The False Witness of the American Press

“Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor” is one of the Ten Commandments of God in Exodus 20:16, a grievous sin that is more clearly explained in Exodus 23:1:  Thou shall not raise a false report; put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.”  Sad to say, these two scriptures today indict virtually an entire American industry, the so-called “mainstream media” (MSM).

There was a time when journalism was a noble profession dedicated to truth-seeking for the good of society.  Journalists performed the essential service of holding public figures and other persons accountable for their speech and actions that impacted public life.  While there were always some scoundrels who misused their power in order to deceive the public to various ends, the community of journalists as a whole saw its truth-telling function as a sacred trust.

The importance of it’s role is reflected in the acknowledgment of the press as the “Fourth Estate,” which along with the Clergy, Nobility and Commoners made up the four components of medieval society.  Whatever the phrase might have meant in 1787 when it was coined by Irish philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke, in terms of power and influence, it has come to mean for modern Americans that the news media operates virtually co-equally with the three branches of our government.

Burke is, of course, best known today for his oft quoted observation, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  Were he alive in our day, Burke might be forced to recant that axiom, since his designated “Fourth Estate” has now become a force for evil that is arguably stronger than the force of good men of action to oppose it.  The “mainstream” American media has been almost entirely co-opted by reprobate ideologues who use their power to advance their own left-wing social agenda and suppress opposing views (which they do very successfully).

When I was in high school in the 1970s, journalism was my first choice for a possible future career.  In fact, I earned nearly all of my senior year English credits as an intern for the Greenfield Recorder newspaper in Greenfield, Massachusetts.  I was attending an experimental “free school” called the King Philip Project, an extremely socially liberal alternative school of twelve students and eight teachers set up like a hippie commune.  I was a pro-abortion, pro-”gay”  far-left, long-haired pot-smoking radical in those days, and I saw journalism as the perfect career option for me.

Journalism was being sold in those days not just as field for people like myself who wanted to be writers, but as a way for liberal social activists to “change the world.”  I didn’t know back then of the “progressive” movement and its nefarious agenda.  I just wanted to make the world more sympathetic to my worldview.  In the end I chose to follow a different liberal vocation popular with my generation: taking drugs and drinking till it nearly killed me.

Fast forward to the present.   My practical experience, and an encounter with Jesus Christ in 1986, has turned me into a strong and vocal social conservative.  The truths I once disregarded as a “useful idiot” for the progressives, have become the focal point of my life, and advocating them in the public realm is my calling.

Meanwhile, however, the profession of journalism has become the nearly exclusive domain of my former fellow-travelers.  They have for decades been working to “change the world” and have largely succeeded.

Now one certainly can’t lay all of the blame for the moral collapse of our society on the MSM.  Public education has been played a huge part.  Politicians and judges have contributed extensively to the problem.  And of course, we can’t forget that the churches and their pastors and elders bear a major part of the responsibility for abdicating their role as stewards of the civil society.  But pound for pound, nobody’s got the power to shape and steer our culture like the media.  Teachers, college professors, politicians, judges, business, sports and entertainment leaders, even priests and pastors live in fear of the power of the MSM. The news media literally defines reality for the many who use it as their daily source of information, which power can make or break political careers, bolster or destroy reputations, and give the kiss of life or death to products, projects and points of view.

It’s not a monolithic power.  Especially in the past dozen years or so more conservative media and the Internet have arisen as alternatives, which I believe explains the current tremendous polarization of the society (as individual conservatives who have broken free of the influence of the MSM are now banding together and flexing their muscles).  But the liberal media is still a substantially stronger political force that its rivals, and benefits greatly from coalition with the other leftist-controlled social spheres such as academia, the entertainment industry, philanthropic foundations, labor unions, and many federal, state and local governments, agencies and judiciaries.

Moreover, the nature and philosophy of the progressive movement bonds these institutions and bodies together in a unity that conservatives cannot match (absent the leadership of the church, which has thus far been minimal).  Progressivism has a pro-active vision for the future, a Marxist utopian fantasy that, while ludicrous to clear thinkers, serves to keep its activists in perpetual forward motion toward their goal.  Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to be reactionary in short-term bursts of energy to stop or slow the latest progressive initiatives (which always inevitably pass after the conservatives win the first round or so and then go home).

There are countless examples of the false witness of the MSM these days. It defends and promotes the left’s position, and suppresses or misrepresents the right’s position on every significant social controversy: Creation vs. evolution, pro-life vs. pro-abortion, limited government vs. statism, 2nd Amendment vs. gun control, and on and on.

Perhaps the most egregious duplicity of the MSM is on the topic of homosexuality, the most closely guarded of the progressive sacred cows (with the possible exception of evolution).  In my more than 20 years of pubic activism on this topic, including literally hundreds of print, radio and television interviews I have been accurately represented by the MSM only a handful of times and most of these were live or “live on tape” radio or television interviews when my comments were broadcast without editing.  Even in these instances, the news story or segment as a whole was always, without exception, skewed to favor the “gay” perspective.

Liberal journalists absolutely will not represent the homosexual issue honestly.  Even in those rare instances where they allow a pro-family source to make his points without editing, the stories are never truly balanced because they all contain unstated pro-“gay” assumptions:  the innateness and normalcy of homosexuality, the victim status of homosexual as a class of people, the equivalency of homosexuality and heterosexuality as forms of conduct, the legitimacy of “homophobia” as a term to characterize disapproval of homosexuality, the appropriateness of legitimizing homosexuality to children, the idea that homosexual to heterosexual reorientation (in conformity to the design of their bodies) is ridiculous and impossible, and more.

Each of these is an unproven, hotly contested assertion or perspective of the “gay” movement that is rejected by a majority or sizable plurality in our society. Yet all of these are simply assumed to be true in MSM news reporting while the opposing view on each of these points is almost invariably censored, suppressed, misrepresented or mocked.

I was the subject of a feature story recently by Boston Magazine that is typical of the problem.  The writer was a man named Chris Vogel.  As these guys always do when they want an interview, Chris came across as friendly and genuinely interested in presenting a balanced picture of me and what I have to say.  I’ve come to be pretty jaded about such claims but Chris had a sort-of Gomer Pyle puppy-dog enthusiam that was disarming and even a bit endearing.  He also said he was a Christian.  I decided to let him do the story.

Over the next several weeks I met several times with Chris for a total of maybe seven or eight hours.  He came to our Bible study at the little racially diverse inner-city coffee-house church that I pastor.  He came to the courthouse for the oral argument on my Motion to Dismiss the SMUG “Crimes Against Humanity” lawsuit against me for preaching against homosexuality in Uganda.  He even came to church services one Sunday.  Afterward he approached me at the pulpit and in an astonished tone said “Wow.  This is so completely different from what anyone would expect about you.  Such a loving and intimate atmosphere.”  He made a number of such comments in our conversations.

I gave him all the facts and context rebutting all of the slander about me on the Internet and carefully explained in great detail my key pro-family arguments and the reasoning behind them.  He was sympathetic and seemed genuinely understanding and supportive.  His manner was in fact so encouraging that I told him in our final interview that he’d given me real hope that I would finally have a truly balanced mainstream media story I could refer people to as a counter to all of the rest.

Just after saying that, I opened up even more to him as he began asking increasingly more personal questions.  As I was sharing with him an intimate moment of grief about the death of my beloved grandmother I choked up for a moment and looked away.  When I turned back, Mr. Vogel did something shocking.  Looking the picture of empathy and compassion he reached up and wiped away a tear.  Except there was no tear.  It was a completely phony gesture and I suddenly realized that he had been playing me for a fool the entire time.  The guy I thought was among the least dishonest of the journalists had unwittingly revealed himself to be one of the most dishonest of them.

Sure enough, when his article came out it portrayed me as heartless anti-”gay” zealot, “addicted” to political activism.  It described me as being “summoned” to the court to face justice, though I was the one who called the hearing, and suggested that I was cringing before the judge, when it was the opposing attorney being called on the carpet for a badly pleaded complaint.  He described my supporters as a group of just 20 people “huddled together” in the face of  large pro-”gay” crowd of nearly 200 when my side may actually have outnumbered the opponents, and many were interspersed throughout the crowd enthusiastically engaging their counterparts in discussion and debate.

Vogel’s story tacitly perpetuated the lie that I masterminded the so-called “kill the gays” bill, offering this tidy juxtaposition of images to seal the impression:  “A protester shouted, ‘I am the person you want to kill. How does that make you feel?’ Later, Lively told me that he’d slept well the night before.”  What a cold-blooded bastard that Lively must be.

Vogel also wrote:  “Homosexuals, declared [Lively] at one talk, are predators and pedophiles who hunt down children to turn them gay—and worse. ‘You can’t stop [them] from molesting children,” he said, “or stop them from having sex with animals.’”

Not only is this an outrageous misrepresentation of my views and comments, but he all but plagiarized it from the vicious anti-Christian blogger Jim Burroway, whose Goebbels-class cut-and-paste “documentary” of my Uganda seminars may be the low point of all anti-Lively propaganda.  Vogel’s version might actually qualify as plagiarism except that he actually changed and embellished the comments to heighten their inflammatory impact.

Importantly, I had specifically discussed the Burroway attacks with Vogel, and carefully explained how he had misrepresented me.  Indeed, I devoted more than three hours of heart-to-heart conversation with Mr. Vogel about my actual views and underlying reasoning, and the context of my Ugandan lectures and other events that the “gays“ have misrepresented.  He nodded and grunted supportively through the entire conversation, yet not a single mitigating fact or an iota of explanatory context made it into the Boston Magazine article.

To cap it off, even the church service he had been so effusive in praising at the time was transformed in his article to something mostly negative.  He claimed, for example, that I seemed uncomfortable with a church member seeking help with housing issue and “managed to offer her only awkward platitudes of comfort.”  So much for “loving intimacy.”

To be fair, Mr. Vogel did include a quote from one of my church members that “he [Lively] doesn’t hate gay people, and prays for them, and does everything he can to help people.”  And Vogel said that he personally found me “easygoing and affable.”  Perhaps he think that represents balance.  Relatively speaking it was more balance than I usually see in stories of the homosexual issue or about me as an pro-family leader, but from start to finish the article relentlessly perpetuated the homosexualist party line, and only slightly less forcefully affirmed its characterization of me as a heartless anti-“gay” monster.

The article closed with a mention of my comments about a 2012 Springfield natural gas explosion that destroyed a downtown strip club.  I said at the time that it might have been in answer to our prayers about cleaning up our city, and praised God that miraculously no lives were lost in the blast.  Mr. Vogel mean-spiritedly chose to portray me as celebrating the injuries of some utility workers and fireman who were hurt there.  A parting twist of the knife.

The effect of the story on the readers may best be summed up by this online comment following the article by someone identifying himself as Frederick Wright:  “[Lively] is a pure monster worthy of extermination.”

Funny that this sentiment is exactly what I have been falsely accused of fomenting against homosexuals.  Yet, while I condemn anyone who holds this sentiment against homosexuals, and focus all of my rhetoric against the homosexual movement and its agenda (not individuals), the “gays” and their homosexualist allies in the MSM intentionally foster hatred against me personally without apology.

I’ve included only one personal experience with the MSM in support of my accusation that it has become an industry filled with left-wing ideologically-driven professional liars.  However, I could fill literally hundreds of pages with examples from my experience over twenty plus years.  And I know the same is probably true for every seasoned conservative leader on nearly every issue on which the political left and right are polarized.  The only people who will dispute this charge are the MSM journalists themselves, and those people (an unfortunately large number) whose view of reality is still being shaped by these propagandists.

How bad is the problem, really?  The other day Peter LaBarbara of Americans for Truth cornered MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer about balance on the homosexual issue in the media.  Her answer? “You know what’s so funny about this? When we’re talking about racism, nobody ever says, ‘Do you think there’s fair coverage for racists?’ That’s my feeling about the matter. I think that there’s a difference between being objective and being fair. And sometimes wrong is wrong, and the right thing to do is say when it’s wrong.”

Ironically, that’s a pretty forthright answer, but one we‘re unlikely to ever see in in any “mainstream” news story by Brewer or any of her cronies in the MSM.  Why?  Because for their manipulation of public opinion to accomplish its purpose of “making the world a better place,” these “journalists” must always cast themselves as honest and fair-minded.  In other words, even in that they bear false witness.

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