After almost three weeks, CBS finally brought on a member of the Catholic hierarchy on Thursday's CBS This Morning to discuss the Obama administration health care mandate that forces Catholic institutions, like hospitals and colleges, to violate their consciences and pay for abortion-inducing drugs and contraception [audio clips available here; video clips below the jump]. On Good Morning America, ABC ignored the controversy for the second straight day.
It was also the second straight day that the CBS morning newscast brought on a Catholic cleric for his take about the prominent issue. By contrast, on Tuesday, NBC 's Today turned to their in-house radical feminist, Rachel Maddow, who blasted the completely warranted opposition to the new policy as a "pretty far-right perspective" and "an extension of anti-abortion politics."
Anchor Charlie Rose led the 7 am Eastern hour broadcast with a preview of the interview of Cardinal-Designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops: "And on Capitol Hill, Republicans vow to take on President Obama's controversial new birth control policy. New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is here." He, along with co-anchor Erica Hill, teased the interview two more times, before they went live with the archbishop at the bottom of the hour.
Rose first asked the archbishop, "You have had a number of conversations with the President since he has been president and...you've been to the Oval Office. He called you to tell you about this rule. What did you say when you heard him say it?" After summarizing his past contacts with the chief executive, Dolan replied that he "shared with him [President Obama] my consternation. I said, sir, I was so bolstered by your assurances- the same assurances you gave at Notre Dame in your address, the same assurances you gave earlier to the Catholic Health Association- what has happened? Why would you back down from that?...It kind of left very unhappy."
Moments later, Hill followed up by asking, "Have you reached out again to the President since?" The soon-to-be-cardinal answered by expressing his serious reservations, and again cited the Democrat's 2009 speech at Notre Dame:
DOLAN: I haven't. I hope he would understand that I'm a bit skeptical because he gave us some promises at Notre Dame. He gave us some promises in the health care debate to Sister Carol Keehan and Catholic Health Association. He gave me promises. So I'm a little skeptical, and I'm saying, wow, I don't- I hope I can continue to work with him here.
ROSE: So you are saying that the President has gone back on promises he made to you?
DOLAN: I would say, Charlie, that when I left the Oval Office, where I was very grateful for his invitation to be there, I left with high hopes that nothing that his administration would do would impede the good work that he admitted and acknowledged in the Church. And I am afraid I don't have those sentiments of hope now.
ROSE: Do [sic] your conference of bishops want you to be more aggressive and more confrontational in this because it's such an important issue for the Church?
DOLAN: It is an important issue, Charlie. I don't know if confrontation and aggressive is the word. We bishops aren't fighters; we're pastors. We want to stand on principle. We just want to do our work as effectively as we can. So it's not like we're welcoming this. This isn't a fight of our choosing. It was, somewhat, imposed on us.
Later in the segment, Rose, somewhat predictably, raised the point of the significant percentage of Catholic women who use contraception. However, Archbishop Dolan batted down his liberal talking point:
ROSE: But you know that there are surveys that show that a large percentage of Catholic women use contraceptions [sic].
DOLAN: Well, that- yes. We're not into polls. We're into moral principles. But there's also the surveys that show-
ROSE: There's also living- in terms of the living experience of people....It's not just polls.
DOLAN: Yeah. There would also be, though, polls, Charlie, that would show that even those who would disagree with us on the specific issue of contraception and abortifacients, would agree with us on the protection of religious liberty. I got a wonderful letter the other day from an Episcopalian pastor and she says to me, I disagree wholeheartedly with the Church's stand on this issue, but count on me being with you on the front lines in saying the government has no right to tell you what you should do, or to make you obey something that's contrary to your conscience. That's an area where we're all agreeing on.
ROSE: And that's the issue that you're raising...That's the point, that the President said he would not go there and he has.
DOLAN: And I'm afraid he has.
Near the end of the interview, Hill herself tossed another left-leaning point at the Catholic prelate, and name-dropped a diehard feminist senator from California in her question:
HILL: There are also people who make the point that sometimes, people take birth control not to, in fact, control whether or not they get pregnant. Senator Barbara Boxer saying yesterday- I think her number was- 15% of women take it for specific health issues, perhaps, treating endometriosis. Would that matter if it was prescribed for a specific health issue- regulating a cycle?
DOLAN: ...[W]e just have to stick with principle here, and we're just- what we're very reluctant to do- and what I think wise voices are saying- is we can't have a government bureaucracy invading the privacy and the independence and autonomy and the integrity that our Constitution gives to religion.
NBC's Today devoted just two news briefs to the controversy on Thursday morning. Overall, NBC didn't cover the story until February 5, with a panel discussion on Meet the Press. The network's morning and evening newscasts ignored the story until the following evening, on the February 6 edition of NBC Nightly News.
[Update: The full transcript of Charlie Rose and Erica Hill's interview of Archbishop Dolan can be found at MRC.org.]