ABC is fighting back against Washington Post critic Tom Shales asking if ABC's new Sunday show host Christian Amanpour meant to send flowers and regrets to members of the Taliban in her overbroad eulogy on her debut as This Week host. Justin Elliott of Salon's War Room blog found remarks from Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president at ABC, that Shales' criticism here is "utterly fabricated." He can't admit that Amanpour left the door wide open to speculation. Brent Baker noticed the slight, where Amanpour made no moral distinctions among the world's war dead: “We remember all of those who died in war this week. And the Pentagon released the names of eleven U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan.” Technically, "all of those who died in war" could include a suicide bomber or an executioners of whole families. But Schneider insisted Amanpour's Catholic upbringing played a role:
"Christiane took the language from a prayer that she says in her Catholic church every weekend. It's a bidding prayer," Schneider said.
I'm a lifelong Catholic and have never heard the phrase "bidding prayer" -- which could be a British usage. We often call them "prayers of the faithful," where lectors read out general prayers, each specific to its parish. It wouldn't be surprising for Catholics to pray for an end to war, but it might be eyebrow-raising to pray with the loophole phrase for "all who died in war." That includes innocents, and could include terrorists.
Schneider also accused Shales of "trying to create some kind of controversy out of something that is utterly well intentioned -- which is to honor both U.S. soldiers that have died in battle as well as civilians and ordinary people who die in war all the time. Seems like a fairly non-controversial thing to do." But wait -- Amanpour said "all those who died in war," not just U.S. soldiers and civilians.
Perhaps Amanpour goes to church every week, as Schneider suggested. But that's not the impression many Christians have after her special "God's Christian Warriors" in 2007. In one interview at that time, TV Guide asked about her own faith, and it came out much more muddled:
TVGUIDE.COM: In the course of reporting this, did people ask you if you believe in God?
AMANPOUR: They did. I always find it a difficult question. I'm born of a Catholic mother and a Muslim father and I'm married to a Jewish husband. So I have all of God's wonderful shapes in my DNA. It has helped me have an inclusive look at what religion is all about. I instinctively retreat from division. I don't want politics or religion to be a reason for division in my life or in other people's lives. I see so much war, killing and hatred; I can always see why it shouldn't be like that.
Amanpour doesn't declare she's Catholic there at all. She seems like a natural fit for the secular liberal media elite.