Sometimes, newspapers bury the lede on purpose. Today’s Exhibit A? The Washington Post Style section profile of Chris Weitz, the director of the new anti-religious movie The Golden Compass. The Post’s anodyne headline was "‘Golden Compass’ Director Seeks True North." David Segal’s story takes eight paragraphs and a sentence before it gets to the point, why the publicity: The trilogy of books behind the movie "attacks the concept of organized religion -- more specifically, any religion that rules by fiat and claims an exclusive pipeline to the truth."
Weitz has done quite the comedy routine in defending the film. In a soundbite on CNN’s The Situation Room on Tuesday, he claimed: "I don’t think the books are a threat to organized religion. First of all, I think organized religion is strong enough to stand on its own. Secondly I don't think that Pullman is aggressively anti-Catholic or anti-religious." Come again? This is like Weitz claiming his American Pie movies weren’t about teenage sex.
Monday’s Washington Post carried a long, splashy article on the divorce of Richard Mellon Scaife, major conservative philanthropist (and backer of the MRC, truth be told). The joy in Scaife’s misfortune was hardly hidden. The headline was “Low Road to Splitsville: Right-Wing Publisher's Breakup Is Super-Rich In Tawdry Details.” Reporter David Segal’s article began and ended with the gimmick that the divorce was so entertaining that you should literally pack a lunch and travel to Pittsburgh to watch it. Most of the details were personal, except for this bizarre paragraph about Scaife’s alleged philanthropic failures:
When he isn't tending to this modest publishing empire, he's underwriting what Hillary Clinton once called "a vast right-wing conspiracy." His highest-profile expenditure is the $2.3 million he gave the American Spectator magazine in the mid-'90s, to try to unearth prurient and embarrassing details about Bill Clinton's years as governor of Arkansas. (The magazine came up virtually empty-handed.)