Saturday, October 28, 2006

If you meet this man have a tape recorder.

A dispute between two Christians is drawing some attention. Bill Moyers is a liberal sort of Christian and he did a television interview with born again type E. Calvin Beisner. Beisner later claimed that Moyers told him that he (Moyers) was a Democrat and was using his show to help the Democrats win. That’s pretty serious a charge under the circumstances.

Moyers wrote Beisner saying:

“You are not telling the truth. In fact, what you wrote in the ISA newsletter is an outright lie. You claim that "When Moyers interviewed me for the documentary last spring, he very candidly told me that he is a liberal Democrat and intended for the documentary to influence the November elections to bring control of Congress back to the Democrats." I said nothing of the sort -- nothing. To the contrary, I told you that I am an independent - members of the crew remember my saying that to you specifically (there were, remember, three other people in the room.) You yourself taped the entire session with your own recorder; show me where in the transcript such a conversation occurred. I also told you, as I told everyone interviewed, that we of course could not use the entire interview but that I would post it on our Website when the broadcast aired, as was done. If I had said anything approaching what you claim I said, if you perceived any bias on my part. you could have -- and should have refused to participate. But you did participate freely, you were treated fairly and honestly, and for you now to bear false witness is not only unChristian but astonishing. What am I to make of the many friendly emails you have sent over these months, signed: "In Christ, Cal"? Or our exchange on how much I have enjoyed your daughter's CD that you sent? Your conservative evangelical brothers who were also interviewed in the documentary – from Richard Cizik to Tri Robinson to Allan Johnson (not a liberal among them) have written in praise of how they were treated. You and you alone have chosen to bear false witness to our conversation and to defame – in your own words –the ethics and journalistic balance of the documentary. You owe me arid my team an apology and a public retraction.”

Indeed. If Beisner did tape the interview as Moyers claimed happen then he should be able to produce the tape. If he taped the interview and can’t produce the tape then it would seem that the tape doesn’t support the accusations he made.

Now I find Beisner’s reply pretty sleazy in fact. His attorneys replied to a letter from Moyers’ attorneys which said the accusation was defamatory. Now what is the proper response to this for Beisner. He could say that he told the truth and thus it is not defamation. But Beisner does not do that at all. Instead his attorneys claim that the accusation doesn’t amount to defamation.

Then Beisner pulls religion out to play the thing down. Instead of admitting he made the story up or instead of saying he was telling the truth he avoids the matter of his own honesty and instead says that they should meet privately “to restore that relationship outside the civil courts as Christians are admonished to do...”

Beisner is quick to claim that he remembers the conversation from times when his tape recorder was not running presumably. Where Moyers says he was there with other people Beisner claims it was a “private conversation... that was not recorded prior to the interview on camera” and that his recollection “may have been influenced by a conversation” he says he had on the way to the airport with Moyers after the interview. In other words Beisner does not have a tape of said remarks and is not even sure when he thinks they were made. But Beisner’s attorneys say he accepts that Moyers is not a Democrat but an independent.

Moyers seemed genuinely hurt that a fellow Christian would treat him this way. A second email to Beisner, when his first was ignored, almost pleaded for some sort of explanation for this attack. Moyers emailed Beisner: “I immediately emailed you to ask whether you actually said such a thing. I wrote again later that day, asking: “What has come over you?" I said you were not telling the truth and I asked for a retraction and an apology as your lie gained speed across the Internet. You replied the next morning only to say that you were busy and that you "should" be able to send me a reply at the end of that day, in your own good time. I was furious and wrote back immediately asking how you intended to rectify this lie. You were undermining my reputation and credibility, not to mention my livelihood, and were blasé about it. You then replied with no substantive response but a definition of the word "lie," as if you proposed to avoid responsibility on the basis of a dictionary definition! Given your rebuff of my appeal, I asked my attorney to contact you immediately and put you on notice that if you did not act forthrightly to retract the lie, I had no alternative but to seek recourse by other means.”

This makes it appear that the moment Moyers knew the story was being circulated in Religious Right circles that he wrote Beisner for a reply. Beisner apparently ignored the email. The story kept spreading and Beisner apparently refused to give any substantive reply at all. He later admitted that some of what he said was false., that Moyers is a Democrat but Moyers was upset that Beisner was now refusing to retract the claim that Moyers said he intended his show to help the Democrats win the election. Moyers seems amazed that Beisner would ignore his emails requesting clarification for why Beisner said these things and for a retraction and then have his attorneys send a sanctimonious reply about how they should resolved it in private like good Christians. Beisner had several days to resolve it, if these emails are accurate, and choose not to do so.

Beisner is not coming out of this well. It certainly appears as if he may have invented an accusation for political purposes. Moyers is a Christian but one who has been deeply troubled by the theocratic movement in America. Beisner is an ally of the theocrats. And he gives me the impression he is not a very honest individual. He definetly comes out on the wrong end of this one. Shame on him. The photo is of Beisner. If you meet him tape record everything you say.


Post a Comment

<< Home


Web Counters Religion Blog Top Sites