Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pat Robertson Breaks His Silence

by  Leo Sánchez  

Televangelist Pat Robertson has been in overdrive of late.  A generous cluster of verbal gaffes has been keeping late-night comedians and the Huffington Post richly equipped with fodder for mockery and social commentary for some time now. From God’s judgment of the Denver Broncos by re-injuring newly-acquired quarterback Peyton Manning, to oral sex and legalizing marijuana, the hits just keep coming.

It now transpires that Robertson’s verbal effluvium is actually much more prolific and robust than was previously known. A CBN employee, speaking off the record, revealed that a recently-implemented production policy has actually prevented a number of Robertson’s colorful mispronouncements from reaching the public.  That’s right—there’s even more.  Much more.

Pat Robertson has a long history of controversial statements.  More than a decade ago, he was criticized for encouraging the late Jerry Falwell’s pronouncement that the 911 attacks were God’s judgment for lesbians and feminists; the comments were made on the daily 700 Club talk show just days after the attacks.

More recently, his diagnosis of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake—namely, that it was a “blessing in disguise,” and a judgment for the nation’s deeply-entrenched cultural practice of voodoo—drew fire from many quarters, even from within the ranks of the Christian right. But the last six months have seen an unprecedented frequency and outrageousness in his statements.   A September 2011 e-mail submitted to the 700 Club’s Bring It On segment by a man whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s disease resulted in Robertson’s suggestion that the man divorce his wife and start all over. “I hate Alzheimer's. It is one of the most awful things because, here is a loved one, this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly, that person is gone. They're gone.”

When pressed on how he might square this suggestion with marriage vows asserting “till death do us part,” Robertson responded that Alzheimer’s is “a kind of death.”

Long-time co-host Terry Meeuwsen has practiced
her improvisational skills and tempered her
facial reactions to Robertson's gaffes for years
On the March 6, 2012 edition of the 700 Club, Robertson declared that marijuana should be legalized.  Less than a week later, oral sex was declared to be within bounds, as long as its practioners were married—to each other, a statement purportedly responsible for a 20% spike in the sales of Mark and Grace Driscoll’s new book, Real Marriage.  

Then, just last week, CBN News anchor Lee Webb reported on the recent trade between the NFL’s Denver Broncos and the New York Jets, in which quarterback Tim Tebow, a committed evangelical Christian, was displaced by the Broncos in order to make room for the newly-acquired Peyton Manning, who had been released by the Indianpolis Colts after 14 years with the club.  As is his wont, Webb then turned to the boss man for commentary.
“I think the Denver Broncos treated him shabbily,” said Robertson, who added that if Peyton Manning suffers a recurrence of the neck injury that sidelined him for the entire 2011 season, “it would serve them right.”

Unbeknownst to Robertson, producers and executives at CBN have been convening under the radar for months in hopes of dealing with the 82-year-old evangelist’s run-away mouth.  Though Robertson stepped down from hosting duties several years ago, he is still an integral part of the 700 Club, which is still broadcast live in many markets from CBN studios in Virginia Beach, Virginia, at 10 a.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday.

Following the lead of many talk radio and live television formats, who use a 7-second delay in order to edit out unsavory words and images, 700 Club producers decided to implement a 15-minute delay.  The vastly expanded time horizon will give producers a chance to excise the often rambling and complex statements by Robertson that have led to public fallout.

The new procedure was actually in place last Thursday when Robertson made his quip about Peyton Manning’s injury retribution.  However, in the process of learning a new system, in-studio producers missed it and it went out over the air.  Producers were successful, however, in catching and deleting Robertson’s addendum to his statements, namely his assertion that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in fact re-incarnated from King Nebuchadnezzar II of the neo-Babylonian empire. When asked by an incredulous co-host Terry Meeuwsen why he was suddenly willing to endorse reincarnation when the Bible clearly teaches against it, the 82-year-old televangelist responded, “These are the End Times.  Anything can happen—and usually does.”

The dumping of white flour on the head of
reality-TV star Kim Kardashian is a judg-
ment of God concerning sexual purity,
says televangelist Pat Robertson.
Long-time executive producer Carolyn Guthrie Barela says she got the idea for the program’s new “extreme delay” system from an unlikely source.  “I hate to admit it, but that’s how the Howard Stern show was produced before it went to satellite radio in 2005.  They would begin the show with a 15-minute head start, with a team of editors standing by, ready to take out the stuff that wouldn’t even pass muster with today’s FCC.” Barela says she had some reservations about implementing such a plan, but in the end, she thought this would result in the most good for the most people—and CBN, of course. “I’m not much for the genetic fallacy.  A good idea’s still a good idea—even if it comes from reprobates.” 
Since March 19, the taping of the program now begins at 9:45 a.m.  The tricky part is: Pat doesn’t know.

“It would just kill him to know what we’re doing,” Barela said. “And we want to at least see him outlive Billy Graham.” Accordingly, the new plan involves changing all of Robertson’s clocks and watches so he doesn’t know what time it is.  This required the hiring of two additional full-time employees, but Barela says, in the end, the extra expense will be justified.

“These gaffes really hurt our donations,” she said.  “And oddly, Pat has a tendency to really let it fly just as we’re about to go into our 7 Days Ablaze fund-raising telethons. If Paris was ‘worth a mass,’ I think this is worth a couple extra gophers.” 

The benefits of the new plan were evident almost immediately.  Edited from the March 21 program was a news commentary segment in which Robertson held forth on a recent assault on Kim Kardashian, in which the curvy 31-year-old reality-TV star had a container of white flour dumped over her head by a disgruntled office-seeker.

“This is clearly the judgment of God,” Robertson said.  “And that flour was white for a reason: that young woman is responsible for a great deal of sexual impurity.”  He then made matters worse by suggesting that Kardashian might be a little too curvy for her own good. “She should also think about switching to more wheat-flour-based products.  She might end up losing a few pounds and feeling a lot better.”

On the Friday, March 23 program, another e-mail to the “Bring It On” segment challenged Pat to reveal his thoughts on extraterrestrial life.  Specifically, the writer of the e-mail wanted to know what Robertson thought of the 1947 Roswell incident, in which an alien space craft allegedly crashed in the New Mexico desert, prompting the U.S. military into a massive cover-up campaign.

Relative newcomer Kristi Watts has been on the receiv-
ing end of a number of Robertson gaffes; however, a
new 15-minute delay in the 700 Club's taping should
make her job more manageable.  
“I was in the U.S. Marines at that time, waiting to go over to Korea,” said Robertson, despite the easily-checked fact that the Korean conflict had not started yet.  “A buddy of mine was drafted into the Air Force and stationed in New Mexico.  He told me that the Roswell crash occurred because the aliens who had built Stonehenge back in pre-historic times were coming back to Earth to make a routine maintenance visit—you know, to check on the structural integrity of their creation.  And they specifically wanted to know whether it had survived World War II.  Needless to say, they missed their target —by some 6,000 miles, but hey, when you travel 6 zillion light years, being off by 6,000 miles is like parking in a handicap zone by accident.”

Robertson saved the biggest whopper for the Monday, March 26 program, in which he finally revealed what God had shown him about the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. During his annual end-of-the-year prophecy week, Robertson claimed that God had shown him who the next President of the United States was going to be, but that he “better not tell you.”  He revealed, however, that for his 82nd birthday (last Thursday), God granted him his wish that he could now blab about it. 

As many suspected, Barack Hussein Obama will be re-elected for a second term in November of this year.  But there’s more.  Robertson revealed that God told him that Obama will, in fact, go on to be re-elected for a third term, and then a forth, but that he will die three months into his fourth term in April, 2021, when he collapses at his family’s compound in Warm Springs, Georgia, where he will be sitting for an unfinished presidential portrait and cavorting with his former mistress, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd. 

Neither producer Carolyn Guthrie Barela, nor co-hosts Terry Meeuwsen and Kristi Watts could be reached for comment.

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