When All Else Fails, Blame the Media

It looks as if James Dobson is trying to back away from his attack on possible GOP presidential nominee Fred Thompson. 

In an interview with US News and World Report’s Dan Gilgoff, Dobson recently attempted to throw cold water on Thompson’s candidacy because, in Dobson words, he doesn’t “think [Thompson is] a Christian.”  Since then, the people at Focus on the Family have apparently realized that it is just this sort of thing that lends credence to Dick Armey’s accusation that “Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies” and thus have decided to fight back the only way they know how: by blaming the media

In conclusion, we would caution friends of our ministry not to believe what they read about Dr. Dobson in the secular media today. Never in the 30-year history of this ministry has there been more reporting and outright distortion of his beliefs and teachings. It is apparent that those who represent a liberal worldview seek to marginalize him and confuse our friends. Anyone who ever has a question concerning what they read about Dr. Dobson or Focus on the Family is encouraged to contact us for clarification. The chances are they have been misinformed.

Gilgoff did not solicit Dobson’s view on this issue — Dobson sought him out in order to undermine Thompson and praise Newt Gingrich. But now he isn’t happy with the results.

It should be noted that this is not the first time Dobson has been angry with the coverage he received in US News and World Report.  As Gilgoff explained in the introduction to his book – “The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America are Winning the Culture War” – he first interviewed Dobson following the 2004 election for an article about the influence of so-called “values voters.” A few weeks later, when Gilgoff was working on a follow-up piece, he tried to contact Dobson again only to be denied an interview request because Dobson was upset that he had only received one quote in Gilgoff’s previous article.  

But Gilgoff went to Focus on the Family headquarters anyway and eventually scored a second interview with Dobson:

At the end of my second day in Colorado Springs, however, Dobson’s aide told me that he might grant an interview the following morning, my last at Focus headquarters. Representatives from Focus’s media relations department had been sitting in on all of my interviews with Focus staff, and thought my questions were well informed, and, more important, unbiased. I had passed a crucial test.

Gilgoff then went on to write an entire book about Dobson and his empire –  a book which must not have displeased Dobson too greatly, considering that he hand-picked Gilgoff as his outlet for getting the word out about Thompson.  Yet once Gilgoff reported that Dobson had questioned the faith of a potential Republican presidential candidate while praising a thrice-married adulterer, FOF responded by alleging a grand conspiracy by which the “secular media” seeks to “marginalize [Dobson] and confuse our friends.” 

Despite Dobson’s accusations, US News is standing by its initial report, saying the “piece was accurate and representative of the spirit of Dobson’s comments.”