The vicious anti-Catholic (and in general, anti-religious) bloggers hired by the John Edwards campaign came under surprising condemnation from liberal columnist (and PBS NewsHour pundit) Mark Shields and liberal NPR reporter Nina Totenberg on the Friday night TV talk show "Inside Washington." Shields said he hesitated to agree with Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, but he was "right." Shields dared go where media accounts have not, explicitly reading Amanda Marcotte’s sleazy joke about the sperm of the Holy Spirit and Mary aborting Jesus with the Plan B pill, saying "if she had written similarly about a Jewish person, an Islamic person, a gay or a lesbian, she would be banished to the outer darkness." Totenberg called it "disgusting."
Only Newsweek’s Evan Thomas seemed to try and make excuses for Edwards by slamming bloggers in general: "Read blogs. They're full of that kind of stuff."
Regular readers know I'm not in the habit of choosing unflattering screencaps, but sometimes devotion to accurately portraying the tenor of an event demands it. Which it does in spades in conveying the vituperation unleashed on MSNBC today in an exchange over the Edwards blogger brouhaha between Dem strategist Julie Roginsky and GOP strategist Brad Blakeman.
Words don't come close to doing justice to the Roginksy vitriol. I urge you to view the video here.
Roginsky began the conversation by asserting that Edwards did the right thing in retaining the two bloggers with a history of making outrageous anti-Catholic statements, as detailed here. She called it a "pragmatic political decision."
Ron Reagan put his ballet background to use this evening, bending over backwards to avoid admitting the obvious: that the Edwards bloggers are anti-Catholic bigots. Appearing on Hardball, Reagan was matched against one of my personal favorites among conservative commentators: Terence Jeffrey of Human Events.
Asked by host Chris Matthews whether John Edwards should retain the controversial bloggers, Reagan responded:
"Yes, absolutely. If John Edwards had folded, everybody on the right would have known that John Edwards can be put in a defensive crouch."
Jeffrey: "Ron, did you actually read what they wrote?"
Reagan: "Yes I did. I did read."
Jeffrey: "Is it not anti-Catholic bigotry, Ron?"
Reagan: "I don't know what was on their mind. I can't give you a yes or no because I can't read their mind."
A week after NBC's Law & Order aired an episode revolving around an Ann Coulter-like character (NewsBusters item with video) whose anti-embryonic stem cell research position so angered a student suffering from Parkinson's disease that he tried to kill her (but his gunshot kills an innocent student), tonight's (Friday) episode is inspired by the Ted Haggard case -- though with the added twist of murder. From TV Guide.com:
“A popular reverend is suspected of a gay actor's murder when it is discovered the victim threatened to out the pastor and expose his hypocritical stance on homosexuality.”
Last weekend, the Chicago Sun-Times gave nearly an entire page in their "Controversy" Section to a man who feels America is under attack by a radical, religion that is inseparable from Nazi Fascism. He feels it is a hateful religion that is out to destroy America and everything it stands for and it must be stopped at all costs.
No he did not mean Islamism, amazingly enough, but Christianity.
There are times when people find their lives empty and begin to look for a "new" way of life. Sometimes they find that life in a cult and become brainwashed converts like "Azzam The American", the recent American born al Qaeda mouthpiece, or Johnny Lindh Walker, the young enemy combatant from California who was caught fighting for al Qaeda against US forces. If one looks for something, one usually finds it. And too often when what is being looked for is found, it causes more trouble than it really is due or takes on a larger meaning than reality permits. The saying "Be careful what you wish for comes to mind.
CNN isn't the only media outlet reporting on the anti-religious John Edwards campaign bloggers in a painfully incomplete manner. Howard Kurtz carved out a little space deep in today's Washington Post Style section (on page C-7) for a story headlined "John Edwards Keeps Controversial Bloggers." Although bloggers on both sides are identified by labels, there's no ideological "liberal" or "feminist" label used for the Silky Pony's poison pens:
Former senator John Edwards said yesterday that while he is offended by some inflammatory remarks written by two bloggers before he hired them for his presidential campaign, he is keeping them on anyway.
John Edwards is retaining his attack-dog leftist bloggers. His campaign has a statement on the Edwards blog, and the candidate claimed "they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word. We're beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can't let it be hijacked."
As anyone who's read the Kathryn Lopez smackdown on their blazing blog guns at Catholics (and Pope Benedict, the alleged dictator) knows, it's quite clear they intended to malign a faith. The subject emerged on CNN's The Situation Room Wednesday night, but the most disturbing part of the story appeared on screen. The graphic emphasized unproven allegations:
What? Kathryn's beginning made the vicious anti-Catholic flavor of Amanda Marcotte's blogging very clear:
Victorious Colts coach Tony Dungy said to CBS sports anchor Jim Nantz on the post-game show last night that he and Bears coach Lovie Smith were proud to be successful black coaches, but more proud of being Christian coaches. How many media outlets will use the first half, and snip away the second?
I tell you what. I'm proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American to win this. It means an awful lot to our country. [SNIP!] But again, more than anything, I've said it before, Lovie Smith and I, not only the first two African-Americans, but Christian coaches, showing that you can win doing it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that.
The interview aired right around 10:13 Sunday night.
Sunday's Washington Post Magazine had another one of those true Post chestnuts, chronicling how cruel and backward the state of Virginia is to lesbians. April Witt's story focused on two women who entered into a civil union in Vermont now battling for custody of an artificially inseminated daughter. Vermont says Janet the lesbian partner is automatically a parent, Virginia says not so fast. The story contained several elements that the gay left does not appreciate -- Lisa the birth mother left behind homosexuality and embraced Christianity, and the story mentions ex-gay authors and ministries. But it also carried the classic tendency to divide the ideological combat between "conservatives" and not liberals, but "gay rights activists," activists whose work is in historic "landmark" cases.
The trend starts early in the story: "On one side are lawyers who are leading gay-rights activists; on the other are legal combatants for a conservative Christian foundation associated with Jerry Falwell."
For the MSM, there's nothing like the occasion of a natural disaster to challenge the faith of religious believers.
On today's Good Morning America, Kate Snow interviewed the Rev. Larry Lynn, Pastor of the Lady Lake Church of God, whose buildings were totally levelled by the tornadoes that recently struck central Florida.
A minute or so into the interview, Snow asked a question that challenged the core of the pastor's religious belief: "How do you reconcile your faith with the enormity of this tragedy?"
How far will reporters go to get a juicy story: How low will they go? How many rules will they break? How many sacred cows will they make into hamburger? Reporter Riccardo Bocca of L'Espresso is attracting worldwide attention from Catholic media outlets and bloggers. Bocca stealthily visited confessionals at 24 Catholic churches in Rome, Turin, Naples, Milan and Palermo, and lied to each priest he visited, manufacturing false confessions for various sins. He said he wanted to show the disparity between what the church teaches and what priests do. Would they conform to Catholic teaching or slip out of orthodoxy to show sympathy? Bocca found priests who would step away from orthodoxy, although not on abortion.
Fox News explained that the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, was furious: "Shame! There is no other word to express our distress toward an operation that was disgusting, worthless, disrespectful and particularly offensive," the Vatican's paper said in an editorial headlined "Fake confessions in search of a shameful scoop." (Philip Pullella at Reuters also had a story.) I can't imagine even many "secular progressive" reporters finding it ethical to lie your face off in a supposedly sacred ritual.
On Tuesday night, the ABC program "Nightline" devoted almost nine minutes of air time to a group of atheists who are encouraging teens to take the "blasphemy challenge" and videotape themselves denying the existence of God. Although reporter John Berman did ask some challenging questions to the creators of blasphemychallange.com, he also tossed softballs, such as "What’s wrong with God?" Additionally, the ABC correspondent first related how atheists are actually an oppressed minority and yet also the wave of the future:
John Berman: "Two of the best-selling books on Publishers Weekly religion lists are by atheists about atheism. There's a hard-hitting documentary questioning the very existence of Jesus. There's even an atheist lobby in Washington."
Like describing a spiral staircase without using your hands, "Today" pulled off the impressive feat this morning of getting through an entire segment about the UK terror plot uncovered yesterday without once mentioning that the suspects are Muslim. Oh, the word "Muslim" did pop up - but only or purposes of describing the intended victim of the plot and concerned area residents.
NBC's Keith Miller reported from London, mentioned that "the alleged target of the kidnaping [was] a British Muslim soldier on leave from Afghanistan."
Sometimes, you have to read all the way to the end of an article to find that Time is still asking, like their famous 1966 cover, "Is God Dead?" At the end of its January 29 cover story (or cover essay) by Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, the academic drops the typical bomb: religion "devalues life on earth," and the "most famous practioners" of belief in God in our time "hijacked the airliners on 9/11."
In the closing section, titled "Toward A New Morality" (that would be "post-religious morality"), Pinker sought to rebut author Tom Wolfe. He asserted:
...few scientists doubt that they will locate consciousness in the activity of the brain. For many nonscientists, this is a terrifying prospect. Not only does it strangle the hope that we might survive the death of our bodies, but it also seems to undermine the notion that we are free agents responsible for our choices -- not just in this lifetime but also in a life to come. In his millennial essay "Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died," Tom Wolfe worried that when science has killed the soul, "the lurid carnival that will ensue may make the phrase 'the total eclipse of all values' seem tame."
When the Washington Post notices a conservative personality with a front-page Style section profile, they are acknowledged that he may have Arrived. But that doesn't mean the profile will be nice. David Segal's profile of CNN Headline News and syndicated radio host Glenn Beck starts out on the front page as noticing Beck is a tad more moderate in persona than Bill O'Reilly, acknowledging his own faults and finding gray areas, and "he won't offer the righteous condemnations you'd expect from the God-fearing conservative that he constantly reminds viewers he is."
But turn inside, and Segal has profiled Beck for the purpose of a public whipping by leftists over Beck's questioning of Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison: "I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way." Segal lines up the liberal critics:
Based on what Times Watch has read, “Friends of God: A Road Trip With Alexandra Pelosi,” the documentary on Christian evangelicals airing on HBO tonight (Pelosi being the daughter of you-know-who) seems more respectful than the contemptuous anti-Christian commentary it's generated, including a paragraph Thursday from television critic Alessandra Stanley.
Documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has directed a new film that takes a look at the evangelical movement in America. Appearing on Monday’s "Good Morning America," she discussed the now disgraced Reverend Ted Haggard who served as a guide for her film crew’s tour of Red State America. Pelosi told host Diane Sawyer that most people think of evangelical Christians as "holy roller Jesus freaks," and seemed surprised that Haggard didn’t fall into that category. During the discussion, both the ABC anchor and the filmmaker appeared to be trying to treat evangelicals with respect. However, each succumbed to the occasional condescending sounding slip-up. Sawyer asked Pelosi whether the trip to conservative parts of America left her feeling as though "you had to get a visa to a foreign country." And later, Pelosi described the journey "as sort of a sociological field trip." It was the "Jesus freak" comment, however, that appeared too much for even Diane Sawyer:
Alexandra Pelosi: [On the Ted Haggard scandal] "I was heartbroken. Because pastor Ted was my tour guide. And he was so good to me. He took me under his wing and said, ‘Let me explain the red states to you’. And it was hard for me to understand, most people think of evangelicals as being these holy roller Jesus freaks, and Ted wasn't like that. And so, it was interesting for me to understand and say, these are good people. He was reasonable. He was reasonable. He was a normal, every day man. And so, it was hard to stomach, what had happened."
Sawyer: "Yes, and I'm going to have everybody write you who wants to write about ‘holy roller Jesus freaks,’ okay?"
Lifesite had the report that early Thursday morning’s edition of NBC's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" displayed a character called "the homophobic country western singer." Conan O’Brien introduced him: "Our last new character's heart is in the right place, even if he's a complete idiot. Please welcome the homophobic country western singer." The singer began to play a guitar and sing a song warning Jesus Christ not to make a gay pass at him:
Oh I love you Jesus But only as a friend. You touched my heart but I hope That's where the touchin' ends.
You're always lookin' over me When I need a higher power. But you better look at somethin' else When I'm in the shower.
Christopher Hedges, the former NY Times reporter infamously booed off a college commencement stage in the middle of an anti-war rant in May 2003 , has a new book out with the hauntingly ambivalent title, "American Fascists -- The Christian Right and the War on America."
Contributor Rick Perlstein reviews it in the Times' Sunday book section and finds it unconvincing (although Perlstein seems to share some of Hedges' paranoia regarding conservative Christians):
"Hedges was a longtime foreign correspondent, for The New York Times and other publications. But he writes on this subject as a neophyte, and pads out his dispatches with ungrounded theorizing, unconvincing speculation and examples that fall far short of bearing out his thesis."
That's as far as the review goes about Hedges' 15-year-history at the Times.
The blog "Couric & Co." at CBSNews.com has transformed from mostly Katie to mostly other CBS personnel in the last few weeks. On Monday, Couric writer (and former CNN anchor) Mary Alice Williams recounted how the ascent of Nancy Pelosi was a "very big deal" and went a little overboard about how much better women were:
The picture alone demonstrated what a difference her leadership will make. Instead of a lone male gaveling Congress into session, here was a female surrounded by children. Women, in ways far different from men, represent families.
Williams wrote that her 16-year-old daughter Alice was there to witness history, courtesy of her congressman (no name or party affiliation attached). She also made it seem likely that she's the one who wrote for Couric that it's taken too long: "In helping women gain true equality in every aspect of life, Susan B. Anthony always said 'failure is impossible.' Today the only quibble she might have is that it took so long."
The Sunday debut of "Hannity’s America" on the Fox News Channel featured Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the only non-liberal co-host on ABC's "The View." During the interview, Hannity and Hasselbeck discussed some controversies involving her colleague Rosie O’Donnell. Through the discussion about the war of words between Donald Trump and Rosie, Hasselbeck mildly defended her co-host and even asserted that despite political differences, Rosie is her "friend."
However, when Sean Hannity inevitably came to Rosie’s controversial statement "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam," Hasselbeck did not come close to defending her "friend." Hasselbeck even called O’Donnell’s comments "absurd." The entire transcript is below.
George W. Bush is less overtly religious in his public pronouncements than many of his presidential predecessors. Yet the MSM often portrays him as a zealot who sees himself on a mission from God.
Pundit Norm Ornstein perpetuated the stereotype on this morning's "Good Morning America". ABC senior national correspondent Jake Tapper narrated a segment on Pres. Bush's impending announcement of a surge of troops into Iraq. The thrust was that W is making his decision despite bi-partisan opposition. Not only are virtually all Dems opposed, but, as Tapper put it, "even some Republicans are expressing serious doubts about the proposed surge." To that effect, an excerpt was played of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell's appearance on yesterday's Fox News Sunday stating: "I think there will be some who will and some who won't [support the surge]."
Brent Bozell's culture column centers on a twisted little late-night Cartoon Network show called "Moral Orel." It's a vicious little claymation attack on Christianity that airs on "Adult Swim" 15 minutes after Sunday is over. Two weeks ago, it aired 15 minutes into Christmas with the first and worst episode: a Christmas special.
Right from the get-go, viewers learn that Orel’s parents are very phony Christians who hate each other, and their preacher, Reverend Putty, looking typically ridiculous in the phoniest of toupees, declares his gratitude to St. Joseph in his Christmas sermon for accepting the "unplanned birth" of Jesus, since it prevented them from the horror of being Jewish instead of Protestant. They worship at "God's Favorite Protestant Church."
Blogger Mary Katharine Ham of Townhall.com was none too pleased with The Washington Post's biased, inaccurate treatment of her church, The Falls Church Episcopal, in a front page article of the January 4 paper.
On Thursday’s Good Morning America, correspondent Claire Shipman offered a very positive, Obama-like portrayal of newly elected Congressman and Muslim Keith Ellison. Because Ellison’s use of the Koran in his swearing in was once owned by Thomas Jefferson, it has "impeccable American credentials" and it is "a politically savvy move" by Congressman Ellison. Shipman continued her glowing report calling him "affable" and states that he "charms almost every crowd."
Despite the historic first, Shipman failed to report that Ellison was associated with the racist and anti-semitic organization, the Nation of Islam. Although Keith Ellison has since distanced himself from that organization, he retains strong ties with the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) which has connections to the Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas. CAIR grew to be so controversial that even ultra liberal Senator Barbara Boxer disassociated herself from them.
Brian Stelter at TV Newser reproduced some New Year's resolutions from CBS News stars from their weekly newsletter called the "C-Note." The head-turner in an otherwise routine pile (like morning show host Hannah Storm resolving to "take more naps") is long-standing "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer saying he never wants to be a saint, since they are "the most tedious people." He boasted:
"I resolve to never make resolutions. My sins are all pleasurable, my virtues impeccable. I love animals, small children and I am never cruel to grown-ups, unless it is absolutely necessary. I smoke too much and occasionally over-medicate on good red wine. Saints are the most tedious people, humorless and lacking in imagination. I have no intention of ever becoming one."
In apparent pursuit of their status as the chief news source for Islam in the west, the AP published a puff piece about how wonderful it is for young Americans to participate in the Muslim practice of the Hajj -- a required pilgrimage to Mecca.
Here is how wonderful and instructive it is...
The 20-year-old American tells his hajj pilgrimage stories ... and saw a man drop dead while circling the Kaaba.
Well, how "inspiring" it is to see a man drop dead at a religious function. Is that the sort of thing that should be praised as a civilized expression of religion?
"Dude, I saw it, the guy had the most peaceful smile on his face," (said) Adil Muschelewicz ... Muschelewicz didn't know the cause of the man's death -- exhaustion maybe, he said -- but it became one of the many powerful religious moments that have shaken him during the trip.
"I looked at his face and I looked at the Kaaba, and it was like he was happy, he'd gotten close to God. It just went boom, like this deep bass line in my heart," he said. "It was so emotional. I was by myself, in this wild place I'd never been before."
Billy Graham may seem like an American icon to some, but not to Katie Couric, who scorned him during live Ford memorial service coverage on CBS Tuesday morning. She complained about him for writing a "remarkably partisan" letter comforting Gerald Ford after he lost to her hero Jimmy Carter in 1976. Who is Couric to judge "remarkably partisan," since she leans exactly the other way when it comes to her hero, President Carter? At about 10:40 am, Couric talked with liberal Carter-boosting historian Douglas Brinkley about Ford's religious faith, which brought out this exchange about Ford's relationship with the evangelist:
NY Times theatre reporter Jesse Green's "Not Everybody Loves Patricia" is about actress Patricia Heaton, former co-star of "Everyone Loves Raymond" who is currently appearing in an off-Broadway play. Heaton is also nearly unique in Hollywood for being an outspoken pro-lifer, which explains the slightly mean-spirited Times headline.
sic: thus; so. Used to indicate that a quoted passage, especially one containing an error or unconventional spelling, has been retained in its original form or written intentionally. - Answers.com definition
Adding religious insult to mortal injury in its coverage of the 3000th US service-person to die in Iraq, ABC seemed to suggest that there was something odd or erroneous in the expression of a traditional belief in the afterlife.
Today's "Good Morning America" focused on the death of Army Specialist Dustin Donica of Texas, believed to be that 3000th serviceman lost in Iraq. Narrating the segment, ABC's Jonathan Karl stated: "The MySpace page he left behind bears the tributes of those whose lives he touched." The screen then displayed the message [shown larger-than-normal here for clarity's sake] from one of those friends:
"You were one of my best friends and I'll never forget you. All my prayers go to your family and I'll see you again." (sic)