Dueling Christian coverage, or Ira Glass vs. National Journal

Above is a nice little snippet of an Ira Glass interview. Interview of Ira Glass, I should say. The popular host of public radio's This American Life reflects on why the show does so much good coverage of Christians. It's because the media do such a bad job of covering them otherwise, he says. He says the Christians he knows and works with -- including the "fundamentalists" -- are nothing like how Christians are portrayed in the media.

I knew GetReligion readers would want to see the interview.

It's also a great introduction to a piece that ran on National Journal, yesterday. Many reporters passed it along to us, including one who added the note:

Those crazy Christians are at it again!


About major decisions!

You get a feeling for the reportorial prowess on display, the nuance, the journalistic integrity, with the headline alone:

The Things That God Tells Politicians Mostly, it's to run for president. But every now and then, the almighty may intervene in a leadership coup.

Do you want to read on? Neither do I! But, this being part of the job and all, I guess we will. Here's the top of the piece:

In early January, House Speaker John Boehner was in crisis. After a brutal fiscal-cliff slog, Boehner's speakership was in serious doubt, and a group of conservative House Republicans were preparing to drive in the knife. But that's when, according to a new Washington Post story, God intervened.

Barely 36 hours after the caustic [fiscal cliff] New Year's Day vote, Boehner faced a coup attempt from a clutch of renegade conservatives. The cabal quickly fell apart when several Republicans, after a night of prayer, said God told them to spare the speaker.

This, of course, is not the first time that God has been said to have stepped into U.S. politics. Here's a brief look at some of the almighty's supposed prior forays.

I'll spare you the rest, on account of it being too early for this much juvenile snark, but it goes on to make fun of other Republicans praying.

What's your favorite part of this story? Is it how it perpetuates the stereotype that Democrats are all godless and Republicans are all fundamentalists? Is it the drive-by, Buzzfeed-worthy substance of the post? Is it the complete missed opportunity?

See, I'd love nothing more than a critical and thoughtful look at how politicians use religion -- a story that broached whether they use religion to manipulate or advance objectives. I'd love to see one that didn't assume prayer was just a ploy. I'd love one that didn't sound like it was written by a former Talking Points Memo staffer (which, in this case, would be difficult since National Journal apparently hired this reporter after stints at ... Talking Points Memo, Salon, etc.). Just about anything would have been better than this drivel.

There are good stories to be written about politicians and prayer -- with good, bad and ugly anecdotes. Stories that traffic in bigotry to mock politicians for seeking to do God's will are not those stories.

Better luck next time, National Journal!

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