On HLN: Perry and Bachmann Pandering to Christian 'Fear'

Substitute hosting on HLN's The Joy Behar Show, on Tuesday, CNN's Don Lemon prodded Jay Bakker, the son of televangelist Jim Bakker, to accuse Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann of exploiting fears of Christians as he claimed that the GOP presidential hopefuls were: "playing to a group of people who deal a lot with fear and using fear to control folks."

The dismissive Bakker then asserted: "I feel like they've kind of hijacked Christianity," and added that he thinks the Perrys and Bachmanns were advancing "fairy tales" that global warming doesn't exist and claimed they wanted to "ignore" science.

Lemon initially invited on Bakker to analyze the discussion he had with his previous guest, Randy Roberts Potts about what it was like to grow up gay in the "shadow" of his grandfather televangelist Oral Roberts. However it wasn't long before Lemon switched topics to the 2012 GOP primary race, as seen in this exchange from the August 23 show:

DON LEMON: I'm back now having a fascinating conversation with Jay Bakker. Can we talk some politics here? You said it seems like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, they're fighting for the Christian vote here. What do you make of that?

JAY BAKKER, SON OF TELEVANGELIST JIM BAKKER: Oh to me it's irrelevant. I mean it's not - they're playing to a group of people who deal a lot with fear and using fear to control folks. To me I'm a person of faith and they don't seem to be pulling me in at all. You know, it almost seems like you're hearing people who believe in - and I've been accused of this myself - almost like, you know, these type of like fairy tales or type of things. And it's scary to think that these people want to, you know. I feel like they've kind of hijacked Christianity.

LEMON: What do you mean by fairy tales? What do you-

BAKKER: Well you know what I mean, they're just like well, you know, "God put us here, and we're all going to Hell" you know and all this, "and there's no global warming." And there's, you know what I mean? It's like, you know, it's like, you know, "We're gonna, we're gonna ignore science. We're gonna ignore, you know, archaeology. We're gonna ignore all these things because that's what people do." They just pick and choose, you know, what they want to believe and what they don't want to believe.

Then after a brief discussion about the Bible, Lemon again returned to the topic of politics in religion:

LEMON: Let's talk more politics here. Do you think there's too much religion in politics, politics in religion?

BAKKER: Yeah. I mean to me it seems like it's, it's just been so like overdone. It seems like the '80s you know? In the '80s it was really scary, in the '90s it was really scary. And now it's just kind of like, it's almost like they're, they're a, they're a skit or something.

Earlier in the segment, during a discussion of how Bakker's mother, the late Tammy Faye Baker-Messner, was an early advocate for gays victimized by AIDS, Lemon threw out the old trope that Ronald Reagan ignored the problem:

BAKKER: She said, "We got to love these people, we got to reach out to these people," and did interviews and stuff like that. And you know I don't think Ronald Reagan had, had said the word AIDS, you know?

LEMON: Yeah, yeah. And people say if it wasn't for C. Everett Koop, that many more people would have died under - on Reagan's watch.

As the MRC's L. Brent Bozell has pointed out back in his 2004 column "New Myths on Reagan's Record" the idea that Reagan was somehow asleep during the start of the AIDS crisis is a liberal media lie: "The real Reagan record on AIDS is different. AIDS funding skyrocketed in the 1980s, almost doubling each year from 1983 – when the media started blaring headlines – from $44 million to $103 million, $205 million, $508 million, $922 million, and then $1.6 billion in 1988. Reagan's secretary of Health and Human Services in1983, Margaret Heckler, declared AIDS her department's 'number one priority.' While the House of Representatives was Democrat-dominated throughout the 1980s, which Democrats would quickly explain was the source of that skyrocketing AIDS funding, Reagan clearly signed the spending bills that funded the war on AIDS."

- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.