"My own idiosyncratic bent as a writer, no doubt a legacy of my years spent in the theater, is to look for a narrative in the many competing dramas unfolding on the national stage. I do have strong political views, but opinions are cheap. Anyone could be a critic of the Bush administration. The challenge as a writer was to try to figure out why it governed the way it did -- and how it got away with it for so long -- and, dare I say it, to have fun chronicling each new outrage."
He did admit the column-writing routine “can push you to have stronger opinions than you actually have, or contrived opinions about subjects you may not care deeply about, or to run roughshod over nuance to reach an unambiguous conclusion. Believe it or not, an opinion writer can sometimes get sick of his own voice.”
I must have missed the nuanced period of Rich’s column writing. Here’s just a smattering of Rich’s lowlights, both nonsensical and nasty, since the Times Watch project was launched in early 2003:
As NewsBusters reported in February, vulgarian comedienne Kathy Griffin was cast to do a guest stint on the hit series "Glee" portraying a Palinesque Tea Partier.
The advanced billing turned out better than the reality, for on Tuesday's show, Griffin mocked Palin and Christine O'Donnell while depicting Tea Party members as homophobic birthers (video follows with transcript and commentary):
After Bill Maher called the Koran "a hate-filled book" on HBO's "Real Time" Friday, NewsBusters asked if he would be attacked by the media for doing so.
With no outrage having ensued, the folks at Fox News on Monday questioned why Maher's comments went ignored by the Muslim defenders in the press, with Juan Williams telling Bill O'Reilly that if he had said anything like that, "They would have tied you to the pillar and be whipping you and stoning you" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As NewsBusters reported Saturday, George Will this weekend lambasted Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee about separate comments the two have made regarding Barack Obama's background and upbringing.
On Monday, during his fifth day in a row on this subject, MSNBC's Chris Matthews actually compared Will's column to William F. Buckley Jr. banning anti-Semitic writers from the National Review in the '50s (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Cizik, you may recall, is a bit of a media favorite because he hails from a generally theologically conservative tradition but has been moving leftward politically over the past few years.
Haffner is liberal theologically and politically, a Unitarian-Universalist minister and the former president of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), a group that lobbies to end federal funding of abstinence-until-marriage sex ed programs.
As we've noted, the On Faith feature often skews liberal in theology and politics, and the Cizik/Haffner tag-team fits hand-in-glove with the leftward tack of the site.
Here's the duo's argument against defunding Planned Parenthood (emphases mine):
Today's Supreme Court ruling in Snyder v. Phelps is proving to be yet another occasion for the media to falsely describe the homosexuality-fixated Westboro Baptist Church as a "fundamentalist" congregation.
The Associated Press, MSNBC and NPR.org have been among the news outlets using that tag for the Topeka, Kansas, organization that protests funerals of soliders, celebrating their deaths by claiming God killed them because he hates "fags."
But the AP's own style manual strongly cautions against the use of the term "fundamentalist," noting that the term "fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians."
"In general," the AP manual adds, "do not use [the term] fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself."
ABC, NBC and CBS news programs have mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood 135 times in 17 years, but only linked them to fundamentalist Islam 37 percent of the time. Just since the unrest in Egypt began in January, they've mentioned the Brotherhood 85 times, and decreased how often they report the nature of the group - just 32 percent of those stories mentioned the group's extremism.
Declaring "jihad" against the United States. Taking credit for deadly bombings in Cairo. Sponsoring Hamas. Assassinating Egyptian leaders. Making common cause with Nazi Germany. Openly calling for shariah law. Spawning prominent al-Qaida leaders.
Only the liberal network news media could paint a group with a resume like that as "peaceful" and "moderate." But that's precisely how the broadcast networks have often portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood.
The National Organization for Women issued a statement from president Terry O'Neill Wednesday with a clearly anti-religion message. The headline: "U.S. Catholic Bishops Major Force Behind War on Women." It began:
The collusion of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has led to an open declaration of war on the women of this country. The bishops have long sought to enshrine into law those policies of the Catholic Church that subordinate women. And they don't care how badly women get hurt in the process.
Those learned theologians on "The View" are at it again.
Discussing how Catholic canon law advisor Dr. Edward Peters has declared that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) committed an "objectively sacrilegious" act that "produces grave scandal" by receiving Communion on January 2, almost every panelist on ABC gabfest "The View" today rebuked the scholar for his pronouncement.
"Peters specifically cited Cuomo's cohabiting with Food Network hostess Sandra Lee as 'publicly acting in violation of a fundamental moral expectation of the Church,' and that 'as long as he persists in such conduct, he should refrain from taking Holy Communion,'" CNSNews.com's Michael Chapman noted on Monday.
[For full disclosure, CNSNews.com is owned by the parent company of NewsBusters, the Media Research Center.]
Don't 52-year-old sports writers have anything better to do than devote a whole column to deriding a teenage athlete's faith?
If you're Rick Reilly, apparently the answer is no.
Reilly wrote a February 19 piece at ESPN.com trashing the religious convictions of 16-year-old Iowa wrestler Joel Northrup, who forfeited a state tournament match rather than wrestle 14-year-old Cassy Herkelman, citing his Christian faith.
Even though the Herkelman family and another female wrestler in the state tournament lauded Northrup's decision to be true to his convictions, Reilly mounted his secular pulpit to condemn Northrup's faith:
If you had to narrow it down to one person, the mainstream media's favorite evangelical Christian would probably be the politically liberal Richard Cizik.
The former National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) vice president resigned from the NAE in December 2008 after having made public statements to the effect that gay marriage and abortion were politically negotiable issues for Christians of good conscience. Before then he was actively involved in getting evangelical Christians to align with liberals on global warming-related legislative initiatives.
The Washington Post Style section mounted its latest favorite hobby horse again this morning with yet another article devoted to the controversial "Hide/Seek" Smithsonian exhibit, which is closing this Sunday.
NewsBusters sister organization CNSNews.com broke the story in late November that sparked the controversy. You can read that story here.
Shortly after Penny Starr's story, the Gallery removed an offensive video entitled "Fire In My Belly," which featured among other things a depiction of ants crawling on a crucifix. The decision to remove the video was decried as censorship by liberal critics, a criticism magnified by the Post's Style section coverage of the row.
It's apparently all the rage this week among mainstream media religion features to hype the unorthodox views of Boston University's Jennifer Wright Knust.
On Monday, Newsweek's Lisa Miller uncritically presented her readers with a summary of arguments from the professor's new book. The next day "On Faith," -- a joint Newsweek/Washington Post online religion news/comment feature -- published the first of a multi-part series of guest columns by Knust.
Yesterday, CNN's Belief Blog joined in, granting Knust a "My Take" blog post focused on attacking Scripture's teachings on homosexuality.
On Monday I noted how Newsweek religion writer Lisa Miller uncritically peddled the work of two religion scholars who argue that the Bible is not as restrictive on sexual mores as it's widely understood to be.
Yesterday, On Faith, a joint project of the Washington Post and Newsweek, granted one of those scholars, Boston University's Jennifer Wright Knust, what appears to be the first of a series of columns devoted to "Why the Bible can't dictate today's sexual morals." Knust's February 8 column aimed to debunk "biblical marriage" (emphasis mine):
The New York Times is not known for delicate restraint in its treatment of the Catholic Church. Executive editor Bill Keller (despite somehow marrying his second wife in the Church) trashed Pope John Paul the Great in 2002: "One paradox of the Polish pope is that while he is rightly revered for helping bring down the godless Communists, he has replicated something very like the old Communist Party in his church."
The memory of that fusillade was rekindled in a New York Times story on Thursday about the sex scandals of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and how they're outraging women in Italy. Times reporters Elisabetta Povoledo and Rachel Donadio include this loaded sentence: "By some lights, Italian women have come far in a country whose most entrenched power structures — the Roman Catholic Church and organized crime — remain male and secretive."
This is a little like saying the NAACP and the Ku Klux Klan are both fraternal organizations based on race. But that wasn't the only example on this day. Kathryn Lopez of National Review found the Catholic Church was also compared to the terrorism-endorsing Muslim Brotherhood by reporter Scott Shane:
Apparently the Fox entertainment network, which will broadcast Super Bowl XLV on Sunday, rejected an ad for LookUp316.com, as in the biblical verse John 3:16, because it "[advances] particular beliefs or practices." [h/t Big Hollywood]
However the ad itself -- see the embedded video below -- doesn't proselytize, it merely depicts a man watching a football game looking up "John 3:16" on his smart phone's Web browser after seeing the verse referenced in a player's eye black.
"LookUp316.com: A Message of Hope," reads the commercial's closing frames.
The popular show 'Glee' has caused a stir with lesbian fantasies, gay kissing, teen pregnancy and racy photos of the actors - the new season is sure to display more immorality-promoting content. As 'Gleeks' everywhere eagerly anticipate the return of their show, they should be reminded that it isn't just innocent, happy show tunes that this 'groundbreaking' show promotes.
New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman was granted the front page of Wednesday’s Arts section for a snobbish chiding of uncouth American conservatives who helped squelch a video some found sacrilegious, by a featured artist in a Smithsonian gay art exhibit: “In Britain, Separation of Art and State.” ("Separation" except for when it comes to actually subsidizing the art, which Britain does.)
The Times even ran a large photo of a clip from the controversial video by artist David Wojnarowicz, "A Fire in my Belly," showing ants crawling over a crucifix. This is the same newspaper that proudly refused to reprint newspaper cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad after radical Muslims instigated an uproar back in February 2006.
Media outlets have uncritically trumpeted a story that claims a 1997 letter is a "smoking gun" that proves that Vatican officials warned Irish bishops not to report child abuse to civil authorities.
In fact, as a cursory look at the letter reveals, it shows no such thing. This "smoking gun" story exhibits all the hallmarks of just another hit job by the media, so-called victims advocates, and dishonest lawyers seeking to portray the Catholic Church in the worst light possible.
The Washington Post on Friday took on Seymour Hersh's outlandish conspiracy theory that "neo-conservative" members of Opus Dei and the Knights of Malta inside the military "overthrew the American government" and are waging a "crusade" against Muslims. The newspaper reported that, contrary to Hersh's claims, General Stanley McChrystal was not a member of either organization, and that there was "little evidence of a broad fundamentalist conspiracy within the military."
Writer Paul Farhi began his article, "Hersh rebuked on 'crusaders,'" by stating that the journalist for The New Yorker's "latest revelation is drawing some puzzled reactions and angry denunciations." After recounting Hersh's accusations from his recent speech, that he "advanced the notion that U.S. military forces are directed and dominated by Christian fundamentalist 'crusaders' bent on changing 'mosques into cathedrals'" and his accusations against McChrystal and other members of the special operations community, Farhi continued that there "seem to be a few problems with Hersh's assertions," and quoted from the former general's spokesman:
Liberal columnist Michael Kinsley made light of the Catholic Church's process of recognizing a saint in a Wednesday column for the Los Angeles Times, while simultaneously blasting the Church's opposition to embryonic stem cell research, claiming that the religion was a "main impediment" in developing a cure for Parkinson's disease.
In a stunning ten-page declaration recently submitted to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, veteran attorney Donald H. Steier stated that his investigations into claims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have uncovered vast fraud and that his probes have revealed that many accusations are completely false.
Counselor Steier has played a role in over one hundred investigations involving Catholic clergy in Los Angeles.
Newspaper readers probably had raised eyebrows on Christmas Day if they saw Doonesbury's comic strip for this sacred day. A female social worker is chatting with a female soldier and asking her if she gets support out in the field. They have this exchange:
SOLDIER: Yes, ma'am, I talk to our chaplain.
SOCIAL WORKER: Good. A chaplain can be a good resource.
SOLDIER: Mine yells at God a lot.
SOCIAL WORKER: He deserves it. In my extremely humble opinion.
The metaphor “The War on Christmas” can be mocked – as if Santa and his reindeer are dodging anti-aircraft fire. But many of our public schools have church-and-state sensitivity police with an alarming degree of Santaphobia. Anyone who's attended a school's “winter concert” in December with no traditional Christmas music – not even “Frosty the Snowman” – knows the drill. The vast Christian majority (that funds the public schools) is told that school is no place to celebrate one's religion, even in its most watered-down and secularized forms.
There are real-life stories of Scrooge-like school administrators, like the one at the appropriately named Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia. A group of ten boys calling themselves the Christmas Sweater Club were given detention and at least two hours of cleaning for tossing free two-inch candy canes at students as they entered before classes started. They were “creating a disturbance.” One of their mothers, Kathleen Flannery, told WUSA-TV that an administrator called her and explained "not everyone wants Christmas cheer. That suicide rates are up over Christmas, and that they should keep their cheer to themselves, perhaps."
Of course, that level of sensitivity is not applied when it comes to slamming Christianity during the Christmas season. On December 16, The Washington Post paid tribute to another suburban school in northern Virginia, Langley High School, for warming hearts during the season with “The Laramie Project.” This play is a political assault, using transcripts of real-life interviews by gay activists out to blame America's religious people for the beating death of homosexual college student Matthew Shepard in 1998.
More than nine out of 10 Americans celebrate Christmas - even atheists, agnostics or believers in other faiths, according to surveys by LifeWay Research and USA TODAY/Gallup. They might be roasting chestnuts over an open fire, decking the halls with boughs of holly or trying to get the Chipmunks Christmas song out of their heads, but they are celebrating.
A new Gallup poll is out showing that 40 percent of Americans believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so" while 38 percent believe "God guided [the] process" of evolution and only 16 percent believe evolution happened without any help from God.
Among the poll's findings was that a full 37 percent with a college degree and a full 22 percent with a postgraduate degree believe in creation.
Yet today, MSNBC's Chris Matthews sought to seize on another demographic stat from the poll to make the issue a partisan one and to mock Republicans as scientifically illiterate. In doing so he made a gaffe illustrating how behind the times he is when it comes to anthropological discoveries scientists link to human evolution:
1. "A [newly released] General Accountability Office (GAO) investigation has found that people with histories of sexual misconduct are still getting hired by school systems across the [United States] ... The biggest problem may be 'passing the trash.' These were cases GAO found in which school systems just let suspected sexual offenders resign, and even wrote them glowing letters of recommendation, so they could find teaching jobs elsewhere."
2. "The Dublin (Ireland) Archdiocese should have taken action years earlier against Tony Walsh, probably the most notorious child sexual abuser among its priests, according to [a] commission investigating clerical child sex allegations in the archdiocese." The Church laicized Walsh (removed him as a priest) in 1995.