Rev. Wright's Words Sting, But We'll Skip Quoting Them?

The Washington Post touts a Jeremiah Wright article on its front page today, so readers are instructed to turn to the Metro section. The headline there reads "Reverend's Words Stir Debate on His Creed." Only the reporters never quoted a single word of Wright's. What kind of Stupid Reporter Trick is that? So what readers get is fulmination over the reaction to Wright's words, but no idea of what those words were. The Post also used the words "liberation theology" almost always without quotes, even when citing its cousin, the Latin American Marxist variety. William Wan and Hamil Harris began:

Bobby Henry was angry when he first saw the now-famous snippets of sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. playing over and over on television. He considered the uproar over Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor an attack on a man of faith and the black church. But he also wondered: Who is Wright, and what is the religious movement, known as black liberation theology, that shaped his ministry? Henry, a Bowie lawyer and member of Jericho City of Praise in Landover, got some answers watching an interview with Wright that aired Friday night on PBS. It was Wright's first lengthy public discussion of the debate that flared last month over his comments, which some labeled intolerant and unpatriotic.

Now wouldn't it help to know "some" labeled it unpatriotic to scream "God damn America"? Or "some" would label it "intolerant" (no, how about "kooky") that the government invented the AIDS virus as a tool of black genocide. But Wan and Harris were trying to write a calm explanation of what Wright wanted people to know:

In Friday's interview, Wright said that the terms " 'liberation theology' or 'black liberation theology' cause more problems and red flags for people who don't understand it." At its core, black liberation theology is an interpretation of Scripture as a gospel for the oppressed, identifying God and His promise of salvation with the plight of black people throughout history. It is akin to the liberation theology movement popularized in Latin America in the 1960s by Catholic priests agitating on behalf of the poor.

Wright explained that Trinity, the church where Obama said he embraced Christianity, is a place where members come "for encouragement, to go back out and make a difference in their world. To go back out and change that world, to not just talk about heaven by and by, but to get equipped and to get to know that we are not alone in this struggle, and that the struggle can make a difference . . . that we serve a God who comes into history on the side of the oppressed."

The black church is a "sanctuary" from American oppression, we're told once again. But doesn't the Washington Post understand that the term "liberation theology" should cause problems when Wright it basically insisting that God has sided with blacks (and definitely not with oppressive whites) in the United States, as if blacks are living in an American Apartheid? That God has chosen to side with the African-Americans and against the alleged American Afrikaners? To many whites, that sounds like a massive insult, the kind that shouldn't be embraced by a candidate who's been sold relentlessly by the media as a racial unifier.The rest of the story is interesting -- and the Post even quotes from an interview it was granted by James Cone, the guru of "black liberation theology." But it never goes beyond very vague discussions of whether preachers should focus more on personal piety or society's guilt. It never really delves into when the sermons preach racial division, and the odd idea that a Christian minister would preach against forgiveness, and in favor of  holding on to your resentment and hatred. Or when churches veer off into Conspiracy Theory Land, like when Obama's church newsletter published an open letter to Oprah from Ali Baghdadi, and Arab activist and advisor to the Nation of Islam, decrying Israel and South Africa building an "ethnic bomb."UPDATE: Post political reporter Shailagh Murray offered an odd answer in her online chat to an inquiry on the Metro story, that following Wright too closely could put the country in a snake pit:

Arlington, Va.: How can your newspaper do a whole story on Reverend Wright's theology and whether it's controversial and without quoting from his sermons? Why aren't they asking the range of black ministers quoted whether they agree that America deserved Sept. 11, or that the government created the AIDS virus as a tool of black genocide? Shailagh Murray: What we are experiencing right now is a category five case of culture clash. The question is where it all leads -- into the snake pit or into some form of enlightenment.
Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis