(Photo: Dan Delzell)
By opening Thursday's Republican presidential debate asking Newt Gingrich about allegations from his ex-wife, CNN host John King may have inadvertently handed the presidency to Gingrich. It backfired on King as Newt responded with repugnance at the question. The crowd was equally disgusted at both King and CNN. The clear winner in all of this is Gingrich. Newt has now sailed to a big victory in South Carolina and has all the momentum going into Florida. This is probably the last thing John King and others at CNN would have wanted to see happen. Likewise, some reporters at FOX News would not want to do anything to hand President Obama a second term in office.
Television reporters like John King work these days not only to report the news, but also to sway voters in a certain political direction. These reporters are only human and their biases often come through loud and clear. Sometimes their most ardent efforts only serve to create an even greater distrust of the "mainstream media." It reminds me of the way the Pharisees were always looking for ways to try to discredit Jesus. One of their most wicked attempts was when the Pharisees said this about Jesus: "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." (Matthew 12:24)
When a person is consumed with trying to destroy someone else, he will say almost anything. Man is incredibly creative in coming up with ways to verbally attack those he opposes. We need a President and leaders in government who are able to stand up against such attacks and point Americans in the direction of traditional values and conservative spending habits. Otherwise, America will sink economically while pundits are wasting time asking candidates inappropriate questions.
It was a common practice in the New Testament for "some Pharisees to come to Jesus to test Him" (Matthew 19:3). Those Pharisees would fit right in with many in the media today. They seem to see it as their role to try to trip people up and make them look bad. What if those in the media had some of those same questions directed at them? How many of them would come out looking perfect and without sin? The Pharisees had tons of personal sin, and yet they were the ones always trying to test the sinless Savior. There are no sinless presidential candidates and no sinless Americans. Each of us is in need of redemption every bit as much as Newt Gingrich and every other candidate and reporter.
What is the lesson in this for all of us in the church? Do the opposite of what the Pharisees and some television reporters do to try to test people. Focus on forgiveness and the opportunity to move forward living a new life of righteousness. It is easy for man to become so critical of others that he goes out of his way to try to bring them down. That is not the way of Jesus, and that is not the way of any President who values honor above political victories.
Do we still have such people running for office today? Do we still have Christians who are focused on the future rather than reminding people of their past? That will continue to be a challenge for all of us as we seek to live in unity as believers in Christ's church, and as we seek to live in peace as Americans in our polarized nation.
Regardless of who wins the Republican nomination and eventually the White House later this year, perhaps this incident with John King will cause many in the media to take a second look at the questions they pose to people on national television. We are blessed to have the gift of free speech in America, but that doesn't mean we should feel free to act like the Pharisees in our dealing with others in the church or in politics.