You might be familiar somewhat with Pat Robertson as some old-ass dude who shows up on your Facebook wall occasionally where there's an article about how he's something unbelievably offensive and beyond stupid; I get that on my wall about once a week or so, (Thanks "Right-Wing Watch", I do not want your job) and doesn't actually garner that much impact and influence as he used to, and that's all true, and it would be really, really easy to just, find a bunch of examples about how all the absolutely stupid moronic shit he's said over the years and point to, hell, I'm sure I can just type, "Pat Robertson Saying Stupid Shit" on Youtube, and sure enough find somebody who's already put a few clips together. Ooh, Anderson Cooper did a good one, but let's see, oh this one has him agreeing with Jerry Falwell about the ACLU being responsible for 9/11, that'll work.
Yeah, he's an easy target. I don't want to go after him for what he says, there's hundreds of others who do that, what I'm actually kinda curious about it, "Why is he still on the air"?! I mean, yeah, I know why he's still on the air, but seriously, why is he still on the air? Why does he still have a forum that goes out to numerous of these poorest people to vent the stupid shit he vents? In fact, these are broadcast television stations, you have a get a government license from the FCC to be on the air and follow certain rules and guidelines to remain a broadcast channel, why has he and all these others been consistently given one? How do they get away with this, other than, "1st Amendment, freedom of speech", yeah, that's the given, I grant you, but still, there's other ways to make this speech, without using the airwaves, that's a different thing altogether.
Well, that's the question I keep asking myself, and I don't really have a clear answer for why the FCC is so lenient on this, I've tried and really struggled to find one, in fact I've had multiple plans to do this blogpost before and I've abandoned them until now, 'cause I really could never find a good enough answer, and I still don't, but (Sigh), you know, this really needs to publicized and brought up more, so we're gonna try and investigate this the best we can, so let's start at the top. Once again, Pat Robertson, why is he still on television, why is he influential, why is he still influential, why is he still important?
For starters, he might not be, 'cause even though "The 700 Club" claims it's in syndication still, I can't find a station that still airs it, outside of Freeform, (I'll get to Freeform.) although I know as recently as a couple years ago, I could find him on Channel 17.1 in Vegas, which is, a station that,-, huh. Okay, huh. Hold on, I'm looking up, stuff on it now, and.... Huh.
(Long researching pause, sporadic typing)
I'll get to that in a second, but they did air "The 700 Club" as recently as 2010 here; I know this, 'cause skipping through the channels once, I happened to stumble into the middle of an investigatory piece about the Nevada Senate Campaign that year between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle, which at the time was the biggest Senate race in the country, between a highly-respected and knowledgeable and powerful moderate-to-Liberal Democrat in Harry Reid, and a diluted batshit crazy Tea Party Religious psychopath, Republican Sharron Angle and I paying particularly close attention to that race. Oddly the piece was actually fairly benign, although it certainly skated over the insanity of a woman who in the Legislature was so anti-anything the government did, they pressed started nicknaming the voting roll calls, "41-to-Angle", and got her start in politics by forcing a high school football team to not where black jerseys because "black is the color of evil", and no, I did not make that up, look it up. Anyway, Robertson made some comment praying and hoping Angle would win, but I remember it was channel 17 KEEN-TV or KTV here, so they used to air it, and before that, a couple local channels used to air "The 700 Club" in the mid mornings and afternoons until they got picked up by some national affiliates decades ago, um, hmm, that's strange. I'm trying to find KEEN-TV's television schedule and although they seem to air a bunch of religious programming now, wow this channel is shockingly hard to find online.
Okay, this is weird, I'm having an incredibly difficult time, even finding the channel's website. It's Youtube page:
has, not added anything new in five years, Huh? That's peculiar, even for these places, hell, there's like new Roku channels for churches and preachers every week, why would they...-
No, they're still active, still on the air at least, as atrociously annoying as they ever were. Hmm.
(Two minutes pause, delayed)
Okay, I found their wikipedia page finally, and it says that they're a CLASS A Television Station, that's a classification given out by the FCC with rules they have to follow, owned and operated by, huh, who's LeSEA?
Okay, LeSEA is one of one of the major Religious Broadcasting Networks in the country, but it also says that they still play "The 700 Club", but they also have shifted their focus on "The Harvest Show" one of "The 700 Club"'s competitors, somebody named Lester Sumrall, who's dead, and I'm not particularly familiar with, started it. He even predates Robertson's actions to some extent, but I seriously doubt their programming has reached 90% of the world's population, there's no way you can do that with eleven television stations, a satellite ministry, 3 FM radio stations, five shortwave stations and a magazine; that's some stretching-your-numbers bullshit there. 90% of the world population,- I doubt Coca-Cola has that kind of reach.
Let me find the schedule, there's gotta be a website for the actual station, somewhere:
(Grunts) Finally, well it looks like a LeSEA website, and it promotes "The Harvest Show" now. Let me check their schedule, where is it.
Okay, there's "The Harvest Show", right in the prime "The 700 Club" spot, right befor-.... you gotta be kidding me!?!?!
Jim Bakker, really, this sonofabitch fraud is still around?! (Sigh) Okay, this Wikipedia page is all really old, like probably out of date, 'cause this station is now a TBN channel, for the most part, oandthem and LeSEA have come together at some point, and anyway, this leads me to Jim Bakker, who I didn't think was still around, but oh well. Well, it circles me back to Pat Robertson either way, so okay, Robertson, the main architect of this formula.
Robertson was a son of a notoriously anti-Civil Rights Democratic Senator, back when the Democrats were Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond at their worst, and Pat was an ordained Southern Baptist minister, and in '61 he bought a local Portsmouth, Virginia television station, and founded CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and rebranded the station WYAH-TV. (It's-eh, supposed to sound like W-Yahweh, the name of the God, get it?) Mostly he aired religious programming throughout the day, with occasionally speckling in some reruns of public domain documentaries and some "secular programming" in between, which is basically how these stations still get away it, they basically play and replay a bunch of religious programming and sneak in one or two other things. For instance, going back to KEEN-TV, my local station that's under some scrutiny, you'll notice on their website, they're really big on promoting they're "Family Friendly Programming". What is they're "Family Friendly Programming"? It's reruns of "The Lone Ranger" and Roy Rogers. No, seriously, that's it's they air two episodes of both of those every weekday, that's they're big push. Look, I know these things have to be "Non-Profit" for some reason, but-eh, yeah, they literally air the least they can literally air, with no attempt to actually show, anything else, other than religious broadcasting, and most of that, is basically just sermons, or some asshole with a Bible talking to a camera for an hour or half-an-hour, however long they're on. (And if you have to go back to "The Lone Ranger" and "Roy Rogers" to find "family friendly", even for free to air, you've really got problems.)
Anyway, as you would've suspected, Robertson's station struggled financially, what a shock, so they held a telethon, and after suggesting that they only needed 700 people to donate ten dollars a month to keep the station open, at the last second he got the funding. That's where the title of "The 700 Club" comes from. For those unfamiliar, that's the television show that Robertson broadcasts on, it's been the central program under the CBN umbrella ever since. It promotes and advertises itself as one of the longest-running television programs in history, which is way more deceiving than it looks, 'cause Robertson's basically kept it on the air irrelevant of ratings forever. Anyway, the CBN is still around, and "The 700 Club" is still the centerpiece of the channel, which is mostly a cable channel, although it has a heavy online presence and if you have more of a tolerance to it's bullshit than me, than, you can see some of their programming here as well as some of their, "News" shows, There special report "Homosexuality: A Christian View" they seem to find particularly important, sigh.
Anyway, the show has evolved over the decades from a Variety show to eventually the news-ish program it is; it originally was hosted, (Slight pause) by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Yeah, I told you this would all come back.
Now, say what you want about Pat Robertson, most of it will be accurate, but something you actually can't call him is a fraud, and at least legally. Bakker is a fraud, and the legal system has said it too. Robertson fired Bakker in '72 over "philosophical differences" and he started TBN the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and he would ask and pray for donations from viewers hoping to build, some bizarre time shares or whatever it was. After a sex scandal, which led to the fraud scandal he was then imprisoned for five years for numerous counts of defrauding the public. Apparently he went back to being a televangelist, with TBN, after a few years off, and they've begun working with LeSEA among other, although all of these networks are basically intertwined with each other in order to, do nothing but preach to America.
Robertson, who still holds his annual telethons for CBN, for all I can tell, basically puts all his money into CBN, and in most other respects seems like a legit guy. He's a businessman, who is legitimately successful, and does have actual international influence, albeit limited, and after his disastrous Presidential run in '88, he removed himself from being as an active member of any church, so he's no longer a baptist preacher, his CBN is an international broadcast channel that's not limited anymore to local television stations and Roku, He also dived into cable television which had financial success called the CBN Satellite Service and later CBN Cable Network, but because religious programming is consider a public service, they weren't allowed to be a non-profit, so the channel was evolved into a for-profit channel, the CBN Family Channel, and then, become just "The Family Channel" before becoming "Fox Family Channel", and then, ABC Family, yes that channel, before becoming Freeform, it's latest incarnation, which Robertson, for all-intensive purposes doesn't have any real control over, other than the fact that, he still requires the channel to air "The 700 Club" three times a day. They definitely would rather not and they sure don't promote it like they do air it, but it's built into that network's long, confusing and arduous history and they can't seem to get rid of him, even though they badly want him to be off the air. They've been trying to rebrand themselves for decades now, from the channel that aired "The Waltons" all the time to the channel that has interesting if not great series involving complex modern families. But "The 700 Club" is Robertson's baby, and the flagship program of CBN, and other than online, or if you actually subscribe to the cable channel, Freeform is where "The 700 Club" currently remains.
At least, CBN is a cable channel however. Most of these channels, they're primarily on basic television. But, that's the thing, why are we letting all these channels take over basic network programming air time? I don't get it. The same way I don't get why, NBC doesn't just add all their subchannels to digital, for the Olympics at least? Why have the other networks allowed them to overrun with the basic programming with all these religious channels and programming? Hell, why doesn't the FCC strengthen the standards, sure you could argue they're providing a public service, but 22 hours a day/7 Days a week, a bunch of random people proselytizing about religion? Yeah, I don't know any denomination of any religion that insists on pounding that much religion into us, certainly not any Christian denomination. That's the other weird thing, these televangelists, many times, don't speak for the actual religious denomination they're corrupting. If they did, you'd probably see the Pope on TV more often, but you don't, do you?
It's not like, the networks don't have the channels, or the ability to do that. Before NBCSN the channel was available to all on digital under the name, "Universal Sports" and many other networks also put correlated digital channels underneath their main channel, so why not just, put those more cable channels on digital? They already own them and are under their umbrella, especially since, cable's dying anyway, it's not like they're losing much? Or have some other independent channels created to take over these seemingly unlimited amount of extra digital channels we have, there's three channels currently I get, that are nothing but a sign telling people who to call if you want to buy time on the channel, we could've seen something else? Well, whatever money they think they'll lose rebranding their channels for a more open market, there's these other people coming in and swooping them, I don't even get it, if I was one of the major networks, I would've completely fought for as many viewers as possible, even if it's only temporarily and for the major events that only take over more than one channel for a little while, why not do that? I don't know, and I don't know how or why the FCC lets them get away with having legal Class A networks by meeting the most minimal amount of requirements and then have them promote mainly to the people with the least amount of modern technological advances, is even worse.
So, there's really plenty to blame for this, all around, but yeah, if there's still gonna be a market for them to overflow, I think it's time we start looking at it closely, and figure out exactly what we can do to mediate their influence.