After warning for years of the dangers posed by the Religious Right in politics, the New York Times is suddenly interested in injecting Mormon (and Catholic) religion into politics, at least when it comes to pet issues like amnesty for illegal immigrants. The top of Friday’s National section featured religion reporter Laurie Goodstein’s “Romney’s Tough Immigration View Is at Odds With His Church.”
There was no “I Wouldn't Buy the Underwear Just Yet” mockery of Mormons this time. And while the paper aimed a harsh front-page spotlight on the Mormon church for its involvement in passing California’s Proposition 8, which preserved the state ban on gay marriage, Goodstein has no criticism of its involvement in the Democratic-friendly cause of amnesty.
Mormon fear at the New York Times. The paper’s online “Room for Debate” section, which “invites knowledgeable outside contributors to discuss news events and other timely issues” on Monday asked “What Is It About Mormons?," inspired by the prospect of Mitt Romney winning the Republican nomination for president. The fact that the Senate has for the last five years been led by a Mormon, Democrat Harry Reid, has failed to trigger similar concerns at the Times. The Times also shows it feels free to shower at least some religions with derision and mockery.
Everyone knows the folks at MSNBC nearly faint in outrage whenever the words “Obama” and “Kenya” are used in the same sentence. Barack Hussein Obama Senior had four wives (one at a time), and fathered eight children from 1958 to 1982, but climbing that family tree is no doubt seen as racist by MSNBC.
But on Monday night’s Last Word on MSNBC, host Lawrence O’Donnell not only mocked Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather Miles Park Romney leaving America for Mexico to preserve his polygamy. He claimed their history is “profoundly weirder” than you would think – and didn’t really explain what he meant. [MP3 audio here. See video below.]
In 1998, we learned that Al and Tipper Gore made $353 in deductible charitable contributions against income of $198,000 the previous year. In the decade from 1998-2007, Joe and Jill Biden averaged $369 per year in such reported contributions. Bill and Hillary Clinton were infamous for taking charitable contributions for used underwear.
The aforementioned facts are generally not known by people who don't closely follow the news, because not much was made of them. But from the point of view of ABC News, particularly the hatchet men disguised as investigative reporters Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross, Mitt and Ann Romney have a much bigger problem than the Gores, Bidens, and Clintons: They, and particularly Mitt through Bain Capital (dubious, as we'll see), have given too much money to a particular charity. Because the reporters apparently want readers and viewers to see this as something underhanded, they describe charity as "sending" instead of "giving":
In a report on Monday's Rock Center on NBC, correspondent Mike Taibbi described how Mitt Romney's ancestors settled in Mexico during the late 1800's: "Mitt has said and written almost nothing about them over the years. One of his rare quotes, that they left the U.S. to escape persecution for their religious beliefs."
Taibbi then noted: "In fact, Mitt's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, led that first expedition to escape not persecution but prosecution for polygamy, what Mormons called 'plural marriage.'" Later, Taibbi cited one of Romney's Mexican cousins on the issue: "Mike, a church school administrator here, says Mitt should just tell the whole story, even about the family's polygamist past that died with the great-grandfather Miles."
With the 2012 elections less than a year away, the liberal media are attacking President Obama's potential opponents on a number of fronts, but especially on religion. ABC, CBS and NBC have used religion in two ways, either painting the field of GOP primary challengers as a God Squad of religious zealots or playing up differences in their faith. Whether they're letting viewers know that "Rick Perry's gonna have to answer some questions about the people" he prays with, fretting that God "told Michele Bachmann," to enter politics, or devoting no less than 40 segments to the question of whether Mormonism is "a cult" or if "Mitt Romney is a Christian," the networks have repeatedly used faith against the GOP field.
Media preoccupation with the GOP candidates' faith is the exact opposite of how they covered (or didn't) candidate Obama's 20-year attendance at the church of a racist, anti-American pastor who subscribed to "black liberation theology," or Obama's half-Muslim heritage. The MRC's Culture and Media Institute studied network news reporting on the GOP candidates and religion from Jan. 1-Oct. 31, 2011, and compared it to coverage of the Democratic presidential primary candidates over the same period in 2007. The discrepancy, in both the amount and tone of the coverage, was striking. Network reporters, so disinterested in the beliefs of Obama and his rivals for the 2008 nomination, took every opportunity to inject religion into their coverage of the GOP field. (CMI's key findings after the jump)
While morning and evening newscasts from all three broadcast networks in the last few days have focused on anti-Mormon sentiment within the Republican Party that may hinder Mitt Romney's bid for the presidency, FNC's Special Report with Bret Baier on Monday noted that self-identified Republican voters are substantially more willing to accept a Mormon President compared to Democrats.
FNC correspondent Carl Cameron observed that Democrats are "least tolerant" compared to Republicans and independents as he recounted the findings of a Quinnipiac poll:
Politico's "Daily Digest" is an email the blog blasts out in the morning, touting the day's top stories. As a subscriber, this NewsBuster was struck by the left-friendly lean of five out this morning's six featured stories.
To be sure, "Post-recession income falls" is not good for President Obama, reporting as it does that Americans' incomes have fallen faster during his presidency than they did even in the depths of the recession. But every other story would surely be welcome at the White House. Here are the stories, in the order they appear in the email:
Live from the Iowa State Fair, CNN's Don Lemon asked Republican presidential nominee Herman Cain if he could win the Iowa vote for the Republican nomination and for president, given that Cain belongs to a "mostly-white party" and is campaigning in a "mostly-white state."
Lemon had said the two had a "passionate conversation" prior to going on air, where he asked Cain "do you think in a party – in a mostly-white party in a mostly-white state, did you really stand a chance, not only of a nomination, of becoming President?"
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift said on PBS's "McLaughlin Group" Friday that the press really aren't interested in Mitt Romney being a Mormon.
This amazingly transpired roughly 24 hours before her magazine revealed a June 13-20 cover story about Romney entitled "The Mormon Moment: How the Outsider Faith Creates Winners" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Update: Joe denies judging Kyl and DeMint. See video after the jump.
Call it an episode of Short Self-Attention Span Theater . . .
Mere moments after citing Matthew 7's instruction to "judge not, that ye be not judged," Joe Scarborough judged Jon Kyl and Jim DeMint to be "un-Christlike."
Scarborough's strange self-contradiction came in the course of his diatribe against the two Republican senators for having criticized Harry Reid for threatening to keep the Senate in session through Christmas.
Monday night marks the debut of Lawrence O'Donnell's very own show, called The Last Word, on MSNBC and if his guest spots on various programs on that network and the syndicated McLaughlin Group over the last few years are any indication, he's bound to give Keith Olbermann a run for his money for over-the-top loony tirades.
O'Donnell reared his bigoted side on the December 8, 2007 edition of the McLaughlin Group. He not only went after former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but also his faith, seen in the following rants he made after the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate delivered a speech defending his "demented, Scientology-like" Mormon faith:
The sexual revolution always seems to have another frontier. Indeed, the very idea of a “revolution” would be negated were there no frontiers to conquer. So deeper, ever deeper, we plumb the depths. Look at television. Every new frontier is just another titillating, initially shocking plot for a fictional or “reality” show, until there's a “new normal” and the novelty and naughtiness wears off.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
The latest example is a brand-new show on the TLC cable network called “Sister Wives,” all about a likeable, long-haired Utah man named Kody Brown and his three wives and 13 children. But this isn't enough drama for a “reality” show, so the plot twist has Brown taking on a fourth wife with three of her own kids from a previous marriage.
We've gone down a very strange path from “The Brady Bunch.”
Secular leftists in the media don't often have use for religion, particularly Christianity, except, it seems, when biblical passages can be isolated out of context to bash religious conservatives over the head as wicked for opposing big government or for standing up for traditional moral values.
Enter Joe Klein, Christian theologian extraordinaire, who suggested in Time.com Swampland blog post yesterday that Jesus would make Fox News host Glenn Beck sweat it out a bit at the pearly gates:
If Jesus were around today, he might say that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a telecharlatan to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
In a follow-up blog post from today, Klein thanked a commenter for passing along a passage from the gospel according to St. Matthew wherein Jesus taught that "when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men."
"The noisy proclamation of religiosity is usually a sign of the exact opposite," Klein preached regarding the August 28 Beck rally.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Viacom's Comedy Central is developing an animated show practically designed to offend Christians. But the network's handling of recent controversy over depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad illustrates a stark double standard in how the entertainment media deal with issues of religion.
Comedy Central announced it is developing the script for an animated show tentatively titled "JC." According to the network's release, the show is about Jesus Christ "wanting to escape his father's enormous shadow to live life in [New York City] as a regular guy." The announcement described God as "all-powerful yet apathetic" and said the show would be a "playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb."
The show promises to stand in sharp contrast to the network's treatment of another religious figure: Muhammad. In 2006, Comedy Central censored a segment of "South Park" that depicted Muhammad. In April of this year, the network added audio bleeps to the second of a two-part episode to cover any mention of the prophet, as well as an end-of-show speech about freedom of expression and giving in to intimidation. The first episode of the story arc featured Mohammad hidden inside a moving truck and a bear costume.
This censorship came in response to a threat from a radical Islamic website, based in the United States, which warned that "South Park" creators would face violent retribution for "insulting" Muhammad by featuring (although not showing him) on the episode.
Republicans are likely to go with Tampa, Florida, as the venue for their 2012 presidential nominating convention in part because evangelicals hate Mormons. That's the gospel truth, at least according to Chris Matthews, who yesterday went on a loopy rant that was pure bluster and completely unsubstantiated in its assertions.
[MP3 audio available here; click play on the embedded video at right for video]
Matthews informed viewers that an RNC selection committee had submitted its recommendation of Tampa -- the RNC still has to give its formal approval -- over other finalists Phoenix, Arizona, and Salt Lake City, Utah. The "Hardball" host than gave his theory behind why the latter two cities were rejected, failing, of course, to cite any sources nor to add the caveat that this was purely his own speculation.
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
On Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, during a discussion of Mitt Romney’s recent altercation with rapper Sky Blu on an airplane, host Maher seemed to suggest that Romney might have been motivated by anti-black racism in confronting the rapper as the Real Time host brought up racially tinged quotes from former Mormon church president Joseph Fielding Smith – who died in 1972 at the age of 95 after serving two years as president – as if the words were relevant to Romney’s scuffle. Maher: "I just couldn't help but think maybe this has something to do with the fact that the Mormons traditionally have not had a great relation with the black people."
After reading a quote from Smith that came from a 1963 article in Look magazine, in which Smith contended that "I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the Negro. Darkies are wonderful people," Maher claimed that the words were only 20 or 30 years old. Maher: "I'm just saying if you're a Mormon and this is the ‘pope’ of your church and he says things like this about Negro and darkies – and this is only like, I don't know how long ago this was, 20, 30 years ago." The HBO host then read a quote from the book, The Way to Perfection, published by Smith in the 1930s, without divulging the date.
Since Friday's massacre at Fort Hood, NewsBusters has been covering the efforts of several news outlets, including the New York Times, to warn of Muslim persecution in America.
This is quite a departure from the treatment offered other religious groups by the Times, particularly the paper's disgraceful coverage of Mormon persecution at the hands of rabid protestors in California.
Back on November 4, 2008, when gay marriage was outlawed for the second time by popular vote in the Golden State, angry protestors stormed the streets. Word quickly spread that Mormons had played a big role in getting the ban to pass prompting gay activists to attack Mormon citizens in fits of rage.
Unlike now, the Times wasn't worried about protecting a religious group from an angry backlash. Quite the contrary, when rumors of the Mormon influence on the proposition grew, the Times was more than willing to actively build the case against them.
On November 15 of that year, the paper used prominent space on its front page to print a hit piece titled "Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage."In the middle of a literal culture war on the streets of California, the Times thought it wise to convince gays and lesbians angered by the proposition's passage that Mormons were single-handedly responsible:
A 60-year-old Mormon Church in Massachusetts burned to the ground on Sunday. A story about the incident appeared on the Washington Post website last night. It's an AP entry discussing the fire that chased worshippers out of the building in a panic on Sunday. But it is accompanied by a rather odd choice of images. Is it a photo of the fire-damaged church? Perhaps it is a snap of frightened churchgoers or a resolute minister vowing to rebuild? Well, none of those really.
The odd choice of photos accompanying the story of a fire at a Mormon Church is one of gay couples that "brought a lawsuit" over gay marriage in Massachusetts.
One might wonder what the heck a photo of gays has to do with a church burning down? The answer seems to be that the Washington Post doesn't seem to think there is any time that isn’t suitable to attack the Mormon Church over its opposition to gay marriage. They turned this simple story of a fire into an excuse to play politics.
CBS merely brushed off the controversy that upset many members of the Mormon Church when interviewing HBO’s “Big Love” star Bill Paxton on March 16, 2009.
The TV series about a Mormon polygamist has not surprisingly gotten plenty of attention in its three years on air. This time, however, “Big Love” is causing trouble because the March 15 episode showed a highly sacred Mormon temple ceremony. CBS’s The Early Show host Chris Wragge mentioned the controversy during an interview with gave to Paxton:
WRAGGE: Yeah, I want to talk a little bit about last night's episode. There was some controversy there. The show depicted, uh, I guess one of the secret elements of the Mormon Church, an endowment ceremony which is not something that's been widely publicized. A lot of people don't know about it … Bill, I know you weren't in the scene. HBO had issued a preemptive apology. Obviously the episode still aired, but it caused a little controversy. As an actor, with something like this when you're on such sensitive territory, how, I mean, you really have to stay right on script here. There's not a lot of variation you can take or any creative liberties, but how tough was a scene like that?
YouTube is promoting as its "citizen news report of the day" a video of an alleged attack on Greenpeace activists at a coal plant in Poland. There are two problems with the news judgment behind this video selection.
First, both the initial report on the video and YouTube's description of it overstate what actually happened. Watch the video for yourself and see. Aside from some unjustifiable shoving, kicking of snow and grabbing of signs, there is no attack.
In one instance, the pushing is to get protesters out of the way of an oncoming bulldozer. Another clip appears to show a coal miner helping up a protester who fell, and the Greenpeace activists eventually are allowed to display their "Quit Coal" banners without interference -- presumably on private property where they had no right to be.
But the bigger problem with the news judgment in this case is the blatant double standard at work. Why is YouTube helping to publicize an obscure, pro-environmental protest in Poland while ignoring citizen journalism reports of recent bad behavior by protesters that are far more noteworthy and much closer to home?
Frank Rich has apparently figured out that after January 20, it's not going to be as much fun for him. True, the Times columnist will surely disinter W as necessary to explain away Obama's missteps. But the buck for whatever post-inauguration problems the country faces will land ever more resoundingly on the new president's desk.
And so, like a vaudevillian tapping as fast as he can while anticipating the hook, Rich seems determined to spend these last few weeks of the Bush administration dancing on GOP graves and luxuriating in Republicans' perceived pain. You might say Frank is making hatred while the sun shines.
As we discussed last week in Have Fun For Now, Frank, Rich's immediate post-election column was one long poke in the Republican eye. The Timester is back at it again this morning, outdoing himself in sheer vitriol as he pour buckets of salt, generously seasoned with schadenfreude, into Republican wounds.
The Denver Post printed an article on July 30 highlighting the possible selection of Mitt Romney as a vice-presidential running mate with John McCain. While focusing on several obvious areas in which Romney may help the ticket, the Post simply couldn't resist a few subtle jabs directed at the former Massachusetts Governor.
Making a personal assessment that Romney sometimes comes off as being aloof, and citing his membership in a church that some consider a cult, was simply not enough. Reporter Karen E. Crummy (I will resist the puns) practically salivated at the prospect of using those observations as talking points for the Democratic Party. (Emphasis mine)
He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, considered a cult by some evangelical Christians and Southern Baptists. Despite his central-casting good looks, he often comes across as aloof. And he and McCain taunted each other in the primaries, which could be exploited by Democrats.
Just another demonstration of how the MSM would like to remind their readers that Romney's religion does in fact, matter.
You might think MSM support for the raid by Texas state authorities on the polygamist compound in Eldorado would be a slam dunk. After all, the religion involved is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Not just Mormons: fundamentalists Mormons! Throw in patriarchy and allegations of exploitation of young women, and surely the feminist-inspired liberal media would be cheering on the bust.
But not so fast. Support this intervention, and perhaps a precedent is established for restrictions on unorthodox family arrangements of a more PC tint.
Take the comments of Jonathan Turley on today's Good Morning America. The George Washington law school professor went so far as to strongly suggest that the ban on polygamy is unconstitutional. And co-anchor Bill Weir was anything but unsympathetic to Turley's arguments.