MSM

Podcast thinker: Bannon attack on Catholic bishops was news, while 'loud dogma' wasn't?

Podcast thinker: Bannon attack on Catholic bishops was news, while 'loud dogma' wasn't?

It's one of the questions that non-journalists ask me all the time: What makes some events "news," while other events are not "news"?

Long ago, a caller in Charlotte wanted to know why it was news that a downtown church replaced a window, while it was not news that her church built and dedicated a new building.

Well, I explained, that window was in an Episcopal Church downtown and that sanctuary is an historic site. It was controversial to put in a modern window. Now, if there had been a zoning fight about that new megachurch sanctuary, then the newspaper would have covered it. She was not amused or convinced.

So here is a more modern news-judgment puzzle, one with a twist that combines cutting-edge technology and the old demons of media-bias studies. This puzzle was at the heart of this week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in).

Too wade into this, start with the top of this interesting Crux piece that ran with this headline: "Fears of anti-Catholic bias rise on both left and right."

NEW YORK -- Of late, California Senator Diane Feinstein has come under fire for questioning judicial nominee Amy Barrett’s commitment to her Catholic faith during a senate confirmation hearing last week.
“I think in your case, professor … the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern,” declared Feinstein.
That same week, another story prompted Catholic furor when former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said he thought the U.S. bishops had been “terrible” in their support of DACA and “They need illegal aliens to fill the churches.”
These two cases -- which happened in the span of one, shared 24-hour news cycle -- have prompted some to wonder if anti-Catholic bias on both the political left and the right in America is on the rise.

In my mind, there's no question that both of these events were worthy of coverage.

However, stop and think about it.

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Mirror image time: Zero news about Catholic nominee for federal court being grilled on her faith?

Mirror image time: Zero news about Catholic nominee for federal court being grilled on her faith?

So, did you read all the stories about the liberal Episcopalian who was nominated to a federal appeals court seat, only to be grilled about her religious beliefs -- with subtle references to her same-sex marriage -- by evangelical Protestants, Mormons and Catholics in a U.S. Senate hearing?

I mean, one senator called her a Communist because of her decision to speak at a meeting of the American Civil Liberties Union. One conservative Anglican on the committee questioned whether her vocal support for her church's doctrine should block her appointment to a federal court. Another conservative Anglican asked her point blank: "Are you a liberal Episcopalian?”

Wait, you didn't see coverage of that story by journalists at major newspapers and cable networks?

Right, I made that up. But can you imagine the mainstream press failing to spotlight a story in which fundamentalist yahoos did something like that to a liberal religious believer?

Me either. So did I miss something when we had that story in reverse? I searched all over for mainstream coverage of this real story, including at the newspaper of record. Scan this simple Google News search and tell me if I blinked and missed something important.

Now let's turn to alternative, "conservative" media outlets and look at this real story -- only reversed in a journalistic mirror. In the real world, we have a pro-Catechism Catholic nominee, a Notre Dame University law professor and mother of seven, facing a liberal Catholic senator. The consistently #NeverTrump National Review reported:

... [D]uring a confirmation hearing for 7th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein attacked the nominee for her Roman Catholic faith.
Barrett is a law professor at the University of Notre Dame who has written about the role of religion in public life and delivered academic lectures to Christian legal groups. ...
“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said.

At another point in this drama:

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More letters, even from the left, mourning the Gray Lady's slide into advocacy journalism

More letters, even from the left, mourning the Gray Lady's slide into advocacy journalism

There she goes, there she goes again.

Right there in the sacred pages of The New York Times.

You remember, I hope, Liz Spayd -- the pro-American Model of the press scribe who is currently serving as public editor at the Times. During the media meltdown after the election of Citizen Donald Trump as president, she wrote a column addressing the fact that the Gray Lady, as well as the rest of America's elite media, missed this story for some pretty obvious reasons.

The headline for her column said it all: "Want to Know What America’s Thinking? Try Asking."

In my second post about the MSM meltdown, I underlined this passage from her Times column:

Readers are sending letters of complaint at a rapid rate. Here’s one that summed up the feelings succinctly, from Kathleen Casey of Houston: “Now, that the world has been upended and you are all, to a person, in a state of surprise and shock, you may want to consider whether you should change your focus from telling the reader what and how to think, and instead devote yourselves to finding out what the reader (and nonreaders) actually think.”
Another letter, from Nick Crawford of Plymouth, Mich., made a similar point. “Perhaps the election result would not be such a surprise if your reporting had acknowledged what ordinary Americans care about, rather than pushing the limited agenda of your editors,” he wrote. “Please come down from your New York City skyscraper and join the rest of us.”

Well, bless her heart, Spayd is back with another column on this topic and, in it, she offers more insights from the flood of letters and emails continue to swamp her desk. This time the headline reads: "One Thing Voters Agree On: Better Campaign Coverage Was Needed."

First, a bit of factual information about this wave if feedback:

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Houston Chronicle's latest abortion-law package feels like another NARAL brochure

Houston Chronicle's latest abortion-law package feels like another NARAL brochure

Abortion is a big deal in Texas news these days, mainly because of a law that requires abortion clinics to meet the same safety standards as hospital-style surgical centers. The law also says that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

For instance, If you have a colonoscopy, or some other form of "minor" surgery, you have to show up at one of these surgical centers. The law obligates those who perform abortions to have the same safeguards used with these other procedures.

Logical, right? Not necessarily, according to its opponents, who will appear Wednesday before the Supreme Court to argue a case known as Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt

This past week, the Houston Chronicle mounted a full-court press showcasing the dangers of this law. These stories sound straight out of the public-relations playbook for NARAL, the nation's oldest abortion-rights group whose acronym used to stand for National Association Abortion Rights Action League. It's now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America. A Chronicle story released this past weekend called “150 stories take aim at abortion stigma” starts thus:

They are attorneys and administrative assistants, actresses and anthropologists, computer scientists and clergy members. Millennials and baby boomers. Married and single.
All are women who have had abortions and whose stories were gathered in four legal briefs asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a controversial Texas law that creates stricter regulations for clinics and doctors that provide abortions.

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M.Z. Hemingway unloads on news coverage of 'religious liberty,' while tmatt debates one detail

M.Z. Hemingway unloads on news coverage of 'religious liberty,' while tmatt debates one detail

What we have here, gentle readers, is a take-no-prisoner headline, care of GetReligion emeritus M. Z. Hemingway at The Federalist.

You were expecting someone else?

Dumb, Uneducated, And Eager To Deceive: Media Coverage Of Religious Liberty In A Nutshell

Oh my, and if that isn't enough, there is this rather blunt -- some would say "brutal" -- subtitle to finish the job:

Most Reporters Are Simply Too Ignorant To Handle The Job

Now, if you have not read this long and very detailed piece yet, then head right over there and do so. But as you read it I want you to look for the one very important point in this article with which I want to voice my disagreement. No. It's not the George Orwell quote. That one was on the target, methinks.

Read it? Now, let's proceed.

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