Newsweek hasn’t favored the movie Angels & Demons with a cover story like it did for The DaVinci Code, but it is allowing the cast to make the usual denials of anti-Catholicism on the Newsweek website. In an interview for their Pop Vox blog with Newsweek’s Nicki Gostin, actor Ewan McGregor repeats his mantra that "There’s nothing anti-Catholic or anti-church or anything that challenges people’s beliefs in the film."
That’s an interesting thing to say when your character is supposedly an idealistic Catholic priest who ends up being the film’s supervillain, poisoning the Pope and murdering Cardinals, until he finds out he was the Pope’s son (by artificial insemination). Learning that he poisoned his own father, he commits suicide. He’s a perfect portrait in Catholic corruption. But McGregor wants us to buy the notion that none of this "challenges people’s beliefs" about the Church:
Instead of performing as an anchor, MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell became a liberal sparring partner to the Cardinal Newman Society’s Patrick Reilly on the network’s Thursday afternoon programming over President Obama’s upcoming commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. Invoking her Catholic upbringing, she used the common left-wing tactic to equate the Church’s unequivocal teaching against abortion with its skepticism of the death penalty, and asked if former presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan shouldn’t have addressed prior commencements for their support of capital punishment. O’Donnell also inquired as to why Reilly was “advocating a Catholic Church that advocates division” [audio clips from the segment available here].
Before introducing Reilly, the MSNBC anchor began the segment, which started 20 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour, by reading recent poll numbers from Quinnipiac University which found that 60% of Catholic voters answered negatively when asked if Notre Dame should disinvite President Obama. She then turned to her guest and asked, “What’s your point? Why are you organizing this protest?” Reilly answered, “The protest has nothing to do with the president in particular. This is a concern that Catholics have had for decades now, that many of our Catholic institutions have lost a sense of Catholic identity, and Catholics are drawing a line in the sand, saying that the Catholic University of Notre Dame ought to be choosing those who it honors based on its Catholic principles and values.”
In addition to the anti-Catholicism present in the forthcoming release of "Angels & Demons", there's another politically correct element to the movie adaptation of the Dan Brown novel that's worth noting: Hollywood's aversion to portraying radical Muslims as the bad guys.
Anchor Andrew Mitchell presented radical homosexual activist Dan Savage, most famous for licking doorknobs in the campaign office of Republican Gary Bauer in an attempt to infect him with the flu, as an expert on the Catholic Church and Catholic issues during her MSNBC program on Wednesday afternoon. She introduced Savage, who writes a graphic sex-advice column called “Savage Love,” as the “editorial director for Seattle’s weekly newspaper, The Stranger...political commentator and social critic.” Mitchell lead into her question about President Obama’s commencement address at the University of Notre Dame by stating that the editor was also “sensitive and very well aware of the cultural fault lines within the Catholic community.” She did not mention the Bauer incident during the segment, nor the fact that Savage is an atheist who thinks the Catholic Church is a “criminal organization.”
Mitchell had Savage on as a guest just before the bottom half of the 1 pm Eastern hour of her Andrea Mitchell Live program. She brought up President Obama’s upcoming commencement addresses at Arizona State University and Notre Dame as a topic, and how in the case of his speech at the Catholic school, “critics are taking issue with the president’s positions on gay rights, abortion rights, and stem cell research.” After giving her introduction of the “editorial director...political commentator and social critic,” Mitchell asked, “Why is Notre Dame, which has long, you know, had this tradition from Theodore Hesburgh on -- especially, you know, during the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, of being a broad tent -- why is the Notre Dame commencement so controversial this time?”
While appearing on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show comedian Joan Rivers shared her thoughts on the Miss California controversy: "It's all so stupid and she's taking it so seriously and so well coached...My advice is oh, relax. God wants you to shut up...You know, you've done enough already." Co-hosts Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez, and Julie Chen all laughed in response and shared in mocking Carrie Prejean.
Just prior to Rivers’ comment, Chen asked about the comedian’s recent appearance on NBC’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’: "Joan, I have a quick question. You know, now that you won 'Celebrity Apprentice,' the public holds you to a certain standard...But for the record, Joan, do semi-nude or nude photos exist of you? I mean, state it right now so, you know, Donald Trump knows if he has to think about firing you or not." Rivers replied: "If Donald had seen the cover of my latest book, I wouldn't have made it. And that was taken during a storm. It blew that way."
At that point, Rivers held up a copy of book, entitled: "Men Are Stupid...And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery." The book’s cover featured a picture of Rivers with photo-shopped Dolly Parton-sized breasts. Rodriguez referred to her earlier interview with Prejean: "So, Miss California won't talk about her implants. Can you talk about yours?" Smith pointed to the book and added: "Maybe if Miss California had implants like that she would've won."
In a letter dated today and a press teleconference held at 9:30 EDT this morning, Media Research Center president and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell joined other conservatives in calling on President Obama to withdraw Harry Knox from the presidential Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.:
Harry Knox is the hate-filled antithesis of this noble objective. Knox is a virulent anti-Catholic bigot, and has made numerous vile and dishonest attacks against the Church and the Holy Father. He has no business on any Council having to do with faith or religion.
Co-signers to the letter include lay Catholic and conservative leaders such as Judie Brown of the American Life League, Kate O'Beirne of the National Review Institute, American Spectator publisher Al Regnery, Chuck Donovan of the Family Research Council, and Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.
A list of some instances of Harry Knox's anti-Catholic bigotry is available at MRC.org here. Knox's virulent hatred of Catholics extends from the top down, from Pope Benedict XVI to the rank-and-file member of the Knights of Columbus:
According to Newsweek's Ramin Setoodeh, "American Idol's" Adam Lambert could "be heading home" due to those homophobic Christians that watch every week.
Lambert, Setoodeh wrote in a May 12 blog post, "has been called the best ‘Idol' singer in the history of the show, thanks to his Celine Dion-like pipes. But he's also one of the most controversial, thanks to his Marilyn Manson-like wardrobe and his (not-so) ambiguous sexuality."
Despite the fact that Randy, Simon and Paula all like Lambert, and he's garnered enough votes to compete in the semi-finals of "Idol," Setoodeh warned of a "possible roadblock" to a Lambert victory:
Once upon a time, the press was virtually obsessed with the “with us or against us” foreign policy stance of the Bush presidency. Pundits swung from rhetorical chandeliers, screaming that such a dichotomous approach would alienate the rest of the world - that our “arrogance,” as they called it, would thin our list of allies dramatically.
But that doesn’t seem to apply to the media when the matter is domestic policy and the viewpoint is socially conservative.
MSNBC host Contessa Brewer posted on her Twitter feed this morning:
Leo Penn, the father of famous actor Sean Penn, was hauled before the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the 1950s and harassed, spied upon and ultimately blacklisted for his political views (he attended a pro-union meeting called to support other black- listees.)
He refused to accuse others, and lost his livelihood for a period of time, but went on to direct many TV shows including Star Trek, The Law and Mr. Jones, and I Spy.
So where are the free-speech warriors? How about Sean Penn and the rest of the Hollywood elitists who think the First Amendment was written solely for their benefit? Penn has made millions playing everything from a stoner in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” to gay Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was slain in a horrific attack in San Francisco that also resulted in the death of San Francisco mayor George Moscone.
"Good Morning America" continued its hyping of "Angels & Demons" on Tuesday, a film that accuses the Catholic Church of participating in a brutal massacre of a secret society. While talking to director Ron Howard, GMA co-host Diane Sawyer mostly glossed over the film's controversial elements and again referred to the movie as a "great, spiritual scavenger hunt."
She prompted the director to spin himself as not wanting a fight, saying, "And you're relieved. 'Cause I read somewhere you said, 'I don't like controversy.'" At no point did she mention Catholic League President William Donohue and his organization's opposition to the film or the nasty column Howard wrote on the Huffington Post where he attacked, "I guess Mr. Donohue and I do have one thing in common: we both like to create fictional tales, as he has done with his silly and mean-spirited work of propaganda" (referring to the group's criticism of the film).
An explosive, front-page investigation on Sunday (5/10/09) in the Los Angeles Times reported that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) "repeatedly" returned teachers and aides credibly accused of child molestation back to classrooms, and these individuals then molested children again. The jaw-dropping story, by Times staffer Jason Song, is incredibly angering, and the tales of abuse are stomach-turning. (An accompanying audio slideshow at the Times web site is quite disturbing.)
In the last several years, media outlets have endlessly ripped and tarred the Catholic Church for mishandling episodes from decades ago. Meanwhile, these episodes in LAUSD are all quite recent. One documented case dates back to just last year!
While introducing an interview with disgraced Miami Priest Alberto Cutie, who was recently found to be in a romantic relationship with a woman, co-host Maggie Rodriguez again used the scandal to argue that the Catholic Church should overturn its celibacy requirement for priests: "We go right to a story that has single-handedly revived the debate over whether Catholic priests should be allowed to marry." On Thursday, Rodriguez began reporting on the story by wondering if the vow was "outdated," "rigid," and "a nearly impossible standard" for priests.
Following Rodriguez’s introduction, correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported: "What started as a local scandal has turned into an emotional debate over the Catholic Church's 900-year-old celibacy rule. In an Associated Press poll taken in 2005, 69% of Catholics said the Church should allow priests to marry. Many of Father Cutie's parishioners agree."
Near the end of interview with Cutie, Rodriguez asked: "You don't believe that the celibacy promise should be lifted?...If they don't change this policy, do you think that they will continue to lose people, or fail to recruit people who feel the Church is too rigid?" Earlier in the interview, Cutie explained: "I don't want to be the anti-celibacy priest. I think that's unfortunate. I think it's a debate that's going on in our society, and now I've become kind of a poster boy for it. But I don't want to be that. I believe that celibacy is good, and that it's a good commitment to God."
"Angels & Demons" star Tom Hanks received zero critical questions or challenges when he appeared on Monday's "Good Morning America" to promote a movie that features the Catholic Church ordering a brutal massacre in order to silence a secret society. Instead, Sawyer referred to the film, a prequel to "The Da Vinci Code," as a "scary, spiritual scavenger hunt." After playing a clip of Hanks' character in the film asserting that he has no religious beliefs, she moved on to talking about how the movie star still gets nervous when he acts.
It's not as though Hanks didn't open himself up to questions about the film's validity. He admitted to Sawyer that in a few years, this movie, like every one he's made, will be subject to wondering "if moments are proper or authentic. Or if it actually, really, has some purpose in its reflection of, like, the human zeitgeist and that's where you find out whether or not you were telling the truth or not." Wouldn't this have been a good point to jump in and debate some of the assertions made in the book and movie? Sadly, Sawyer remained silent.
Contrast the gentle way that the ABC host treated Hanks with the grilling of Mel Gibson in a 2003 "Primetime" special on "The Passion of the Christ." Regarding accuracy and his film about Jesus Christ, Sawyer pressed for specifics: "What about the historians who say that the Gospels were written long after Jesus died, and are not merely fact, but political points of views and metaphors? Historians, you know, have argued that in fact it was not written at the time [of Christ]. These [gospel writers] were not eyewitnesses."
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: