More One-Sided Reporting From CNN on Issues Involving the Catholic Church

When it comes to social issues, you can expect to get mostly one side of the story from CNN's reporting – the liberal side. On Thursday morning, that trend continued as anchor Kyra Phillips sympathized with a Catholic school teacher fired because she was using sick days to receive in vitro fertilization, a practice condemned by the Catholic Church.

Phillips started off with this jab at the Church: "Well, in vitro fertilization is a godsend for millions of infertile couples who long to have children, but the Catholic Church says it's a sin." So tell us where you really stand on this, Kyra.

And CNN continued to report a slanted story. Nowhere did they mention that according to the lawsuit, the teacher had used sick days to receive IVF, and wasn't just doing it on the side. Phillips later wondered if the teacher was fired simply because there was a "grudge" against her.

According to the Fort Wayne newspaper, the teacher, Emily Herx, had let school officials know about her IVF treatment but only once the matter was brought to a priest did the diocese take action.

And Phillips topped off the interview with a totally soapy set of questions about the teacher's personal success with IVF. If she hadn't already made known her sympathy with Emily Herx's plight, Kyra seemed to be auditioning for Oprah now. "[D]id the IVF work for you?" she asked Herx. "Do you want to do it again? Do you want to keep trying?"

For the record, a statement from the Diocese of Fort Wayne can be found here. In part, it reads:

"The Diocese has clear policies requiring that teachers in its schools must, as a condition of employment, have a knowledge of and respect for the Catholic faith, and abide by the tenets of the Catholic Church as those tenets apply to that person. The Diocese requires that its teachers serve as moral exemplars. Those requirements, and others, are expressly incorporated into Diocesan teacher contracts."

CNN has made it clear it sides with liberal Catholics and the pro-GLAAD crowd on social issues. Just on Wednesday, Phillips fawned over a disgruntled lesbian mom removed by the Boy Scouts as local cub den leader because of her orientation. No one representing the Boy Scouts was brought on for the other side of the story.

Then on Thursday, CNN hyped Georgetown University protests of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and his budget. The network hosted two liberal Catholic guests opposing Ryan's budget, and one of the guests enjoyed three interviews throughout the day. Aside from statements by Ryan himself, no Catholic bishop or supporter of Ryan appeared on CNN to talk Catholic social teaching.

A transcript of the interview, which aired on Newsroom on April 26 at 11:16 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

KYRA PHILLIPS: Well, in vitro fertilization is a godsend for millions of infertile couples who long to have children, but the Catholic Church says it's a sin. So when higher-ups in the diocese in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, learned that a teacher at St. Paul – Vincent de Paul Catholic school was undergoing IVF treatments, they fired her, and made no apologies about it.

Quote, "The diocese has clear policies requiring that teachers in its schools must have a knowledge of and respect for the Catholic faith, and abide by the tenets of the Catholic Church." Now, the teacher then accused the school and diocese of violating both the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed.

Still, the church is unmoved, calling the, quote, "core issue ," quote, "a challenge to the diocese's right as a religious employer to make religious-based decisions consistent with its religious standards on an impartial basis." Meet the teacher, Emily Herx. She joins me now from New York with her attorney, Kathleen Delaney. And we did invite officials from the Ft. Wayne diocese to join us, but they declined.

So, Emily, let's go ahead and start with you. You taught at St. Vincent de Paul for eight years. Were you ever reprimanded for any performance issues?

EMILY HERX, teacher fired for IVF treatments: Never, not once. I was always given high remarks by parents and by my principal and other teachers. I was told that my children performed very well, so everything seemed to be going great for as long as I was there.

PHILLIPS: So did anyone ever tell you that IVF could get you fired?

HERX: No, absolutely not. About two years ago when we started, there was no warning. There was nothing about fertility treatments being an issue.

PHILLIPS: And did you ever try to hide it from anybody, not talk about it?

HERX: No. I was very honest with my principal from the get-go, so I was never trying to lie about it or anything like that.

PHILLIPS: Was your principal supportive?

HERX: Yes, she was. For the first two years, she never warned me about it. She never said there was a possibility that you could lose your job, so that's why this was all so shocking that this happened so quickly.

PHILLIPS: Now we're talking about a Catholic school. Did she ever say, hey, let's pray about it or I'll keep you my prayers or let's stay focused on this.

HERX: Absolutely. The first time that she was made aware that my husband and I had to go through fertility treatment she said, "You are in my prayers," so that to me was support.

PHILLIPS: So I see that you started fertility in 2008, and you weren't fired until 2011, so tell me what happened. How did this blow up?

HERX: Honestly I'm not sure. It was shocking because one day I got an e-mail saying that I needed to meet with the monsignor at St. Vincent and he told me that, basically, my job was at risk, out of the blue. And I said, "Well, you know, my principal has been knowing about this for two years." I didn't think I was doing anything wrong, and I had never had any complaints about, you know, me as a teacher, so I was shocked and then it just kind of snowballed from there. So it's been very traumatic.

(...)

PHILLIPS: So – and I'll talk more with you, Kathleen, of course, about some of the details, but just trying to get a feel from Emily on how this all sort of unfolded. Because Emily, it seems like you had a lot of support, that people were aware of what you were going through. The principal, as you say, was praying for you. How has this impacted your family?

HERX: Oh, my family is devastated. We are all emotionally -- it's been a very rough year. My entire family, my parents, it's just been a very hard thing to come to grips to because I did love my job so much and I did love teaching so much. You know, right after college, I was so excited to get a job there and, you know, to have that stripped away from me, but the outpour of support has been wonderful.

PHILLIPS: So, Kathleen, does the diocese insurance policy cover these treatments, cover fertility treatments?

DELANEY: Our understanding, based upon the information that we now have, is that the diocese health plan covered some of the treatments, including office visits and anesthesia services.

PHILLIPS: Okay. So Emily, as far as you knew, you were going through this and the insurance that you have through the diocese was helping you pay for these treatments.

HERX: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: The bills were getting paid?

HERX: Some of the bills were getting paid, absolutely.

PHILLIPS: Okay. So then, Kathleen, if I – in the diocese – or to use the diocese's own words, the quote here is that your client was fired for improprieties related to church teachings or law. So let me ask you this. What about the teachers who use contraception, teachers that are divorced, teachers that live with partners that are unmarried?

(...)

PHILLIPS: So, Kathleen, what do you think is happening here? Do you think someone just had a grudge against your client and sort of made this a big deal when everything apparently was okay from 2008 to 2011, if indeed the principal knew she was going through this treatment, the bills were getting paid for things that were covered by the insurance policy?

DELANEY: Well, we're not going to speculate on the motives of the diocese of Ft. Wayne. I think it's for them to address those questions when the time comes, rather than us.

PHILLIPS: Understood. So, Emily, I know this may be a bit of a personal question, but did the IVF work for you?

HERX: Honestly, no, it has not.

PHILLIPS: And I know that must be tremendously hard to deal with as well. Do you want to do it again? Do you want to keep trying?

HERX: Right now, I don't feel comfortable talking about that, but –

DELANEY: It's a really tough topic, Kyra, and that's really between Emily and her husband and her doctor.

PHILLIPS: Understandable. How about returning to the classroom, Emily?

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014