As a former attorney, Fox News's Megyn Kelly should know full well what defamation is, and she should know full well that what she repeatedly said on last Thursday's episode of her show The Kelly File was indeed defamation.
Who is it that Ms. Kelly defamed? Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). And what did she say that was defamatory? Well, she repeatedly said that Mikey is an atheist and that MRFF is an atheist organization.
In a six-minute segment about MRFF's demand that, due to the numerous military regulations prohibiting such activities (see my previous post), the Department of Defense cancel the planned participation of uniformed military personnel in Shirley Dobson's big upcoming National Day of Prayer shindig, Ms. Kelly verbally repeated her utterly false claim no less than three times, had the same false claim appear on the screen three times, and then repeated it again in the headline for the story on her show's website.
With the words "ATHEIST GROUP DEMANDS MILITARY BACK OUT OF NATL DAY OF PRAYER EVENT" in big capital letters at the bottom of the screen, Ms. Kelly began her lies by saying, "An atheist group is now demanding that no uniformed military personnel be allowed to take part in this event." Then, a few minutes later, she said to her guests, Shirley Dobson and her Focus on the Family founding husband James Dobson, "This is Mikey Weinstein, who is an atheist and challenges a lot of events like yours." And, then, for the rile-up-the-Fox-viewers hat trick, she referred to MRFF as "Mikey and his atheist group." (Mr. Dobson, of course, chimed in in agreement calling Mikey "sort of a professional atheist.")
Now, Ms. Kelly, Mikey Weinstein has made it abundantly clear, on too many occasions to count, that he is not an atheist, and that MRFF is not an atheist organization, and no matter how much more convenient it would be for Fox News if MRFF were an atheist organization, you just can't keep repeating your blatantly false claims that it is. Therefore, Ms. Kelly, you have just become the next lucky winner of one of those letters that MRFF's attorneys send to "journalists" who insist on lying, to remind you about that pesky defamation thing that, as a former attorney yourself, you should know all about.
The truth that Fox News and other dishonest Christian organizations refuse to acknowledge and be honest about? Only 749 of MRFF's 37,312 clients -- only 2 percent -- identify as atheists, agnostics, and humanists. Another 2 percent belong to minority religions. And who makes up the whopping 96 percent that remains? CHRISTIANS! Yes, Megyn Kelly, 96 percent of the clients of this organization that you deliberately and repeatedly called an atheist organization are Christians. They are Catholics and mainline Protestants who just aren't considered Christian enough by the likes of your guests the Dobsons or their fundamentalist and dominionist brethren in the military.
Now, these Christians who have come to MRFF in droves over the past 10 years might not be considered "real" Christians by the Dobsons, who would presumably agree with the Focus on the Family (the organization Mr. Dobson founded) Truth Project website's claim that only 9 percent of professing Christians are real Christians like themselves, but those nearly 35,800 or so Christians and the 750 or so service members of other faiths who MRFF represents certainly aren't atheists. And neither are the overwhelming majority of MRFF's staff and volunteers, which include people of all religions, including a number of Christian ministers.
And your claim that Mikey himself is an atheist? Well, Ms. Kelly, I think you probably know this already, but, just for the record, Mikey is not an atheist. He is Jewish, sometimes describing himself as a Jewish agnostic who still prays three times a day in Hebrew, but definitely not an atheist. He has actually tried to be an atheist, but just can't quite bring himself to do it, jokingly comparing it to his trying really hard to like the Grateful Dead, but just never quite being able to get there either.
And how is Mikey supposed to defend himself against your "accusation" that he's an atheist without risking offending all the people in this country who actually are atheists? It's like President Obama having to defend himself against the "accusation" that he's a Muslim without sounding like he thinks there's something wrong with being a Muslim. That's what happens when people like you, Ms. Kelly, and your cohorts at Fox News turn a religious belief or ideology into an accusation -- it forces a person, whether it be our president or Mikey Weinstein, into the incredibly awkward position of having to refute what is a false statement about their personal beliefs while at the same time not wanting to offend the many people who really do hold those beliefs. It galls Mikey to feel like he has to add that "not that I think there's anything wrong with atheists" disclaimer to his saying that he himself is not an atheist. There is just no good way for him to say that without him feeling like he sounds like a racist following some statement about their whiteness with "not that I have anything against black people." It would be like "accusing" you, Ms. Kelly, of being a brunette, and you having to defend your blondness without risking offending every brunette who tunes into your show.
Raising the disgust level among us here at MRFF is that, despite the constant accusations by Fox News and others that Mikey is an atheist, there actually are quite a few nice "Christians" out there who do believe Mikey when he says that he's Jewish. How do we know this? Well, from the constant stream of sickeningly vile anti-semitic emails that flows into MRFF's inbox. Emails like these (be sure to sound out the very creative fake email addresses that these bigoted cowards make up):
Subject: Why We Hate Michael Weinstien
Date: March 31, 2014 9:33:39 PM MDT
To: ------- <-------@militaryreligiousfreedom.org>
Because he is a devil loving Christian hating, fag loving muslum loving, America hating, military hating athiest commie leftist with a big jew mouth an uppity jew anarchist socialist attitude. Fire up the ovens boys!
Subject: Happy Holocaust Day
Date: April 28, 2014 9:47:44 AM MDT
To: ------- <-------@militaryreligiousfreedom.org>
What you do to persecute the faithful of Christ in our military today is far worse than anything the Nazis were ever accused of doing to your jewish people. The same jewish people who rejected His grace and love. The same jewish people who crucified Him. Without mercy. (And one of their own.) As you Mr. Weinstein continue to do every day.
Want to talk about a real holocaust day?
You will suffer your own holocaust. Buring in hell forever. Semper Fi!
8 Active Duty Officers, USMC
Living For Jesus Christ in Act, Word and Deed
Spreading His Good News to All Marines We Can in the Corps
Ms. Kelly, a few years back, in an interview with GQ Magazine, you said, in answering a question about why you ended up "hating the law" that "The problem with the law is that it's always there." Unfortunately, you now seem to have given a new meaning to your opinion that the law always being there is a "problem," deciding not just that you no longer wanted to work as a lawyer, but that you no longer want to recognize that laws exist -- neither for yourself as a "journalist" nor for the U.S. government and our military, the latter of which was made clear by your giving the Dobsons a platform to boast about how they're circumventing the laws and military regulations that clearly prohibit the military's participation in their event.
By the way, nice pictures of you in that GQ article. I'm sure Ms. Dobson would definitely see those as something she needs to pray about.
I've already gone into detail in my previous post about all the many military regulations that prohibit the participation of uniformed U.S. military personnel in events like Ms. Dobson's "Pharisee Prayer Pageant," as I like to call it, but I do want to briefly address something here that the Dobsons said on The Kelly File.
Not only did the Dobsons admit that their event is, as MRFF has been saying, an event restricted to one religious belief -- with Ms. Dobson saying things like, "Any faith is welcome to attend, but we are the Judeo-Christian expression of the National Day of Prayer" -- but the bigger issue with their statements, which also supports, rather than negates, what MRFF has been saying was their repeated use of the word "attend."
Of course the Dobsons allow -- and want -- non-Christians to "attend" their events! Those non-Christians are the people they are trying to proselytize to! The discrimination is in their restriction on who can speak at and participate in the running of their events. That full participation is restricted to Christians, a few Messianic Jews (Jews who accept Jesus as the messiah, making them essentially Christians), and the occasional non-Messianic Jew who, for some unfathomable reason, supports the Dobsons' Christian nationalist agenda for America. That, Ms. Kelly, is religious discrimination, which is one of the many reasons that their big May 1 National Day of Prayer shindig in Washington, DC cannot include uniformed military personnel, and can't even be held in the Canon House Office Building as planned without violating Congress's own rules on the use of that building.
I have to say that we at MRFF did get a kick out of Mr. Dobson's whistling-in-the-dark claim that "Mikey Weinstein has a habit of losing" and "usually does get nowhere." Yes, Mikey Weinstein loses so much that an entire coalition of large, well-funded fundamentalist Christian organizations has been formed just to fight him. Yes, those of your ilk apparently think it's gonna take over two dozen of their much larger organizations to stop little old MRFF. That coalition has even put out a whole big report that is fascinatingly similar to what we at MRFF call our "achievements list." In fact, the only real difference between their "Clear and Present Danger" report and MRFF's achievements list is that one is full of half-truth versions and misrepresentations of MRFF's achievements and the other is factual. (I'll let my readers guess which one is which.)
Apparently, Mr. Dobson has also forgotten all about that National Day of Prayer a few years back when Mikey and MRFF stopped his wife's National Day of Prayer Task Force's honorary chairman Franklin Graham from speaking at the Pentagon's observance of the day. (Here's a video of Mr. Dobson himself talking about that at his wife's big Capitol Hill Jesus jamboree that year to remind him about that one.)
And, finally, let me just end this piece by congratulating you, Ms. Kelly, on recently being named one "The 100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time Magazine. While I'm sure that people like the Dobsons are thrilled to have someone as influential as yourself to give them a platform for the hatred, bigotry, and lawlessness that they espouse, those of us who believe in true religious freedom find your venomous influence over so many of our fellow Americans to be quite disturbing.