Bad TV news about evangelicals

anchormanSometimes television news pieces are just bad. They are often so bad that they are not even worth pointing out. You just dismiss them and hope that no one else saw that illogical stream of presumptions, insinuations and generalizations you just suffered through. A decade or so ago, along came the mass-Internet and television news which started publishing their articles online. Brilliant, some would say, while most are thinking that print publications can now take swipes at television news that has long been the domain of the likes of Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live.

This ABC News piece on asking the question "Are Young Evangelicals Skewing More Liberal?" is case in point. First of all, please don't ask questions like this in a news article headline. Rhetorical questions are best saved for cocktail party conversations.

The story gets support from what I believe is a September 2007 Pew Research Center survey -- a very good source by the way -- that found that "40 percent of evangelicals younger than 30 call themselves Republicans," and that two years ago 55 percent of evangelicals claimed the GOP. In the substance department, that's about as far as the article takes the reader:

This weekend at a concert and a rally in New York City, a huge gathering of Christian youth came together to decry the coarsening of culture.

"What should be done to stop glamorizing the things that are destroying my friends, your friends -- like drugs, alcohol and sex?" cried a young evangelical.

The top three issues these young evangelical Christians said they most want the presidential candidates to address are Internet pornography, media glamorization of sex and drugs, and children orphaned by AIDS. Abortion and gay marriage were not at the top of their list.

Many of those who did rank abortion as their number one issue also said their favorite candidate was Barack Obama.

Context is always important in spot news reporting. I'd like to know what concert this was for starters, and who sponsored or organized the rally? As for the top issues cited by this unnamed "young evangelical," I'd like to know who came up with that list. Was it this "young evangelical," or was it a survey by ABC News? "A huge gathering" hardly constitutes a sway of evangelical opinion.

That all said, I don't want to imply that the story is entirely off-base. The article's assertions are just not all that well supported.

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