The mysterious disappearance of V. Gene Robinson

A controversy is brewing over HBO’s decision not to air the invocation by Bishop V. Gene Robinson at Sunday’s big concert at the Lincoln Memorial. The openly gay bishop called on God to “bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” the Boston Globe’s religion blog reported.

Media critic Aaron Barnhart says the apparent snub of Robinson appears more widespread than HBO:


Nor did Robinson’s picture find its way into NPR’s gallery of images from the concert. Admittedly, the news division did not cover the event — NPR Music did — but the website certainly is the domain of NPR News. A search of Getty Images, NYTimes.com and WaPo slide shows turned up nothing. In short, I found no visual evidence that an invocation was ever said.

Suddenly, Barack Obama’s minister friends aren’t news?

Robinson, a supporter of Obama, was given the concert role after criticism mounted against Obama’s choice of pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration on Tuesday. The two will never be confused for one another.

A “technical glitch,” is reponsible, according to Religious Intelligence, which doesn’t appear to buy the explanation:


Concert-goers reported that while Bishop Robinson could be seen on the “Jumbotron” viewer, he could not be heard by the crowd — estimated at 750,000 by organizers. One person present told ReligiousIntelligence.com that the HBO logo did not appear on the jumbotron until after Bishop Robinson’s prayer was concluded — apparently indicating the prayer as a pre-concert event. Those close to the front of the podium, including a reporter for Christianity Today, reported the sound system was working around the stage — and privately recorded videos of the invocation were taken, showing that Bishop Robinson did indeed appear that day.

Messages to NPR’s ombudsman have not yet been returned. NPR.org, coincidentally, is currently featuring a profile of Rick Warren.

Update: Robinson was on NPR’s Talk of the Nation on Monday.