Jimmy Carter's Controversial Playboy Interview
Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 8:31AM
W. R. in 1976, Jimmy Carter, Microposts, Playboy

Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter caused a stir in 1976 when he gave a controversial interview to Robert Sheer for Playboy magazine. After admitting that he had "committed adultery in my heart many times," the Georgia Governor encountered serious political fallout that threatened to derail his underdog campaign. His comments were as follows:

Christ said, "I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery." I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do—and I have done it—and God forgives me for it. But that doesn't mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don't consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who's loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.

While he said his comments were "just part of being a human being," and that Playboy Magazine was "just another forum," voters across the country were aghast and negative reactions flowed into the mailboxes of newsrooms across the country. Some choice words for the president-to-be: 

If this is the 'born again' christian we've heard so much about, I'm glad he's not teaching Sunday school to my grandchildren. -St. Petersburg Times Reader

I am in a state of shock. I disagree with everything he said and I think it's unfortunate he said it. -Daughter of Democratic Senator and former VP nominee in 1952, John Sparkman

I had some doubts about voting for him, but I certainly can't now. -Monroe, LA

Whether Carter was merely over-sharing or attempting to live up to his pledge to "never lie," he remained unapologetic as the controversy hit the fan. A few defended his candidness, comparing his "shacking up" quote to first lady Betty Ford's frank comments on premarital sex:

In the Vice Presidential Debate, Republican Veep Nominee Bob Dole attempted to capitalize on the Playboy interview, saying, "I couldn't understand frankly why he was in Playboy magazine, but we'll give him the bunny vote," at 5:03 below:


Article originally appeared on Will Rabbe, Producer, Journalist & Historian (http://willrabbe.com/).
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