LA Times Columnist Debunked In Same Day By Her Own Paper

December 2nd, 2006 12:38 AM

A November 30, 2006, article by Los Angeles Times staff writer Seema Mehta is entitled, "Evangelical pastor, Obama join forces to battle AIDS." In an unflattering passage on evangelicals, Mehta forwards the claim, "They [evangelical Christians] remain one of the religious groups slowest to respond to the pandemic [AIDS]."

Mehta's claim simply isn't true. What is one way that we know this? Mehta's own newspaper editors directly debunk her on the very same day as her article!

The Times' editorial debunking Mehta is "Christian conservatives vs. AIDS." Writes the Times (all emphasis mine),

The focus on AIDS by evangelicals isn't new, but [Rev. Rick] Warren is taking it to a new level ...

[President] Bush and his Christian supporters seldom get the credit they deserve for their role in the global fight against AIDS. U.S. spending on the disease overseas has risen more than tenfold under Bush, while Christian groups have given unselfishly to the cause. Churches, in fact, run health clinics in much of rural Africa; without them, stemming AIDS would be all but impossible ...

Same newspaper! Same day! Two different stories! Of course, the Times editorial, not Ms. Mehta, is the one who is correct. For example, World Vision, a Christian organization long allied with evangelicals, has been taking on the fight against AIDS in Africa for years; for decades, they have been a leading group dedicated to the Christian mission of "tackling the causes of poverty and injustice." (See this 2003 article, "National Evangelical Leaders Sound Call to Action in Global AIDS Fight.")

(By the way, Mehta becomes the umpteenth journalist to refer to Sen. Obama as a "rising star in the Democratic Party." Ugh. Haven't we heard this enough? ("Rising star" +Obama at Google returns 66,800 results. "Rising star in the Democratic Party" +Obama returns 776 results.))

(Note: As I was putting the final edit on this piece, I saw that my colleague Gary Hall had just posted his own excellent take on the Times' editorial I've referenced.)