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August 23, 2005

The Times They Sure Have A-Changed

Boy, I’ve been off the air for a long, long time. Back in my day, if you called for the murder of, well, anybody, you’d get your ass fired. Particularly if you were employed by a big corporation like ABC. And I should know; I worked for ABC during the Vietnam War.

It turns out Monday night Pat Robertson, one-time presidential candidate, founder of the Christian Coalition of America, and outer of purple Teletubbies (that one will be on his gravestone), called on Monday for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him a “terrific danger’’ to the United States. That’s from the Associated Press.

He made this rather remarkable request of our government on his teevee show “The 700 Club,” which is carried on the ABC Family channel, which is owned by Disney. It’s also on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and – amusingly – syndicated to over 100 FCC-regulated broadcast stations.

Perhaps my memory is a bit foggy, but I seem to recall the FCC frowning on broadcasters calling for the murder of foreign government officials. Of course, if you call for the murder of a domestic government official, they’d get downright cranky.

Trigger-Pops Pete continued: “You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,’’ Robertson said. “It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.’’

Nice to hear about the oil.

As much as I am startled by Mr. Robertson’s broadcast, I have to admire the way he splits with our President and embraces the traditional Republican value of fiscal responsibility. Again, according to the Associated Press, Trigger-Pops Pete said “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.’’

“And if you pledge just $100.00, maybe god will give him cancer!”

I made that last line up.

Posted by Mike Gold at August 23, 2005 11:50 AM

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I've already gone on record with the opinion that the FCC should get out of the business of regulating broadcast content.

Regardless of the medium used to express his views, isn't it illegal in most states to incite others to perform illegal acts? And if Chavez were murdered while visiting the United States, and the assassin said he did it because Pat Robertson told him to, I'm reasonably sure Roberts could be prosecuted for that murder.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 23, 2005 12:11 PM

Oh Boy! I get to defend Pat Robertson!

I think he was petitioning the United States government, so if Chavez was offed by the CIA, he was only petitioning the government. If somebody saw his show and killed the guy and said ol' Pat told him to do it, Pat's defense would be he was petitioning the government.

Petitioning the government to commit murder, well, that's another matter -- but I don't think its inciting others to perform illegal acts. Our government has been assassinating people for a long, long time.

But I suspect if the CIA had such an operation in mind, it's on hold now.

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 23, 2005 12:56 PM

I dunno, there's been lots of talk on the air of people calling for the death of others. You sure Air America didn't speak fondly of the assassination of Bush, or perhaps, a bombing in the White house?

Posted by: Londo at August 23, 2005 02:00 PM

You're shooting blanks in the dark, friend. If anybody on Air America made such calls, Fox News and Michael Savage would be holding a month-long telethon demanding the FCC revoke the license of each and every radio station that carries the network.

Do you really want to stand behind Robertson's inane statements? He's got quite a record for this sort of thing -- and our State Department has already issued a statement distancing the government from this being.

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 23, 2005 02:14 PM

On the bright side, Mike, now Pat and and Michael Moore are on the same side. They're both speaking out against war.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 23, 2005 02:44 PM

Heck, ol' Pat was just speaking his opinion, as he always does. And when considering his opinions, one must always remember: the guy is as LOONY AS A FUCKING BEDBUG! Ever listen to one of his sermons? I was raised in a fundamentalist religious family, and even my relatives think this guy bounced the ground with his head a few times too often.


Posted by: Timothy Truman at August 23, 2005 03:22 PM

When the local cable system started to advertise that parents could use their technology to control what their kids saw on TV, my husband called up and asked if he could block CBN (as it was then called). He said it was embarrassing to him to have to explain to our son why this raging anti-Semite, Pat Robertson, said such mean-spirited things about Jews. At the time, I believe he was saying Spielberg's new film, ET, was satanic. And he referred to Spielberg as "Steinberg."

Posted by: Martha Thomases at August 23, 2005 05:14 PM

Sorry, Martha. Here we differ.

E.T. was satanic.

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 23, 2005 05:18 PM

"On the bright side, Mike, now Pat and and Michael Moore are on the same side. They're both speaking out against war."


Pat Robertson is insane. If he had any integrity, he would go crawl in a hole somewhere and not bother us anymore.

On the other hand Michael Moore is sloppy. He is way to loose with facts and information, and I fear his new documentary on HMO's will damage the pursuit of new, better solutions to health care rather than help it.

Posted by: JR Judt at August 23, 2005 05:32 PM

Hello, Mike. I found your blog while looking for information about this subject.

There is one thing that bothers me about this whole business with the 700 Club and has bothered me for years. It is paid programming in almost every market. I'd like to call it an infomercial, but in order for it to be defined as such, a specific product needs to be sold. Even with the large number of gifts for donations given on this show, it does not meet the infomercial criteria. It does, however, contain "news" segments as part of the show, and I would personally like to see these segments marked as paid programming though I can not find anything in the rules and regulations about this.

Since most broadcast stations that air this show receive money to air it, is there some way that all of the television stations that air this show could be held accountable for the paid programming? I'm continuing to look for prescient.

Posted by: Beth at August 23, 2005 06:48 PM


Hoo-boy. You missed several threads about the role of the FCC, but the Reader's Digest version is that the rules about paid programming vs. advertising are apparently fuzzy (at least in the eyes of the FCC). There are, theoretically, rules about "paid programming" as defined in the FCC's payola regulations, but apparently no real rules about clearly identifying advertising as such. Since all advertising is essentially "paid programming", this presents something of a rather large loophole in the FCC regulations.

And, of course, "paid programming" in the name of the Christian deity is probably not an area the current FCC is eager to enter.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 23, 2005 08:23 PM


You know old Pat is just making this too damn easy. I just posted something about this story on my blog. And then I read yours. And then I read about five more outraged posts (the first of many, I am sure) from somewhat like-minded, left leaning individuals such as myself. So now it's official: my love affair with Pat and the fodder for outrage that he offers is over. He's taken all of the fun out of making fun of him. (Insert here the old "fish in a barrell" analogy, or whichever one works for you.) And he makes us all look silly the way he can get us to dance on strings at the same time at the drop of an idiotic statement. I need some original targets, preferably ones a bit more clever. F you Pat. You're not worth listening to you and I ain't dancin' anymore.

Posted by: Jim Chadwick at August 23, 2005 09:59 PM

ET may be satanic -- eh, who cares? But deliberately mis-pronouncing the name of your "opponent" is tacky.

Posted by: Martha Thomases at August 23, 2005 10:53 PM

ET may be satanic -- eh, who cares? But deliberately mis-pronouncing the name of your "opponent" is tacky.
Posted by: Martha Thomases at August 23, 2005 10:53 PM

And it's one of Rush Limbaugh's most sophisticated techniques of political argument.

Posted by: mike weber at August 24, 2005 01:13 AM

ABC does not employ Pat Robertson; it is contractually obligated to carry the 700 Club under the terms of the agreement under which it bought the channel that is now ABC Family. ABC has further publicly stated that it emphatically disagrees with Robertson's call for Chavez's assassination, and there has been plenty of news coverage of this fact.

Perhaps you should actually read the news before you attempt, however feebly, to comment upon it.

Posted by: Arthur Friend at August 24, 2005 09:16 AM

Mr. Friend:

I am well aware of the contractual obligation. Perhaps you should actually read the FCC regulations before you attempt, however stupidly, to comment upon it.

A broadcast station is responsible for whatever it puts on the public airwaves, period. The only exception -- and enforcement here is irregular -- is in the case of covering actual news events live. The 700 Club is not a news event, it is a program. The FCC can, but almost certainly will not, hold the 100+ broadcast outlets that carry Pat Robertson's hate-filled incendiary babblings responsible -- even if Disney did disagree with Robertson's request for murder.

I wonder ... do you agree with Robertson's call for the nuking of the State Department? Do you think the ACLU was responsible for 9-11? Are you, like Mr. Robertson, a COMPLETE moron?

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 24, 2005 09:24 AM

Playing the Devil's advocate for a moment (although since Martha seems to actually believe I am evil, may not believe that I'm just taking the position for argument's sake)-- everyone seems to think that Pat Robertson is crazy for calling for the assasination of Chavez, and everyone seems to be distancing themselves from his comments. BUT, let's not forget that the both the Bush and Clinton administrations have been criticized for not taking out Osama Bin Laden when we had opportunities and perhaps we wouldn't now be at war.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 24, 2005 10:02 AM

That's true -- but, then again, I think many if not most of the 20th Century Presidents were crazy.

I don't think Robertson is crazy because of the Chavez thing. I think he's crazy because of the 9-11 / ACLU thing, AND the nuke-the-State-Department thing, AND the Chavez thing, AND the purple-teletubbie-is-gay thing. Not to mention the outrage he expressed when he caught Robin The Boy Wonder in bed with Starfire. And he didn't even know Starfire is an alien!

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 24, 2005 10:08 AM

Hey now! the purple Teletubby IS EVI!!! I have documents! 8^)

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 24, 2005 10:13 AM

Yes, let's assassinate everyone who doesn't agree with us -- or at least the ones who happen to be near large oil reserves. I, for one, live in constant fear that Hugo Chavez will launch deadly terrorist attacks against the United States, since, you know, he's made so made public promises to do so.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 24, 2005 10:21 AM

He'd do more damage if he simply cut us off from oil shipments. Sell it to China or India. Or, you know, Cuba...

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 24, 2005 10:24 AM

Rick Oliver Supports Pat Robertson. Calls for expansion of US Policy on Assassinations.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 24, 2005 10:28 AM

Apparently, EClark has forgotten that the Clinton Administration DID attempt to take out OBL. Remember the missiles launched at Afghanistan--and believed to have missed hitting him only because OBL had relocated to another camp a day or so earlier? At least Clinton's intelligence didn't lead him to invade a country which posed no threat to the United States (the bombings were specifically targeted to a camp in which OBL had been in recently).

Posted by: JosephW at August 24, 2005 10:32 AM

Well, Joseph, if I'm guilty of forgetting that info, so is NBC news.


Now, I can be forgiven since I'm only human, (evil, it seems, but still human), but NBC has archives and fact checkers and such.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 24, 2005 05:26 PM

And to be fair to eclark, his original comment didn't say that Clinton didn't try to take out bin Laden, only that he failed to do so and that both Clinton and Bush were criticized for failing to kill bin Laden before the situation escalated.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 24, 2005 05:38 PM

Sorry, EClark, you get no pass because the media fails to remember. The facts ARE out there for those who are willing to look rather than buy into the standard anti-Clinton propaganda (which, one should recall, was perpetuated by the media at every opportunity at the behest of the right-wing noise machine). Would you be willing to bet the media have forgotten their collective coronation of Dubya immediately following the 2000 election by describing Dubya as "President" and "President-elect" even before the Supreme Court's unethical involvement in the case while using "Mr" (tellingly, not "Vice-President") to refer to Gore--despite all their "archives and fact-checkers and such"?
And, sorry Rick, but E's comment read
"let's not forget that the both the Bush and Clinton administrations have been criticized for not taking out Osama Bin Laden when we had opportunities and perhaps we wouldn't now be at war". There's nothing there about "failed to do so". The key phrase is "not taking out OBL when we had opportunities". Clinton WAS criticized when he DID make the attempt and he's STILL being criticized, and far more heavily than Dubya has been. Dubya has actually been ignoring OBL (anyone care to remember his original vow to get OBL "dead or alive", but since Dubya's own little terrorist act against Iraq, that vow has vanished into limbo).

Posted by: JosephW at August 24, 2005 09:04 PM

"not taking out" does not necessarily imply "didn't even try". Even if it did, that really wasn't the point. While I doubt that eclark has any kind words for Clinton, I think his point was that both parties have been criticized by those on the other side for failing to assassinate bin Laden; so the "right" doesn't exactly have a monopoly on promoting assassination as an alternative to diplomacy. So, one could argue that the Clinton administration's documented attempt on bin Laden's life merely reinforces eclark's point.

And while it's true that the Clinton administration did make at least one attempt to kill bin Laden, they failed, and this is not a sport where you get points just for trying -- and I find little comfort in knowing that Clinton's brand of ineptitude in this area was qualitatively different from that of the current resident of the White House.

BTW: I think it's a shame we didn't manage to assassinate bin Laden when we had the chance, but I fail to see any justification for similar action against Hugo Chavez.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 24, 2005 09:44 PM


If the facts are out there why don't you tell us where you're getting yours?


Thanks for the stick up. You did get the point. But I was also marveling at the apparent hypocrisy of everyone is acting so incredulous at the suggestion of assassination in this instance while just a few months prior we were criticizing both Clinton AND Bush for failing to assassinate OBL. As you point out, close only counts in horseshoes.

I'm not a big Clinton fan, but I'm not a raving anti- Clintonite either. I just think people are giving him way too much credit for things that "just happened" on his watch. And being black myself, it irks me considerably that so many black Americans are giving him credit for being such a big friend of the black race in America when he did jack to help blacks.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 25, 2005 03:37 AM

I see Clinton as the Lieber and Stoller of Presidents.

In the realm of damning with faint praise, he did a lot of good for Harlem by establishing his offices there. Linda and I took a long walk down 125th Street about two months ago; first time I'd done that in about seven years and even longer for Linda. The offices provided quite a lot of momentum for neighborhood development on the part of local businesses and professions; a nice contrast from what's going on on the eastern end of the street which was being overrun by big box stores.

Of course, some folks think that Clinton's actions would have spurred gentrification that would price the locals out of the neighborhood. Thus far that hasn't happened and, given the recent housing boom, that's significant.

Of course, that's post-presidency. Clinton, like Carter, is shaping up to be a great past president. And anybody who sings along with Chuck Berry at the Lincoln Center Awards is okay in my book.

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 25, 2005 10:08 AM

The last I checked, Osama bin Laden was not the elected official of any country; therefore, the term "assassination" may be a bit overblown for attempts to kill him.

But let's say for the sake of argument that he had been killed. Would that have stopped our invasion of Iraq? We went in ostensibly because they had WMD, and Saddam supposedly had links with Al Quaeda. If bin Laden were dead or incarcerated, would that have made the trumped-up charges against Iraq unnecessary? Would Americans' need for vengeance have been satisfied? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Posted by: Marilyn Ferdinand at August 25, 2005 12:21 PM

There is a perhaps flawed assumption that had we eliminated bin Laden earlier, 911 would never have happened. Therefore, Bush would have never had his original "reason" for invading Iraq. WMD became the "reason" only after it became clear that no reasonable links between bin Laden and Iraq could be established. Later, "freeing" the Iraqi people became the new "reason" when no WMDs materialized. Now, of course, the "reason" we're in Iraq is once again to fight terrorism. So we've come full circle.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 25, 2005 12:44 PM

Let's say for the sake of argument that we had gone in and actually found WMDs. Would you now support the war, or would you be saying that Bush had planted the weapons to justify attacking Iraq? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 25, 2005 03:58 PM

Well, I'll be completely honest with you. It depends when. If we found WMD within the first several months, I'd probably have to give Bush his due. That doesn't mean it, in and of itself, would justify the war, but it would go a long way. However, after a few months -- and with each passing day thereafter -- I'd be more skeptical about how those WMD got there and why they weren't found earlier.

But it doesn't matter. It's sort of like asking "What if Osama were really Ming the Merciless; would be draft Flash Gordon?" There were no WMD.

And, therefore, we owe the French an apology.

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 25, 2005 04:03 PM

I was actually surprised that nothing resembling a WMD was found, but I also never believed that whatever Iraq had in the way of WMDs represented a direct threat to the United States. So I never really considered WMDs, real or imagined, to be a valid justification for the war. IMHO, the Bush administration never made a convincing case (even with pretend evidence) that there was an immediate threat, even to Iraq's neighbors.

Prior to Pakistan becoming our new best friend, they were churning out disaffected Islamic extremists by the boatload, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Nobody suggested invading Pakistan. Or North Korea -- and that guy is clearly much crazier and arguably more desperate than Saddam.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 25, 2005 05:34 PM

I was not at all convinced by the Colin Powell's dog and pony show. I read the reports of the UN inspectors and listened to their pleas to let their work continue. I saw that the Bush administration only went to the UN to try to put a gloss on something they had already decided to do, probably before 9/11. I have seen Bush and his cronies say and do whatever they wanted (note that Rove still has his job) whenever it suited them.

In answer to your hypothetical, eclark, I would never support an invasion of a country that had not attacked us, no matter what kind of hardware they stock. The fact that Bush did not attack North Korea, which does have WMD AND threatened us, shows how cynical the invasion really was.

Posted by: Marilyn Ferdinand at August 25, 2005 05:51 PM

Rick, you beat me to it.

Posted by: Marilyn Ferdinand at August 25, 2005 05:55 PM

One could, of course, argue that we'd be crazy to invade a country that already has nuclear weapons, which it could then use against us. Let's invade Grenada again. Life was simpler back then.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 25, 2005 06:15 PM

With all due respect to your strategic abilities, Marilyn, waiting until you're attacked by the enemy is generally considered a bad idea.

On the other hand you also have to respect your enemies strength. Trust me, if attack from Korea was considered imminent, attacking them first would be the best way to go. Since we didn't attack them, threats or not, means that they didn't consider them to be legitimate.

As to Iraq, the situation wasn't really about Iraq's ability to attack us, but Saddam's ability to draw us into a conflict in the Middle East. Time or conveniece of argument ( and I do blame Bush and his handlers for not reminding the public) has made us forget that Saddam was paying Palistinian bombers families for attacking Israel. That was a calculated attempt to get Israel, who has a tendency to be heavy handed when dealing with the Palestinians, to make a move to stop the bombings. It was the same move Saddam made in the first Gulf War when he tried to draw Israel into the conflict by launching scud missiles at them.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 26, 2005 09:35 AM

"I wonder ... do you agree with Robertson's call for the nuking of the State Department? Do you think the ACLU was responsible for 9-11? Are you, like Mr. Robertson, a COMPLETE moron?"

No, no, and, thanks for asking, no.

I just think people should tell the truth. ABC does not employ Pat Robertson; ABC has no control over the airing or content of the 700 Club; ABC has strongly condemned Robertson's statement; ergo ABC is in no way, shape, or form responsible for anything Pat Robertson says or does. Apparently, it bears repeating.

Posted by: Arthur Friend at August 26, 2005 09:45 AM

It also bears repeating that the FCC, rightfully or wrongfully, holds the broadcasting compay responsible for what goes over the so-called public airwaves. That doesn't apply to ABC Family, as that's a cable channel. But it does apply to the 100+ broadcast outlets that also carry the program.

But you're missing the original content of my post: I am jealous. ABC condones Robertson's call for murder, but they wouldn't have when I was working for them way back when Marconi was a pup. Note my topic header was "The Times They Sure Have A-Changed."

At no point was I calling for ABC to drop The 700 Club (or sue to void the contract).

However, I do wonder what would have happened had Jesse Jackson made a similar comment.

Oh, and that's for clearing up that moron thing. I appreciate it.

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 26, 2005 10:05 AM

"With all due respect to your strategic abilities, Marilyn, waiting until you're attacked by the enemy is generally considered a bad idea."

Are you from another planet. Attacking before you're attacked is INVASION. That's why we declared war on the Japanese, remember? Because they attacked us before we attacked them. I guess they were smarter than we were, huh?

We funded terrorist camps in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. When they turned around and bit the hand that fed them, we bombed them. Do you consider them fighting back against this action--as you suggest we did to stop Saddam from trying to draw us into a war (and why did he want to do that again?)--illegitimate? Haven't we created many enemies with our Ruler of the World expediency?

Posted by: Marilyn Ferdinand at August 26, 2005 12:07 PM

re: "As to Iraq, the situation wasn't really about Iraq's ability to attack us, but Saddam's ability to draw us into a conflict in the Middle East."

Well, he certainly succeeded in drawing us into a whopper of a conflict in the middle east. And have you noticed any drop in the number of Palestinian suicide bombers since Saddam's removal? Do you think the Israels were under the impression that Saddam was the mastermind behind the Palestinian movement or that his actions contributed to the problem in any significant way? Or significant enough to draw a response from Israel that would make the area any more unstable than we have succeeded in doing?

And I don't recall the adminstration ever listing Saddam's tendency to irritate Israel as one of the top reasons for invading Iraq.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 26, 2005 12:20 PM

Addendum: In 1981, Israel pre-emptively bombed and destroyed a French-built nuclear reactor in Iraq. It was a highly effective surgical strike, that very effectively crippled Saddam's nuclear dreams. Maybe we could learn something from those guys.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 26, 2005 12:32 PM

Sorry I'm late in response Mike. Here's the NY Daily News article about Air America calling for the assassination of Bush, the torturing of Rumsfeld, and other choice stuff:


I hate Pat Robertson, and I stand behind NOTHING the man says. But I do believe in freedom of speech, and I don't think either side should be attacked for saying what they believe. And, since in this case, I disagree with Air America AND Pat Robertson, I think I can say that without bias.

Posted by: Londo at August 26, 2005 03:21 PM

Oh, yeah. I think I read that column when it first was published. I respect you for remembering it.

You'll note he doesn't attribute the comments beyond "the hosts of Air America." You'll also note Al Franken didn't sink Air America; in fact, his segment is now on television as well.

Goodwin is a far-right wing creep who, during his tenure as Daily News editorial page editor, did much to return the editorials back to the flavor of the McCormick days and actually succeeded in bringing the tone of the letters column back to the Steve Allen period. The fact that he has a Pulitzer doesn't impress me -- after all, John Birch Society flak Westbrook Pegler had a Pulitzer, and he was so far to the right he made Pat Robertson sound like Gore Vidal.

Goodwin led with the quotes "The United States 'is on the slippery slope to theocratic fascism.' 'The Catholic Church has been secretly encouraging oral sex for years.'" He ran them above the comments about Bush and Rumsfeld. So we understand he was offended. Sadly, it would be pretty easy for whomever made those particular comments to stand behind them.

I'm willing to concede, though, that SOMEBODY made those sundry comments on Air America, although we do not know who and therefore do not know in what context -- or even if that person (or persons) was a guest, a co-host, a host, a producer or is even with the company today.

We DO know that this was from the first week Air America was broadcasting. I don't spend very much time listening to the station, but I'd never heard this sort of material -- then or since. So if they were uttered by a host who is still with the company, it seems as though these were sophomoric statements made in the glee of the brand-new gig. Sort of like Morey Amsterdam referring to his first-day sponsor as "Jock Full Of Nuts," which was more impressive back in the 1940s than it would be today.

I'm not defending Air America -- there's a reason I rarely listen to 'em. In fact, I've found their most fair-minded and interesting host to be Jerry Springer. That says something about Air America, I think.

Posted by: Mike Gold at August 26, 2005 03:48 PM

While the first amendment may grant you the freedom to encourage others to commit violent crimes, it does not protect you from prosecution under a variety of laws that frown on acts that encourage or facilitate unlawful actions.

As for the Daily News story, no context is provided for the reputed Rumsfeld or Bush statements, but the title of the article is "Liberal radio is airing bad jokes and worst taste" -- so I'm guessing the critic didn't mistake these comments for serious threats.

In contrast, absolutely no one thought Pat Robertson was kidding around, although he may have avoided potential legal problems by, as Mike pointed out, "petitioning the government" to assassinate Chavez.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 26, 2005 04:03 PM

I don't think Robertson was kidding around, but I also don't think he has any power to actually follow through on his threat. When Rumsfeld was asked "Do you want Bin Laden dead or alive?" Rumsfeld answered, "Dead." I don't think he was calling for the assassination of a foriegn leader. I'm sure many a man has called for Arafat's death, or maybe Maggie Thatcher, too, but with the actual lack of action, it's hard to prosecute them. We don't indict people for thoughts and opinions, just actions. No one on liberal radio actually attacked the administration, and Pat Robertson isn't going to attack anyone either (though, if he does, he can enjoy his cell.)

I just don't get why it's a big deal. Some jerk got up and said something pretty jerky. We're supposed to be up in arms about that?

Posted by: Londo at August 26, 2005 05:09 PM

There is, apparently a federal law:

Eighteen U.S.C. ¤ 875(c) reads:

Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 26, 2005 07:50 PM

Rick, please. Do you really think that was a threat? Or do you suspect it was the howling of some arsehole?

If you arrested every jerk who proposed violence on someone else, roughly 80% of us would be in jail. Do a search for folks who espoused the killing of Arafat from 1990-2004. And then empty the jails, as a lot of folks are moving in.

Posted by: Londo at August 27, 2005 09:02 PM

Just to repeat, I'm not defending Pat Robertson. I'm defending my right to say "We should kill Osama Bid Laden" if I'm ever asked on TV.

Posted by: Londo at August 27, 2005 09:04 PM

He did not say "kill Osama". He said "kill Chavez," an elected president. That's a little different.

Posted by: Marilyn Ferdinand at August 28, 2005 12:34 PM

No, I don't think Pat Robertson was threatening Chavez (but it's a slippery slope). I was merely challenging the notion that the first amendment actually protects ALL speech, or that it somehow might exempt you from criminal or civil prosecution for actions directly linked to your speech.

And while some of us may think that Robertson's antics simply make him seem even more looney, there are lots of folks who take him very seriously.

Personally, I have no problem with Robertson saying whatever whacky idea comes into his head, and I would rather err on the side of the free speech protection of the first amendment.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 28, 2005 09:11 PM


Fair enough, but I'll happliy change it to "Kill Castro" or "Kill Saddam." Hell, how many "Kill Thatchers" have been thrown around in her lifetime?

Posted by: Londo at August 29, 2005 09:00 AM

I'd simply like to know if a call for the assassination of an elected representative has issued forth from a reputable media outlet. If sportscasters can lose their jobs for making offhand comments that some construe as racists, shouldn't a man who very clearly incites the assassination of an elected official on the airwaves be treated the same? When it doesn't happen, I have to think that we've got a problem. BTW, I don't think he should be prevented from saying what he wants; he simply should suffer the consequences.

Posted by: Marilyn Ferdinand at August 29, 2005 11:48 AM

Okay, that's a good distinction. If Tim Russert were to look into the camera and say "We should assassinate Kim Jong-il" then NBC News is within its rights, and probably will, fire him. If Tim Russert is interviewing, say, Henry Kissenger, who says the same, there is no action NBC can take. In this case, Pat Robertson is his own boss -- there's no one to fire him. So other than the slings and arrows we're throwing at him, there's little that can be done.

Posted by: Londo at August 29, 2005 12:25 PM

If the courts chose to interpret Robertson's remarks as a real threat, then he might be in violation of not one, but two federal laws, the other one apparently being a prohibition against threatening or intimidating foreign officials. John Dean has an interesting article that discusses both federal laws:


Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 29, 2005 01:25 PM

If the courts choose to interpret Robertson's remarks as a real threat, then they are pretty foolish. Jurisprudence, indeed.

Posted by: Londo at August 29, 2005 03:04 PM

I know...I am waaaaay late to this party. I just wanted to make one correction.

Jerry Falwell is the guy who outs purple Teletubbies, not Robertson.

Posted by: Thom at March 9, 2006 12:00 PM

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