New York Times Magazine

Using the journalism TARDIS: Why was Cardinal McCarrick such a crucial news source?

Using the journalism TARDIS: Why was Cardinal McCarrick such a crucial news source?

When a big news story gets rolling -- like the fall of Cardinal Theodore "Uncle Ted" McCarrick -- the digital waves keep crashing in day after, even if there are no new developments in the mainstream press.

Here at GetReligion, it's hard to know what is worth an update or a critique. We will err on the side of keeping readers connected to some of the discussions that are taking place in serious blogging and social media.

Some of the most important issues in this case are linked to journalism questions in the past. If you have followed the must-read posts of GetReligionista Julia Duin (start here and here) and others (Rod "Benedict Option" Dreher, for example), then you know that news organizations had pieces of this puzzle years ago, but could not land the on-the-record interviews needed to satisfy lawyers and editors. One of the big questions: What happened to the New York Times Sunday Magazine story in 2012 that almost made it to print?

There are many "what ifs" to consider. Old-timers like me -- people who covered events in which Cardinal McCarrick was a player and watched journalists encircle him -- may also want to pause and consider why this man was such a prominent news source, in front of cameras and behind the scenes.

The bottom line: The Catholic hierarchy chose to put him in Washington, D.C.

So with that reality in mind, let's do something that your GetReligionistas hardly ever do (with good cause), which is jump in a journalism TARDIS (a Doctor Who reference, of course) and travel back in time. In this case, it's quite educational to pause and examine a glowing 2004 Washingtonian profile of Cardinal McCarrick. Here is the epic double-decker headline: 

The Man In The Red Hat

With a Controversial Catholic in the Presidential Race, the Cardinal Is Seen by Many as the Vatican's Man in Washington -- and He May Play a Big Role in the Selection of the Next Pope

Here is the overture. Pay close attention to the information about this cardinal's clout with journalists:

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Attacks in Lebanon: The New York Times gets it right -- the targets were Christians

Attacks in Lebanon: The New York Times gets it right -- the targets were Christians

The recent multiple suicide attacks on a Christian town in Lebanon -- including a crowd that preparing for a funeral -- have gotten well-deserved attention from mainstream media like the New York Times and the Associated Press. But the Times' eye is sharper than AP's.

On a single day, eight men fired shots and blew themselves up in Al Qaa for no apparent reason than the faith of most of the residents. The Times' report on the attack aptly conveys the dismay and desperation of the townspeople.

The story also spells out two dilemmas -- questions that also plague people in Europe, Turkey and the United States:

In many ways, the questions in Al Qaa echo those that followed attacks in Orlando, Fla.; Paris; and Istanbul: How can a community protect itself from a lone assailant or a small team of attackers with guns or bombs? And local leaders are struggling with the same issue facing Europe as it deals with its own influx of migrants: How to balance the desire to help with fears that the newcomers could harbor a threat?
"It is not easy for people, when their sons have died or are in critical condition, to differentiate between terrorists and refugees," the Rev. Elian Nasrallah, the Roman Catholic priest who oversees Al Qaa’s churches, said during an interview in his home. He had coordinated aid for refugees and would help lead the funeral for the town’s dead.

Although the shooting war is in Syria, across the border from Al Qaa's home in the Bekaa Valley, the fight has severely impacted the residents. As the Times reports, 20,000 refugees from the war have flooded into the area, overwhelming the local populace of 3,000.

The newspaper gives a taut, brutal narrative of the violence. It began early June 27 -- first striking one of the few Muslim resident families in Al Qaa, the paper notes.  A father and son saw a man in their garden; "When they confronted him, he blew himself up, wounding them both."

From there, it gets much worse:

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Bold M.Z. offers New York Times Magazine a lively update on Lutheran sex

Bold M.Z. offers New York Times Magazine a lively update on Lutheran sex

I don't know. Maybe there are elite journalists who have trouble understanding that it is actually possible to put the words "Lutheran" and "libertarian" -- with a small "l" -- in the same sentence? Maybe that is why M.Z. "GetReligionista emerita" Hemingway is a bit of a mystery in some blue zip codes.

Anyway, it was fun to read what amounts to the CliffsNotes edition of the "Talk" interview -- "Mollie Hemingway Hates How Feminists Talk About Sex" -- that Ana Marie Cox of The New York Times Magazine did recently did with the one and only M.Z.

Via email, I asked M.Z. if there was any way that the public might be able to see a full transcript of this affair. Alas, she only has her half of the 90-minute talk, so that's a "no." But what we have here is lively enough.

The interview, as you can see in the screenshot above, starts with the obligatory question about Hemingway being a conservative who doesn't think highly of one Donald Trump. What a shock. All conservatives are alike, of course, and if you've met one then you've met them all. I mean, how can anyone follow M.Z. on Twitter for, oh, an hour and not see the Grand Canyon that yawns between her cultural and moral views and those of Citizen Trump?

Anyway, GetReligion readers will want to read this interview for themselves. However, I will offer this slice as an introduction, for obvious reasons:

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