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."
ABC explored the existence of Satan during the March 26 "Nightline" but stacked the deck in favor of those who do not believe the devil exists.
Harris invited internationally known, and in some circles, renowned, New Age guru Deepak Chopra to argue that Satan does not exist. Bishop Carlton Pearson, hailed as a "former fundamentalist preacher who says he used to cast demons out his followers," joined Chopra.
Mark Driscoll, labeled a "hip yet hard-line preacher," and Annie Lobert, a former prostitute and leader of the "Hookers for Jesus" outreach program in Las Vegas, represented the view that the devil does exist. Lobert herself noted her lack of intellectual credentials, "I don't have a theologian background, but I have 16 years of experience of walking with the Devil so I know he's real for sure."
Erbe began by expressing her glee at the opportunity to write about this: “The controversy over Notre Dame University’s invitation to President Obama to deliver this year’s commencement address is too tempting for me not to join, so here goes.” Not to nitpick Bonnie, but you got the name of the institution wrong. Notre Dame University is in Lebanon. The Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana is the University of Notre Dame. The difference does matter.
An offended Chris Matthews, on Thursday night's "Hardball," was so shocked by Sarah Palin's claim that there wasn't anybody to pray with on the McCain campaign, that he hurled multiple insults Palin's way, calling her, "a little scary," and asked if Palin thought McCain was, "the Anti-Christ?" Matthews was appalled by Palin's recent revelation that she had trouble finding someone to pray with before her vice presidential debate and the MSNBC host worried such talk about "The Deity in a political environment," wasn't "normal."
Matthews' guest panelists also joined in the fray as the Washington Post's Lois Romano declared, "I think it's bizarre and I think it's judgmental," and Mother Jones magazine's David Corn cackled it was "mean and catty." RNC chair Michael Steele was also knocked for a recent profession of faith, as Matthews blurted: "Why does everything sound like the '700 Club,' with this party now? I mean everything seems to be a religious discussion."
Matthews and his panel didn't just stop at insulting Palin's religious beliefs, they also belittled Palin for her hand gestures and attractiveness. Over video of Palin waving at a campaign rally Matthews ridiculed: "You know, doing that windshield wiper wave though is not serious. That's not a serious wave. I'm sorry that's not what you do when you want to lead the free world. That's, that's more like, 'I'm a celebrity and people like me.'
And just before that snide comment from Matthews, Romano and Corn dismissed Palin for her looks:
Both MSNBC’s David Shuster and CNN’s Rick Sanchez pulled their scoop straight from Media Matters’ blog, and focused on Newt Gingrich’s Twitter comments criticizing President Obama’s upcoming commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, instead of the controversy over the speech itself. Shuster targeted the former Speaker of the House during the “Hypocrisy Watch” segment on Tuesday’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue program, saying that Gingrich was “already telling Notre Dame what to do,” even though he wasn’t Catholic yet and had gone through two divorces.
Almost a day later on Wednesday’s Newsroom program on CNN, Sanchez devoted a whole segment to Gingrich’s Tweet, and also brought up the divorce issue: “Newt Gingrich couldn’t resist taking a shot at President Obama. He seems to infer that the president shouldn’t talk to a Catholic university because of quote, ‘values.’ Should Newt Gingrich, thrice married, go there? Really?”
The April 2009 issue of Self magazine features a four page article about the difficult decision to “selectively reduce multiple embryos.” The problem is, the author left out the voice of those who would never choose that option.
Roxanne Patel Shepelavy wrote the health article titled, “When fertility treatments become frightening” about the risks of multiple births from implantation via In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). She included the stories of two women who chose to “selectively reduce” (abort) a few of their embryos in order to protect their own health and the health of the babies they did want to keep. But Shepelavy didn’t include any interviews with women who chose to keep all of the implanted embryos.
To its credit, Self addressed the issue from a moral perspective in telling the story of Kristina. “But it wasn't that simple to Kristina,” Shepelavy wrote. “The daughter of devout Catholics, she had always been pro-life, determined, if she ever got pregnant, to see it through. ‘Abortion was never an option,’ she says. ‘If I accidentally got pregnant, that was it. I'd be the one who put myself in that position and I'd have to go through with it.’ Yet here she was, pregnant by choice and contemplating what, in her mind, amounted to the same thing: getting rid of her babies because they were a health risk and a life unimagined.”
Major media began shielding Barack Obama from criticism early in the presidential primaries. It's no surprise, then, when they continue to do so today. However, the media's collective, instinctive tone-deafness in regard to grassroots activities continues to stun and amaze.
NewsBusters has so far noted several grassroots efforts that have been ignored – despite similar left-leaning efforts getting fantastic coverage. For example, there was Noel Sheppard's initial entry on the Chicago Tea Parties, and the tiny amount of coverage they received. Then, there was Warner Todd Huston, noting the San Francisco Chronicle's preferential treatment of an anti-Wall Street protest. For the magnum opus, however, we turn to the entire mainstream media's blind eye – pointed squarely at the University of Notre Dame.
A leading HIV researcher -- and self-described liberal -- defends what the pope has said recently about condoms and AIDS.
I won't hold my breath for the secular mainstream media to notice, but that's what Christianity Today magazine reported on March 20 with its publication of an e-mail interview between deputy managing editor Tim Morgan and the director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project, Edward C. Green:
[Morgan]: Is Pope Benedict being criticized unfairly for his comments about HIV and condoms?
[Dr. Green]: This is hard for a liberal like me to admit, but yes, it's unfair because in fact, the best evidence we have supports his comments — at least his major comments, the ones I have seen.
Green went on to say that, at least as far as African countries are concerned, Pope Benedict is correct that condom promotion doesn't lessen the AIDS problem (emphases mine):