CBS Leads Evening News With Catholics -- The Accused Abusers, Not the Obama Litigants

The CBS Evening News led with the Catholic Church on Wednesday night. It wasn’t about the 43 Catholic groups suing the Obama administration. It was yet another story on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy decades ago. CBS's newscast is the only one of the Big Three evening shows to notice the lawsuits -- for 19 seconds on Monday night.

Anchor Scott Pelley began at the top of the Wednesday broadcast: “Tonight, the Monsignor takes the stand. The highest ranking Catholic Church official ever charged in the child abuse scandal blames a higher power, the former cardinal of Philadelphia.” Pelley didn’t care that “monsignor” is not normally a “high-ranking” designation at all, just a special designation of honor for a priest. While CBS highlights the Catholic sex-abuse allegations in Philadelphia, it’s ignoring the Jewish sex-abuse story in its own hometown. As the New York Times reported:

The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, said Wednesday that he would push for state legislation to add rabbis and other religious leaders to the list of professionals required to report allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities.

The move comes as Mr. Hynes, the city’s longest-serving district attorney, has come under intense scrutiny for his handling of sexual abuse cases in the politically powerful ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

Sex-abuse charges in the Catholic Church are deadly serious, but aren't they in all religions? Aren't they in public schools? But Pelley was singling out the Catholics, spreading across the nation the prosecutors comparing the Catholic Church in Philadelphia to the Nazis during World War II:

PELLEY: Good evening. In a Philadelphia courtroom today, the first Catholic clergyman to face criminal charges for covering up child sex abuse said that he was following the orders of a cardinal. Monsignor William Lynn described a code of silence as priests suspected of child molestation were transferred from parish to parish in the hope that no one would notice. Elaine Quijano was in the courtroom.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Monsignor William Lynn testified he had no choice but to follow the directives of his superior, the late cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, including withholding information from parishioners about why predator priests were moved out of theirs churches.

"Did you or anybody you were associated with, or participate with,  ever lie to parishioners about a priest going off into the sunset?" prosecutors asked. "The Cardinal wouldn't allow us to announce in those days why someone was leaving," Lynn said. Cardinals are the highest ranking clergy in the Catholic Church. They answer only to the Pope.

Lynn was in charge of recommending priest assignments and investigating child sex abuse allegations against clergy for 12 years. Today, Lynn testified he did not have the power to transfer priests from church to church, telling a Philadelphia jury he only had the authority to remove priests if they admitted to abusing someone. Quote, "Every time you put the victims first?" an assistant district attorney asked. "I believe in my heart I was, yes," the Monsignor replied.

His argument is that he was just following orders, that he couldn't do more than what he did.

LYNN ABRAHAM, FORMER PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: That's what they said in the Nuremburg defense. I mean, aren't we tired of that defense? "I was only following orders."

The CBS Evening News did not air any footage of CBS White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell pressing Obama spokesman Jay Carney on how they would respond to the massive Catholic lawsuit against ObamaCare.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis