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Using the Divine for Corporate Power

The Empire God Built: Inside Pat Robertson's Media Machine
Alec Foege
John Wiley & Sons
1996, 242pp, $34.95, ISBN 0-471-15993-X

Reviewed by Kirsten Cowan

For most of us, the inner workings of a demagogue like Pat Robertson are mysterious. The Empire God Built makes no attempt to draw back the curtain of that mystery. Alec Foege's strategy is not one of psychological profile, but rather corporate portrait. Pat Robertson has managed to surf the waves of minority discontent, majority trends and technological change to become one of the most successful media moguls in the world today.

Foege traces Robertson's evolution from broke Baptist minister born into a privileged family who decided to purchase a run-down UHF channel, into the CEO of a multi-million dollar media empire and brains behind a conglomerate of often controversial agencies.

The portrait that emerges is one of Pat Robertson the chameleon, who has somehow managed to hold on to a veneer of respectability, able to continually flirt with both mainstream and extreme-right politics without giving up his place in either world. There are no easy answers in The Empire God Built. Rather Foege's frequent comparisons of Robertson to Ted Turner leave the reader with greater questions. Is Pat Robertson so different from other "media barons" who increasingly and openly mix political aspirations with the news?

Kirsten Cowan is Promotions Co-ordinator for Sources.

Published in Sources, Number 42, Summer 1998.


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