Talking Late at Night About Morality
Author, radio host, former ambassador, and two-time Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes is the host of “Alan Keyes is Making Sense.”
It a new program airing Monday through Thursdays at 10 p.m. (EST) on MSNBC. Keyes and his wife Jocelyn reside in Maryland with their three children. Keyes spoke from Washington, D.C. with Register features correspondent Tim Drake about his new talk show.
Did you grow up in a Catholic family?
Yes, I grew up Catholic. I'm from all over. I was an Army brat and we moved every three years. We lived in Georgia, Italy, Texas and Missouri just to name a few. My father's family is originally from Maryland.
Why would MSNBC commit time and money to a program featuring traditional values?
You'll have to ask them that, but I think in the course of developing the show I have gotten the sense that they wanted a show that had integrity and would reach out to a different public. They thought this program might do that. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the success of some of Fox's talk shows had something to do with it.
I've tried to put together a show that involves a lot of talking but is really about thinking. We deal with a topic and have a discussion that deals with the basic facts. The aim is to make sense of where people are. It isn't about just putting forth their views, but about listening.
The discussion is then followed by my taking a stand on the issue and featuring someone who disagrees. So often with these shows before you get into a topic it's all over with and you have no sense where they have been. I'm hoping to achieve integrity. We'll see if that has an appeal for folks.
Has MSNBC placed any restrictions upon what you can or cannot talk about?
No. I could only do this if I felt that I have what is needed to show the same kind of integrity to influence things in the direction that I've always done.
In the first three weeks, we've dealt with the California education curriculum and their pushing the tolerance of homosexuality. We also did a show on the principle of evil involved in Sept. 11 and compared that to the principle of evil operating with abortion. We also had a program on the marriage-based family with guest Dr. Laura Schlessinger, one on the fantasy movies of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, and one on capital punishment.
What is your hope for the program?
Well I hope that we'll be able to look at subjects with integrity and interest and excite viewers so that we will develop a solid audience. Ultimately, we're looking at airing the program for several years. My own sense is that we'll try to make it work over that time period.
We've had good response from viewers. We had a strong opening week. We have ups and downs depending upon the particular topic, but there has been a pretty steady response over time.
Does this mean you're hanging up your political hat for a while?
Well, I'm going to try to support things that I believe in, and support people that are standing up for positions that can matter. That's what I've been doing for the past several years. I can't see myself doing anything political for some length of time.
My involvement in the last presidential go-round was based on my concern that the party hold to the pro-life and moral issues. I thought I could play a good role in articulating the issues to make sure we have stayed on track, and so far I think the party has done pretty well.
What was your reaction to pro-abortion fund-raiser Lewis Eisenberg's recent nomination as the Republican National Committee's finance chairman?
I think that in a general kind of way one of the problems that exist in the Republican Party is that you have a grass-roots majority which is largely pro-life, and a donor base that very often works against those things.
This example may be another instance of that in action.
Tell me about the work of your nonprofit organization — the Declaration Foundation.
The Declaration Foundation is a group I helped to start and will continue to support. Its aim is to spread the founding principles and documents, especially getting curriculum into the schools, to educate the young and old about the living relevance of the Declaration of Independence to our way of life today. There are many examples where we are now retreating from this.
For example, I gave an example recently on our television program where a New Jersey education program was put together that made no mention of Washington or Jefferson. Not knowing or understanding our founding would result, in the end, in the loss of our freedom. I believe it would be a tremendous loss to our nation and its future if we lost a sense of that era of human history. How will we be able to sustain this country without remembering the people that put these documents together?
The founders — a people that philosophic — gathered to deliberate under the pressure of historic events. How rare! That's why I believe that their work is so important to the history of this country. The Declaration Foundation is hoping to make a contribution to that.
- March 10-16, 2002