"Has the non-negotiable stance and rhetoric against abortion rights strayed from the Scripture’s call to choose life and led to a grave disrespect for life even inside our houses of worship?"
So asks Chicago Tribune religion reporter/blogger Manya Brachear in a June 1 The Seeker blog post, headlined "Is abortion inevitable consequence of abortion debate?" It followed in the wake of the May 31 shooting of abortionist George Tiller. Tiller, an usher at Wichita's Reformation Lutheran Church, was shot during the Sunday service there.
"Has the quest to save lives robbed people of their humanity," Brachear asks in concluding her story. Nowhere in her article, however, did she look at the other side of the coin and wonder if the rhetoric of abortion rights activists leads inevitably to the moral legitimization of infanticide.
CNN correspondent Carol Costello underscored the left-wing campaign of blame targeting pro-lifers in the wake of the murder of abortionist George Tiller during a segment on Tuesday’s “American Morning.” She stated on the one hand that “criminologists we talked [to] would say it’s unlikely words alone could drive someone to kill, and until we know more about the accused killer, it’s best not to speculate,” but immediately added that “many anti-abortion groups are clearly on the defensive.” Costello also highlighted a sound bite by University of California, Berkeley professor and former Washington Post reporter Cynthia Gorney, who predicted that “they’re going to get a huge backlash against Right-to-Life. You’re going to get a lot of people now saying, see, those people are all crazy. They all advocate violence.”
Anchor John Roberts introduced Costello’s report: “We’ve seen it all too often- the emotionally-charged debate over abortion leading to violence. Police say the man suspected of gunning down Dr. George Tiller acted alone. But did anti-abortion rhetoric also play a role?” Come again? The murder of abortionists happens quite rarely. The CNN correspondent then went further in this line: “You know, there’s no doubt- Dr. George Tiller had become the public face of late-term abortions, procedures done in the second trimester, the kind of procedure that evoked extreme emotion in an already emotional debate. Some say a long vicious war of words hastened Tiller’s death. Others say it was the act of one unbalanced man.”
The New York Times has so far been relatively sedate in its coverage of the murder of George Tiller, who performed partial birth abortions in his Wichita, Kan., clinic, mostly sticking to facts and pointing out that pro-life activist group Operation Rescue has condemned the killing.
That's a nice bit of weasel-wording in the headline, using "Some Say" instead of the more accurate "Leftist Bloggers Say." The text box read: "The critics of an abortion provider are being criticized themselves." (That's putting it mildly.)
Dr. George R. Tiller had many critics, but arguablythe one with the highest profile was Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News Channel host. Mr. O'Reilly, a vocal opponent of abortion, often called him "Tiller the baby killer" for performing late-term abortions and said repeatedly that he had "blood on his hands."
National Public Radio’s reporting on the George Tiller murder was perfect on Monday – in shutting out pro-life voices wanting to express regret. Reports on Morning Edition and on All Things Considered from Kansas City-based reporter Frank Morris lined up Tiller’s friends, lawyers, and customers to praise him.
George Tiller, the Kansas doctor notorious for his commitment to performing late-term abortions, was killed May 31 while attending a Sunday morning church service.
By his count, Tiller performed 60,000 abortions. His clinic, Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, was one of only three clinics in the United States that offered abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy.
Loss of human life is a tragedy and should be reported as such, and premeditated murder is always wrong - something all the mainstream pro-life groups were quick to affirm in the wake of the killing. But in reporting this tragic story, the news media have much to say about a man who helped provide women with the "right" to end their pregnancies, but have little to say about lives he helped to end. In failing to highlight what Tiller's work actually entailed, reporters do nothing to help their audience understand why this man was targeted.
NBC, frequently the object of Bill O'Reilly's scorn for its biased presentation of the news from the left, provided him with fresh evidence Monday evening as the NBC Nightly News, unlike the ABC and CBS newscasts, found it newsworthy in a story on the murder of Kansas doctor George Tiller, who performed abortions of viable fetuses, to highlight “on the Internet, questions from critics of commentator Bill O'Reilly about his blunt remarks regarding abortion and Dr. Tiller.”
In the piece from reporter Janet Shamlian, viewers then heard from O'Reilly in a Web video clip from an un-dated episode of O'Reilly's FNC show: “In the state of Kansas there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000.”
MSNBC shows earlier in the day, as well as Countdown later where Olbermann went on a full rant, played the same O'Reilly clip pushed by far-left Web and blog sites.
During live MSNBC coverage in the 9AM EST hour on Monday about the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller, guest Dr. Warren Hern, a fellow abortionist and friend of Tiller, declared: "Dr. Tiller's crime was that he helped women and the man who killed him tried to kill an idea. The idea is freedom. So we don't have to invade other countries to find the terrorists. They’re here killing doctors who do abortions. The difference between – the main difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles." Instead of challenging such an incendiary statement, correspondent Monica Novotny simply concluded the segment: "Dr. Warren Hern, thank you for joining us today. We appreciate it." [audio available here]
Earlier in the interview, Novotny asked Hern: "You were quoted as saying that Dr. Tiller's death was ‘predictable.’ What was your reaction when you heard and why do you say that?" Hern explained his statement: "This was not the act of a lone deranged gunman. This is a result of 35 years of relentless and merciless anti-abortion harassment, violence, and intimidation, hate speech and violent rhetoric, and this is the absolutely predictable consequence of that kind of mindless harassment and fanaticism."
Of course, by "pro-life extremists," the PBS "To the Contrary" host means anyone who has ever called abortion what it is -- the killing of an unborn baby:
Let George Tiller's murder be the last straw. It is time for America's pro-choice majority to stop standing idly by as extreme so-called pro-life advocates murder obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYNs) who are providing women with the legal right to terminate pregnancies. I am careful to note I am referring here to EXTREMIST pro-life advocates, people who refer to abortion as "baby-killing" and other inflammatory rhetoric. I am explicitly not referring to mainstreamers who object to abortion due to religious beliefs, but who refrain from using inflammatory speech.
Last night at about 8 p.m., the Associated Press's Roxana Hegeman became an early purveyor of the myth that abortion clinic-related violence and violence against abortionists has been a frequent and consistent occurrence during the past two decades when she wrote the following about the murder of Kansas abortionist George Tiller (saved here at host for future reference; bold is mine):
There was no immediate word of the motive (of) Tiller's assailant. But the doctor's violent death was the latest in a string of shootings and bombings over two decades directed against abortion clinics, doctors and staff.
But a look at the actual history of such violence accumulated by a pro-abortion group demonstrates that Tiller's murder is correctly seen as a horrible, isolated incident following a long, sustained decline in violence.
Here is the "History of Violence" accumulated by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), broken down into four categories:
CNN anchor Kiran Chetry let an “abortion provider” from Alabama, whose center was bombed by captured fugitive Eric Rudolph, denigrate all pro-life activists who have ever protested in front of such centers as potential murderers during a segment on Monday’s “American Morning.” When the “provider,” Diane Derzis, attacked “the people...who stand in front of these clinics every day....and the only way they see to take care of this is to kill us,” Chetry merely replied, “You don’t believe those words? You don’t differentiate between people who are opposed to abortion and pro-life for their religious reasons, versus those who are promoting violence?” (audio clips from the segment available here)
Chetry’s second question to Derzis during the interview was also rather sympathetic: “What is it like going to work knowing you have a target on your head?” This question, highlighted by Laura Ingraham on Monday, led the talk show host to call for the firing of the CNN anchor.
The anchor began her interview of the abortion clinic owner by asking for her reaction to the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller, who was gunned down in his church in Wichita, Kansas on Sunday. Once she offered her initial reply, Chetry followed-up by explaining Derzis’s connection to past violence against such clinics and asking her “target” question: “Your clinic was the one that was bombed, actually, as well, right, in Birmingham, Alabama, by Eric Rudolph, the suspect who’s now serving time because of that. What is it like going to work knowing you have a target on your head?”
"Good Morning America's" coverage on Monday of the May 31 murder of abortionist George Tiller featured no examples of pro-life organizations condemning the killing. Additionally, co-anchor Diane Sawyer opened the program with an oddly worded tease. "The abortion debate turns deadly. A doctor known for performing late-term abortions gunned down at church." The abortion debate turns deadly? If the procedure is successfully performed, isn't abortion always fatal?
Reporter Kofman highlighted glee on the internet over the slaying of the Kansas-based doctor who carried out late-term abortions. He announced, "On Twitter, one person wrote, 'Oh, happy, day. Tiller the baby killer is dead.' Another wrote, 'God bless the gunman.'" Kofman added, "Clearly, the passions in this issue have not gone away." Of course, other than a bland observation that "many" on both sides of the debate have condemned the killing, Kofman offered no quotes from organizations, such as the Family Research Council [FRC], who denounced the murder. [Audio available here]
Reporting on the murder of Kansas abortion doctor, George Tiller, on Monday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor touted the doctor’s career, while not depicting it as controversial: "...a doctor in the middle of the abortion debate for 35 years...Tiller, one of only a handful of doctors in the country performing late-term abortions, when the mother's health is at risk." Glor later commented about the murder: "Abortion providers feared a chilling effect."
At the top of the segment, co-host Julie Chen declared: "President Obama says he is shocked and outraged at the murder of Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country who provided late-term abortions." Following Glor’s report, Chen spoke with Tiller’s friend and attorney, Dan Monnat, and wondered: "Can you explain why Dr. Tiller continued his practice all these years, despite all the harassment?" Monnat portrayed Tiller as courageous: "Both Dr. Tiller and his family continually asked the question, if Dr. Tiller is not here to serve a woman's right to choose, who will be here to do it? There are only a handful of late-term abortion providers that remain in the United States, and in the world. Most of them have been terrorized and run off by the protesters."
The Early Show coverage made no mention of Tiller’s controversial career, including a recent investigation into whether he conducted 19 illegal partial-birth abortions.
Fresh off the Daily Kos website is a posting entitled, A "Pro-Life" activist took the Life of a doctor who practices abortion today, which illogically takes two sentences to link the murderer to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck (emphasis mine throughout).
A so-called Pro-Life activist took, cowardly, the life of doctor George Tiller, this sunday, while he was attending to a church service. I bet Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and the other will praise the killer since "he only killed a liberullllllll" according to them
Grammatical issues aside (something that the Kos seemingly requires from their writers), the incredible leap from the death of George Tiller, to three leading conservative talk show hosts is shocking to people who make their home here on Earth. Four conservative talk show hosts actually, if you consider the phrase ‘and the other', which would presumably be referring to Michael Savage.
More stunning is that this posting was allowed to present the statement - "he only killed a liberullllllll" according to them - as if it is a quote drawn from one of their shows. I would challenge the author, LaurenMonica, or anyone at the Daily Kos to present an audio copy of any of these conservative talk show hosts in which they heap praise upon a killer because, "he only killed a liberullllllll". (On a side note, I also challenge them to present a college transcript which shows they were able to pass English Composition 101).
Of course, this isn't where it stops with the liberal blogs.
Steven Ertelt at LifeNews.com is telling us more about the alleged murderer of Kansas abortionist George Tiller than establishment media news sources (bold is mine):
George Tiller Shooting Suspect Caught, No Connection With Pro-Life Groups
Authorities have apprehended a Kansas man suspected of killing late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller on Sunday morning at his church. Police have identified the man as 51-year-old Scott Roeder of Merriam, Kansas and he has been detained but has not yet been officially charged.
As has been the case with most previous incidents of abortion-related violence, Roeder appears to have an affiliation with extremist political groups but not with the mainstream pro-life movement.
Pro-life groups have quickly and genuinely condemned the Tiller shooting.
Thursday night, as my colleague Brent Baker noted, ABC and NBC fretted that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor might not adhere to a strict liberal orthodoxy on abortion. NBC reporter Pete Williams said Sotomayor’s views on abortion were a “mystery,” while ABC’s Jan Crawford Greenburg declared “both sides in the contentious debate want to know more.”
On Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Wyatt Andrews sounded the same alarm: “Pro-abortion rights groups worried aloud today that the President — who promised an abortion rights nominee — never asked Sotomayor, who is Catholic, where she stands.”
On Thursday’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer opened the show by demanding to know “Where does she stand? Liberal activists voicing concerns over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and her stance on abortion. This morning, they’re demanding to know if she’s pro-choice or pro-life — and why President Obama never asked.”
But this isn’t the first time the networks have channeled the worries of liberal pro-abortion groups about a Democratic President’s Supreme Court nominee.
NBC and ABC on Thursday night framed stories around concerns of “abortion rights” advocates who want proof Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is on their side, but both cloaked their pieces around the proposition “both sides” of the debate are equally worried.
With “Where Does She Stand?” as the on-screen heading, as if there is genuine belief Obama would have selected the judge without knowing she'd uphold Roe v Wade, NBC anchor Lester Holt set up a story through the prism of pro-abortion activists as he announced that White House “spokesman Robert Gibbs says the President did not specifically ask her about the right to privacy, a key issue in the abortion debate.” Reporter Pete Williams proceeded to declare that Sotomayor's stand on abortion is “a mystery” as “both sides on the abortion issue agree...they're eager to know exactly what Sonia Sotomayor thinks about abortion and the constitution.” Viewers then heard only from one side, an “abortion rights advocate.”
During a news brief on the Saturday, May 23, The Early Show, CBS’s Priya David used that famous euphemism of liberals, “woman’s right to choose,” to refer to the legal right to an abortion, as the show gave attention to Liberty University’s recent decision to withdraw recognition of the school’s club for young Democrats. She also incorrectly exaggerated Liberty's action by claiming that the Democratic group "won't be allowed on campus anymore" when in reality, according to the school, the group can still hold meetings, but just cannot use the school's name or money.
On the Monday, May 18, Today show, NBC’s Ann Curry also used the term in a story about President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, which allowed the pro-choice President to speak despite being a Catholic university.
Below are complete transcripts of the relevant news briefs from the Saturday, May 23, The Early Show, on CBS, and the Monday, May, 18, Today show, on NBC:
Ten years ago, the movie The Cider House Rules was toasted in Hollywood for its fervent support of the need for abortion doctors. But you wouldn't know that from today's TV listings.
The film is airing Tuesday night on WGN, and the plot summary in the Washington Post TV Week section on Sunday says only this: "Raised to be an obstetrician at a Maine orphanage, a young man leaves to work at a cider mill with a soldier's beloved."
James Bowman's takedown of the film is here. He wrote, in part:
The rules against abortion are (or were, when there were such things) made by men, who do not live in women's bodies. Therefore, women need not obey them. Indeed, it is a question whether they need obey any rules imposed upon them by a patriarchal society.
The website of the NewsHour on PBS has a NewsHour Extra for students. Its Extra article by Lizzy Berryman on President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame carried this surprising sentence: "While historically Democrats have been pro-choice, in recent years Democratic candidates have softened their rhetoric. President Obama has defended a woman's right to choose -- but says abortion should be rare and may be restricted."
Considering that candidate Obama pledged to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, scrapping every state abortion restriction, that’s not exactly an accurate picture for students to read. In captions of Presidents Obama and Bush, Obama was merely "pro-choice," while Bush was an "ardent opponent of abortion rights."
The bias was even more obvious at the article’s end, which sought to explain away the new Gallup poll showing a 51-42 chasm in favor of the pro-life position. The article’s subhead painted away the victory: "Polls show Americans are divided on the abortion issue." The actual 51-42 gap is never mentioned:
Time magazine’s senior editor Amy Sullivan, who, like most of her peers in the mainstream media, is an amateur when it comes to religion, twice implied in May that the pro-life Catholics in the U.S. who are upset about President Obama’s recent commencement address at Notre Dame are more Catholic than Pope Benedict XVI. In a May 16, 2009 article on Time.com, Sullivan, the former aide to Democrat Tom Daschle, and the author of an entire book on how Democrats could appeal to Christians, snarked that the Pope “may find his next trip to the U.S. dogged by airplanes overhead trailing banners with images of aborted fetuses,” due to his purported silence on the matter.
Less than a week later on May 21, after outlining on Time’s “Swampland” blog that the semi-official Vatican news has been “calm” and “fairly positive” towards the Democratic president, “in stark contrast to the furious reaction of many conservative Catholics here,” the editor quipped, “Uh, oh. It sounds like the Vatican newspaper ‘doesn’t understand what it means to be Catholic.’” Sullivan, like the rest of the media, was also selective in the articles she chose to emphasize from the newspaper.
President Obama came to the campus of Notre Dame armed with all his usual arrogance. Despite his radical abortion record – which includes championing a policy in Illinois wherein aborted babies who manage to survive are tossed aside, to die – he posed as the national moderator of "common ground." And he did it by plugging a yellowed old tale from his campaign memoir "The Audacity of Hope." All he left out were the words "Order now on Amazon.com. Just $16.50 in hardcover."
Obama is loaded with nothing more than audacity. His speech no doubt pleased liberals, who love to pretend they’re for all the mushy inclusiveness Obama pretended to favor – "Open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words." This, from the politician who spent twenty years listening to the rantings and ravings of Jeremiah Wright? This, from the politician who unleashed more than 100,000 negative ads on John McCain?
Not unexpectedly, the networks embraced Obama’s pose as the pragmatic pacifier of the "culture wars."
PBS's Bonnie Erbe is annoyed with Barack Obama's rhetoric at Sunday's Notre Dame commencement ceremony. The "To the Contrary" host and U.S. News contributor slammed the president's appeal to find "common ground" between pro-life and pro-choice activists.
What planet is Erbe living on? Parental consent laws and partial-birth abortion bans have been vigorously contested by abortion rights advocates in courts, albeit with a mixed record of success in having the courts overturn the will of the people in enacting abortion regulations. Can Erbe honestly point to any abortion regulation -- parental consent, parental notification, required ultrasounds, waiting periods, partial-birth abortion bans -- that a major Democratic presidential aspirant has actively pushed for in the past 25 years?
Meghan McCain was again provided with a national outlet for her "moderate" Republican views with her appearance on "The Colbert Report" on May 18. Host Stephen Colbert said to her, "You're more liberal than President Obama. Is that how you see the future of Republican Party going?"
"I'm liberal on social issues," McCain responded
Later in the interview McCain explained her views: "All I'm trying to say is it can be a party for a 24-year-old pro-sex woman. It can be. I just think that we have people that are in this party that are hijacking it and - trying to make it more extreme."
A self described "pro-sex, pro-life and pro-gay marriage" Republican, McCain would prefer the Republican Party stray away from abstinence only education and drop its support for the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
Minutes after she praised President Obama for his “courageous” decision to accept the invitation to speak at Notre Dame, CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield played the role of liberal advocate for the president’s commencement address, grilling one Catholic guest who questioned the university’s decision, while going easy on her other guest who was happy to see Obama speak there. Just as MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell had done on May 14, Whitfield equivocated between the issues of abortion and the death penalty, along with war, in her question to Raymond Arroyo of the Catholic television network EWTN: “So does the death penalty fall into that and also wars...does that fall into that as well?”
Later, when Arroyo brought up how the Catholic teaching on abortion wouldn’t change, even if most of the Notre Dame graduates agreed with the decision to bring the president to campus, the CNN anchor replied, “Well, might it suggest something else, that perhaps the Catholic majority has evolved in its opinion of certain things....Perhaps, it means that there’s a greater understanding in some of the areas that you say...once upon a time there wasn’t.” [Due to the large amount of transcript, the entire text of both segments of the two segments can be read here. Audio clips from both segments are available here.]
Since its announcement in March, the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to give this year's commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in law has been a big story for American Catholics. Pro-life Catholics were outraged and more than 366,000 people signed a petition urging Notre Dame to rescind the invitation. Somehow, though, the controversy didn't merit notice by the broadcast networks. They refused to cover it.
Yet after the fact, Obama's commencement address led ABC and NBC's evening news programs on May 17. (CBS' "Evening News" was preempted by golf, but anchor Russ Mitchell did offer a newsbreak that included a brief mention of Obama's address.) The broadcast networks' morning news programs, including CBS, also discussed Obama's speech. In each case they praised his words and ignored what had stirred so much controversy: the president's history of supporting even the most extreme abortion rights measures. And they turned to mostly liberal Catholics to provide context and perspective on the debate.
President Obama delivered the commencement address at Notre Dame on Sunday, amid protests that the nation's preeminent Catholic college shouldn't be honoring a pro-choice president who even supports the gruesome procedure of partial-birth abortion.
President Obama directly confronted America's deep divide over abortion on Sunday as he appealed to partisans on each side to find ways to respect one another's basic decency and even work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
As anti-abortion demonstrators protested outside and a few hecklers shouted inside, Mr. Obama used a commencement address at the University of Notre Dame to call for more "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words" in a debate that has polarized the country for decades. The audience at this Roman Catholic institution cheered his message and drowned out protesters, some of whom called him a "baby killer."
Monday's print version is toned down from the original filing Sunday afternoon at nytimes.com. That story, credited to Peter Baker alone, had a headline with a more defensive thrust -- "At Notre Dame, Obama Defends His Abortion Stance." That filing (no longer available at nytimes.com, but you can read it here for now) also included this paragraph:
On Monday’s CBS Early Show White House correspondent Chip Reid reported on President Obama’s controversial commencement address at Notre Dame University over the weekend, but dismissed pro-life protesters as interlopers from outside groups: "The President did come under fire, but mostly from university outsiders, anti-abortion activists. But inside that graduation ceremony, his reception was much warmer than some had expected...But the vast majority here welcomed the President with open arms."
Reid briefly described some of the protest efforts: "There were hundreds of protesters waiting for the President when he arrived at Notre Dame. Hecklers who interrupted his commencement speech several times." Reid then declared: "And some who saw an opportunity to re-ignite the national debate on abortion." A clip was then played of Obama’s former Senate race opponent, Republican Alan Keyes: "Barack Obama's deeply committed to what [Pope] John Paul [II] called the culture of death and the murder of innocent children."
Reid’s report did not feature any members of the Notre Dame faculty or student body opposed to Obama speaking or mention a separate commencement ceremony that several pro-life students attended on campus. In addition, Reid failed to acknowledge a recent Gallup poll that showed a majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life.
On Monday, The Washington Post played President Obama’s address at Notre Dame as if Obama were the essence of centrism and civil dialogue, the man calling for "open minds" – and never mind his actual abortion record. But stranger still was the story on the commencement speech denouncing protesters at another commencement. On the front page, the Post highlighted "Trinity Washington head denounces protests."
On page A-5, across from the continuation of the Obama speech story came this headline: "Notre Dame Protesters Rebuked From Afar: In Graduation Talk, Trinity Washington President Decries 'Religious Vigilantism.' Patricia McGuire’s college may be small (she’s credited with doubling enrollment to 2,000), but it has several liberal Catholics among its alumni: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. In Tom Jackman's report, McGuire sounded like a liberal Democrat, denouncing the "snarl of hatred" coming from pro-lifers:
What a difference a radical, in your face, abortion-promoting president makes.
Pro-lifers can savor this graphic for a few minutes before returning to the trenches to work on persuading what Gallup says is, for the first since it began surveying the question, a clear minority of Americans who are still euphemistically "pro-choice" on the question of abortion. I have posted it here because the chances of seeing it or something similar in establishment media reports is somewhere between slim and none:
The 15-point swing from "pro-choice" to pro-life (from -6 to +9) in the past year is nothing short of dramatic; only the 1996-1997 narrowing looks to be about the same.
Instead of performing as an anchor, MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell became a liberal sparring partner to the Cardinal Newman Society’s Patrick Reilly on the network’s Thursday afternoon programming over President Obama’s upcoming commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. Invoking her Catholic upbringing, she used the common left-wing tactic to equate the Church’s unequivocal teaching against abortion with its skepticism of the death penalty, and asked if former presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan shouldn’t have addressed prior commencements for their support of capital punishment. O’Donnell also inquired as to why Reilly was “advocating a Catholic Church that advocates division” [audio clips from the segment available here].
Before introducing Reilly, the MSNBC anchor began the segment, which started 20 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour, by reading recent poll numbers from Quinnipiac University which found that 60% of Catholic voters answered negatively when asked if Notre Dame should disinvite President Obama. She then turned to her guest and asked, “What’s your point? Why are you organizing this protest?” Reilly answered, “The protest has nothing to do with the president in particular. This is a concern that Catholics have had for decades now, that many of our Catholic institutions have lost a sense of Catholic identity, and Catholics are drawing a line in the sand, saying that the Catholic University of Notre Dame ought to be choosing those who it honors based on its Catholic principles and values.”