Government watchdogs scrutinize media

Wait. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Why is the federal government studying the plan of putting monitors in media newsrooms?

The Obama Administration’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is poised to place government monitors in newsrooms across the country in an absurdly draconian attempt to intimidate and control the media.

Before you dismiss this assertion as utterly preposterous (we all know how that turned out when the Tea Party complained that it was being targeted by the IRS), this bombshell of an accusation comes from an actual FCC Commissioner.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reveals a brand new Obama Administration program that he fears could be used in “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”

Wait. Elite media have been covering the president very favorably, for a very long time. With no pressure.

As Commissioner Pai explains in the Wall Street Journal:

“Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.

This sounds so surreal.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

In fact, the FCC is now expanding the bounds of regulatory powers to include newspapers, which it has absolutely no authority over, in its new government monitoring program.

Wait. Wait. There’s everything wrong with this picture. Bias?! Who can remember when there wasn’t media bias? But bias is in the eyes of the beholder, and for the past half dozen years at least, it certainly favored Barack Obama. So what’s the administration seeing now that makes them leery enough to go where no administration has gone before? Talk about ‘red lines’, the executive branch of government does not cross over into the free press to exert its power.

I don’t usually or ever cite Wikipedia as a source, but it helps here. Why is the free media called the Fourth Estate?

“Fourth Estate” most commonly refers to the news media; especially print journalism or “the press”. Thomas Carlyle attributed the origin of the term to Edmund Burke, who used it in a parliamentary debate in 1787 on the opening up of press reporting of the House of Commons of Great Britain…

In current use the term is applied to the press, with the earliest use in this sense described by Thomas Carlyle in his book On Heroes and Hero Worship: “Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”

Not so in this modern era. They long ago lost their credibility with the people, as public opinion polls continue to show. However, the media always retained their power and a certain influence that went with it to tell the people what’s happening in the world, in their country, and in their government, however they see fit to print or report the news. If wielded with responsibility and accountability, that power could and should be the people’s check on the government they elected.

Now the government is thinking of acting like this is a totalitarian state, a dictatorship.

The FCC has apparently already selected eight categories of “critical information” “that it believes local newscasters should cover.”

That’s right, the Obama Administration has developed a formula of what it believes the free press should cover, and it is going to send government monitors into newsrooms across America to stand over the shoulders of the press as they make editorial decisions.

This poses a monumental danger to constitutionally protected free speech and freedom of the press.

Every major repressive regime of the modern era has begun with an attempt to control and intimidate the press.

As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently said, “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

The federal government has absolutely no business determining what stories should and should not be run, what is critical for the American public and what is not, whether it perceives a bias, and whose interests are and are not being served by the free press.

It’s an unconscionable assault on our free society.

Media pundit Howard Kurtz asks ‘What is the FCC thinking?

The Fairness Doctrine, which once required TV and radio stations to offer equal time for opposing points of view, is no more, and good riddance (since it discouraged stations from taking a stand on much of anything). The Obama administration swears it’s not coming back.

How, then, to explain this incursion into the substance of journalism, which seems utterly at odds with the notion of a free and unfettered press?

An attempt at an answer in a moment. But by the way, Kurtz adds:

The government has no business meddling in how journalism is practiced. And if George W. Bush’s FCC had tried this, it would be a front-page story.

That is getting to be a tired tag line, true as it is.

So, how to explain this?

“What are they thinking?” Mr. Kurtz, it’s pretty obvious; they’re thinking no one in the mainstream press has asked them a difficult or challenging question in 7 years, so why would they start now.

They’re thinking an obsequious press that couldn’t be bothered to sustain outrage over intrusions into its own phone and internet records won’t have a problem with the government parking itself into the newsroom.

They’re thinking that if the mainstream press could forgive them for considering espionage charges against a member of the press — for doing what reporters are supposed to do — and then re-commence their habitual boot-licking, there is no real risk of media folk suddenly calling out a “red line”, or even being able to identify one.

They’re figuring that with this president, the mainstream media has no idea what “a bridge too far” might mean. Nor, “abuse of power”; nor “cover-up”; nor “mendacity”, “incompetence”, “ineptitude” or “constitutional illiteracy.”

They know that half the people in the newsroom are either married to (or social buddies with) influential members of this government, and that everyone is all comfy and nicely settled in for the revolution.

They know that the press willfully surrendered its own freedoms some time ago, in the interests of ideology, and so they really won’t mind a little editorial supervision from the masters:

. . .we no longer need wonder why the mainstream media seems unconcerned about possible attacks on our first amendment rights to freedom of religion and the exercise thereof. They have already cheerfully, willfully surrendered the freedom of the press to the altar of the preferred narrative. People willing to dissolve their own freedoms so cheaply have no interest in anyone else’s freedom, either.

They know that if they like their newsroom, they can keep their newsroom, once it has been correctly updated. A Mad Man might sell the scheme as Prexy-Clean. Journalism “new and improved with powerful cleansing agents!”

I hope that helps, Mr. Kurtz.

And that’s as close as it gets to the truth of the matter, and truth matters more greatly than the media have collectively or in man cases individually considered in quite some time. This is what happens when you throw in with the powers that be, and those powers know they have you in their grip.

Like Elizabeth Scalia, I haven’t wanted to touch a political story lately, for quite a while. I try to find and focus on stories of human dignity and rights, faith and reason and justice in the balance. Not everything is political, but politics have invaded everything.

And now the federal government is considering going into media newsrooms.

So Scalia’s closing words here stand for both of us:

I didn’t want to write about this today. The truth is, I don’t even want to write about politics, anymore, because it’s all distraction and illusion and theater. I’d be happy to write about prayer and scripture, and nothing else, for the rest of my life, and maybe that’s what I’ll be doing, soon enough. But I am passionate about journalism, passionate about the need for a free press, and so I had to write, today. Without a curious press interested in protecting its own freedoms, there is no there, there. We might as well just put down the mics and turn out the lights, because it’s over.

Amen, sister. It’s not over, we’re still at our keyboards and mics, and our passion for a free and unfettered press will keep us busier than we want to be for a long time.

Pope Benedict’s last audience

The world is watching. Hopefully, they’re watching, reading and listening to reputable sources on what the pope said at his last public address.

Here it is in full. It’s loaded with Benedict’s characteric nuance and gentle sounding references to loaded messages. He’s a maestro. 

A key snip:

When, almost eight years ago, on April 19th, [2005], I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I held steadfast in this certainty, which has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: “Lord, what do you ask of me? It a great weight that You place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me” – and the Lord really has guided me. He has been close to me: daily could I feel His presence. [These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments joy and light, but also difficult moments. I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of ??Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been – and the Lord seemed to sleep. Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His – and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so.This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.

Emphasis added, of course. To highlight the point otherwise lost on those who just listened to an address of nice words about a beloved church and faith and office of the papacy, etc. No, this was pointed. The ship has pitched and tossed about on stormy seas. But it is not the ship of fools the world and particularly the world’s opinion shapers believe or want to believe it is. It is ‘the Lord’s barque,’ even when he didn’t seem to be part of the crew. And “he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so.This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish.” That is key.

No matter how imperfect the ministers, the ministry is set by the one who set it on course and continues to direct it, he was saying.

Do read his entire address. It was longer than usual and filled with gems that deserve consideration. In due time.

But since some big media want to highlight imperfect ministers and paint the church with the broad brush of accusation or condemnation or guilt by implication…or whatever…that needs to be addressed.

On the Wednesday Benedict would deliver his historic, final audience, the New York Times ran a front page, above the fold color photo of a dark Roman night sky over St. Peter’s Basilica, with the featured piece under it being a news analysis by Laurie Goodstein that doesn’t deserve attention. Except that so many irresponsible media do such lazy journalism that consists of reporting what the Times reports, and then others report off of that pack journalism until we’re all with Alice in Wonderland.

At the least, this is media misfeasance. And that’s all the attention I’ll give it, because it’s not worthy of snipping and addressing and analyzing. But it should be exposed as the irresponsible, tendentious, undisiplined press that it is. Report what is true, when you can source it and it is reliable and not coincidentally timed to an opportunity to sway opinion before the college of cardinals commences their process to elect a new pope.

I’ve been in big media long enough to know they can selective choose which sources to seek out, and which quotes make it into print.

Which heaps more attention onto the great service some bloggers are providing as new media giving news consumers alternatives to the old gatekeepers.

Like Patheos, where the insightful, cutting edge blogging on the Catholic Church is overseen by The Anchoress.

Tonight, no lightning strikes; mere hours away from the of Benedict’s pontificate, a bright beam shines from the heavens and the absence of gloom almost gives a shiver: a light shines in the darkness, a light ever-ancient, ever-new.

Read the whole post. It’s loaded with links. Worthy of attention.

Dear media covering Pope Benedict:

Do your homework.

At the beginning of the week when the world was thunderstruck with the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI had submitted his ‘Declaratio‘ announcing his resignation, and therby vacating the Seat of Peter on February 28, 2013, there was so much breath-catching and jaw dropping and scrambling to get something out in the press…that I decided to focus on the good, right and true and leave the bad reporting alone. Some of my friends and colleagues in the Catholic media world were blogging and tweeting about the outburst of nastiness and venom aimed at the Pontiff and the Catholic Church in general, but I was all the more resolute not to pay attention to that because…sigh…there’s only so much time and space to devote to coverage and I wanted mine well spent.

That lasted a day.

By Tuesday, I couldn’t let nonsense pass without remark or challenge. Or, with fraternal charity, the exhortation to try harder to do better the task we journalists have to seek and report the truth. And seeking is easier these days with global digital access to archives and every thought and utterance expressed in some detectable form. So it’s just lazy journalism and tendentious reporting to let things like…say…the Tuesday, February 12 front page top of the fold headline news get reported as the New York Times did that day.

In the paper edition, the Times headline ‘Pope Resigns, With Church At Crossroads’ had a sub-head ‘Scandals and a Shift Away From Europe Pose Challenges’ sets you, the reader, up for plenty of loaded reporting. Take the lede:

Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise announcement on Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28 sets the stage for a succession battle that is likely to determine the future course of a church troubled by scandal and declining faith in its traditional strongholds around the world.

No, it’s not a “succession battle,” and to put it in such terms is shaping the news purposely. It is a process by which the college of cardinals goes into seclusion, and whether or not this is comprehensible in today’s world, devote themselves to prayer that the Holy Spirit guides their process of discernment. There are politics involved in anything human, but it’s not a “battle.”

So the third paragraph opens with this sentence:

Saying he had examined his conscience “before God,” Benedict said he felt that he was not up to the challenge of guiding the world’s one billion Catholics.

Why the set-apart citation “before God”? To distance the reporting from actually acknowledging through an otherwise paraphrased summary that Benedict prayed about this before God? And, as he stated it in his Declaratio, “repeatedly.”

After listing the sins and struggles of the Church in the modern world, right up front, the piece says the pope’s resignation “sets up a struggle between the staunchest conservatives, in Benedict’s mold, who advocated a smaller church of more fervent believers, and those who feel the church can broaden its appeal in small but significant ways, like…loosening restrictions on condom use to prevent AIDS,” as if Church teaching were a matter of papal opinion than Church ethics and moral handed down from age to age.

It’s no surprise the Times sees these matters in political terms because everything is political these days. But this reaches:

Many Vatican watchers suspect the cardinals will choose…someome who can extend the church’s reach to new constituencies.

New constituencies? This is not politics.

Someone who will be “the church’s missionary in chief, a showman and salesman for the Catholic faith…”

The ‘missionary in chief’ is the only part of that statement that resembles a respectable description of the role the Catholic Church needs to fill when Benedict vacates the Chair of Peter.

Next to that piece, center of the front page under the large photo of Pope Benedict, was this ‘news analysis’ piece by Laurie Goodstien. For some reason, these news outlets change their headlines from print version to online, but it was titled ‘For Benedict, Clear Teachings and Many Crises.” She focuses on crises, starting with this for some inexplicable reason:

He inadvertently insulted Muslims on an early trip to Germany, which resulted in riots across the Islamic world…

That is a misrepresentation of the facts, a short and snappy summary of a deeper and intellectually challenging episode in Benedict’s pontificate. He did not ‘inadvertently insult Muslims.’ His deeply theological and scholarly address at Regensburg was treated by the media as most things are, when they plucked one line out of a longer engagement of ideas.

The scholar-pope himself stands as much an exponent of the German intellectual tradition as a critic. In the final analysis, it was not Christianity or the Church really that was harmed by the edgy, skeptical, and even – at times – hostile German guild. Rather, it was reason itself that suffered when scholarship excluded from its purview the investigation of the highest order truth claims about God.

Benedict did not echo the well-worn traditionalist critique by arguing that Christian scholarship had failed because the scholars slew too many sacred cows or had the wrong attitude when slaying them. On the contrary, the scholars stopped asking questions at all concerning the rationality of faith – relegating it to the realm of subjective opinion. This was paradoxically subversive of the central conceit of the Enlightenment itself, to say nothing of faith, which is intrinsically joined to reason.

But what has all this to do with Islam? His point was this: Though Christian scholars might have taken a long sabbatical from fundamental questions of truth, Christianity has always opened its sources and truth claims to friendly criticism from within and even to hostile criticism from without. Unfriendly external criticism is one of Providence’s main tools to help the Church forge more precise understandings of revealed things. But there is no tradition of either kind of criticism in Islam, and indeed no basic recognition among Muslims that Islam and its sacred text are suitable objects for such rational analysis. Such recognition is the sine qua non of real dialogue with Islam.

Top Vatican watcher and journalist Sandro Magister was one of the few who pointed out the fruit of the Regensburg experience, the scholars who did engage.

One month after his lecture at the University of Regensburg, Benedict XVI received an “open letter” signed by 38 Muslim personalities from various countries and of different outlooks, which discusses point by point the views on Islam expressed by the pope in that lecture.

The authors of the letter welcome and appreciate without reservation the clarifications made by Benedict XVI after the wave of protests that issued from the Muslim world a few days after the lecture in Regensburg, and in particular the speech that the pope addressed to ambassadors from Muslim countries on September 25, and also the reference made by cardinal secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, in a note issued on September 16, to the conciliar document “Nostra Aetate.”…

The authors of the letter appreciate Benedict XVI’s desire for dialogue and take very seriously his theses. “Applaud” pope’s “efforts to oppose the dominance of positivism and materialism in human life,” while contest him on other points, adding their reasons for their opposition.

In this sense, the letter signed by the 38…goes towards what the pope meant to accomplish with his audacious lecture in Regensburg: to encourage, within the Muslim world as well, public reflection that would separate faith from violence and link it to reason instead. Because, in the pope’s view, it is precisely the “reasonableness” of the faith that is the natural terrain of encounter between Christianity and the various other religions and cultures.

And on it goes, well worth reading. It’s worth bringing up again with more time and reflection, but seeing that snip on the front page of the New York Times irresponsibly thrown in there without context or apparent background knowledge required some attention.

On that same day, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed Opinion piece by Andrew Nagorski opens with a rather stunning statement from the former rome bureau chief for Newsweek:

Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy has not been known for stellar moments, yet he is ending it with a stellar action.

This would be a startling opening statement from anyone penning an analysis on Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy who garnered space on the WSJ op-ed page. But a former Rome bureau chief for Newsweek? I read that opening sentence to a highly-respected American priest theologian whose opinion is often sought in media, and his response was respectful amazement. ‘Whoever wrote that obviously didn’t know or pay attention to Pope Benedict,’ he said.

Not known for stellar moments?

How about releasing his firs encyclical Deus Caritas Est? Or Spe Salvi? Any thoughts about the exquisite trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, finishing with the ‘Infant Narratives,’ a treasure in three volumes?

Anybody in the media remember Benedict’s Apostolic Journey to America in April 2008 and his addresses at every venue here? The address to the United Nations General Assembly alone is an elegant reminder of what that body’s original purpose was in drafting and serving the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The visit and prayer at Ground Zero. And what really threw the press was his unannounced and private meeting – which Benedict called – with victims of clergy abuse. The meeting out of which victims tearfully spoke of the healing they felt after meeting with the profoundly apologetic and pastoral pontiff.

His Apostolic visit to Britain, an open hostile landscape if press coverage covered it all  in advance, yet one that wound up as a highly successful and joyful occasion. His Apostolic journey to Australia, World Youth Days, the tremendous outpouring of zeal and outburts of joy at seeing and hearing him and the love fest that greeted him.

Remember any of that, anyone assigned to cover him while those stellar moments were taking place in real time?

Enough. For now. I’m not even going to get into CNN and HuffPo and all the other outlets who have been hammering His Holiness. They don’t deserve the attention.

But he does. And in the coming weeks, I’ll be among those who work to bring it, as fully and truthfully as possible. I know those media outlets are struggling with diminished resources and manpower. But they’re also struggling with diminished journalistic values and powers of reason. I’m just one person. But I’m on it.

The Trayvon Martin tragedy

There is already too much hyperbolic coverage of the very sad case of a shooting that ended the life of a teenager in Florida, and dangerously escalating reaction to it, without restraint or recourse to facts.

So I’ve stayed out of the fray, hoping truth and goodness prevail, naive as that may sound. But there are a couple of articles that particularly caught my attention, both of them disturbing. Yes, it’s all disturbing. But these stood out.

This one shows the carnival like atmosphere that has sprung up around a human tragedy.

From the T-shirt and hoodie sales to trademarking slogans like “Justice for Trayvon” to the pass-the-hat rallies that bring in thousands, the case of an unarmed black teenager killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer is quickly turning into an Internet-fueled brand.

Websites are hawking key chains bearing Trayvon Martin’s likeness. His parents have bought two trademarks, saying they hope to raise money to help other families struck by tragedy. Trayvon clothes, bumper stickers, buttons and posters are up for grabs on eBay.

Vendors selling Martin T-shirts and hoodies have become fixtures at rallies in Sanford, the central Florida town where Martin was shot last month. At one Sanford rally this week, a man had a variety of T-shirts laid out on the ground as marchers went by, yelling out, “I’ve got every size!”

I’m reminded of Augustine’s description in Confessions of his friend Alypius in the arena, first horrified by the spectators’ eager involvement in dehumanizing bloodsport and then falling into fascination with it himself.

Anyway, the other article was this serious assessment of the media’s collective role in whipping up a public frenzy.

The news media are taking on an increasingly police-like role in the Trayvon Martin slaying by using modern forensic techniques to analyze evidence, an approach some legal experts say can lead to a distorted view of the case because a lot of the key evidence is still under wraps.

The public has been whipsawed back and forth as new revelations emerge, appearing to support one version or the other….

Legal and forensic experts cautioned that none of the media-led investigations, which are done in many high-profile cases, has been conclusive.

Media-led investigations are very selective these days. And very, very political. As someone said on one media panel, ‘This is not about a black and white thing. This is about a right and wrong thing.’

Big abortion’s gangster tactics

Some big media writers are using strong language to criticize the strongarm tactics Planned Parenthood used on the Komen foundation last week.

Take a look at just three pieces…

In this WSJ piece, James Taranto calls it ‘totalitarian feminism.’

In breaking ties with Planned Parenthood, Komen made the same mistake: It failed to understand it was dealing with intolerant fanatics…

Further, Komen offered a rationale for its decision–a new policy denying grants to groups under governmental investigation–that seemed disingenuous and provided a point of attack for Planned Parenthood and its allies. “I’m reminded of the McCarthy era, where somebody said: ‘Oh,’ a congressman stands up, a senator, ‘I’m investigating this organization and therefore people should stop funding them,’ ” Politico quotes Sen. Barbara Boxer as saying on MSNBC.

Here’s an important point almost no one else in major media is making:

In truth, Komen was under no obligation to fund Planned Parenthood. Its decision not to do so was not punitive and did not even appear to be. The episode is reminiscent of George Orwell far more than Joe McCarthy. Komen’s actual aim was to extricate itself from the divisive national battle over abortion by severing its connection with a leading combatant.

The conservative Media Research Center notes that CNN “aired a pretty one-sided piece including statements from Planned Parenthood’s president Cecile Richards…No supporter of Komen’s position or critic of Planned Parenthood was included. Even more appalling than that lack of balance, though, was CNN’s echoing the charge of “right-wing ‘bullying,’ ” while the network was participating in Planned Parenthood’s effort to bully Komen.

The Ministry of Information–sorry, the New York Times–editorializes:

“With its roster of corporate sponsors and the pink ribbons that lend a halo to almost any kind of product you can think of, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has a longstanding reputation as a staunch protector of women’s health. That reputation suffered a grievous, perhaps mortal, wound this week from the news that Komen, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, decided to betray that mission. It threw itself into the middle of one of America’s nastiest political battles, on the side of hard-right forces working to demonize Planned Parenthood and undermine women’s health and freedom.
The truth is that Komen blundered into a political battle by supporting Planned Parenthood in the first place and was attempting to back out of it quietly.”

The Times’s view exemplifies feminism’s gradual transformation into a totalitarian ideology. Totalitarianism politicizes everything, so that neutrality is betrayal–in this case, neutrality on abortion is portrayed as opposition to “women’s health.” As we wrote last year, this is also why purportedly pro-choice feminists can hate Sarah Palin and her daughter for choosing not to abort their children.

Komen would have been better off approaching the matter straightforwardly, by announcing that it wished to opt out of the abortion debate and would not support groups that take a position on either side of the issue, including Planned Parenthood. This would not have averted the smear campaign that followed, for Planned Parenthood and its supporters have internalized the notion that abortion is health, and are determined that everyone else internalize it too. But an honest position would have been easier to defend. No one would have been able to dent Komen’s integrity.

Speaking of honesty, and the New York Times, Ross Douthat has this good column.

IN the most recent Gallup poll on abortion, as many Americans described themselves as pro-life as called themselves pro-choice. A combined 58 percent of Americans stated that abortion should either be “illegal in all circumstances” or “legal in only a few circumstances.” These results do not vary appreciably by gender: in the first Gallup poll to show a slight pro-life majority, conducted in May 2009, half of American women described themselves as pro-life.

But if you’ve followed the media frenzy surrounding the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision — which it backpedaled from, with an apology, after a wave of frankly brutal coverage — to discontinue about $700,000 in funding for Planned Parenthood, you would think all these millions of anti-abortion Americans simply do not exist.

From the nightly news shows to print and online media, the coverage’s tone alternated between wonder and outrage — wonder that anyone could possibly find Planned Parenthood even remotely controversial and outrage that the Komen foundation had “politicized” the cause of women’s health.

“That ubiquitous pink ribbon … is sporting a black eye today,” Claire Shipman announced on ABC News Thursday, while Diane Sawyer nodded along. On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell dressed down the Komen foundation’s founder, Nancy Brinker: “I have to tell you,” Mitchell said, “this is shocking to a lot of your longtime supporters. … How could this have taken place?” In story after story, journalists explicitly passed judgment on Komen for creating a controversy where none need ever have existed.

Conservative complaints about media bias are sometimes overdrawn. But on the abortion issue, the press’s prejudices are often absolute, its biases blatant and its blinders impenetrable. In many newsrooms and television studios across the country, Planned Parenthood is regarded as the equivalent of, well, the Komen foundation: an apolitical, high-minded and humanitarian institution whose work no rational person — and certainly no self-respecting woman — could possibly question or oppose.

But of course millions of Americans — including, yes, millions of American women — do oppose Planned Parenthood. They oppose the 300,000-plus abortions it performs every year (making it the largest abortion provider in the country), and they oppose its tireless opposition to even modest limits on abortion.

Both sides of the abortion debate ‘should find the anti-komen backlash disgusting,’ says Daniel Foster at NRO’s The Corner. Like the other two pieces above, this one is worth reading all the way through, following its links and its logic.

The Komen Foundation is a private organization. Planned Parenthood is ostensibly a private organization as well, but one with the highest of public profiles, a maximally polarizing mission, and a conduit of taxpayer dollars. If either of the two should be wary of politicizing its decision-making process, it should be PP, no? And yet Komen is getting hammered for a practical organizational decision (for the zillionth time: PP does not provide mammography) while pro-choice auxiliaries are gleefully fomenting the rage.

Will Wilkinson, who is pro legal abortion and probably the libertarian with whom I agree least often, gets it exactly right on this score, observing that there is more than a little gangsterism in the response from the PP set:

“You know, I’m not a big fan of Komen’s brandification of breast cancer, I dislike seeing pink ribbons plastered over everything, and I think Planned Parenthood is real swell, abortions and all. So I’m not especially inclined to come to Komen’s aid. But I’ll be damned if this doesn’t look a bit like PP throwing it’s weight around, knocking a few pieces of china off the shelves, sending a message to its other donors: “Nice foundation you got there. Wouldn’t want anything to, you know, happen to it.”

Look, the beauty of free speech is that, if you’re inclined to do so, you can write a check to PP in an act of solidarity, or write a check to Komen as an expression of moral approval. That’s all fine. But there’s something quite a bit different, something creepy and not a little despicable, about the Planned Parenthood set’s besmirching Komen’s good name across a thousand platforms for having the audacity to stop giving them free money. And I don’t care why that decision was made, frankly.

Look at it this way…

Imagine I volunteered to run a cub scout troop, and for years, when the annual soapbox derby came near, I knew I could count on Joe’s Deli as good for a hundred dollar donation. If one year Old Man Joe decided he didn’t want to donate any more — because he didn’t like the design of our racer, or because he thought his hundred bucks was better spent on a little league team, or because he disapproved of the scouts’ stance on gays — what on earth would justify me going on public access TV to grill Old Man Joe on why he hates kids? What would justify me hacking the Joe’s Deli web site or maliciously editing Old Man Joe’s Wikipedia page? What would justify me goading a handful of my city councilman into standing up at the next town meeting and publicly calling on Old Man Joe to reinstate his donation?

Nothing. Nothing would justify that. Nothing at all.

Jewish defender of Catholic Church

Jewish businessman Sam Miller first wrote an article smacking down media bias against the Catholic Church in June 2008. He originally wrote it for the Cleveland Diocese’s ‘Buckeye Bulletin’. It has suddenly started circulating again, and seems more timely now than ever.

I received it in pdf form in emails. Here’s a blog that ran it in 2008, and it’s interesting that the comments section generated activity then, and has picked up more now.

Maybe it’s easier for me to say because I am not Catholic, but I have had enough, more than enough, disgustingly enough.

During my entire life I’ve never seen a greater vindictive, more scurrilous, biased campaign against the Catholic Church as I have seen in the last 18 months, and the strangest thing is that it is in a country like the United States where there is supposed to be mutual respect and freedom for all religions.

He recalls that he has shared the pain of stigma in America with immigrant Catholics who were Irish, Italians, Poles, Latvians and Lithuanians, among others.

This prejudice against your religion and mine has never left this country and don’t ever forget it, and (sic) never will. Your people were called Papists, Waps, Guineas, frogs, fish eaters, ad infinitum…

There is a concentrated effort by the media today to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. You don’t find it this bad overseas at all. They have now blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage. You and me have been living in a false paradise. Wake up and recognize that many people don’t like Catholics. What are these people trying to accomplish?

Good and incisive question.

Just what are these Kangaroo journalists trying to accomplish? Think about it. If you get the New York Times day’ ,after day; the Los Angeles Times day after day, our own paper day after day…looking at the record, some of these writers are apostates, Catholics or ex-Catholics who have been denied something they wanted from the Church and are on a mission of vengeance.

Why would newspapers carry on this vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States, namely the Catholic Church?

Miller cites figures on Catholic education, health systems, institutions that sesrve the public in far greater proportion than is ever credited. What gets cited….mainly by the discredited New York Times….is any example of misconduct they can dredge up. And because an institution like the Catholic Church stands so publicly for moral values, they are held to the interpretation of that standard by cultural arbiters of values that happen to move the goalposts and redefine what constitutes morality, without being held to account themselves for upholding standards.

Miller, the Jewish businessman, is despondent over the attacks on the Catholic Church.

I never thought in my life I would ever see these things.

Walk with your shoulders high and your head higher. Be a proud member of the most important non governmental agency today in the United States. Then remember what Jeremiah said: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” And be proud, speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions. Be proud that you’re a Catholic.