" would just admit up front "what they are." Yet they continue to pretend worldview doesn't matter, that they can report the news "objectively."

And the issue is not journalistic affirmative action for Christians. The experience of these media professionals shows that quality Christian journalists can be hired in the mainstream press and, once there, have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; yet experience shows that they often get snagged-or get the hook-when they embark on the pursuit of truth. At other times, they just get plain tired of always being the newsroom misfit. In the cases of Julia Duin, Fred Barnes, and Cal Thomas, all three have moved into roles that allow them more freedom to seek truth-Mr. Thomas as a commentator, Mr. Barnes at the conservative Weekly Standard, and Ms. Duin at the philosophically friendly Washington Times.

It will always be important to have Christians pitching their tents inside hostile territory; maybe just as significant to the future of American journalism is the chance to demonstrate an alternative model. That's how it has been throughout the history of American journalism: A self-satisfied elite has come under challenge from peasants with pens-or, in more recent history, PCs. Christian journalism, which dominated the American press until 1840, gave way to the liberal theology of Horace Greeley and his disciples. Their oxymoronic sense of an objective but essentially godless reality in turn gave way to the anything-radical-goes subjectivity that now dominates the most influential publications and programs. Will that in turn be succeeded by a new birth of Bible-based journalism? Just look for the caveman's drawings on the walls.


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