Not surprisingly, ABC Family was quick to disassociate itself from Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying he was contributing to Muslim extremism and breeding Communism.
Robertson's comments came Monday on The 700 Club, which airs on the cable network through a long-standing agreement.
"ABC Family is contractually obligated to air The 700 Club and has no editorial control over views expressed by the hosts or guests," said ABC Family spokeswoman Nicole Nichols.
"ABC Family strongly rejects the views expressed by Pat Robertson in the August 22 telecast of the program. All comments about The 700 Club should be directed to the Christian Broadcast Network through their toll-free number or via their website at www.cbn.com.
Robertson's broadcast comments made national headlines and drew a call from the Venezuelan ambassador for a strong repudiation from the White House.
A State Department spokesman said Robertson was a private citizen and was not expressing a U.S. position, which he repudiated anyway.
Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Hererra was not appeased, saying Robertson was a staunch ally of President Bush. He demanded an administration condemnation in the "strongest possible terms." For his part, Chavez told CNN he didn't know who Robertson was and couldn't care less about his comments.
Robertson is no stranger to controversy over his remarks, which have included knocking feminism as the road to abortion, witchcraft and lesbianism--none of which he favors--and for saying that Islam is not a religion of peace and that Ossama Bin Laden was just following Mohammad's advice when he attacked the U.S.on 9/11.
Coincidentally, Monday was also the day ABC Family parent Disney fired conservative talk show host Michael Graham over controversial remarks. Graham, who hosted a show on Disney's WMAL(AM) Washington, had refused to apologize for saying that Islam was a terrorist religion.
Unlike WMAL, which Disney controls sign-on to sign-off, the company, under the terms of its October 2001 purchase of Fox Family Channel, is required to run televangelist Pat Robertson's The 700 Club (as was Fox, which bought the channel from Robertson).
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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