AP Reporter Takes Gratuitous Shot at Sarah Palin's Church in Wake of 'Suspicious' $1 Million Fire There

Wasilla Church FireThere was a fire Friday at Wasilla Bible Church, where GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family are members. The fire did $1 million in damage. The photo at the right is among three that are in a slide show at Wasilla's local paper, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, whose story is here.

The Washington Post has a short AP story at Page A02 (more on that shortly). The New York Times has nothing about it on its home page. A Times search on "Palin Church" (without quotes) leads to the same AP story; a review of today's print edition shows that the story appears on Page A41.

Does anyone think a similar fire at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, which Barack Obama attended for almost two decades until earlier this year, would have been as quietly covered -- even if Obama had lost?

Maybe it's just as well that the AP's coverage isn't too prominent yet, because Rachel D'Oro's story added an agenda-driven undercurrent in the last excerpted paragraph:

Gov. Sarah Palin's home church was badly damaged by arson, leading the governor to apologize if the fire was connected to "undeserved negative attention" from her failed campaign as the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Damage to the Wasilla Bible Church was estimated at $1 million, authorities said Saturday. No one was injured in the fire, which was set Friday night while a handful of people, including two children, were inside, according to Central Mat-Su Fire Chief James Steele.

He said the blaze was being investigated as an arson but didn't know of any recent threats to the church. Authorities didn't know whether Palin's connection to the church was relevant to the fire, Steele said.

..... Palin, who was not at the church at the time of the fire, stopped by Saturday. Her spokesman, Bill McAllister, said in a statement that Palin told an assistant pastor she was sorry if the fire was connected to the "undeserved negative attention" the church has received since she became the vice presidential candidate Aug. 29.

"Whatever the motives of the arsonist, the governor has faith in the scriptural passage that what was intended for evil will in some way be used for good," McAllister said.

The 1,000-member evangelical church was the subject of intense scrutiny after Palin was named John McCain's running mate. Early in Palin's campaign, the church was criticized for promoting in a Sunday bulletin a Focus on the Family "Love Won Out Conference" in Anchorage. The conference promised to "help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome.

D'Oro had to work hard to get the Focus on the Family dig in. As would be expected, Greg Johnson's coverage at the local Frontiersman said nothing about the Sunday bulletin ad, nor did the lengthier coverage at the Anchorage Daily News. Of course not: It has no relevance to the story. It's hard to avoid concluding that D'Oro's purpose was to "helpfully" remind us that (in her opinion) the church is a haven for bigots.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com. 

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.