On Christmas Eve, 2007 CNN aired a program called "What would Jesus really do?"
[ 2, 3
] with host Roland Martin. The show was a sequel to a previous program of the same name that was aired in April of the same year.
The focus of the program was to discuss how Jesus might have weighed in on modern-day issues. The questions were posed to two contemporary religious authors, Mark Ellingsen and Gary Cass, and then Martin would give his final analysis.
Martin has become a popular pundit on CNN since the begining of the year. according to his website, "Roland S. Martin is a nationally award-winning and multifaceted journalist. [...] With extensive roots as a reporter and manager in radio, television, newspaper, and the Internet, Roland S. Martin is a multimedia journalist who can do it all - report it, shoot it, write it, produce it, edit it and voice it. He is the ultimate cross-trained journalist! Learn more about the newspaper editor, TV commentator, radio talk show host, web publisher, and book author!"
I actually watched one of the airings of this program, and was dismayed at the presentation. The majority of the program was just Q&As with people on the street and talking heads not saying very much. You can read the transcript of the show at this link.
I was struck by several things in the program. For one, the portions of the program when the questions were asked of the authors was very brief, giving each of the speakers only twenty seconds to speak before Martin gave his final verdict.
This seemed a ridiculously short amount of time considering that these questions were the main focus of the show, and that the subjects being discussed did not seem to be the kinds of issues that should be discussed in a such a limited framework. Also, it seemed inappropriate to have a verdict rendered, especially considering how poorly the subject matter was treated.
I felt that the format of the show was mindless and contrived. Neither speaker was given enough time to speak, and having the host render a verdict made the whole thing sound like a kangaroo court. The even had a buzzer sound to indicate that each authors time was up, presumably to lend the program a "game show" sort of edge.
The views expressed as "Republican" and "Democrat" were consistent with certain things said by some politicians and pundits, but were overly broad. I could not help but feel that they were trying to put words in either party's mouth. The point of the show just seemed to be a condescending and self-righteous put down.
I felt that the program did a disservice to religion by treating the subject matter in such a frivolous manner, treated the Republicans like they have no heart by only allowing a warped portrayal of their views, and gave a distorted picture of Democrats as self-righteous and condescending.
I did generally agree with the views that were expressed by the Democratic author, Mark Ellingsen, but I felt that the Republican author, Gary Cass, was out of his depth. It seemed unfair to the Republicans that they were represented by an individual that was clearly an extremist. That said, what the two authors and Martin said were at least interesting, and so I present the most salient points of the program below.