During The Chris Matthews Show, Joe Klein not only labelled certain Christian conservatives charlatans, as Noel Sheppard pointed out, but then he widely claimed that Christian conservatives didn't give a hoot about abortion and same-sex marriage. Here's what Klein claimed about half-way through the show:
"If you look at actual polls of Christian conservatives, abortion is way down there, homosexuality is practically non-existent but 75 to 85 percent say that the thing that concerns them the most is the impact of the culture on their children and they’re absolutely right."
Laura Ingraham of course pasted Klein for his charlatan comment but one wonders where in the world did Klein get these facts? He didn't say but our own Tim Graham guessed it came from following poll of questionable merit here.
“Real Time” host Bill Maher ended his show on Friday night attacking Christianity (hat tip to Crooks and Liars with video link to follow). He began by suggesting that Christianity has “taken over all three branches of government, country music, public schools, [and] the best sellers list.” He then suggested that Christians are “part of a dress-up cult that hates sex and worships magic.”
He continued: “The Christian right are now the party of paranoia.” His solution: “If you’re going to be that paranoid all the time, just get high.”
Dan Gainor reports to me that the Norwegian paper Aftenposten noted that a "comedian" named Otto Jespersen took to his TV show to burn pages of the Old Testament, and riots did not ensue:
The burly, middle-aged Norwegian seems to have a thing for fires: He's perhaps best known for an American flag-burning stunt on national TV three years ago, to protest the US-led invasion of Iraq.
This week, with the help of the local fire brigade, Jespersen lit a bonfire in front of Ålesund's city hall. With cameras rolling for his TV show "Rikets Røst," Jespersen first started burning some Norwegian books. Then, with the willing cooperation of Ålesund Mayor Arve Tonning, he threw paper money on the flames.
When Hillary Clinton charged that the House Republican immigration bill would "criminalize...Jesus himself," there was national-media notice – if not criticism. Even Hillary’s "hometown" newspaper The New York Times reported on March 23 that Senator Clinton intensified her criticism of Republican immigration proposals, albeit on page B-5. But no one in the story criticized Hillary for her harsh attack. Instead, reporter Nina Bernstein noted only critics to Hillary’s left: "Mrs. Clinton had been criticized by some immigrant activists for saying little about the issue until March 8, and then speaking at an Irish-only rally, rather than at a forum more representative of immigrants. But yesterday all seemed forgiven." Bernstein’s story, headlined, "Mrs. Clinton Says GOP Immigration Plan Is At Odds With The Bible," began:
Both Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank and religion reporter Alan Cooperman covered the "War on Christians" conference Tuesday, but neither touched on one trend in Canada that American evangelicals are warning against: "hate crime" laws that make speech condemning homosexuality illegal. In 2004, the Canadian parliament passed such a law, as U.S. News columnist John Leo explained:
"Canada is a pleasantly authoritarian country," Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said a few years ago. An example of what he means is Bill C-250, a repressive, anti-free-speech measure that is on the brink of becoming law in Canada. It would add "sexual orientation" to the Canadian hate propaganda law, thus making public criticism of homosexuality a crime. It is sometimes called the "Bible as Hate Literature" bill, or simply "the chill bill." It could ban publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage or any other political goal of gay groups. The bill has a loophole for religious opposition to homosexuality, but few scholars think it will offer protection, given the strength of the gay lobby and the trend toward censorship in Canada. Law Prof. David Bernstein, in his new book You Can't Say That! wrote that "it has apparently become illegal in Canada to advocate traditional Christian opposition to homosexual sex." Or traditional Jewish or Muslim opposition, too.
Washington Post reporter/columnist Dana Milbank was in the room yesterday when I spoke on a panel on anti-Christian media bias at Rev. Rick Scarborough's Vision America conference yesterday. (Tom DeLay was the lunch speaker, so we were a mere appetizer for the sharks.) Milbank misquoted me in his Wednesday column as saying "we're making some great inroads" in the national media. I did not say that. American Family Radio's Bill Fancher said that, about the White House press corps. I might object less to the misquote if I agreed with that sentiment.
Before that, Milbank said our examples of anti-Christian bias were old and stale. In my case, I noted a survey in the spring 2001 issue of The Public Interest that showed 97 percent of the national reporters surveyed supported a "woman's right to choose" abortion, 84 percent saying they believed in it strongly, and 73 percent agreed that homosexuality and heterosexuality are equally acceptable. He did not cite these enlightening survey numbers, merely the age of the journal they appeared in. (The survey's even older, from 1995.) There's a reason for that: as I explained to the crowd, national reporters have found it counterproductive to participate in surveys and acknowledge their political views. If Pew or Gallup could poll the press corps today on their ideological views, that would help us not sound so "stale," but I doubt Milbank would endorse that research effort.
As a Catholic, I'm long used to finding the media has a chronic case of schizophrenia on the Catholic bishops conference: they are an oppressive caucus of Nosy Nates if they get involved on social issues like abortion, an emerging threat to the separation of church and state. But if they get involved on the liberal side of the divide -- as the American bishops did on nuclear weapons and economics in 1980s, or when they oppose capital punishment -- they're great moral authorities demonstrating a surge in public opinion. Clay Waters finds that case of the gymnastic splits again today at TimesWatch:
Reporter Nina Bernstein evidently caught the spirit of the weekend protests by illegal immigrants and their supporters in Los Angeles, judging by the positive tone of her Monday article, "In the Streets, Suddenly, An Immigrant Groundswell"....Bernstein gushes in the next sentence: "But if events of recent days hold true, they will be facing much more than that. Rallies in support of immigrants around the country have attracted crowds that have astonished even their organizers. More than a half-million demonstrators marched in Los Angeles on Saturday, as many as 300,000 in Chicago on March 10, and -- in between -- tens of thousands in Denver, Phoenix, Milwaukee and elsewhere..."
It's not surprising Andrea Mitchell found the best angle on the Abdul Rahman case was the another-problem-for-Bush angle. (Isn't that always their favorite angle?) My friend Cam Edwards trekked to the Afghan embassy protest, and reports the NBC producer on the scene was there, and intensely interested in getting anti-Bush soundbites:
Media turnout was good. There were, by my count, four television cameras there, including one from NBC Nightly News. The producer for Andrea Mitchell, a guy named Carl, kept asking question after question designed to elicit a critical response towards President Bush. Finally I had to say something.
So I said this isn’t a conservative vs. liberal issue, or even a Christian vs. Muslim issue. It’s a human rights issue. And I said if the media ignores the reality of Abdul Rahman being put to death because of his religious beliefs because they’d rather portray this as “Conservatives angry at the President”, then they’re falling down on the job.
Where is the liberal moral outrage? Oh, to be sure, the left is making its political points in the wake of the case in which a man is facing the death penalty in Aghanistan for having converted from Islam to Christianity. Story here. Administration critics have been quick to question the value of Pres. Bush's efforts in bringing democracy to the Muslim world if situations such as this one are the outcome.
But in reporting the matter on this morning's Today, NBC's Andrea Mitchell cast domestic protest of the matter strictly in terms of moral outrage on the part of the "Christian right".
You'd think that of all days, they'd be believers over at Today this morning. After all, they were blessed with presidential poll numbers for which they were surely praying. Numbers so low that Matt Lauer, Tim Russert et. al could spend an extended first segment reveling in them.
Ironically, in sowing some GOP dissent, Lauer even used the language of religion, suggesting the low numbers were "a blessing in disguise" for congressional Republicans because "they can look and say I don't have a popular president here, I can turn my back on that president." Remind Frist and Hastert not to invite you to the next GOP Unity Rally, Matt.
The media has manufactured another furor over "controversial" Pat Robertson comments. The televangelist has said he was referring to terrorists when he described radical Muslims as "satanic." His statements recently came under the scrutiny of the women on ABC's The View. On the March 14 edition of the program, View co-hosts used Robertson’s comments as an excuse to generally bash religion. Joy Behar stated, "And a lot of the nasty people represent religion in this world.." She also added, "There’s too much anger between extreme religions." Just getting warmed up, the host then took a gratuitous and bewildering swipe at Rush Limbaugh: "Rush Limbaugh, people like that, get your attention because they’re radical."
AP reports that actor and legendary soul singer Isaac Hayes has left the role of Chef on the snide adult cartoon "South Park" because he cannot abide its mockery of religion. One of the show's co-creators, Matt Stone, was quick to attack the singer's sudden departure after eight seasons:
Stone told AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin...This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians." Last November, "South Park" aired a Scientology-mocking episode where the child Stan is thought to be the second coming of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and Hollywood celebrities come to visit. When Stan mocks Tom Cruise, the actor locks himself in Stan's closet, allowing the writers to make endless gay jokes about Cruise refusing to come out of the closet.
The shock waves on Katie Couric's attack on Ave Maria University and its dangerous Catholic culture with its "segregation," its "intolerance," its disrespect for "civil liberties" are spreading. Myrna Blyth picks it up today on National Review, noting the same Katie who whacked the founder of Domino's Pizza as a menace wrote get-cozy notes to the Unabomber to score an interview.
Here's another example of Katie picking on religiously centered towns only when they're Catholic. The town of New Square, New York (population 4,624) floated up to national attention in 2001, after it was discovered that this all-Hasidic Jewish community offered more than 99 percent of their votes for Hillary Clinton for Senate in 2000. On "Meet the Press," Tim Russert noted The New York Daily News reported President Clinton granted clemency to four men "convicted of swiping millions in federal education grants by establishing a fake Jewish school." The clemency came after Clinton held a White House meeting in December 2000 with Senator-elect Hillary Clinton and New Square Rabbi David Twersky. Guess how rough Katie Couric was on that exclusive community, with criminal convictions cleared in a political scandal?
University of Saskatchewan newspaper, The Sheaf, has gone over the top taking a jab at Christians. Just a week after the newspaper refused to run the Danish cartoons because it so offended militant rioters in Europe, the paper ran a cartoon of Jesus performing oral sex on a "capitalist pig". They are blaming it on "editorial oversight", the editor has already resigned.
The real story I'd like to point your attention to is the lack of coverage in the Antique Media with regard to this story; it happened a week ago tomorrow. Right now there is a whopping 7 articles on Google News from huge mainstream papers like "Novopress" and "Fort Frances Times", and while a story from the "Saskatoon Home Page" is listed on Google News, the story has been removed. Where are you LA Times, NY Times, and Boston Globe?
Such coverage may lead Kayne West to proclaim "MSM doesn't care about Jesus Christ."
ABC's Diane Sawyer is the cover girl of the April Ladies' Home Journal, and her interview with LHJ Editor Diane Salvatore has just a few tidbits for news junkies. When asked if she'll see a woman president in her lifetime, Sawyer answered, "Oh, absolutely. No question. I think something shifted. [What, the ABC drama Commander in Chief?] We don't see strength as exclusively masculine anymore. We don't see will as testosterone-laced. We see all of these characteristics in women."
But then it gets more political: "But I do think perhaps that people hope that women will do something about a war-torn world. Now, we don't know that women will be any more or less of anything in office. But I do think there's such a yearning for a less bellicose and territorial world." Here's some other Sawyer tidbits:
Is only positive news about American Muslims fit to highlight?
After issuing this week a massive three-part series with a glowing portrait of the imam of a Brooklyn mosque (while glossing over his sympathies for the terrorist group Hamas), Wednesday's Times buries on page 18 attempted murder by a radical Islamist looking for revenge against Americans.
Brenda Goodman’s “Defendant Offers Details Of Jeep Attack at University,” details what happened on the campus of the University of North Carolina but, like the headline, leaves off some pertinent data.
You’d think Katie Couric would aspire to be an anchorwoman for all the American people, now that CBS appears to be wooing her for the Throne of Rather. So why did she have to be so rough on Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, for being a Catholic?
Monaghan has an extraordinary American story. After struggling badly with his brother in a failing pizza business, he bought his brother out in 1960 and by the 1980s had accumulated amazing riches. He was enjoying them, too, all the gaudy trappings of success, and then he read the book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. Reading about the great sin of pride, his life changed dramatically. He stopped concentrating on material things, instead focusing his energies, and his wealth, in pursuit of spiritual good. He poured millions upon millions of dollars into pro-life and Catholic philanthropy. Among other ventures, he founded Ave Maria University. After facing zoning problems with his first location in Michigan, Monaghan struck a deal in southern Florida, not to merely build a Catholic college, but a truly Catholic town, open to anyone aspiring to live in communion with traditional values.
Today co-host Katie Couric savaged Dominos Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan and Paul Marinelli, CEO of Barron Collier Company (BCC). The two appeared on the March 3 edition of the show to promote Ave Maria, a new Catholic university in Florida and the planned community that will surround it. Couric, interviewing the two men at 7:34AM EST, appeared openly hostile. She stated, "I think people will see this community as eschewing diversity and promoting intolerance." Mr. Marinelli denied this claim, but that didn’t stop Couric from playing the bigotry card.
But disagreement can easily transform into cheap, personal attacks when the issue involves the Catholic Church. Witness morning talk-show host Doug McIntyre on KABC in Los Angeles this morning. In an angry tirade against Mahony's public statements, McIntryre pulled out the priest molestation scandal and proceeded to call a Cardinal "a scumbag." In reading his name "Roger M. Mahony," McIntyre formulated that his middle name was not Michael, but that "the M stands for molester." (The Cardinal has never been charged by law enforcement for molestation.)
Does every discussion involving the Catholic Church have to resort to the cheap ploy of dragging in the molestation scandal? At what point does this ploy cross the line into simple anti-Catholic bigotry?
British tech site The Register reported that Linda Callahan was trying to sign up for an email account with Verizon and was not allowed to because her name was blasphemous to Yahoo, which is in partnership with Verizon.
Yahoo banned any name that has "Allah" in it, including Callahan or Kallahar. The blasphemy policy didn't, however, cover God, Jesus or Buddah.
Carsten Juste, the editor of the Danish newspaper that set off an international kerfuffle by publishing cartoons of the founder of Islam was interviewed in yesterday's edition. An excerpt from the Q&A:
There were some journalists here at the paper, including some who write regularly about Muslims, immigration, and integration, who strongly advised us not to do it. It was quite a discussion. Personally I thought the cartoons were harmless - very much in fitting with our Danish tradition for caricature. If some of the cartoons had been cruder - if an illustrator had given us Mohammed pissing on the Koran, for example - then it would have been pulled. The same way I've pulled a lot of cartoons over the years that devout Christians might have found insulting. Or others because they were too vulgar or too crude. I didn't feel that these were, and so we went ahead.'
Saturday's CBS Evening News devoted its “Weekend Journal” segment to, as anchor Russ Mitchell explained, “the Senate veteran who is known far and wide as 'Saint Jack.'" Bill Whitaker proceeded to relay, without any competing voices, the anti-Christian Right enmity of former moderate, at best, Missouri Republican Senator Jack Danforth who is on a crusade to rid the Republican Party of the influence of Christian conservatives. Whitaker began with a clip of Danforth declaring: "I am concerned about the Republican Party becoming, in essence, the party of the Christian conservatives." Whitaker then bucked-up Danforth's authority: "This is no Republican-basher speaking. It's party stalwart John Danforth, a lifelong Republican with rock solid conservative credentials.” To support the ludicrous claim that Danforth holds “solid conservative credentials,” Whitaker cited how he “led the bitter partisan battle to put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court” -- when that just reflected personal loyalty to Thomas who had worked on Danforth's staff when he was Missouri's Attorney General -- and how as “an episcopal priest, he presided over the funeral of Ronald Reagan," as if all those involved in the service were right-wingers.
The Los Angeles-based Whitaker, who traveled to La Quinta, California to interview Danforth, trumpeted how “this faithful Republican is worried about the direction his party is taking." After relating Danforth's contention that the involvement of religious conservatives “makes the party seem exclusive, and I think it makes American politics meaner” as well as his complaint that Republicans “pander” in “the conscious development of wedge issues in order to excite religious passion,” Whitaker sighed: "But even he admits it works. The GOP now controls the White House, the Senate, the House. But at what cost?" Danforth alleged: "If by winning an election we've caused such divisions in the country that we are unable to address the really big issues before us, then we've done more harm than good." (Transcript follows.)
On the Washington Post op-ed page today, Colbert King snidely protests the conservative feeling that liberals turned the Coretta Scott King funeral into a bit of whooping political theater. "The fuss over the funeral is probably the silliest snit of all."
King raised several straw men. First, how could you expect a funeral for a political icon like Coretta not to raise issues of racism, poverty, and war? (But we didn't expect it to be free of political themes. We did expect it to be free of whooping ovations of sentences that seemed designed to embarrass the President as he sat there.) Second, he claims this is the way black Baptist funerals are. (But the "mourners" were not worshiping Jesus, saying Amen to their Lord in loud voices. They were whooping at liberal anti-Bush sentiments. If that's a black Baptist funeral, then it IS as much a campaign event as a religious event.) King concludes:
Over at Townhall, columnist Larry Elder wrote about an interview on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross." Most of the interviews and reviews on that show are about arts and culture, but politics are also a topic. It airs on at least 350 NPR affiliates across the country. Elder writes about her interview with former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin about the inappropriateness of the Bush tax cuts. (Audio can be found here.) He centers in on the liberal questioning:
Gross: "This is the first time, as far as I understand it, that we've cut taxes during wartime. What does the math look like, paying for Iraq while cutting taxes?"
MediaBistro's FishBowl DC bloggers, Garrett Graff and Patrick Gavin, posted an internal Washington Post report on racial diversity at the newspaper. The January 26 cover letter to newsroom staff from top editors -- Executive Editor Len Downie, Managing Editor Phil Bennett, and Deputy Managing Editor Milton Coleman -- boasted of increased diversity in hiring: "Through determined recruiting, we have increased the number of minority journalists working in our newsroom to an all-time high of 152, which is 23.5 percent of our professional staff. The two percent increase from 21.4 percent at the end of 2004 is the largest ever."
But the real dirt in the 30-plus page report is the testimony of anonymous Post reporters. This one sticks out for me, on page 5: "One person noted an anti-religion bias in the newsroom. When referring to the faithful, 'the word of choice around here is "kooks".'This same person felt offended during the recent coverage of the Pope’s death, when some of her colleagues, she said, were mocking the Pope. 'I was [too] intimidated to complain, even since my editor was part of it, so I got up and left. Faith is derided.'" Other reporters complained:
Over at the NBC Nightly News "Daily Nightly" blog, NBC "investigative producer" Robert Windrem relates how at the 2:30 pm editorial meeting on Wednesday, "we had a lively discussion of what the context should be" about the Muslim cartoon jihad. For his part, Windrem agreed with local liberal academics, who somehow can link cartoonists to police brutality:
The bottom line for me was that this can't be dealt with as a story about cartoons or even about Islamic prohibitions about the depiction of Muhammad. It has to be about the simmering pot that went to boil, as Shibley Telhami, the University of Maryland scholar, said this morning on Washington radio. He noted that this is the Islamic version of the Rodney King verdict. In that case, it wasn't just about the verdict against four Los Angeles policemen. It was about African-Americans' belief, whether based on reality or perception, that they had been the victims of decades of racism and thuggery by the LAPD.
Hardball's screen graphic "Global Fury" presumably referred to the rioting over the Mohammed cartoons. But it might also have been a subliminally sardonic comment about Chris Matthews' guest, Amy Goodman, host of the far-left radio show "Democracy Now."
If Hillary is angry, perhaps she's taken lessons from Goodman. This is one angry woman. Goodman's explanation by way of a justification of the rioting?
"This is about people feeling marginalized. This has to do with the war in Iraq, this has to do with 'the Occupation' [translation: Israel's claim to a right to exist], this is about hundreds being held at Guantanamo with the Koran being desecrated."
As noted previously on Newsbusters, the violent Muslim protests against the publication of cartoons lampooning Islam has clearly put The New York Times in an uncomfortable position. The rioters, while to the Times an embattled minority in the West, are attacking free speech. Not good. But their most vocal critics are conservatives. Indeed, the Times describes the paper that first ran the cartoons as “conservative.” Can’t side with them.
In today's “Critic’s Notebook” piece, headlined "A Startling New Lesson in the Power of Imagery" and featuring a photo of children holding a sign "Danish People Not Welcome Here," writer Michael Kimmelman unwittingly describes the paper’s dilemma halfway through his meandering 1,396-word item:
But the Mohammad cartoons are “gratuitous assaults on religious symbols” and won’t be run by the paper.
Just yesterday, the Times wrote, in an editorial on the Danish cartoons of Mohammad, that “The New York Times and much of the rest of the nation's news media have reported on the cartoons but refrained from showing them. That seems a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words.”
Apparently the Arts pages didn’t get the memo, because it runs a photo of Chris Ofili’s dung-clotted “Holy Virgin Mary” painting in Wednesday’s Arts section story by Michael Kimmelman, who also calls the Danish cartoons “callous and feeble.”
In a web-exclusive story on the web site of U.S. News & World Report, Senior Writer Jay Tolson's article on Muhammad cartoons is headlined "Matters of Faith: Satanic Cartoonery." Satanic? And no quotes? Since when do they use "Satanic" without quotes and mockery? Tolson comes flat-down in the middle of this controversy, believing that free speech needs some respect, but that freedom has been "abused," as Bill Clinton argued. Hmm...Tolson ends by touting the "high-minded sentiments" of one Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim activist the U.S. State Department banned from teaching at Notre Dame. Tolson's theme is the lines are blurred (and guess who's doing the blurring):
Reactions to the cartoon scandal do not simply fall on two sides of an increasingly blurred line between the Islamic and western worlds.