Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brit Hume's Comments on the Tiger Woods Scandal on Fox News (Introduction)

I don’t watch much T.V., and frankly I haven’t been following the Tiger Woods scandal too closely. But I was listening to a local Christian radio station one morning a few weeks ago and there was a news item that got my attention.

This particular radio station generally plays contemporary Christian music at that hour. Perhaps a few times per hour between songs, the DJs give very brief updates on news stories of interest to the listening audience. Generally the stories involve mainstream issues such as relief efforts in Haiti or the status of the health care legislation in Congress. Sometimes the news stories are given in a traditional manner that might not be different in style from what NPR is broadcasting a few stops away on the dial. But other times, the news is delivered with a more obviously Christian perspective. For example, in covering the recent earthquake in Haiti, this radio station has encouraged listeners to prayer for the “precious souls” suffering in Haiti and for the rescue and aid workers attempting to get to them. The DJs have also encouraged listeners to contribute money to aid groups helping in the recovery efforts, and directed them to a website with more information.

A few weeks ago, the DJ shared with the audience a news story about Brit Hume’s recent comments on Fox News about Tiger Woods. The DJ said that Mr. Hume had said that to recover from the scandal plaguing him, Mr. Woods should turn to Christ. The DJ’s real focus was not really on Mr. Hume’s words but on the reaction to them. The DJ told the listening audience that predictably Mr. Hume was taking all kinds of heat for proclaiming his faith publicly. It was noted that Tom Shales of the Washington Post had written a scathing condemnation of Mr. Hume’s comments. The DJ gave some commentary of his own and held this reaction out as typical whenever someone dares to stand up for their religious beliefs. The DJ encouraged listeners to be bold and not be intimidated by such attempts to stifle expressions of faith.

The link below contains the clip of Mr. Hume's comments. They are actually quite brief. The reference to Christianity is towards the end of a short roundtable response to the Tiger Woods scandal. Mr. Hume seemed to me to be sincerely concerned for Mr. Woods’ well-being—his ruptured family life and his personal problems. One may disagree with Mr. Humes’ comments about Buddhism, but in my opinion Mr. Hume appeared to be expressing compassion for Mr. Woods.

Tom Shales is a celebrated T.V. critic for the Washington Post. I grew up in the D.C. area reading that newspaper every day. I must confess I did not always delve into the hard news of the day. In my adolescence, I focused on the Style section of the newspaper and read Mr. Shales’ articles all the time. As I recall, I also think that Mr. Shales came to my high school on a few occasions to support budding writers at various events we had. I may be mistaken, but I believe he had a daughter who attended our school. The bottom line of all this is that I have had a great deal of respect for Mr. Shales for decades.

The text of Mr. Shales’ article on Mr. Humes’ comments is available at the link below.

Mr. Shales is not the only one who has publicly expressed disapproval of Mr. Hume's comments. Mr. Shales and others seem to be expressing two main concerns. First, there seems to be a general concern that a journalist would express religious beliefs on air in his role as journalist. Second, there seems to be a more specific concern that Mr. Humes’ comments expressed his opinion that Christianity is superior to Buddhism. I’ll reflect on each of these concerns in turn in the next two posts.

John 11:33

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

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