CBS’s Rodriguez Continues to Cover Disgraced Priest Despite Friendship

Maggie Rodriguez, CBS On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez continued to report on a scandal involving Miami priest Alberto Cutie despite admitting that he was "...a family friend whom I've known for many, many years" on Thursday. Rodriguez introduced a Friday report by describing Cutie’s popularity: "The scandal involving celebrity priest Alberto Cutie in Miami is heating up as parishioners at his church rally in support of their popular leader. But not everyone is behind him." Correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported: "There's no doubt the parishioners' passion for the man they call ‘Father Oprah.’ Such passion that when this man dared to speak out against Father Alberto Cutie at a rally in Miami Beach Thursday -- he was swarmed."

On Thursday, Rodriguez vigorously defended her friend by asking CBS religion analyst, Father Thomas Williams, about the Catholic Church’s "rigid" and "outdated" requirement that priests take a vow of celibacy. Following the Thursday story, NewsBusters’ Scott Whitlock questioned Rodriguez on Twitter about violating journalistic ethics by her reporting on someone she knows personally. Rodriguez replied to the tweet and argued: "I respectfully disagree. If I hadn't disclosed that I know him, then it would have been a violation...but there are no secrets." Having brushed aside any concerns of bias, at the end of the Friday report, Rodriguez announced that she would be interviewing Cutie exclusively on Monday.

Whitlock later followed up on Twitter, explaining to Rodriguez: "You're friends with someone involved. You argued his case. You should have recused yourself from the piece. It's biased." Rodriguez again responded and denied any friendship existed: "Let me know after my interview with him on Monday if you think I'm biased. and I'm NOT friends with him. I know him." Once again, on Thursday Rodriguez specifically said: "Father Albert is a family friend whom I've known for many, many years."

Here is the full transcript of the Friday segment:

7:14AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: Still to come we'll take you to Miami where parishioners rally around a popular priest, caught in a steamy scandal.

7:19AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: The scandal involving celebrity priest Alberto Cutie in Miami is heating up as parishioners at his church rally in support of their popular leader. But not everyone is behind him. CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports.

[CROWD CHANTING: We love Father Alberto!]

KELLY COBIELLA: There's no doubt the parishioners' passion for the man they call 'Father Oprah.' Such passion that when this man dared to speak out against Father Alberto Cutie at a rally in Miami Beach Thursday -- he was swarmed.

[FOOTAGE OF MAN BEING KNOCKED TO THE GROUND]

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't talk trash -- I am saying what I feel.

COBIELLA: This is what started it all. Pictures in a Mexican celebrity magazine showing the handsome TV personality and ordained Catholic Priest in a romantic embrace with a woman. Father Cutie had talked about his struggle with the vow of celibacy just last week to a Miami TV reporter.

LOURDES RUIZ TOLEDO: And I asked him off-camera, 'would you like to be married?' And he said 'yes, I would like to be married. I would like to have children.'

COBIELLA: The archdiocese removed Cutie from his church, and he hasn't appeared publicly since the scandal broke. The archdiocese says ‘he's on a prayerful journey to decide his future.’ Kelly Cobiella, CBS News, Miami Beach.

RODRIGUEZ: On Monday, we will finally hear from Father Cutie. He will be here in studio for an exclusive interview. His first TV interview here on the Early Show on Monday.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC