A month after mocking Vice President Mike Pence for his Christian faith on an episode of ABC’s “The View,” co-host Joy Behar publicly apologized on air.
Behar did so on Tuesday’s show shortly after she apologized to Pence in a telephone call and the vice president said he forgave her.
“Vice President Pence is right. I was raised to respect everyone’s religious faith, and I fell short of that,” Behar told her audience. “I sincerely apologize for what I said.”
The apology came one month to the day after Behar, a comedian and liberal commentator, compared Pence’s Christianity to mental illness.
Just before her apology, “The View” showed a clip from Pence’s appearance Monday night on Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel show in which the vice president praised her for calling him to say she was sorry.
Pence is notably open about his Christian faith and his close relationship with Jesus Christ. What Christians call a personal relationship with Jesus is at the heart of many believers’ faith.
Behar’s original comments followed disparaging remarks about Pence made on a reality TV show by a former White House staffer, Omarosa Manigault Newman.
“I am Christian, I love Jesus, but he thinks Jesus tells him to say things,” Newman said of Pence in the clip aired on “The View.”
Afterward, Behar commented: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you.”
“That’s called mental illness,” she added.
Pence initially responded to Behar’s remarks during the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Behar, the vice president told Axios, “demonstrates how out of touch some people in the mainstream media are with the faith and values of the American people that you could have a major network like ABC permit a forum for invective against religion like that.”
Pence went on to say his faith is not unique.
“I can honestly tell you my faith sustains me in all that I do, and it’s just a regular part of our lives,” Pence told Axios. “But I’m not unusual. I think I’m a very typical American; whatever your faith tradition, people understand that.”
The Media Research Center, a media watchdog, responded to Behar’s Feb. 13 comments by organizing a campaign asking Americans to protest ABC and its sponsors.
The result was that the TV network received more than 40,000 calls protesting Behar and insisting on a public apology, Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Tuesday.
“It’s been going on for years, whether it is in the news media or in Hollywood,” Bozell said of such offensive comments about Christians. “It is not acceptable. The American people have just gotten fed up with it. We saw it with ‘The View.’”
Bob Iger, chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC, announced at a meeting last week that Behar had called Pence privately to apologize.
Then Pence appeared Monday on Hannity’s show.
He thought Behar’s apology to him was “very sincere,” the vice president told Hannity. “She apologized, and one of the things my faith teaches me is grace; forgive as you’ve been forgiven.”
Pence again encouraged Behar to make a public apology.
“I’m still encouraging her to use the forum of that program, or some other public forum, to apologize to tens of millions of Americans who were equally offended,” he said.
From the start, Pence “reacted like a true Christian,” Bozell told The Daily Signal.
“Secondly, he reacted by looking beyond himself, by looking at the Christian community, even though he had been slandered personally,” Bozell said. “He correctly looked at the Christian community, and it was commendable.”
Although the apology was overdue, it was the right thing for Behar to do, Bozell told The Daily Signal:
It was sad that it took her a month after she realized that she had offended a vast majority of Americans who call themselves Christians. It took 43,000 phone calls from us to ABC and ‘The View’s’ sponsors before, clearly, she was ordered to do this. But she did it.
So we accept it. As far as we’re concerned, the campaign is over. But there’s no question that ‘The View’ got a tremendous black eye from this. So did the sponsors who refused to acknowledge their role in this.