May the better demagogue win

MAY THE BETTER DEMAGOGUE WIN….The debate among conservatives over “a la carte” cable — in which consumers pay only for cable TV channels they want — got a little more interesting this week when the James Dobson weighed in, on the opposite side of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Advocates for cable choice have picked up a big endorsement: Dr. James Dobson, the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family Action. […]

Daniel Weiss, senior media and sexuality analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said even if a family blocks objectionable channels, it still winds giving money to the company’s behind them.

“You’re not only losing money out of your own wallet,” he said, “you’re actually subsidizing and helping to fund the very program you find reprehensible. That’s simply not an option.”

Except to many of Dobson’s closest allies, it has to be an option.

The FCC says that the average household watches only 17 channels — and apparently, evangelical right-wingers aren’t pulling in many viewers. As far as Robertson, Falwell, Benny Hinn, and a few others are concerned, if consumers pick which cable channels to receive, they probably won’t sign up for Christian Broadcasting Network and Trinity Broadcasting Network. For TV preachers, fewer households means fewer viewers, and fewer viewers means less power, influence, and cash.

It’s set up quite a fight among the theocons. Focus on the Family and the Parents Television Council want a-la-carte cable so families won’t have to pay for channels they find offensive. CBN and Falwell ministries are in a panic over a-la-carte cable because, without it, they’re effectively going to be run off the air.

Colby May, a lawyer for Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice, noted that religious broadcasters believe the measure “will cause a significant dent in their ability to fill the great commission: to go into all the world and share the news that Jesus is Lord.”

Who’ll win? Stay tuned.