James Dobson Tangles with Ted Bundy, Katie Couric and Republicans
(This week, Ryan Dobson a national radio host and son of the legendary Dr. James Dobson — talked about how his famous father could be targeted by the IRS through the health care law, tying the IRS scandal together with the Obamacare law. Below is an excerpt from The Right Frequency, an Amazon Best Seller, about Dr. Dobson’s career in talk radio and beyond.)
In 2008, the Focus on the Family program was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, which said, “The show’s host, Dr. James Dobson, is perhaps the most influential conservative Christian leader in the country.”
Dobson has been so much more than a broadcaster and his broadcasts have been more than an essential aspect of the conservative movement. Some evangelical leaders such as the Reverends Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have—fairly or not— been accused of pushing the Republican Party line. It is tougher to make that charge against Dobson, who had the ear of the GOP but could be annoyingly independent to those in power. A radio show that began in 1978 went on to gain 200 million listeners worldwide in 27 languages in 160 countries.
In 1988 —in the midst of a presidential campaign, the one-to-five-minute “Family News in Focus” began airing on commercial radio stations. This was the first attempt to reach a secular audience, as the regular “Focus on the Family” show aired only on Christian stations.
In one of Dobson’s more famous moments, he interviewed serial killer Ted Bundy on death row. Bundy had claimed to have had a religious conversion before his execution. He told Dobson that pornography influenced his murderous life. Focus marketed a videotape of the interview, with the proceeds going to anti-porn groups.
As the organization and Dobson gained even more influence, several Republican presidential candidates visited the Colorado headquarters in 1996, such as Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Alan Keyes and Phil Gramm.
In October 1998, Focus sounded the alarm over comments made on Katie Couric on NBC’s Today show after the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man and University of Wyoming student beaten to death outside a bar. Couric and NBC reporter Geoffrey Dickens linked several conservative Christian groups by name to the murder, even though there was no evidence Shepard’s murder was motivated by religion. “Some gay-rights activists have said that some conservative Christian political organizations, like the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family are contributing to this anti-homosexual atmosphere by having an ad campaign saying: If you’re a homosexual, you can change your orientation. That prompts people to say: If I meet someone who’s homosexual, I’m going to take action and try to convince them or try to harm them. Do you believe that such groups are contributing to this climate?”
During his broadcast, Dobson demanded an apology. “That Couric would repeat such a ridiculous accusation on a national TV show only serves to perpetuate twisted stereotypes of Christian people. Ms. Couric was highly irresponsible and potentially libelous.” NBC got so many calls, letters and e-mails demanding an apology, that they
contacted Focus and asked them to desist talking about the matter. Neither side backed down and the matter eventually faded.
During the chorus of conservative radio hosts opposed to the President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, Dobson supported her. He came under fire, as did the Bush White House, after he announced on the October 5, 2005 Focus radio program that he spoke to Bush political advisor Karl Rove about the nomination. Democratic senators such as Pat Leahy of Vermont and Ken Salazar of Colorado as well as a few liberal interest groups such as American United for the Separation of Church and State demanded records of the communications.
“The issue is whether the White House is giving information to Dr. Dobson that it’s not giving to senators and the American public,” said Salazar spokesman Cody Wertz said at the time.
Recalling the Rove conversation to his listeners, Dobson said that “Harriet Miers was at the top of the short list,” and that “What Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list. They would not allow their names to be considered because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter that they didn’t want to subject themselves or the members of their families
Tags: Alan Keyes, American United for the Separation of Church and State, Christie Whitman, Democrats, Focus on the Family, Hariet Miers, James Dobson, Jesse Helms, Karl Rove, Katie Couric, Ken Salazar, Lamar Alexander, Matthew Shepard, National Radio Hall of Fame, NBC, Pat Buchanan, Patrick Leahy, Phil Gramm, Republicans, Rick Santorum, Ted BundyYou can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.