Scripture verses: reporters’ Kryptonite?

The Media Research Center found this clip but I thought readers here might get a kick out of it, too. You really need to watch the exchange to get the full effect but here’s how one side posted the relevant passage from an interview of one of the Carnival cruise passengers who recently disembarked:

NBC News’s Mark Potter (Reporting during the Ed Show on MSNBC)

JENKINS: No, but one thing I do want to say that really made a huge difference in my time versus some other people’s time is we knew where hope was. We knew the Lord was in complete control of the situation. Our verse for the trip was Joshua 1:9 which is

[Microphone pulled]

POTTER: Okay, well thank you both very much. Enjoy your trip home to Houston and enjoy that first warm shower and that warm meal. Thank you very much. Thanks for talking with us.

I want to say that I can’t begin to understand how difficult a live, on-air interview is to pull off. And I know that when dealing with unknown interview subjects, you want to be careful to avoid any difficult lines of questioning that result in intractable responses. And sometimes those Bible-verse quoters can have trouble getting to the point.

But still.

This is just a great example of how Scripture verses are like Kryptonite to many reporters. The moment this pretty young woman says “Joshua 1:9,” everything changes and you can see the reporter just thinking “Abort! Abort!” as he pulls the microphone and stutters into a segue.

Now, I’m partial to letting people quote scripture in interviews. I think it can tell a great deal about a subject and is also informative and interesting to viewers and readers. But even so, a word to the wise: most Bible verses aren’t terribly long. Unless someone tells you she’s about to quote Esther 8:9, you’ll probably be out of there in no time. As it turns out, Joshua 1:9 is a rather short one:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

It was relevant to the interview, completely on point and interesting to boot.

A more religiously literate interviewer might know the verse to begin with but either way, allowing the interview to continue and asking a good follow-up might have been preferable to this hilariously awkward handling of the Bible verse mention. (I would be dreaming to imagine a reporter able to tie in this cruise ship’s troubles with St. Paul’s shipwreck in Malta, commemorated on Feb. 10.)

I mean, if you’re going to be doing wall-to-wall coverage of this cruise ship, go ahead and explore every avenue. Even that, to the media’s discomfort, some found comfort in the words of God.


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