Fox News Network
SHOW: THE O'REILLY FACTOR (20:11)
January 6, 2006 Friday
Transcript # : 010602cb.256
SECTION: News; Domestic
GUESTS: Paul Levinson, Janet Folger
GUEST HOST: John Kasich
SPEC: Religion; Politics; Pat Robertson
BYLINE: John Kasich
INTERVIEW WITH DR. PAUL LEVINSON
PROFESSOR AND CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION & MEDIA STUDIES
NEW YORK CITY
KASICH: In the "impact" segment tonight, Ariel Sharon, the 77-year old prime minister of Israel, is in critical condition tonight after five hours of emergency brain surgery today, the third major operation since Wednesday to stop the bleeding in his brain after suffering a stroke.
Now while the prime minister is fighting for his life in Jerusalem, Pat Robertson sparked some controversy again with these comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, THE 700 CLUB: He was dividing God's land. And I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations, or the United States of America.
God says this land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KASICH: But is this much ado about nothing? Joining us now from Fort Lauderdale, Florida is Janet Folger, host of "Faith to Action" on the VCY America Radio Network. And here in the studio, Paul Levinson, the brand new chair of the Media Studies Department at Fordham.
All right, Ms. Folger, let's start with you. Your reaction to those comments and your thoughts about the criticism being directed at Pat Robertson again?
JANET FOLGER, CHRISTIAN RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, let me first say that I've been praying for the prime minister. I've encouraged the`Faith Action" listeners to do the same. And I think that's very important. We keep our focus on praying for his health and his recovery.
But I don't pretend to speak for Pat Robertson. And I can't speak for God. By the way, he's got a position paper. He's got a book out and has a pretty pro-Israel position in it.
But rather than focus on the one private citizen, what I'd rather focus on is a policy of kicking Israeli citizens out of their homes and turning Gaza into a terrorist superstore. I think that's where the focus should be on the policy of kicking Israel out and making them less secure...
KASICH: Yes, but Janet, we're not -- this is not a geopolitical debate. I mean, Pat's been criticized. And I know Pat. I know him well. Pat's been criticized because, you know, he's saying this as this man is presumably dying. And people are hammering him for it saying, you know, here he goes again.
I mean, do you think that that's a fair criticism of him?
FOLGER: I think that we've got -- I'm not going to be another voice that's going to bully on - bully up against Pat Robertson. I think that the - really the bully principle that we're looking here in Israel, is that when you acquiesce, when you give into the demands of terrorists, they're going to demand more. And that's really the policy that frankly, we in America have a hand in.
KASICH: Yes, all right.
FOLGER: We're the ones that pressured Ariel Sharon into doing this.
KASICH: All right. Your feelings about this, Mr. Levinson? I mean, is - you know, is the media sort of grabbing everything Pat says and tries to blow it up?
Look, you saw his statement, right? It wasn't a statement out of some mean guy. He claims that he was quoting the book of Joel. And if you read the book of Joel and what it says here, you know, he basically is saying - his people are saying, look, it wasn't him. It's something that he quoted out of scripture.
PAUL LEVINSON, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY MEDIA STUDIES DEPARTMENT: Well, I have an enormous amount of respect for the scripture. But frequently when people in our modern age try to apply it literally in a fanatical way, it leads to graceless, absurd statements such as Pat Robertson made.
If you think about the fact - the only other public figure who's commented about Sharon's dying being appropriate in any way is the president of Iran, who's a fundamentalist Islamic nut case.
KASICH: And you're not trying to compare Pat Robertson to the -- this lunatic over in Iran?
FOLGER: I hope not.
LEVINSON: I'm comparing two people who are fundamentalists and who don't seem to have a modern view of the world.
LEVINSON: ..the prime minister.
LEVINSON: .you know, shouldn't be judged according to scripture, when he's on his death bed.
KASICH: So let me ask you this, then. I mean, are you saying then that what's written in the Bible cannot be applied today? You said that, you know, what we're doing is trying to apply things too literally. Don't you think in America today we barely apply it all too much of the time?
LEVINSON: No. I think we apply it just fine in the United States. We have a diverse society.
KASICH: Well, but wait - but when we look at.
KASICH: Yes, but when we look at the problems with character and integrity, whether it's professional athletes, the pop culture, whatever, I mean, isn't - I mean, look, isn't -- aren't we - aren't you basically saying that, you know, let's modernize the whole book?
And I think what Pat Robertson is saying, rightly or wrongly, is the book shouldn't be modernized. We ought to -- it ought to reflect what that old testament says.
LEVINSON: I'm not saying that the Old Testament is wrong. I'm saying that the literal application of a -- to a prime minister who is trying to bring peace to his region, when he is on his death bed, is a very inappropriate statement.
KASICH: Fair point.
Now Janet, what I need to know from you is when Pat does things like this, or says things like this, and I think you would agree it wasn't the appropriate time, do you agree with that? Was this not the right time to be talking about this?
FOLGER: But the time you make statements like that is when he can actually do something about it.
KASICH: All right, so inappropriate time.
FOLGER: Don't divide the land.
KASICH: Right, inappropriate time. The question is, does Pat sort of undermine the movement when he makes a statement like this, that he might - you know, says been taken out of context or whatever? Does it undermine the movement, the Christian movement? People say, I'm not going to listen to that?
FOLGER: You know, I'm not going - again, I'm not going to be another voice to bully up and beat up on Pat Robertson. He's free to defend himself.
FOLGER: And he's very capable of it.
KASICH: But I want to know what you think about it.
FOLGER: But I don't think you should blame him.
FOLGER: .from reading from the Bible.
FOLGER: And I'll be honest with you. The way I read the Bible, it talks about nations that bless Israel are going to be blessed. Nations that curse Israel are going to be cursed.
And I'll be honest with you, where I am worried about the judgment being cast is I need to -- we need to look in the mirror, because we're one of the groups, the nations that actually strong armed the prime minister into giving up land, making it less secure.
KASICH: All right, all right, now. I got you. Now people for the American Way, professor, you know, against flag desecration. They're not like some mainstream group. You know, they're way out there.
It's like they grab everything that Pat says. They monitor everything he says.
You're in communications. Have we made -- gotten to the point now in America where, you know with the blogs, the 24-hour news cycle, you can't say anything. It's going to be analyzed, overanalyzed, taken out of context. Don't you think that's fair?
LEVINSON: No. Criticism of what public figures say is a crucial part of dialogue in a democratic society, which we have. We don't live in a totalitarian state, where religious or political leaders can say whatever they please, and they're beyond criticism.
So Pat Robertson chose to say this in a public forum. And I think that he's fair game for criticism. It's not the end of the world that he said it. I don't think he should be executed. I'm not.
KASICH: Yes, and I wouldn't compare him, look, I, you know.
LEVINSON: Well, but it's an indication of what happens when you apply in a fanatical, fundamental way.
KASICH: Look, I don't think it's a fanatical way. It's a reading of the Old Testament. He has his view. To label it somehow, you know, off the deep end I don't think is fair.
Janet, what I'll say to you is I know Pat. I like him very much. He's been a great leader. He's got to be a little more careful with how he says things and when he says things. Thank you very much.
Directly ahead, ABC News defends a report pinpointing secret CIA prisons in Europe. They say they didn't undermine the terror war, but not everyone's buying it. We will be right back.
You are visitor number 668