On ABC's World News, which unlike CBS and NBC did not lead with Falwell's death, Dan Harris asserted: "In the final years of his life Falwell alienated some in his own movement with a series of controversial statements. For example, he said the children's TV character 'Tinky Winky' was a gay role model." CBS's Richard Schlesinger recalled that in later years "Falwell started making embarrassing missteps, denouncing a popular cartoon character as a gay role model." Over on the NBC Nightly News, Bob Faw, who concluded his piece by asserting that "the Reverend Jerry Falwell -- crusader and polarizer -- was 73," raised the PBS show: "In 1999, Falwell was ridiculed when he complained one of the PBS Teletubbies was gay."But a 1999 Cox News story archived on a gay news Web site, began:
"In the flap over whether Tinky Winky the Teletubby is gay, the real news is that the Rev. Jerry Falwell is late to the party." Phil Kloer pointed out that in 1998, the year before Falwell spoke out, "the gay magazine The Advocate presciently wrote that 'PBS is clearly terrified that the same fundamentalists who boycott Disney are going to flip once they get wind of the latest lavender love puppet.'"And that's not the only place. In the Nexis archives for 1998 alone, there are dozens and dozens of mentions of Tinky Winky being gay — in periodicals such as Newsweek, The Toronto Star, The Washington Post (twice!), The New York Times and Time magazine (also twice).
All this appeared before Falwell made his first mention of Tinky Winky.
After one year of the leftist mainstream media laughing at having put one over on stupid bourgeois religious Americans by promoting a gay cartoon character in a TV show for children, when Falwell criticized the cartoon in February 1999, that same mainstream media howled with derision that Falwell thought a cartoon character could be gay.
Now Falwell should have done it differently--he should have said: why must gays take a nice cartoon character and pervert him?
Then again, the liberal media would have only smeared him and taken out of context anyway.
Like they did when they attributed to Falwell a quote that "God does not hear the prayer of a Jew."
In reality, Falwell rebuked the pastor who stated that. In reality, Jerry Falwell went out of its way to recruit Jews and Catholics who were as disgusted with what was going on the culture as he was, and his Moral Majority was not by any means restricted to evangelical Protestants. The "Christian Right" was quite ecumenical.
Now I was never a big fan nor a supporter of Falwell's. I would never have attended a place like Liberty Baptist University as a student. After a difficult day at school, I liked to go home and blast Metallica on the stereo--something not permitted at Fallwell's campus. But there are three undeniable facts about Jerry Falwell:
1) In a profession chock full of scandals of a sexual and financial nature, his reputation remained clean and honorable. The controversies in his long career involved ill-considered statements or unpopular policy positions, but never any financial or sexual wrongdoing. Even his opponents, like Larry Flynt of Hustler, admitted to Falwell's dedication and passionate sincerity.
2) He helped to build unity among conservative believers of many faith traditions. Despite the long history of Catholic vs. Protestant vs. Jewish antagonism, the Baptist Falwell changed the world by uniting every denomination in the pro-life cause. The Moral Majority enjoyed an unprecedented impact in the 1980’s precisely because it put aside doctrinal disagreements. Without hesitation, he enthusiastically appealed to Jews, Mormons and other minority religions who shared his politics.
3) He nobly illustrated the conservative model for reforming and improving the world – working from inside out and the bottom up, rather than from the top down. The left emphasizes sweeping change, initiated by the federal government or other central planners, as the basis for bettering the lives of the populace. Falwell understood that durable transformations begin with individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, and then can spread outward to impact millions. He began by organizing the Thomas Road Baptist Church in out-of-the-way Lynchburg in 1971, then gained national influence and worldwide fame, but finally returned his emphasis to the local institutions he had launched and nourished (including Liberty University).