Via The NY Transfer News Service 718-448-2358, 718-448-2683 Title: PAT ROBERTSON'S GROWING
Via The NY Transfer News Service 718-448-2358, 718-448-2683
Title: PAT ROBERTSON'S GROWING MEDIA EMPIRE
Pat Robertson's Growing Media Empire
By Michael C. Burton
When Pat Robertson bid $6 million for the United Press International in
May, he sought not only to add an important component to his expanding media
empire, but also to gain control of a key news service for influencing U.S.
and Latin American citizens. Only CNN's Ted Turner, CBS' Lawrence Tisch, and
media mogul Rupert Murdoch have as much individual power over the media
business in the United States as this evangelical preacher.
The mainstream media covered the UPI bid announcement as a dry business
story, with virtually no corporate journalist asking the important question:
what does this right-wing fundamentalist want with a news service that
provides access to millions of people?
Robertson already has carved out a powerful niche in the control of
information in this country: he founded and is president of the Christian
Broadcasting Network (CBN), a $143.8 million a year company that not only runs
political programming, but also a slick marketing program that reaches
millions through direct mail and telephone "counseling centers." Robertson
also is chairman of International Family Entertainment, a media conglomerate
that owns the Family Channel on cable TV (reaching more than 55 million
households, or 60 percent of the U.S. viewing public). With his son, Timothy,
Robertson also heads the U.S. Media Corporation, which operates a domestic
Although some journalists wrote about these business details, they didn't
raise questions of Robertson's background and how he's made such enormous
profits through CBN, a non-profit company. The network made over $143 million
last year. The Family Channel, which began in 1977 as a satellite component of
CBN, took in $70.8 million in advertising revenue and $42.9 million in
subscriber fees in 1991; with an estimated profit of $19.8 million. Because it
is listed as a religious organization, CBN is tax-exempt (U.S. Media
Corporation, however, is a for-profit subsidiary).
The public also didn't get to read or hear much about Robertson's political
agenda after his new purchase -- although it is key to understanding why he
bid for a news service that is losing money. Through the late 1960s, Robertson
and his employee, Jim Bakker, shared hosting the "700 Club" on CBN, regularly
giving their listeners political views to the right of Ronald Reagan. In 1980,
Robertson was quoted as saying, "We have enough votes to run the country. And
when people say, `We've had enough,' we are going to take over." More
recently, Robertson has attacked those "militant feminists," gays in the
military, and historians who "try to slant history to favor minorities and
Unfortunately, mainstream networks and daily newspapers aren't delving into
Robertson's political designs, even though he ran for president in 1988 and is
currently spearheading an effort by the Christian right to take over key local
and state races in California (after success in San Diego in 1990, when the
Christian Right got 60 of 90 candidates elected to local offices). The
Christian Coalition in California, which has 52 chapters and 10,000 members in
that state, is working to elect officials who have strong anti-abortion and
anti-gay positions (some even supporting the death penalty for homosexuality).
Many of the Christian Right groups follow Robertson's agenda of total
integration of biblical law into society. The National Coordinating Council, a
spinoff of the Coalition on Revival, includes in its goals the abolition of
public schools and "bringing the local media under the influence of a biblical
Robertson's bid for UPI is part of that plan, but journalists seemed to
ignore asking questions like this when he announced his offer to buy UPI. They
only had to look in Robertson's current newsletter to the Christian Coalition,
where he accuses organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the
National Organization for Women, the National Education Association, and the
National Council of Churches of taking over the government and the private
sector. Robertson's goal for the newsletter: "to make it the biggest newspaper
in the United States of America."
"The strategy against the American radical left should be the same as
General Douglas MacArthur employed against the Japanese in the Pacific," the
newsletter states. "Bypass their strongholds, then surround them, isolate
them, bombard them, then blast the individuals out of their power bunkers with
hand-to-hand combat. The battle to regain the soul of America won't be
pleasant, but we will win it."
CBN, which broadcasts heavily in Central and South America, has defined a
"Latin America strategy" to displace existing faiths and cultures with a
fundamentalist Christian doctrine through missionary and counter-insurgency
work. In their book "Holy Terror" authors Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman show
evidence that Robertson, Jerry Falwell and other religious fundamentalists
were working with Reagan officials in the early 1980s to support Guatemalan
dictator Rios Montt.
In an interview with Larry King on May 28, Robertson said he wanted to use
UPI's radio network to supplement his 400 CBN stations and 70 Florida network
stations. He also mentioned his radio station in Lebanon. In a recent "Road to
Victory Conference," Robertson said he wanted to place regular daily
"one-minute commentaries" on at least 2,000 radio stations, plus "similar one-
minute commentaries on at least the top 200 radio and TV stations in the top
200 markets in America."
"I'm a very credible journalist," Robertson said. While denying that he
wanted to inject his religious views in UPI ("I'm for wholesome, balanced
truth," he told King), he did criticize the "secular press -- what is called
the liberal media. These people have an unconscious feeling that they're right
and the others are wrong."
With his power over the media, Robertson won't have to worry about those
other views; he has an electronic pulpit of his own.
From MEDIA MONITOR, the June/July 1992 issue, Vol. 2 No. 3, a bimonthly
publication of the Council for Public Media.
Copyright Council for Public Media: Permission to reprint granted if source
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank