Thursday, May 10, 2007

Warren, Murdoch, Porn, and WND

By Rick Pearcey

In a post titled "Rick Warren's & Rupert Murdoch's Porn Problem," Kevin McCullough, author of Musclehead Revolution, writes at his Townhall blog, "One thing is certain, [WND Editor] Joseph Farah and Rick Warren will never be buddies."

Should the two Christians be "buddies"?

McCullough's comment is occasioned by today's story at WND, titled "Murdoch pastor gets heat for mogul's porn channels."

"Mega-pastor Rick Warren is being challenged by other Christian leaders for not disciplining a prominent member of his California Saddleback Church flock for being one of the world's leading pornographers," the WND report begins.

The "prominent member" at Saddleback "would be Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., which, in addition to building a media empire on the chests of topless models and edgy, pushing-the-envelope Fox TV network shows, recently began building a stable of hard-core porn channels for its BSkyB subsidiary."

Comment: As Christians move out into the culture and into "full-time ministry" as reporters in newsrooms (as they should), it is important to understand that the Christian journalist has an obligation to report the news objectively and factually.

If being a "buddy" means you are someone who can be trusted to shave the truth to protect a powerful figure or a celebrity minister's image, then, of course, that kind of friendship is out of bounds both ethically and professionally. Neither ministry staffers nor reporters should corrupt themselves in this way.

Instead, there is to be a critical distance from personalities in the news (even likeable ones), and the coverage must be rooted in facts and evidence. Just as the Judeo-Christian worldview gives a philosophic basis for rationality, evidence, and objectivity, even so the biblical information calls for a journalism committed to rationality, evidence, and objectivity.

The primary challenge is to report truth. The aim is not to become buddies with the rich, famous, influential, or powerful. It certainly is not to cultivate friendships among the celebrities of Evangelicaldom who can then endorse your media product. Or help sell your books.

That kind of inbred corruption of vision, whether applied to personalities or issues, is part of what is leading to the decline of so-called mainstream journalism. Of all people, Christians in journalism should avoid it like the plague.

Friendship for journalists and nonjournalists alike should always be on the basis of truth. Genuine love and friendship always operate within the circle of truth. Unfortunately, there are other kinds of relationships and other kinds of reporting.

Rick Pearcey is editor & publisher of The Pearcey Report (archives).