NBC won’t accept “issue advocacy” commercials for its Super Bowl broadcast on Sunday, February 1. Apparently, the network that “went green” for an entire week last fall, and that did an environmental stunt on a football show the year before, wants to stay away from politics. Or maybe just some politics.
NBC has rejected an ad sponsored by the Catholic group Fidelis “after days of negotiation,” according to an article on LifeNews.com. The ad, which can be seen at the LifeNews site or on Fidelis’ Web site, shows an ultrasound image of a fetus while it tells of the hardships the child will face in life, only to become the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama. As Fidelis President Brian Burch told LifeNews, “There is nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement. We show a beautiful ultrasound, something NBC’s parent company GE has done for years."
NBC’s claim that it demurs from issue advertising rings particularly false in light of its recent rejection of a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ad. The PETA ad, said the network, “depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.” It was rejected as being to sexually suggestive, not because of its clear advocacy. And LifeNews reported that NBC had suggested edits to make the PETA spot acceptable.
Former President George W. Bush reinstated a policy in 2001 that restricted foreign countries using American dollars for abortions. CBS political consultant Craig Crawford called the action "red meat to the Bible Belt conservatives."
Just three days after taking office, President Barack Obama rescinded the Mexico City Policy, a policy set into place by Ronald Reagan that prohibited American funding for foreign abortions. Have the media called it red meat for liberals? No. They've mostly been silent.
Newsweek’s Sarah Kliff, in a January 27, 2009 web-exclusive article entitled “Pro-Lifers In Obamaland,” failed to mention how several organizations and individuals she labeled as “pro-life” have friendly relations with pro-abortion Democrats. She also tried to portray the pro-life movement as being “split” between “those who are preparing for the fight of their lives and those who see an opportunity to redefine what it means to be pro-life,” with the latter being the organizations sympathetic to the Democrats. Kliff wrote sympathetically of these groups, which are actually trying to muddy the waters of pro-life activism
Kliff began by introducing Sister Sharon Dillon, a “50-year-old former director of the Franciscan Federation” who has been “a pro-life activist since high school.” Sister Dillon “doesn't agree with Roe v. Wade,” but she’s also “frustrated with the kind of single-minded activism she sees around her.” What does Sister Dillon see as being “single-minded”? Apparently, it’s “young girls chanting, ‘hey hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go!’” So Kliff started with the premise that wanting to overturn this Supreme Court ruling is “single-minded.”
It may come as no surprise, but many media outlets ignored the annual March for Life in Washington, DC on January 22, despite many thousands of protesters. ABC, CBS, NBC, and the NewsHour on PBS all failed to offer a story on it. The print editions of Time and Newsweek both ignored it.
Clay Waters of TimesWatch found that even The New York Times ("all the news that’s fit to print"?) skipped it -- for the second year in a row. The Washington Post offered a decent story on page A2, by contrast. USA Today and the Los Angeles Times also offered stories inside their A sections.
Several networks mentioned protests without much definition. On CBS’s Saturday Early Show on January 24, reporter Kimberly Dozier: reported "Despite loud demonstrations this week, Mr. Obama also quietly stepped into the abortion debate" with his executive order allowing international abortion advocates to get federal funds.
In the same show, anchor Priya David offered the same vague narrative: "By week’s end President Obama even stepped into the abortion debate despite protests against abortion during this week's anniversary of Roe vs. Wade."
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, who had bashed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “starting to sound a little like Chairman Mao” the previous day, labeled Rush Limbaugh “that corpulent Oxycontin aficionado of right-wing talk radio” during his usual “Cafferty File” segment on Tuesday’s Situation Room. The slam came during as Cafferty launched a mild criticism of President Obama’s first week in office on issues like his reluctance to answer questions from the press, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and making an exception on his ban on lobbyists from his administration.
Cafferty began his commentary, which aired nine minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, by acclaiming the apparent success of President Obama’s first week in the White House: “It’s been exactly one week since Barack Obama became our 44th president -- what a week it’s been: signing executive orders; meeting with his teams of advisers on the economy, national security, Iraq, the Middle East.” He continued by focusing on how the new president has also been “learning some things along the way,” and began his critique of some of the actions by the Democratic executive, which included his smear of the conservative talk show host.
Catching up on an item from Friday night, the three broadcast evening newscasts aired virtually nothing on January 23 about President Obama’s executive order permitting federal funding of abortions, overturning orders signed by President Bush in his first week in office back in 2001. Both CBS and NBC’s White House reporters squeezed in a single sentence about Obama’s action during stories about the economic stimulus bill, while ABC’s World News said nothing about the orders on Friday.
But on Sunday’s World News, ABC’s Dan Harris highlighted conservative criticism of Obama’s abortion decision, arguing that it showed how “despite his desire to reach out to people who disagree with him, the new President may find that on some issues, it may be impossible to find common ground.” Correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi also painted the President -- whom she said hoped “not to provoke” conservatives by banning photographs of the signing -- the victim of a “brutal” reaction from conservatives:
A liberal Catholic blogger who last November inveighed against "extremist" and "Pharasaic" bishops who have said they will deny Communion to pro-choice politicians is cited today by Dallas Morning News religion blogger Bruce Tomaso as an "abortion foe" who, surprise, surprise, has unkind words for the March for Life:
Writing for a blog of America, the Jesuit magazine, Catholic author and "pro-life American" Sean Michael Winters says the annual March for Life -- held last Thursday, on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade -- "has failed utterly to make a difference in this nation's abortion policy."
The mass protest, he says, "probably alienates the very people we should be trying to reach: women facing crisis pregnancies." The marchers' rhetoric tends "to equate abortion with murder which may be objectively true but also lacks the empathy with the desperate circumstance of many women that is the necessary precursor to an effective evangelization of the Gospel of Life."
As for his part as an "abortion foe," the liberal Winters certainly has shown a penchant for criticizing more strident foes of the slaughter of the unborn, such as bishops in his own church. From a November 19 blog post at America magazine's Web site (emphasis mine):
Thursday’s March for Life protest in Washington D.C. had a media-bias angle when Bobby Schindler, brother of the late Terri Schiavo, ripped into MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann from the podium for suggesting his sister’s death (after removal of her feeding tube) was "legally and morally correct." In other words, Keith was the March for Life’s honorary "Worst Person in the World."
Olbermann rehashed the "far right" end of the Terri Schiavo controversy on the January 6 edition of Countdown, awarding the bronze (or "Worse" person in the world) to the Dobsonian theocrats:
The bronze tonight to Tom McCluskey, vice president of James Dobson‘s lobbying outfit Family Research Council, protesting the nomination of Thomas Perrelli by the president-elect to become the number three man at the Justice Department. Why? Because Perrelli was one of the lawyers who represented Michael Schiavo as he tried to end the Gothic nightmare induced by the far right, as he struggled to have a court order enforced to remove the breathing tube from his wife, Terri, whose brain function has ceased.
Back in December, you may recall, slapped around a Catholic priest and parochial school principal for pulling an Obama book off the shelves out of concern that it may push values contrary to Catholic moral teachings. Tomaso quipped that at least the priest didn't conduct a book burning.
A group that "celebrate[s] the inherent goodness of adolescent sexuality" and calls for clergy to "speak out against... coercive parental notification and consent for reproductive health services" has just released a study that concludes by calling on American theological seminaries to go over the birds and bees with their students.
Yet in reporting on the study by the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, Chicago Tribune's Manya Brachear failed to label the group as liberal or to find conservative theologians to dispute its arguments. [Click here for our archive on Brachear]
The conservative movement lost a great intellectual voice on Thursday. The Reverend Richard John Neuhaus died due to complications from cancer at the age of 72. Neuhaus, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of New York, was a well-known pro-life advocate, and founded First Things in 1990, a periodical focused on advancing “a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.”
...[We] have lost one of America's leading public intellectuals, a man of profound wisdom and learning, and a great champion for the unborn. It was Father Neuhaus, along with his dear, long-time friend George Weigel and just a handful of others like Michael Novak, who not only championed the pro-life cause for so many years, but who gave the rest of us both the grounding and the vocabulary to speak on this issue.
By now, many readers know the New York Times's definition of a "good Catholic."
A good NYT Catholic doesn't necessarily need to go to Church very often. He or she focuses on the importance of alleviating poverty and other world problems, almost invariably through government handout programs and not individual or private charity. Despite the long standing of "just war" guidance, this person opposes all wars, no matter what is at stake. Finally, this person either keeps their yap shut about abortion and sexuality, or mouths platitudes like, "I'm personally against abortion, but ...." Such Catholics, if they are politicians, routinely defend their support of abortion on demand with such platitudes.
Those who run the Ave Maria family of mutual funds don't see things that way. They offer a group of mutual funds that, in their words, invest "in companies that do not violate core teachings of the Catholic Church." Accordingly, they "screen out companies associated with abortion and pornography," and apparently invest in other companies so-called politically correct (but often not orthodoxally correct) Catholics might not like.
Apparently because the funds have run radio ads, the Times's editorial board (as if it's their business) told readers at its blog that it doesn't like Ave Maria's approach. You'll also see in the bolded text that the editorialists fancy themselves to be Biblical experts:
Tomaso noted that Fr. Ron Elliott describes himself as "very pro-life" but that after reviewing the books in question "he didn't find anything objectionable" and will hence return the books to the shelves "in February or March" as Elliott noted, "after the dust kind of settles."
At that point Tomaso couldn't refuse the impulse to add an editorial quip:
CNN sided against the expansion of health care workers’ right to not participate in controversial medical procedures like abortion and in-vitro fertilization during a report on Friday’s Newsroom program by including only one pro-life voice amongst several statements and clips from pro-abortion groups. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical correspondent for the network, also criticized this expansion, which was recently made by the Department of Health and Human Services: “...[I]t’s a bit of a slippery slope. I mean, when you say, I’m not going to provide care based on my own conscience...you can imagine that opens up a whole wide range of possibilities, in terms of what is going to be treated and what is not.”
Gupta began the report, which aired 22 minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, by immediately trying to cast doubt on the need for the new regulation from the HHS, which protects the right of conscience of health care workers, so they aren’t forced to participate in any procedure they object to: “There were laws already in the books, but these laws are stronger, and they involved all health care workers -- so doctors, nurses, anybody who works in a hospital can decide that they can refuse care -- they can refuse access, consults, referrals, and without any discrimination against them. And they can do this based on their conscience.”
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased a segment on the controversy surrounding Barack Obama’s decision to have pastor Rick Warren deliver the invocation at the inauguration: "Barack Obama angers gay rights groups by choosing Rick Warren to give his inaugural invocation." Later Smith brought on Dr. Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas and David Corn of the liberal Mother Jones magazine to debate the issue, declaring: "President-elect Barack Obama has ignited a firestorm of controversy by selecting conservative Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. Warren is an outspoken critic of gay marriage and that has angered many of Obama's liberal supporters."
Later, Smith turned to Jeffress and wondered why Warren would agree to speak at Obama’s inauguration. Jeffress replied: "But I want to say, to me, it's just unbelievable to think that because Rick Warren believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, somehow that characterizes him as a hate-mongerand makes him unfit to pray at the inauguration. I mean, this sounds like bizzaro world to me-" At that point, Smith interrupted: "Well, excuse me, excuse me though, this is a serious civil rights issue in this country."
Barack Obama has selected Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the president-elect's inauguration.
Based on yesterday's New York Times story about this and other inauguration decisions, you would think that complaints about Warren's selection represent a mere tempest in a teapot. The Times devoted all of one sentence (bolded) to the controversy:
Barack Obama has selected the Rev. Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor and author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, a role that positions Mr. Warren to succeed Billy Graham as the nation’s pre-eminent minister and reflects the generational changes in the evangelical Christian movement.
..... The choice of Mr. Warren, pastor of a megachurch in Orange County, Calif., is an olive branch to conservative Christian evangelicals. Mr. Warren is an outspoken opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage — litmus-test issues for Christian conservatives. In fact, his selection set off a round of criticism by gay rights groups angered by his support for California’s ban on same-sex marriages.
Though O.J. Simpson was sentenced for robbery and related crimes yesterday, thirteen years ago he walked on a double-murder charge. That might be an isolated case, but Gail Collins apparently believes there are tens of millions of murderers roaming free in America. We call them by a different name: hunters.
Collins made her inane hunting = murder analogy in her column today in the course of taking one more gratuitous swipe at Sarah Palin. The gist of The Senate, Snowe and Dinkytown is that in a Senate where Democrats will fall one or two seats short of the magic 60, the few moderate Senate Republicans will play a crucial role. Collins focuses in particular on Olympia Snowe of Maine. And while wondering why McCain didn't choose her as his running mate, the columnist gets off her smear on Palin, and hunters in general [emphasis added]:
On Tuesday night’s Campbell Brown show, CNN raised liberal worries about the Bush administration’s plan in the final days to broaden the conscience clause for medical professionals who object to performing abortion and sterilization procedures. But Randi Kaye’s report questioning a Catholic doctor in Virginia for daring to refuse to provide "care" (translation: abortion or contraceptives) to female patients was most notable for its lack of timeliness: the interviews are now more than a year old, first appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 on November 26, 2007. CNN did not disclose to viewers that its story was largely a rerun.
On Sunday’s Chris Matthews Show, host Matthews led the panel in a discussion over whether conservatives would choose to cooperate with the Obama administration in making "historic changes" to repair the economy, rather than stand in opposition to his programs. The premise of the discussion seemed to be that times are too serious for conservatives to dare dissent from Obama’s plans. At one point, David Ignatius of the Washington Post suggested that "thoughtful" Republicans will work with Obama as he referred to John McCain’s concession speech. Ignatius: "I thought that John McCain set the tone for thoughtful Republicans in his concession speech election night, where he reached out to Obama. He was remarkably generous. One of the best speeches he's ever made, in my book."
As he teased the show, Matthews seemed to wonder if Republicans would try to stand in the way of Obama accomplishing "great things," or if they would see the light and cooperate. Matthews: "Will the mountain of crises our country faces make Barack Obama do great things? And with all the crises, will even Republicans see historic steps are required?"
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
On Tuesday’s Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer referred to a Catholic cardinal’s criticism of Barack Obama’s abortion position as a "scathing rant" and a "diatribe." A CNN graphic also used the "scathing rant" term, and Blitzer later referred to the cardinal’s words as a "blistering rant."
All three of these terms came during Blitzer’s promos for a report by CNN correspondent Brian Todd, which focused on recent comments made by Cardinal James Francis Stafford, who referred to Obama’s pro-abortion stance as "aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic." Just before the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour, Blitzer gave the following promo for the segment: "Also, a scathing rant against Barack Obama from a rather surprising source, a Roman Catholic cardinal -- the story behind his diatribe against the president-elect." Ten minutes later, the CNN anchor gave another promo for Todd’s report, in which he stated that the cardinal unleashed "a blistering rant on the president-elect."
The plot surrounding Father Jay Scott Newman's admonishment to Barack Obama-supporting parishoners has thickened.
On Friday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted news that Fr. Newman, a Catholic priest and pastor at St. Mary's Church in Greenville, South Carolina, had informed parishoners who voted for Barack Obama in full knowledge of the Illinois Senator's aggressively proabortion positions that they "should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance."
This is not a controversial position, but rather, as shown at BizzyBlog earlier today, bedrock Catholic teaching, to the point where if you vote for a known proabortion presidential candidate or any other candidate in a position to meaningfully influence the law and do not repent, you're not a legitimate practicing Catholic. Period.
Well, it turns out that Father Newman originally had the full support of Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin, the acting administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, which currently does not have a bishop. But two days later, Msgr. Laughlin reprimanded Fr. Newman in what appeared to be fairly harsh terms (they really weren't; I'll get to that).
CBS News has found a Greenville, S.C., Roman Catholic priest who has warned any and all of his Obama-voting parishioners to repent of voting for the Illinois Democrat before taking Communion, owing to the president-elect's "stance on abortion."
Yet in reporting the November 14 story on its Web site, CBS News failed to ever mention by name the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), the signing of which Obama famously declared would be a top priority in his presidency.
Why wasn't there more of this before the election?
The headline at a Greenville, SC News story carried at USA Today says, "Priest urges penance for Obama voters."
Father Jay Scott Newman is actually demanding it of those who would claim to be faithful Catholics. In the process, he is also stating longstanding Church policy on abortion that has largely been absent from Sunday pre-election homilies at Catholic churches for at least a half-dozen presidential election cycles -- policy that Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and other politicians who claim to be Catholic have long ignored (bolds are mine):
Perhaps Luke Russert should drop his NBC gig as youth-vote specialist and become a full-time Republican consultant. The son of the late Meet The Press host didn't hesitate this evening to share his advice to the GOP, which can be summarized in two words: go left.
The 23-year old Russert dropped his pearls of electoral wisdom while chatting with the hard-working Mika Brzezinski, guest-hosting for David Gregory on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after co-anchoring Morning Joe at the crack of dawn.
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez actually complimented NewsBusters on Wednesday afternoon for monitoring his Newsroom program: "...[T]he NewsBusters website, which constantly monitors this show -- and we're glad that they do -- questioned my conversation -- criticized it with Neal Boortz. In particular, our suggestion that the GOP needs to remain adamantly anti-abortion, to try and keep the Southern vote" He later thanked the MRC’s blog for watching.
The short segment, which began 23 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, examined "the critics and compliment" of his newscast, as the on-screen graphic put it. Sanchez mentioned how "once the show concludes, I start getting all these Google alerts about what's being written about us, and every day, people are writing after they watch our newscast. We're giving them plenty of material."
In her November 12 article, Washington Post staffer Jacqueline L. Salmon reported on how Catholic bishops are describing the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) as "an attack on the church." Yet it's not so much an attack on the church, but an attack on the sanctity of human life and the provision of hospital care that the Catholic bishops are worried about.
Nonetheless, the headline wording choice -- "Bishops Call Obama-Supported Abortion Rights Bill a Threat to Catholic Church" -- and Salmon's lead paragraph practically painted the Catholic bishops' dispute as, well, parochial.
Salmon waited until 10 paragraphs into the 18-paragraph article to cite one bishop's concern about the future of Catholic medicine in America:
During a segment on Tuesday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez asked South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford if the Republican needed to abandon its social conservative principles in order to be successful again:
"Do you have to be anti-abortion, because that's a very important, big topic in the South..?" Sanchez later asked the Republican governor, as well as talk show host Neal Boortz, "Can you be a fiscal Republican and a social conservative Republican at the same time without making one side mad..?"
Sanchez had both Sanford and Boortz on to discuss the upcoming Republican Governors’ Association meeting in Florida. The CNN anchor first brought up a recent New York Times article, with its accompanying exaggerated map, about conclusions that the Democratic Party might draw from the recent election: "You know, as you look at this map and you start to look at the South, there was some suggestion in that New York Times article, for example, that maybe Democrats are going to get from this that you know what, they can win in the future without the South."
A lot of liberal media bias boils down to word choice and the loaded connotations they can bring in service of a liberal slant. The headline for a November 11 Baltimore Sun story about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was no different.
"Bishop denounces U.S. abortion rights" read the loaded headline, which evokes in readers the sense of a stern cleric inveighing against a "woman's right to choose" rather than concerned clergy worried about the loss of life and trauma to pregnant mothers caused by abortion.
The article itself gave a more nuanced portrait than the stark headline announced, reporting that Francis Cardinal George expressed his concern in terms of the incoming Obama administration's record on "social justice" and "universal human rights":