UPDATE: Here are HBO’s and the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s explanations today for what happened regarding the omission of openly gay New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson from the “We Are One” Obama Inaugural Concert shown by the pay channel at the Lincoln Memorial Sunday:
HBO Statement: The PIC (Presidential Inaugural Committee) made a mistake and have reached out to the Reverend to apologize. They also issued this statement today:
“We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson’s invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday’s program. We regret the error in executing this plan – but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event.” — per PIC communications director Josh Earnest
HBO was not involved in any discussion regarding whether or not the invocation would be part of the concert. We licensed the rights to show the event, going live at 2:30pm (ET) and carrying everything unedited until close to 4:30pm. Rev Robinson spoke at 2:20pm which was part of a pre-show. It is ironic that he wasn’t in our telecast as the whole show conveyed a message of unity and inclusion. He would have fit in perfectly.
HBO opened its signal for this telecast, allowing its cable operators, backyard dish distributors and telecos to provide it to all their cable subscribers free of charge. This allowed for a potential audience triple HBO’s 29 million sub base. It was also streamed on HBO’com with the audio on NPR.
HBO decided today to add his invocation into the repeats of the concert on the network and will stream it on HBO.com. Also, i’m told the PIV will show his invocation tomorrow on the jumbotron screens at the inaugration. I also know that the PIC has talked about putting it up on their Youtube website.
It was a beautifully elegant invocation that really should be heard and seen by all.
Previous: HBO is receiving considerable heart for not airing the opening prayer from well-known Reverend Gene Robinson at that big Lincoln Memorial “We Are One” concert coverage it was providing and sponsoring. Robinson gave his invocation at 2:25 PM, but the cameras didn’t start rolling at 2:30 PM. Ironic isn’t it that the concert was intended to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama with a spirit of unity. The question is whether the omission is related to the fact that Robinson is the first openly gay, non-celibate ordained Christian priest. HBO is saying that the Presidential Inaugural Committee decided the timing. So who’s to blame? I have been very critical of HBO over the past year, but I find it hard to believe that the pay channel is hostile to gays given its many programs dealing with all sorts of LGBT issues. On the other hand, the Obama camp has already angered by gays by choosing Rick Warren, the pro-Prop 8/anti-gay pastor, to deliver the prayer on Inauguration Day. As new info comes in to media, Robinson’s omission is looking more like just a planning mistake.