Two Catholic priests who appeared as guests during back-to-back segments on Thursday’s No Bias, No Bull program were treated noticeably differently by CNN’s on-air personalities. Father Michael Pfleger of the Archdiocese of Chicago, who is best known for his racially-charged rhetoric against Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic presidential race, as well as his defense of former Obama pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright, faced only a couple of pointed questions, most notably about his recent decision to fly an American flag upside-down. In the following segment, Father Mitch Pacwa of the orthodox Catholic TV network EWTN faced a more skeptical and sustained line of questioning from the CNN panel about the practice of priestly celibacy.
Anchor Roland Martin brought on Father Pfleger 43 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program to talk about his continuing push against street violence in Chicago, especially when it involves minors, as 36 school-aged children so far this year have been violently killed . He only introduced the priest as the “pastor of the faith community of Saint Sabina from the South Side of Chicago.” Neither he nor any of the other journalists participating in the panel mentioned any of Father Pfleger’s past controversies during the segment.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez continued to report on a scandal involving Miami priest Alberto Cutie despite admitting that he was "...a family friend whom I've known for many, many years" on Thursday. Rodriguez introduced a Friday report by describing Cutie’s popularity: "The scandal involving celebrity priest Alberto Cutie in Miami is heating up as parishioners at his church rally in support of their popular leader. But not everyone is behind him." Correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported: "There's no doubt the parishioners' passion for the man they call ‘Father Oprah.’ Such passion that when this man dared to speak out against Father Alberto Cutie at a rally in Miami Beach Thursday -- he was swarmed."
On Thursday, Rodriguez vigorously defended her friend by asking CBS religion analyst, Father Thomas Williams, about the Catholic Church’s "rigid" and "outdated" requirement that priests take a vow of celibacy. Following the Thursday story, NewsBusters’ Scott Whitlock questioned Rodriguez on Twitter about violating journalistic ethics by her reporting on someone she knows personally. Rodriguez replied to the tweet and argued: "I respectfully disagree. If I hadn't disclosed that I know him, then it would have been a violation...but there are no secrets." Having brushed aside any concerns of bias, at the end of the Friday report, Rodriguez announced that she would be interviewing Cutie exclusively on Monday.
The NewsBusters publisher appeared on the May 8 "Fox & Friends" to address how the media consider Hasselbeck "controversial" for teaching her kids to believe the Bible's creation account rather than labeling liberal co-host Behar "controversial" for suggesting that teaching children creationism is "child abuse."
STEVE DOOCY, "Fox & Friends" co-host: So they label Elisabeth as controversial or as the conservative but Joy Behar is always labeled the comedian!
While reporting on a popular Miami priest, Father Alberto Cutie, getting caught on a beach with a woman, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez spoke with CBS religion analyst Father Thomas Williams and criticized the Catholic Church for requiring a vow of celibacy for priests: "The Catholic Church, as you know, has been criticized, and you and I have talked about this, for being outdated and losing both parishioners and people who may want to serve, because it is so rigid. Do you think it's time for the Catholic Church to reconsider the vow of celibacy that it requires of its priests?" Williams replied: "Well, I'm not really sure. I think you can't attribute an act of unfaithfulness to the institution itself. It would be kind of like saying that adultery is caused by marriage. It doesn't really make sense."
Just before talking to Williams, Rodriguez admitted: "I should, in the interest of full disclosure, say that Father Albert is a family friend whom I've known for many, many years." At the end of the segment, Rodriguez added: "Yeah, just a couple of weeks ago he [Father Cutie] officiated my niece's wedding. I haven't talked to her about how she feels about this. But yeah, we've known him for many, many years. And he wants to continue serving God." Instead of taking Rodriguez off the story because of this personal connection, its appears CBS kept her on it because they thought it added an interesting angle, even if it made objectivity impossible.
In a clear attempt to smear Miss California Carrie Prejean for promoting traditional marriage, a photo hardly as suggestive as many lingerie ads was released on the Internet on May 4. The caption for the picture that appeared on The Dirty.com clearly showed that the intent was to embarrass and discredit Prejean for her view on the issue of same-sex marriage:
"Exclusive: Self-proclaimed bible thumper Miss California, Carrie Prejean, should start pointing the finger at herself for her own indiscretions. TheDirty.com has received exclusive images of the homophobic debutante that would clearly strip her of her Miss California crown. So much for being a good role model for the state of California Carrie. Looks like your Dirty photo shoot makes you a sinner too. I decided."
Celebrity blogger and gay activist Perez Hilton, who precipitated the controversy by questioning Prejean about gay marriage while he was judging last month's Miss USA pageant, also posted the photo on his blog and taunting: "The Lord works in mysterious ways! Opposite marriage advocate Miss California, Carrie Prejean, topless and in some cute pink panties. Is that biblically correct????"
Prejean responded in a statement released to the media on May 4:
"I am a Christian, and I am a model. Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos. Recently, photos taken of me as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith. I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be."
The line of liberal journalists waiting to give the GOP free advice on its future is longer than the queue for Jonas Brothers concert tickets and at least 100 times more petulant than the 'tweens lined up for same.
U.S. News & World Report contributing editor and PBS "To the Contrary" host Bonnie Erbe, for example, has been on a tear in recent weeks. Whether it's hyping Meghan McCain as a fresh voice for the GOP or praising Bristol Palin as more mature than her mother, Erbe has done little to hide her disdain for social conservatives in the Republican Party that can actually form their arguments without coming off like a vapid valley girl whining about, like, creepy old guys like Karl Rove.
Well, in an April 30 Thomas Jefferson Street blog post Erbe urged GOP chairman Michael Steele to abort the Republican Party's coalition with religious conservatives:
Dear religious pro-life Catholics, get over yourselves. Signed, Amy Sullivan.
Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but the Time magazine staffer practically expressed those sentiments in two April 30 Swampland blog posts wherein she suggests that even the pope wouldn't mind hanging out with Obama on stage at Notre Dame when he accepts his honorary doctorate later this month.
[Ed Henry's press conference] question is a misstatement of Obama's campaign pledge to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that "the first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." Of course, before Obama could sign the bill, Congress would have to first pass it. And he's never expressed the hope that Congress drop what it's doing and prioritize FOCA.
Less than an hour later, Sullivan sought to marginalize conservative Catholics who are disturbed by Notre Dame honoring the very pro-choice President Obama:
While most of the mainstream media yawned at news that former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon was refusing Notre Dame's Laetare award due to the university honoring pro-choice President Barack Obama, USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman sure hasn't.
The religion reporter/blogger found her own unique, passive-aggressive way to slam Glendon's stand on principle by suggesting she's a self-righteous hypocrite.
In her April 30 post, "Who's a good enough Catholic for Notre Dame's top honor?", Grossman delighted in excerpting a satirical open letter by Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin, who penned a blog post for America magazine making light of the university's pressing need to find a new person to honor with the coveted Laetare Award (emphasis mine):
Imagine that former Vice President Dick Cheney was set to be honored next month at a Catholic university's commencement ceremony and news came down that another person to be honored at the same ceremony with a different award declined the honor, stating that she felt it inappropriate for the university to honor a man who believes in and furthered the use of torture by condoning waterboarding of enemy combatants.
The press, it's safe to say, would have a field day. But that's not the case with the news of Mary Ann Glendon -- a pro-life Catholic and Harvard professor who is displeased with Notre Dame honoring pro-choice President Barack Obama -- declining to accept the Laetare Award from Notre Dame University.
Yesterday evening NewsBusters Editor-at-Large Brent Baker noted that only NBC's "Nightly News" touched on the story, and that only briefly. This morning, not even NBC's "Today" show mentioned the development in the ongoing commencement speech controversy. Broadcast TV competitors "Good Morning America" and CBS's "The Early Show" ignored the story as well.
1. A former Catholic priest comes forward Monday (4/20/09) to claim that another priest abused him as a teenager nearly 30 years ago. (The accused priest has no other similar public complaints and denies the allegations against him.)
2. A former school teacher was sentenced Wednesday (4/22/09) after pleading no contest to eight felony counts, including having sex with two girls under the age of 16. The man "admitted to having intercourse with the girls, performing oral sex with the teens and taking extremely explicit nude photographs of his victims -- including pictures of him with one of the girls - before sending the images over the Internet."
Now it's quiz time! To which story did the Los Angeles Times devote two generous color photos and a 640-word article? Which story did the Times totally ignore?
Is this the new politics Barack Obama promised to bring to Washington? His hand-picked DNC Chairman just went on national TV and denied that the Obama administration requested Georgetown University to cover up the IHS monogram representing the name of Christ. Confronted with a CNSNews.com article flatly reporting that such a request had indeed been made, Tim Kaine resorted to the hoary dodge of claiming he hadn't seen the story. Adding insult to injury, Kaine even claimed to be ignorant of CNSNews.com itself, NewsBusters' sister organization.
Kaine made his credulity-busting claims during a Morning Joe appearance today.
Here's a rare sight: A host of a major television show forcefully defending the Bible and central tenets of Christianity. It happened recently on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, when host Stephen Colbert - in his own inimitable way - rebutted the assertions of Bart Ehrman, a self-described "happy agnostic" who has written a number of books attempting to discredit the Bible and the central beliefs of Christianity.
By the time the interview was finished, the "happy agnostic" Ehrman wasn't looking too happy. Viewers with an interest in Christian apologetics will surely enjoy this one. (Click for video.)
One hundred forty-four years after his assassination, Chicago Tribune religion blogger Manya Brachear hacked out an 11-paragraph post on how "Lincoln's death had sacred significance," according to some historians and Lincoln biographers.
"Harold Holzer, co-chair of the U.S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, said the Good Friday assassination earned Lincoln a permanent place in American mythology," Brachear noted in her April 14 post, before quoting Holzer's argument at length.
But no Lincoln story in the mainstream media is complete without an Obama tie-in, and Brachear made sure to deliver, again quoting Holzer:
Newsweek greeted the coming of Easter with a black cover, and the headline "The Decline and Fall of Christian America," spelled out in red in the shape of a cross. Inside, it was more declarative: "The End of Christian America." Why? Because they found that the percentage of self-identified Christians had fallen 10 points since 1990. Okay, then let’s compare. How much has Newsweek’s circulation fallen since 1990? Just since 2007, their announced circulation has dropped by 52 percent. It would be more plausible to state "The End of Newsweek."
At the end of 2007, Newsweek reduced its "base rate" (or circulation guaranteed to advertisers) from 3.1 million to 2.6 million, a 16 percent drop. At the end of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that Newsweek, faced with an estimated 21 percent decline in ad pages, could soon drop that circulation number by another 500,000 to 1 million readers. In February, the magazine confirmed the million-issue drop, saying it would drop to a base of 1.9 million in July and 1.5 million readers by January 2010.
CBS anchor Harry Smith and Bill O’Reilly traded light blows with each other on Tuesday’s Early Show, as the Fox News Channel host marked his 100th consecutive month at the top of cable news ratings. Smith jabbed his guest about his 12 years on the same network: “Couldn’t hold a job at any other place?...Is this the longest continuous employment you have ever had?” O’Reilly didn’t take it lying down, however, and got in his own hits at Smith, such as joking about how the CBS anchor apparently hangs out with President Obama.
After beginning with his employment jab at O’Reilly, Smith asked the Fox News anchor about the piracy off the coast of Somalia. O’Reilly replied by recommending the arming of merchant ships and the posting of security guards onboard. He also got his first ribbing in at Smith: “A few security guards? Look, you got more security around you, Smith...here than they have in the boats.” The CBS anchor quipped back, “I need it....We’ve got guys like you coming in and I never know what’s going to happen.” O’Reilly further recommended that a blockade be initiated off the Somali coast.
And they say journalists don't know enough about religion. Whatever gives people that idea?
Three corrections from the New York Times:
Correction Appended: April 14, 2009 -- "An article on Monday about the final Easter Mass celebrated by Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, referred incorrectly to the service he presided over on Good Friday. It was a liturgical service, not a Mass. (No Mass is said on Good Friday.)"
Happy Easter, Catholics. Your pope is not much different from a secular politician exercising damage control. Fortunately, President Obama is helping him "repent faster" when he steps into controversy.
That's the message being sent by the "On Faith" editorial staff with their excerpts "From the Panel" published in the April 11 print edition of the Washington Post. A partnership with Newsweek, "On Faith" is edited by the magazine's Jon Meacham and the Post's Sally Quinn.
"What's Behind Pope's Apologies?" asks the headline. An editorial note gives readers the question asked "On Faith" panelists:
On Wednesday’s No Bias, No Bull program, CNN anchor Roland Martin forgot the first part of his show’s title and featured three “progressive Christian” guests who all criticized the “religious right” and affirmed his view that you can “love God, go to church every Sunday, and not be a die-hard social conservative.” He did not host one religious conservative on his panel. The anchor even promised to check up on the three and “see if you guys are able to put this [progressive Christian] movement together, and we’ll follow it to the conclusion.”
Martin began the segment, which started 41 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, with his usual criticism of social conservatives: “I’m an evangelical, but I think the faith should focus on more than just abortion and whether marriage should just be between a man and a woman. As police brutality, poverty, funding inequality in our schools, the high infant mortality rate in our inner cities -- they’re all issues that I, as a Christian, care about, but they rarely top the religious right’s agenda.” He then asked as his general question to his guests, “So, is there a place for progressive evangelicals in this country?”
As you might expect, all three of his guests -- the Reverend Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland Church, Reverend Serene Jones, president of the Union Theological Seminary, and Frank Schaeffer -- all answered this question affirmatively, and each one had their criticism of religious conservatives. Martin first asked Schaeffer if he believed that “progressive Christians have been meek and silent, and frankly, being bullied by social conservatives into submission.” Schaeffer not only acknowledged that he believed this, but later went so far of blaming the “religious right” for the Iraq War and the bad economy. He even accused them of being “anti-American,” because in his view, “they hate pluralistic diverse America. What they want is a homogenous white America most of the time.”
On this Good Friday, many churches will be offering screenings of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ, now five years old. It's easy to forget how feverishly the liberal media insulted the film and its maker. Three days before the film came out on Ash Wednesday 2004, CBS "humorist" Andy Rooney railed on 60 Minutes:
“I heard from God just the other night. God always seems to call at night. ‘Andrew,’ God said to me. He always calls me ‘Andrew.’ I like that. ‘Andrew, you have the eyes and ears of a lot of people. I wish you’d tell your viewers that both Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson strike me as wackos. I believe that’s one of your current words. They’re crazy as bedbugs....Mel is a real nut case. What in the world was I thinking when I created him?’”
In our 2004 Special Report on religion coverage, Ken Shepherd and I reported on how the number of stories on religion increased, due in part to controversy over The Passion. But then we explored the tone of that coverage, a tone hostile to Christian orthodoxy:
Most regular church-goers have heard their less scrupulously observant fellows called "Christmas and Easter Christians." Well, they also have their counterparts in the mainstream media: "Christmas and Easter Anti-Christians." How else to explain the spate of skeptical, negative stories that inevitably accompany the two most important Christian holy days?
This Holy Week has been typical. Newsweek proclaimed "The Decline and Fall of Christian America" on its cover. The Washington Post/Newsweek "On Faith" blog featured a post that belittled the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection. The Discovery Channel aired a documentary that painted Jesus as little more than an opportunistic politician who caught a bad break in a trial.
These are just the most notable recent instances of secular media's disdain for traditional Christians and the tenets of their faith. Anti-Christianism is the last acceptable prejudice. The assault on Christian beliefs and morality is ongoing. Take for example the howls of outrage when the Pope reiterated Catholic teaching on abstinence.
But because Easter is so central to understanding Jesus and His purpose, and to Christians' own understanding of the world, the secular attack escalates during Holy Week. It takes on more existential dimensions, questioning Christianity's relevance in the modern world, the meaning of Christ's lessons and ultimately, His divinity.
Depending on your point of view, Jesus was either a charismatic populist crusader, a doctrinaire Marxist or "do your own thing" feel-good guru. Anything but the Son of God. If that's what you think of Him, it's easy to see why you would question His relevance.
ABC reporter Bill Weir didn't exactly grill "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane when he interviewed him for "Nightline's" ongoing "Seriously Funny" segment on Monday. The journalist failed to bring up some of the most egregious examples of MacFarlane's cartoon vulgarity, including a March 8 episode that featured bestiality jokes, a gay-hating Jesus Christ and an 11-way gay orgy.
Instead, Weir only vaguely alluded to such instances and asserted, "But, like those other cartoons, his shows raise the most ire with religious and parental watchdog groups. If there is a taboo line, chances are MacFarlane has leaped over it." He did read off a list of topics the show has skewered and then wondered, "Where is the line for you? Is there a line or is that the point?" Once again, however, Weir had no specifics to follow-up. Did he ask about the October 19, 2008 episode in which the program's baby character, Stewie Griffin dressed up as a Nazi and wore a McCain/Palin button? No. MacFarlane, a Barack Obama supporter and liberal Democrat, wasn't forced to talk about that particular low blow.
The University of Maryland recently decided that prayer is not allowed during commencement addresses, but pornographic films are allowed on campus. University officials cited “academic free speech” as the reason to allow the film. Occurring nearly simultaneously, both incidents have garnered extensive media coverage. The question is, will the media question the University’s inconsistency in applying First Amendment principles?
In an arbitrary sweep of political power, the University of Maryland Senate voted to eradicate the practice of prayer at graduation ceremonies. According to the university paper The Diamondback, “The senate approved a proposal that eliminates a prayer invocation at the university's annual commencement ceremony in a 32-14 vote after a lengthy debate that touched on the controversial issue of the separation of church and state.”
The university has a tradition of allowing an “all-inclusive” invocation to be given at the beginning of each commencement address by any one of the fourteen university chaplains.
Here’s another story that underlines how ludicrous the media have been in insisting Barack Obama was a natural choice for traditional Catholic and evangelical Christian voters: CNSNews.com correspondent Fred Lucas reports Obama finished stocking the advisory committee of his faith-based initiative with a bang: one new selection was Harry Knox, director of the "religion and faith program" of the gay-left Human Rights Campaign. Just last month, Knox described Pope Benedict XVI and certain Catholic bishops as "discredited leaders" because of their opposition to same-sex marriage.
In addition to his remarks about the Pope, Knox also criticized the Catholic Knights of Columbus as being "foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression" because of the Knights’ support of Proposition 8 in California last year:
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford always seems to be trying really hard to be the left-wing atheist equivalent of Ann Coulter. His Friday column seems designed to shock and appall traditional Catholics on the occasion of Pope Benedict's apparently unforgivable statement that condoms don't help with the AIDS epidemic. (He makes no attempt to square his argument with the Harvard research scientist who wrote "The Pope May Be Right" in The Washington Post.)
His headline? "Pope, extra ribbed: Benedict says condoms make AIDS worse; God recoils in shame." This is an odd headline for a man who really doesn't believe in a god, at least not one that he can't get caught in his zipper. He began:
What sort of wretched deity is this? What sort of tormented, clenched God must you believe in to cause you to openly promote ignorance and death for the sake of power and ideology and fear -- always, always a deep fear -- of love and sex and basic human connection?
“People are looking for something to criticize.” Yes, Barbara they are. And you were once among them.
Barbara Walters took exception to complaints from some that the Obamas made a royal mess of British protocol when meeting the queen of England. However, just over a year ago, Walters herself sniffed at the Bush White House for sending her a Christmas card containing [gasp!] “Scripture.”
On the April 2 episode of “The View,” the co-hosts discussed the murmurings that the president and first lady broke protocol when meeting the queen of England. Walters got visibly upset, waving her hands and speaking in a high, mocking tone saying, “And then people criticize because you know people are looking for something to criticize,” she said. “It makes me unhappy we are always looking for something to criticize, ‘Why did she put her arm around the queen?’.”
More than 230,000 people have signed the online petition at NotreDameScandal.com calling on the South Bend, Ind., Catholic university to rescind its commencement invitation to NARAL Pro-Choice America-endorsed, Freedom of Choice Act-supporting President Barack Obama.
But that fact is left out of yesterday's "Faith & Reason" blog at USAToday.com.
Instead, religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman goes out of her way to skew the controversy in Obama's favor, quoting Catholic clerics Bishop Robert Lynch and retired San Francisco archbishop John A. Quinn, who are chagrined with what they consider the angry tone of the Notre Dame protest.
On Monday evening, CNN’s Roland Martin began his eight-week run as fill-in anchor for Campbell Brown on her Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull program, who took maternity leave with the upcoming arrival of her unborn baby. As the show began, he gave an “opening statement” of sorts as to how he hoped to anchor the program: “I’m not going to bother with the silly notion of who’s a liberal or a conservative on this show. I voted for Obama and also for George H.W. Bush -- Republicans and Democrats. On some issues, I might be called a liberal -- on others, a conservative. I judge people based on the issues, and refuse to be pigeonholed and wedded to the ridiculous notion of ideology. Our goal on this show is very simple, that is to speak truth to power, no matter the party or the person.”
Given this track record, it’s no surprise that the anchor did his best to obscure the issues concerning President Barack Obama’s upcoming commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame. He moderated a panel discussion with Bill Donohue of the Catholic League and Father Jim Martin of America magazine, a Catholic publication which regularly dissents from Church teaching. He teamed up with the liberal Catholic priest to incorrectly give the impression that the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty rises to the same level as its opposition to abortion.
PBS "To the Contrary" host, staunch feminist, and Pope-basherBonnie Erbe has now taken to preaching vegetarianism on the Thomas Jefferson Street blog at US News & World Report. Fortunately for everyone, Erbe wouldn't dream of joining vegan supermodels in skin-bearing protest. All the same, she threw out this ridiculous claim to Christian readers in a March 27 post:
Even if you believe in the Christian god, there is ample evidence that Jesus Christ was a vegetarian.
Of course, the Bible records that the resurrected Jesus not only ate but on one occasion personally prepared a tasty breakfast of broiled fish for his disciples. Perhaps that's why Erbe hedged her bets by adding:
Update (March 31, 18:42 EDT): This blog post was mentioned on the "Grapevine" segment on FNC's "Special Report with Bret Baier." Video added at 13:00 EDT on April 1, 2009.[audio available here]
A contributing editor of a major weekly news magazine pens a newspaper op-ed defending a controversial decision by a prominent Catholic university. Said editor's son is a marketing executive for said Catholic institution, but neither the editor nor the newspaper disclose the fact to readers.
If the popular FAIL blog dealt with journalistic missteps, this would surely make the cut.
It takes courage to be a Catholic educator. In America's culture wars, abortion is the trump card of every moral discussion. Or so the righteous right requires us to believe.
At Notre Dame, the most Catholic of Catholic universities, a national protest is building over the decision by the school's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, to invite President Obama to give the commencement address on May 17.
Marin then goes on to write that Obama's done much more than advancing abortion and embryonic stem cell research. For example, he's "trying to stop the economy from going over a cliff." She approvingly quotes a former Catholic university administrator saying the role of those institutions is to "espouse academic freedom where people are allowed to research, teach and hear many voices on campus . . ." And what would an article mentioning the Catholic Church be without at least one reference to pedophilia? Marin doesn't disappoint in that regard.
You'd think Marin, who prides herself on journalistic professionalism, would at least have started the column with the facts. Obama was not merely invited to give a commencement address. Notre Dame's own Web site acknowledges he will also be "the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree."