Even Media Liberals Suggest Edwards Bloggers Should Be Canned for Insensitivity
The vicious anti-Catholic (and in general, anti-religious) bloggers hired by the John Edwards campaign came under surprising condemnation from liberal columnist (and PBS NewsHour pundit) Mark Shields and liberal NPR reporter Nina Totenberg on the Friday night TV talk show "Inside Washington." Shields said he hesitated to agree with Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, but he was "right." Shields dared go where media accounts have not, explicitly reading Amanda Marcotte’s sleazy joke about the sperm of the Holy Spirit and Mary aborting Jesus with the Plan B pill, saying "if she had written similarly about a Jewish person, an Islamic person, a gay or a lesbian, she would be banished to the outer darkness." Totenberg called it "disgusting."
Only Newsweek’s Evan Thomas seemed to try and make excuses for Edwards by slamming bloggers in general: "Read blogs. They're full of that kind of stuff."
Perhaps Gordon Peterson, host of the show airing on local Washington PBS affiliate WETA, was taken aback at the reaction he received. It’s perhaps not that surprising coming from Shields, who is Catholic, but Edwards even lost the support of Nina Totenberg (perhaps Marcotte sounded too much like Anita Hill’s alleged porn-film-recounting Clarence Thomas):
Gordon Peterson: "A word on the pitfalls of the blogosphere, a couple of young women working on the John Edwards campaign have, on their personal blogs, a history of taking shots at conservative Christians and Catholics. One of them said the Catholic Church's ban on artificial birth control, for example, forced women to give birth to more tithing Catholics. Bill Donohue, conservative president of Catholic League, says he's going to take out newspaper ads now attacking Edwards as anti-Catholics. Edwards says the remark offended him. ... As of Friday, he hadn't fired the bloggers. Mark?"
Mark Shields: "He had not fired the bloggers, and I hesitate to come down on the same side as Bill Donohue, who himself has been more than intemperate on more than one occasion, but I think here he's right. I mean, the stuff that they wrote on there was graphic, pornographic. I mean, one of the quotes was, 'What if the Virgin Mary,' a central figure in Christianity, 'had taken Plan B,' morning after pill, 'after the Lord filled her with hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?' Now, if she had written similarly about a Jewish person, an Islamic person, a gay or a lesbian, she would be banished to the outer darkness."
Nina Totenberg: "It's really, it's just disgusting, and you can't have a viable campaign and allow that to go on."
Evan Thomas: "But blogs meet politics. Read blogs. They're full of that kind of stuff."
Totenberg: "Yeah, but you don't have to-"
Shields: "You don't have to hire them."
The second half of Marcotte's Q&A about if Mary aborted Jesus is also insulting to Christians: "You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology." Kathryn Jean Lopez gave the controversy a full rinse cycle here. These are not ancient comments from five years ago that the Edwards campaign could lamely say it would have taken months to find. They're from 2006.
For her part, in a November 18, 2006 blog post, Marcotte identifies herself as not just anti-Catholic, but anti-religious, hoping to flood the media with the enemies of faith:
"Because the fundies have gotten more aggressive, in other words, they’ve created an opportunity for anti-religious thinkers to flood the media with our point of view and also to get more aggressively anti-religious, not just arguing that fundies are wrong but that faith itself is fundamentally flawed and damaging."