'The Next Rush Limbaugh': Conservatives Pumping Right-Wing Young People into Media Jobs
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This year at the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington, D.C., there were a number of targeted media trainings and journalism-oriented panels. A panel titled “Shining Light into Dark Places” sought to stress the importance of investigative journalism. Others included “Freelance Writing for Freedom,” “So You Want to be a Columnist” and “Want to be the Next Rush Limbaugh?”
Despite Sarah Palin's invectives against the "lamestream media," conservatives seem eager to fill its ranks with right-wing young people.
One such training program, called the World Journalism Institute, offers a two-month program for 15-20 students, two weeks of which is spent in New York City each year, as part of its mission to “recruit, equip, place and encourage Christians in the newsrooms of America.” About half of the students come from Christian schools and the application requires a 500-word essay that is “a personal testimony of your Christian faith” and another 500-word essay that describes “your understanding of Christian journalism in America today.” The program is associated with WORLDMag.com, an online Christian magazine.
The program isn’t accredited, and Robert Case, the program’s director, says that’s intentional because they offer “vocational training.” The price tag for this two-week course, during which students will produce four multimedia articles, is $500. After the two-week course, promising students can be awarded a $6,000 scholarship for an internship—sometimes at the “ New York Times, NBC, CBS, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Washington Times, [or] the Jerusalem Post.” Case estimates the actual cost per student is closer to $5,000, but he says they fundraise for the rest.
Case says that students taking the course learn to write as a journalist informed by a Christian worldview.
“We believe in absolutes. We don’t believe in relativism. We believe God has spoken and settled an issue. Now, has he settled the issue on NAFTA? I don’t think so,” Case said. “But has he said something about abortion? I think he has argued on abortion. Has he said something about a man being faithful to his wife? I think he has said that. These are the things that as a Christian, you need to write with this perspective, that there is a right and a wrong.”
Case also said there are other elements that denote a Christian perspective in journalism.
“We don’t believe in ‘gotcha’ journalism or ambush interviews,” Case said. “We don’t believe that’s the way. We believe that’s absolutely prohibited in the Bible. Everyone is treated fairly. Everyone is treated as an image bearer of God. Much as I might have a political bias against people, and the fact is that I do, the fact is those people need to be treated with integrity and dignity in the way we cover it.”
Though Case professes to believe in a type of journalism informed by a Christian worldview that doesn't engage in "ambush" tactics, that is precisely the direction in which much of conservative journalism is going. James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles released controversial videos in which they dressed up as a pimp and a prostitute. The videos were released on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, and encouraged Congress to cut off funding to ACORN, a grassroots organizing group for the poor. ACORN eventually folded due to lack of funding, despite the fact that the videos O'Keefe produced were heavily edited. Lila Rose has also engaged in releasing similar "ambush" videos that target the sexual health provider Planned Parenthood. Rose's work was lauded by those appearing on the panels sponsored by WORLDMag, despite Case's insistence that "ambush" tactics aren't Christian.