Mother Teresa died ten years ago this week, just days after Princess Diana perished in a car crash, displaying a very interesting comparison in media reactions. Princess Diana, molded by so much positive publicity over the years into a "secular saint" when she died, drew superior coverage, both in amount and in tone. Mother Teresa's publicity was also very positive over the years, of course, but the media seemed more willing to solicit harsh criticism of her life, even at the time of her death. Brent Bozell chronicled that story in his column ten years ago:
Two years after a Danish newspaper provoked manufactured outrage in the Islamic world by printing a series of cartoons lampooning Islam's founder, a Swedish newspaper may have done the same with a series of sketches:
Marking the beginning of yet another dispute over free speech and religious sensitivity, the government of Pakistan has joined Iran in protesting the publication in a Swedish newspaper of a sketch featuring the head of Mohammed on the body of a dog.
"Pakistan condemns, in the strongest terms, the publication of an offensive and blasphemous sketch of the Holy Prophet in the Swedish newspaper," the foreign ministry in Islamabad said in a statement Thursday.
MRC president and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell appeared on the August 29 "Glenn Beck Live" on CNN Headline News. He discussed the Washington Post's decision to censor the August 26 edition of Berkeley Breathed's "Opus" cartoon mocking radical Islamists.
Earlier that day, Bozell appeared on FNC's "Fox & Friends" to discuss the Post's double standards on religious sensitivity. You can find video of that at this NB post.
Where are the moderate Muslims who willingly speak out against the Islamist agenda, and why are their voices not heard in the mainstream media?
These questions are explored in a documentary that is receiving national exposure over the next several weeks via an Oregon affiliate of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). Producers and advisors with WETA, the Washington D.C. affiliate of PBS, had previously denied airing the film as part of the "America at a Crossroads Series."
MRC president and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell appeared on the August 29 "Fox & Friends" to discuss the Washington Post's double standards on religious sensitivity.
As NewsBusters associate editor Noel Sheppard reported on Sunday, the Post refused to run Berkeley Breathed's August 26 "Opus" cartoon in which flighty recurring character Lola Granola has declared herself a "radical Islamist" and adopted its strict adherence to Muslim law, including covering herself head-to-toe, much to the chagrin of her long-suffering boyfriend.
There are many climate change skeptics around the world who have suggested that global warming is a new religion being spread by hysterical zealots like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore.
Last night, as reported by the Charleston Gazette, the prophecy was fulfilled (emphasis added throughout):
"Leaders from four Charleston [West Virginia] faith groups discussed global warming from a religious perspective Monday evening, discussing what they and their followers could do to raise awareness about the issue."
On Monday's MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams, host and MSNBC General Manager Abrams attacked CNN's series God's Warriors for "a defense of Islamic fundamentalism and the worst type of moral relativism," and as "shameful advocacy masked as journalism," quipping that series host Christiane Amanpour "avoided getting bogged down in objectivity." Abrams further took exception with Amanpour for comparing those who support Israel's defense strateg
It is becoming ever more obvious that the press treats cartoons poking fun at Islam in a much different manner than those poking fun at any other religion. One might even say there is a double standard, and why not, since the media themselves acknowledge that it is true.
"The strip came in and I knew we would have to send out an alert to all the newspapers," Lago said. "I do that fairly regularly with materials that might pose issues for local areas. ... We knew that because it was a sex joke, it could raise issues. And there is another client that has issues with any Muslim depiction whatsoever." ... But she did alert newspapers about the Muslim-themed cartoon because there was a question about whether Muslim readers would be offended. "I don't necessarily think it's poking fun [at Islam]," Lago said. "But the question with Muslims is, are they taking it seriously?"
What's your nomination for today's Dumb Headline of the Day?
Here's mine, from the August 27 blog entry by Chicago Tribune religion reporter/blogger Manya Brachear. The topic was Mother Teresa's diary and how some entries revealed a fear of being distant from Jesus:
As scared as secular liberals are of the nefarious "religious right," you never hear them complain when Democrats use religion to increase their vote count. The latest example (h/t: Brian Flaherty) of this comes from CNN which reported on a Sunday Barack Obama speech without even a peep of criticism that the senator might be mixing politics and religion too much:
Speaking to Sunday church congregants in New Orleans, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama invoked Jesus' Sermon on the Mount days before the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
"Getting ready to talk to you today, I recall what Jesus said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount," Obama said at New Orleans' First Emmanuel Baptist Church. "He said, whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock."
Editor & Publisher reported Friday that 25 out of 200 newspapers that regularly publish the "Opus" comic strip will not run back-to-back Sunday episodes that include Muslim references and a sex joke (h/t Dan Gainor, emphasis added throughout):
Berkeley Breathed's Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 strips -- which comprise sort of a two-part series -- show the Lola Granola character wanting to become an Islamic radicalist (and wear traditional Muslim clothing) because it's a "hot new fad on the planet." Content also includes what Shearer described as "a sex joke a little stronger than we normally see."
Think this would have been a problem if Lola was doing something that involved Judaism or Christianity? No, I don't either.
In fact, as you'll see from Sunday's strip which I include near the end of the post, the paranoia exhibited by papers afraid to publish this is almost offensive given the accepted level of atheism, agnosticism, and anti-theism -- aka secular progressiveness -- prominently and almost proudly displayed by most media outlets today. But I digress:
As NewsBusters reported last Saturday, PBS's Bill Moyers went on an absolutely disgraceful rant about Karl Rove, George W. Bush, and religion during the August 17 installment of "Bill Moyers Journal."
Two days later, Rove was Chris Wallace's guest on "Fox News Sunday," and took issue with Moyers's comments: "Mr. Moyers ought to do a little bit better research before he does another drive-by slander."
Moyers followed this up with a letter to Wallace posted at his blog Wednesday suggesting that Wallace didn't do his homework concerning Rove, and that Wallace shouldn't "take his every word as gospel."
Friday’s earlier post on CNN’s "God's Warriors" hinted that CNN and Christiane Amanpour gave Muslim "fundamentalists" in the U.S. sympathetic treatment, while they showed discomfort towards Christian conservatives. The original intention was to give examples of each in that post, but the distinction is so clear and important that it deserves its own separate post.
Bob Knight of MRC’s Culture and Media Institute detailed some examples of Amanpour’s biased treatment of Christian conservatives in his latest column. She spent the last 20 minutes of "God’s Christian Warriors" profiling the Battlecry Campaign of Ron Luce, an evangelical Christian who runs a larger organization called Teen Mania Ministries.
As Knight pointed out, Amanpour "couldn’t quite conceal her hostility" towards Luce. A partial transcript from this segment showing the full context of her rather-pointed questions clearly demonstrated this hostility.
In last night’s installment of the six-hour, three-part series God’s Warriors, CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour loads the deck to portray conservative Christians as dangerously at odds with science. She first uses an interview with maverick Rich Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, who has been criticized by many Christian leaders for his embrace of man-made Global Warming theory as fact, then turns to a family of homeschoolers.
Christiane Amanpour’s six-hour miniseries "God’s Warriors" reflects less of the reality of "fundamentalist" monotheists - Jews, Muslims, and Christians - and more of liberals’ attitudes about these faiths. It is clear, given how CNN and Amanpour covered each faith, that they have sympathy towards Muslims in the U.S., "concern" with the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, and are uncomfortable towards the beliefs and practices of Christian evangelicals.
Tuesday night’s "God’s Jewish Warriors" focused on the cause of the "right-wing" Jewish settlers. The term "right wing" is used seven times to describe the settlers and/or their supporters in Israel and in the United States, and "fundamentalist/-ism" was used three times, once in reference to Christian supporters of the settlers in the U.S. On Wednesday night’s "God’s Muslim Warriors," "fundamentalist/-ism" was the more prevalent term, used 11 times. "Right wing" is used twice, only to describe Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch Parliament.
A partial transcript of the first occasion Amanpour used the term "right-wing" to describe Wilders:
In a time when modern science and scholarship have begun to cast doubts on traditional faith, many on the left, right, and center are increasingly abandoning traditional religion. While most such people on the center-right are content simply not to believe, many on the left continue to cling to the salvationist ethos. In the past, that impulse was satiated with communistic reveries. If religion was the opiate of the masses, socialism was the heroin of the secular leftist.
That no longer seems, at least outwardly, to be the case. With a worldwide record of abject failure, socialism lost its claim to the miraculous. Despite this, the left's desire for cosmic justice remained unfilled; it was only a matter of time before something stepped into the teleological breach.
That something is radical environmentalism. In a fantastic essay at his site Number Watch, John Brignell shows how extreme environmentalism has become a secular religion. The comparisons are striking and ought to give pause to any agnostic or atheist wary of the influence of religion on society. Even if you don't share Bridgnell's view of religion, this is an essay worth reading. Here's a small excerpt:
"How in the world could anyone write a lengthy article about the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), without mentioning once that the group has been named an unindicted co-conspirator in the nation’s largest terrorism trial?"
In June, Johnson picked up on ISNA's brush with federal prosecutors in a blog post entitled "A Really Bad CAIR Day." You can also read more reporting on the matter in Josh Gerstein's June 4 New York Sun article, "Islamic Groups Named in Hamas Funding Case."
Indeed, while reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman failed to mention ISNA's ties to Hamas, the USA Today writer focused on how sick and tired Mattson is of persistently denouncing radical Islam:
Over at the Counterterrorism Blog, Steve Emerson has a great post detailing the New York Times's latest attempt to burnish the image of the pseudo-moderate Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR):
In what has become practically a routine, whenever bad publicity for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) surfaces, in an almost Pavlovian response, the New York Times leaps to its defense.
As I wrote about last March in The New Republic, when CAIR had befallen several embarrassing public setbacks, including the rescinding of an award from Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office and public opposition on Capitol Hill for the use of a room to host a CAIR event, the Times dispatched its reporter, Neil MacFarquhar, to resuscitate CAIR’s image.
The State of Texas easily has the highest execution rate in the United States. That is part of the reason why you "don't mess with Texas." And why is it exactly that Texas stands alone in implemeting the death penalty? According to Reuters, the answer is evangelical Christians.
Just when you thought the MSM couldn't sink any lower . . .
Could there possibly be an American who doesn't admire the Reverend Billy Graham? Apparently, yes. Have a look at the cover of this week's 'Time.' Of all the ways the editors might have positioned the logo, they managed to do so in a manner in which the 'M' in 'TIME' is transformed into horns protuding from the good reverend's head.
Tucker Carlson and Willie Geist took up the matter on Tucker's MSNBC show this afternoon.
On Tuesday’s edition of "Nightline," anchor Martin Bashir interviewed businessman Tom Monaghan, founder of a new Catholic university in Florida and also a community called Ave Maria that will be based around Catholic values. Bashir parroted criticism that the town has "been described as a Catholic Jonestown, a kind of Catholic Iran, where individual rights and liberties are curtailed."
Earlier in the segment, Bashir asserted that the community, which will encourage traditional values but be open to all,has "been called a Disney World for Catholics, a country club Christianity."
Update (14:15): Welcome to Rush Limbaugh listeners. You can find more on media bias about the Minnesota bridge collapse on our site here.
By now it's been so widely adopted by the media that it's easy to be numb to it, but Chicago Tribune's E.A. Torriero breathed new life into the Bush-caused-it meme in the I-35W bridge collapse story by adding a new twist. The bridge collapse, suggested Torriero, is insult added to injury for mostly Muslim Somali immigrants already angered by American foreign policy.
In a story filed the evening of August 7, Torriero portrayed the collapse as insult added to injury for Somali immigrants, weaving in suggestions that America under President Bush is becoming akin to a third world country, unable or unwilling to build and maintain safe infrastructure:
Don't get me wrong. I like that mainstream media do take some efforts to report more religion and faith news items these days, including blogs like "The Seeker" at Chicago Tribune's home on the Web and the ongoing "On Faith" feature hosted by the Washington Post and Newsweek.
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," guest host George Stephanopoulos pressed 2008 Republican candidate Mitt Romney over whether he will "do more to address" the issue of his Mormon faith.
This is the same ABC program that has repeatedly raised questions about whether the former Massachusetts governor’s religion could damage his ‘08 chances. In June, reporter Dan Harris speculated on how "uncomfortable questions" about Mormonism could harm the campaign.
In contrast, GMA gushed over a CNN sponsored event in June where Democratic candidates discussed their faith. An onscreen graphic wondered, "Are evangelicals embracing Democrats? New party of God?" For that segment, co-host Robin Roberts marveled, "...Senator Obama out on the campaign trail has, has freely talked about his faith." She also played an extended clip of Hillary Clinton discussing the important role faith played in her life.
Liberals can rest easier knowing that despite her outspoken views on newsworthiness and ethics, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski can still be counted on to go to bat for the Democrats. The reporter and "Morning Joe" regular showed off her famous sense of journalistic integrity while filling in for host Joe Scarborough on Monday morning. In the first half hour, Brzezinski played a video of a journalist trying desperately to get an interview with Antonio Villaraigosa, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles. Villaraigosa has been surrounded by controversy since revelations that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with Spanish language reporter Mirthala Salinas.
The video clip showed one female reporter and at least two cameramen chasing the embattled mayor hoping for an interview. Before she could reach the mayor however, one of Villaraigosa’s hired thugs intercepted the reporter, sending the much smaller woman barreling into what appears to be a dumpster.
Republicans held a debate on Sunday, but CBS’s Hannah Storm seemed more interested in Rudy Giuliani’s personal life and then Mitt Romney’s crankiness. On the August 6 edition of "The Early Show," at 7:19 AM, Storm kicked off the segment noting there was a Republican debate the previous day but, "they did not talk about an issue hanging over front-runner Rudy Giuliani and that is his wife, Judith, who has become a controversial topic in his campaign."
On Wednesday's The Situation Room, CNN host Wolf Blitzer, while interviewing Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison about his recent trip to Iraq, asked the Congressman about his recent controversial remarks comparing President Bush to Hitler, words that could be interpreted as a suggestion that Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, and comments that have received little media coverage. Blitzer gave Ellison the chance to "explain exactly what you did mean," and asked if the Congressman agreed that the "comparison of Bush and Hitler" was "inappropriate." (Transcript follows)