NBC congressional reporter Luke Russert granted an interview to David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and agreed with Brody's suggestion that the media can bite people of faith if they wear their faith on their sleeve too obviously.
"I think that's absolutely accurate," said Russert, saying snark is valued in religion coverage alongside stereotypes: (Video and transcript below)
DAVID BRODY: Do you believe the media, or if not so much the media, writ large, the much larger population has some sort of bias against whether it be a strong conservative evangelical or maybe a strong Catholic, whatever it happens to be, you know, people of faith. It just seems that if you wear it on your sleeve too much you can get bit to a degree.
LUKE RUSSERT: I think that's absolutely accurate and I think the current world in which we live in, specifically with the American media, snark is valued. And it's very easy to come after people of faith no matter what they're religion is – Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu. That you're sort of tagged with this label of being puritanical and not understanding of others or of different viewpoints and I think that's kind of, it’s lazy, number one, and I think it's just something that just feeds the snickering masses if you will in that regard...
For me, I think issues of faith are very complex. When you cover them as a journalist, you simply can't I feel stereotype somebody as fitting into a box, because if you go out and talk to journalists, it’s “oh, evangelicals, that means die-hard Republicans, red-meat Republicans.” What is a huge issue for evangelicals? Climate change, right? Taking care of the Earth God gave us.
Same thing for Catholics. “You’re a practicing Catholic. That must mean you hate gay marriage and you hate people who’ve had abortions.” Well, what else? You’re also opposed to the death penalty. You’re a Catholic, and you’re also trying very much to alleviate people out of poverty. So too much, I believe, folks try and stereotype in these boxes when people wear their faith on their sleeve. And I’m always very, very cautious of that. That, alright, when Rick Santorum goes out there, wears Catholicism on his sleeve, he absolutely should be pushed with questions about contraception, about gay marriage, but also should be pushed with questions about poverty, about education, things of that level. And the same with evangelicals.
Of course, Brian Williams used exactly that line Russert suggested against Santorum in a 2011 presidential debate: Williams lectured him about how Santorum’s “Catholic faith, has as a part of it, caring for the poor.” Williams insisted Santorum explain: “Where do the poor come in, where do they place in this party, on this stage, in a Santorum administration?”
But the other side of the question is not put to Catholic Democrats (Joe Biden, John Kerry) or Catholic Protestants (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton): How do they fit inside the "box" of their putative faith on social issues? Liberal reporters have boasted of the faith of these candidates without finding any messy contradictions.
Williams moderated the first debate of the 2008 cycle for the Democrats, and the transcript shows he never used "God,” “religion,” “faith,” “Catholic,” “Muslim,” or any word of that kind. (Is this a "just us secular Democrats" debate?) He asked Catholic Senator Biden "As president, would you have a specific litmus test question on Roe versus Wade that you would ask of your nominees for the high court?"
Biden even cited God in his answer: “I strongly support Roe v. Wade....That's why I led the fight to defeat Bork. Thank God he's not on the court or this would -- Roe v. Wade would be gone by now.”