Hume doubles down on Tiger comments
Brit Hume says reactions have been mixed since he stunned his fellow Fox News Sunday panelists when he recommended that Tiger Woods address his current woes by converting to Christianity (and suggesting in the process that Buddhism was inadequate to the task).
While Washington Post television writer Tom Shales recommended Tuesday that the Fox News personality apologize, Hume has declined to back down. He spoke at length on the subject – and more explicitly – Monday on the O’Reilly Factor.
O’Reilly began by asking whether Hume was proselytizing. Hume's response:
I don't think so. I mean, look, Tiger Woods is somebody I've always rooted for as a golfer and as a man. I greatly admired him over the years, and I always have said to people it was the content of his character that made him, beyond his extraordinary golf skills, so admirable.
Now we know that the content of his character was not what we thought it was. He is paying a frightful price for these revelations. I – my sense is that he has basically lost his family, and there's a lot of talk about the endorsements he's lost. But that pales, I suspect, in his mind, with what he's lost otherwise.
And my sense about Tiger is that he needs something that Christianity, especially provides and gives and offers. And that is redemption and forgiveness.
And I was – I was really meaning to say in those comments yesterday more about Christianity than I was about anything else. I mentioned the Buddhism only because his mother is a Buddhist and he has apparently said that he is a Buddhist. I'm not sure how seriously he practices that.
But I think – I think that the – Jesus Christ offers Tiger Woods something that Tiger Woods badly needs.
Hume described the feedback he has received since the segment aired.
I got some letters and e-mails from people who were like me, who are believers who said, "Great. Right on. Right on. Way to go."
I've heard a lot of terrible comments from people who claim that I was a pompous jerk who had no business mouthing off on the subject and that I shouldn't have belittled the Buddhist faith and so on. I really wasn't trying to belittle and demean. …
It has always been a puzzling thing to me. The Bible even speaks of it, that, you know, you speak the name, "Jesus Christ," and I don't – and I don't mean to make a pun here, but all hell breaks loose. And – and it has always been thus. It is explosive.
I didn't even say the name in that way. I simply spoke of the Christian faith. But that was enough to trigger this reaction. It triggers a very powerful reaction in people who do not share the faith and who do not believe in it.
On Fox News Sunday, Hume said he didn’t think Buddhism “offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith.” Shale devoted a column on Tuesday to Hume’s comments.
"It sounded a little like one of those Verizon vs. AT&T commercials – our brand is better than your brand – except that Hume was comparing two of the world's great religions, not a couple of greedy communications conglomerates," Shales writes. "Further, is it really his job to run around trying to drum up new business? He doesn't really have the authority, does he, unless one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize?"
Shales notes that Hume embraced the faith after the 1998 suicide of his son.
It would be indefensibly insensitive to mock Hume for his beliefs, especially considering the way he came to them, but that still doesn't mean one must cheer him on as he tries to turn a bully pulpit into a pulpit, period.
In a way that many others had spoken of this particular faith, Hume seemed so bolstered by Christianity that he just had to go tell it on the mountain. And the golf course. And Fox news-talk shows.
Shales concluded with some advice for Hume.
First off, apologize. You gotta. Just say you are a man who is comfortable with his faith, so comfortable that sometimes he gets a wee bit carried away with it. If Hume wants to do the satellite-age equivalent of going door-to-door and spreading what he considers the gospel, he should do it on his own time, not try to cross-pollinate religion and journalism and use Fox facilities to do it.