Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dobson accuses U.S. News of spin

Dobson says he was misquoted about Thompson's Christianity

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson called the Glenn Beck radio show in response to a US News and World Report story that quoted Dobson as saying that he does not believe that former U.S. Sen.--and possible GOP presidential candidate--Fred Thompson is a Christian.

Dobson told Beck that writer Dan Gilgoff misquoted him and that the story was "spun by the media."

Amber Orand, Baylor University, for RMIG

1 comment:

MLonginow said...

James Dobson and his media staff are a careful bunch. The reason for this is that they fear misquotation and -- what more often happens -- non-contextual quotation of Dr. Dobson in the secular press.

The problem here is a big one. Either you play or you don't. And to play fair with the secular news media, Dr. Dobson and his media staffers are going to have to create better relations with news media.

Truth, in news coverage, is a journey. It's not as simple as creating a press release and demanding that it be printed verbatim. It involves dialogue -- give and take, question and answer, willingness to listen as well as speak. Basic communication theory says that unless one goes out of one's way to be understood, one will be misunderstood. That's particularly true when there's any degree of suspicion or mistrust on either end of the tin-cans-with-string-between them.

And the tension between Dr. Dobson's office and the secular media has gotten so thick it's causing hearing problems.

News media are people who are in a dialogue with audiences. They find news, try their best to report the facts about it, and put it in context that shows they grasp the bigger picture behind the story.

(And they do it on deadline, so they can't wait around long.)

The notion of a public figure's spiritual condition is not the stuff of sound bites. It's a conversation -- a long one. And it's one that isn't wise to enter in the first place. But once one has entered, one must understand that the forest is deep.

So U.S. News got it wrong? Why are we surprised? Do they have the lock on socio-political truth or the religious vision of our nation? I think not.

The best route at this point is more dialogue, not diatribes.

Don't ask for a correction or retraction. Just call another press conference. Or better yet, schedule lunch and talk this out with a reporter from a competing national news magazine.

But don't stop there.