RedState has an interesting post up about recent work by Dr. Eoin Lenihan to establish that a scattered collection of journalists have multiple ties to Antifa.
Antifa, yeah, those guys. The violent mask-wearing thugs who roughed up Trump fans and shut down some free speech rallies. Real terrorists.
What the good professor did was to start with a handful of known Antifa Twitter accounts. Then he collected a long list of associated Twitter accounts and screened for Twitter accounts with multiple associations to the known Antifa accounts. Then he searched that list for journalists, and, sure enough, found plenty.
It is good to have a little sunlight into the dark world of journalism.
I posted a few months ago with a story that was broken by LifeSiteNews.com. That is a small Catholic pro-life news aggregator and blog based in Toronto. They are very well-known in pro-life activist circles, and were otherwise unknown until they published the famous letter from Archbishop Viganò. Archbishop Viganò said that the Vatican had known about Cardinal McCarrick for several years, but that Pope Francis had rehabilitated him anyhow. The reason the letter was published by LifeSiteNews is that they are the only English-language journalists that Archbishop Viganò trusted with his letter. I bring this up as an introduction to a new story from LifeSiteNews that you do not see in mass media journalism, this time from Houston:
Now, it turns out that a second Houston Public Library Drag Queen was convicted of multiple sexual assaults against young children, according to records uncovered by Houston MassResistance activists. The man has also written a lurid article describing his work as a transgender prostitute. And he was photographed at a Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) event carrying a rubber chicken — a symbol used by homosexuals to indicate a sexual preference for young boys. …
It’s becoming clear that the outrages we’re exposing are not an anomaly, but more likely the norm — not only in Houston, but probably around the country.
Yes. LifeSiteNews ran an article back in March that was investigated by Catholic activists MassResistance, in which they broke the story about a drag queen from Drag Queen Story Time who had a record of sexual abuse of minor boys. Houston brushed it off as a one-time thing, of course; an anomaly.
So here we are with a second DQST drag queen from the Houston library program with a record of sexual abuse of minor boys. I searched evil Google News for the name of this second drag queen. Google News did not turn up the LifeSiteNews article at all, because evil Google is suppressing everything by them. But it did turn up a media criticism article by my favorite media critics, whose angle is that this is yet another instance of a story that would be considered newsworthy but got suppressed by all the journalists because it goes against the Leftist narrative.
This is the sort of thing that is only known by those of us who follow Christian niche media. It might or might not get picked up in conservative niche media. Then, if it stirs up enough social media outragey quarrels, it might, just might, get a footnote in legacy media. A more likely way for an item like this to make it into Big Media coverage would be if President Trump mentions it in a tweet. Otherwise, this story will remain buried.
Fake News, you say? Indeed, this is to discuss the turmoil in the field of journalism, which is both a cause and a consequence of the Leftist tilt of the entire field. Journalism is in crisis, you see, and Leftist media watchers are looking for scapegoats. President Trump figures high on their enemies list, with his “fake news!,” “Enemy of the People,” and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. See my previous post on this topic. In that post I reacted to a journalist who blamed the end of professionalism in journalism on President Trump. In this post I will discuss the reasons for the collapse of journalism as we knew it.
I am happy to see the recent obituaries for Big Journalism. But before we discuss the real problems with journalism, please consider what the crisis looks like to the journalists. There have been a rash of articles and editorials from journalists that have expressed fear and frustration. This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the New Yorker back in January:
Conglomeration can be good for business, but it has generally been bad for journalism. Media companies that want to get bigger tend to swallow up other media companies, suppressing competition and taking on debt, which makes publishers cowards. … Craigslist went online in the Bay Area in 1996 and spread across the continent like a weed, choking off local newspapers’ most reliable source of revenue: classified ads. … By 2000, only three hundred and fifty of the fifteen hundred daily newspapers left in the United States were independently owned. … Then came the fall, when papers all over the country, shackled to mammoth corporations and a lumbering, century-old business model, found themselves unable to compete with the upstarts—online news aggregators like the Huffington Post (est. 2005) and Breitbart News (est. 2007), which were, to readers, free. News aggregators also drew display advertisers away from print; Facebook and Google swallowed advertising accounts whole. Big papers found ways to adapt; smaller papers mainly folded.
(When researching for this post, I saw an article from 2016 that said local newspapers had shed 60 percent of their workforce over the previous 26 years.)
In January of this year they had a particularly tough day, in which 1,000 journalism jobs were chopped in one day.
Now, I have been part of several Ratburgher discussions in which we generally agreed that mass media journalism is the Enemy of the People, so I don’t expect to hear a lot of sympathy for the journalists here. But there is a problem that I want to address.
Where does news come from?
Yes, there are some intrepid conservative organizations that do great investigative journalism. But they are few in number and are concentrated on political matters. When your local paper dies, how do you get local news about the ordinary life of your community? You would have to join a dozen local blog sites to be able to continue to be aware of the shenanigans at City Hall, or the hoo-rah at the School Board, or the embezzler in the suburbs, or the police blotter, or area high school sports, or any of a number of local matters. You might not be very much interested in any of those matters, but it used to be that you could be generally well-informed about the community you live in by just skimming the headlines in the local paper on a regular basis.
Those days are gone. My local Memphis paper is now owned by the USA Today Network, which is part of Gannett. The people who lay out the paper work in a rival city in another state (Louisville). Shortly before I canceled my subscription last year they ran an article in the “Local News” section about an industrial park. That industrial park is in my state, but it is a seven-hour drive from my city. So much for “local news.” It was fine in two other papers that are owned by the USA Today Network, so it was just too easy to pretend that it belonged in our paper, too. Their “customer support” is in the Philippines, Sales is in Phoenix, and the payment processing center is in Cincinnati.
So, what now? There are the local TV stations, but they just pretend to do news. They only have “reporters” who are transcribers. They look into stories after they are alerted by citizens who call, or mostly they just pass along the police blotter and the stuff that comes to them in press releases. After they learn that something is going on, they scramble a camera guy (no longer a camera crew) to race out and act like they covered the event for hours. Also we have a couple of local blog sites that are attempting to make a name for themselves as the go-to place for local news. But they are the same old Leftist journalists who recently lost their jobs due to downsizing at the newspaper, and so their political coverage is the same old Leftist bilge through and through.
Killed by the Internet
Local papers were killed by the internet. On the internet, “information wants to be free.” Local stories get picked up by aggregator services, and it became really easy to check out Google News for local news. Facebook tried to provide local news links for a while, but the way they promoted Leftist news and suppressed conservative news caused such a backlash that they dropped that effort.
What gets blamed a lot for killing local papers is Craigslist, which is where all the classified ads went. But the real culprits are Google and Facebook, which now have all the ads by the big chain retailers.
But if there is no local paper, then Google cannot steal their news any more. Nor can Facebook or any conservative alternative aggregator.
Follow the Money
There was about 129 billion dollars in digital advertising in America last year. Google slurped up about half. Facebook took in about 25%. Youtube, Instagram, Microsoft, Verizon and Amazon combined for about 22%. All newspapers combined brought in about one percent. All magazines combined brought in about one percent. Craigslist brought in about one percent.
Facebook and Google to the rescue?
So I was sort of amused to see that both Facebook and Google have new initiatives to muscle in on the local news business. Now that they have killed off the newspapers, they want to take over. The trend going forward looks like our people becoming even more dependent on Google and Facebook. This is not good.
There have been several recent articles advocating “slow news.” They come from journalists who are observing that the field of journalism has been overtaken by a rush to clickbait. The Editor of NewYorker.com quoted Pablo Boczkowski, a professor of communications at Northwestern University:
“If you’re an average site, you have five to seven seconds to tell your story.”
The solution preferred by journalism ‘leading lights’ is the digital subscription model. Only a handful of outlets are likely to survive via that model. Journalists are hungry for readers who will read a full slate of news articles at one site, the way we used to read the morning newspaper over breakfast. But, as Professor Boczkowski observed, contemporary consumers of news learn the news one click at a time from dozens of sources, mostly those that are shared on social media by their circle of Facebook friends or the people they follow on Twitter.
A “news desert” is a place that does not have any source for local news. Lots of America is heading into news desert status.
As happy as I am to see the obituaries for Big Journalism, we still need news. How do we get real information about our community and our state? Conservative and Christian niche media seem to me to do somewhat well on the national scene. But I really hate the thought of being dependent on evil Google for information from my state capitol.
I don’t have any answers. I suppose we will have to hope for a cadre of citizen journalists to blog the news of the day. The problem is finding them amidst all the competing noise on the internet. And, if they also blog with conservative opinions, then their posts will be suppressed when you try to search for them.
Perhaps all you Ratburghers could start posting local news here. Ratburger.org could become a rival for Google and Facebook, right up until Google or Facebook noticed us and took us out.
“It’s almost as if the effort to undo Trump has had an unexpected effect — that Trump has somehow broken the news media.”
That is a quote from a long essay at Esquire last month by Peter Boyer. Boyer wrote about changes to news coverage of the President of the United States because of Donald J. Trump. He, of course, blames Trump. But he is clearly distressed at the current state of affairs. His essay concentrates on the New York Times, with a long section about the Washington Post and a couple of asides about CNN. I bookmarked the link to Boyer’s essay. It is an interesting read. I think it will make a helpful addition to the obituary for the national press.
Elite newsrooms jettisoned everything they learned in that required Sophomore class “Ethics of Journalism.” They tossed the New York Times Manual of Style right out with the trash, at least the parts about “neutral voice” and “counterbalance” and context and completeness and anonymous sources and several other picky matters that used to be important to them.
Further from Boyer:
Back in the early months of the Trump presidency, I had asked Liz Spayd, the public editor, if the Times’s new business model was to become a sort of high-end Huffington Post.
“I hope that is not the case,” she said. “I think that would be a sad place for this country to find itself, that one of the strongest and most powerful and well-financed newsrooms in the country would speak and have an audience only on one side of the political aisle. It’s very, very dangerous, I think.” Spayd had become the voice of the old traditions at the Times, a position that earned her the opprobrium of progressive critics outside the paper (“This editor appears to be from 1987 or earlier,” Keith Olbermann tweeted. “Sorry—get in the game or get out”) as well as inside the newsroom. Five months into the Trump presidency, her job was eliminated; she now consults for Facebook.
The very thing Ms. Spayd warned about had come to pass. The New York Times subscriber base consists entirely of Leftists and hotels and libraries. Nobody reads the New York Times except the white woke Leftist elites who control the Democrat Party, and then the rest of us read the things that make the top of the Google News feed, or we read them if they are cited for some particular outrage in the conservative niche media. They have become profitable again as the Opposition Party. Nobody expects the NYT to be anything else besides the PR of the far Left.
How sad. This is what prompted P. Boyer to write that essay. The theme is despondency over the death of the old “American model of Journalism.”
We have now fully transformed America into the “European model of Journalism.” The Europeans have parliamentary governments. This led to a multiplicity of parties. The newspapers generally all serve as the PR mouthpiece of one or another of the dozens of parties. With the legacy media now champions of open borders, Communism, and hostile to traditionalist religions, we can comfortably call them the “Enemy of the People.”
We have been a long time in making this transformation. Looking back, it is easy to see how the press always leaned left, how the leftward tilt got a huge push when the universities started up degree programs in journalism in the late 50s and 1960s. Mass media news in America slid further and further leftward until they went into full-on campaign mode in 1992 to boost Bill Clinton past G.H.W. Bush. It was the campaign of 1992 that turned Rush Limbaugh into a household name. He single-handedly saved AM radio by turning it into the media refuge for conservative thought.
The internet completed the transformation. Now the NYT is just a bigger, badder HuffPo. But the demise of mass media journalism is not because of President Trump. It is only partly because they lurched even further Left than they previously were during the Obama Administration. The internet brought them down. More on that in my next post. First, another couple of points about Boyer’s essay.
My favorite media critics are liberals (pro-life Democrats). They noticed P. Boyer’s essay. They have been saying the same thing pretty much ever since the campaign of 1996, which is when they became frightened at the excesses of supposedly ethical journalists at elite publications. They connected the adoption of full Leftist advocacy “journalism” to the decades-old tradition in elite media for full Leftist advocacy “journalism” in culture war issues.
As a Social Conservative, I have noticed that elite newsrooms think that people who share my views on matters such as abortion, sex, sin, privacy and personal responsibility are people who are not worth covering accurately. This was revealed anew earlier this month by the fawning coverage that Mayor Pete Buttigieg received when he launched a religious attack on Mike Pence.
Terry Mattingly of GetReligion concluded:
Thus, elite newsrooms were no longer interested in doing accurate, fair, objective coverage of about half of the United States of America.
I am actually happy to see the obituaries begin. Leftist mass media helped put Obama in office and keep him there. They nearly delivered the White House to Hillary. They have opposed President Trump in every particular, revealing that they only care about scoring political points. They do not care about what is good for America or the American people, nor do they particularly care about the accuracy of the information that they sell as “news.” As Leftists, they are anti-American and anti-Christian. They oppose everything I value. They are the Opposition Party.
The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation held their annual awards dinner. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was not there. Instead, he was the interviewee at Fox and Friends, where he revealed that he had been notified that he would be the recipient of their signature award and had been invited to the Foundation’s annual banquet, but then he was notified that they were rescinding the award and he was dis-invited.
“The return of hostages isn’t partisan. It’s not political. This is an American activity,” he said.
“We worked with Democrat members of Congress on this. This is not partisan.
“And yet, it sounds like some in the media, who were underwriting this event – sponsors for the event said ‘if Pompeo is there, we won’t be.’”
In January, he had received an apologetic note from Mr. Foley’s widow, who was sorry that the Foundation had decided to make the change. The change they had made was that they decided to give their premier award to someone else instead of Secretary Pompeo, after they had originally sent him a notice that he would be the recipient. Evidently she revealed that it was pressure from the keynote speaker and some of her friends that caused the Foundation to drop Secretary Pompeo.
The keynote speaker was Christiane Amanpour of CNN, and her pals were all media people.
Mike Pompeo wrote a gracious response to Mrs. Foley and did not say anything in public about the disinvitation until the week of the dinner.
Since James W. Foley had been a journalist, and since the Foundation has promoted journalism about Americans that are held as political prisoners around the world, the Foundation has a lot of connections to media and gets a lot of support from media. James W. Foley had been held hostage and ultimately was the subject of an ISIS beheading video.
Rather than honor the Trump Administration for diligent work to free political prisoners and hostages, the Foundation instead slammed the Trump Administration. The Foundation denied Secretary Pompeo’s account. They are saying that they rescinded the award because of Administration indifference to the murder of Jamal Kashoggi:
The decision with respect to the James W. Foley Hostage Advocate award is being mischaracterized by some media outlets. While it is accurate that our foundation intended to present our hostage freedom award to Secretary Pompeo, and we extended the invitation to him on November 19, we ultimately decided we could not present the award as planned due to the dramatic change in circumstances when the Administration did not press for genuine accountability from the Saudi government for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
We communicated the reason for this decision to the Secretary’s team on January 11. Our decision had nothing to do with whether we received media pressure. In addition to advocating for the safe return of American hostages abroad, the protection of free speech and promotion of journalists’ safety is a key pillar of our foundation and this award would have been in conflict with that key principle.
We thank Secretary Pompeo for his extraordinary efforts to bring Americans home and are grateful for all that he and this administration have accomplished to prioritize the return of our citizens. In particular we are thankful for the time he recently dedicated to meeting with families of American hostages. We look forward to working closely with Secretary Pompeo and this administration on these efforts to bring Americans safely home.
Of course, it is not “some media outlets” that characterized the rescission as due to media pressure. That was what Secretary Pompeo said.
Secretary Pompeo is entirely deserving of the award. Kashoggi is just an excuse. Kashoggi was employed by the Washington Post, but he was being paid for by a grant from Qatar and had been putting out a series of hit pieces against the Saudi ruling family. Now it is sort of a complicated mess that Prince Salman chose to go full Bond Villain and commission the gruesome assassination on Turkish soil. He managed to poke Turkey, Qatar, the Trump Administration and western journalism all at the same time, plus put all his enemies on notice to lie low.
Kashoggi is just an excuse, however. Consider the record that prompted the Foundation to select Pompeo in the first place. The Trump Administration has obtained releases for as many political prisoners in two years as the Obama Administration managed in eight years, and without paying huge ransoms or releasing terrorists from Guantanamo. The Washington Examiner provided a copy of Secretary Pompeo’s letter to Mrs. Foley, with this excerpt:
“This work has been accomplished without the concessions that only encourage more hostage taking by the kidnappers and terrorists.”
Here is another quote from Secretary Pompeo’s letter, via the Washington Examiner:
“I understand that the Foundation decided to rescind the Freedom Award and my invitation to attend the 2019 James W. Foley Freedom Awards due to pressure from its media partners and your fear, stated in your letter, that some guests at the dinner would not show my office proper respect if I attended,” wrote Pompeo.
“How sad is it that base politics and hatred have been allowed to creep into even this sphere of our national activity? The safe recovery of Americans held hostage overseas should be beyond politics and must enjoy the support of all Americans. I regret that pressure of such a cynical and abominable nature was brought to bear on you and John,” he added in a reference also to James Foley’s father.
I absolutely expect “cynical and abominable” from CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times. They are the Enemy of the People.
Secretary Pompeo and President Trump deserve accolades for their work on this front. The Washington Examiner reports that President Trump takes an active interest and gets twice-weekly updates on political prisoners. We saw President Trump looking fresh and excited at 1:00 am when he went to greet the plane arriving with hostages released from North Korea.
A new platform for journalists to strategize on the narrative of the day. This is based in Canada, I think, and is being pushed out to journalists in the UK and America as well.
Right. They already think alike anyway. No conspiracy needed.
The app needed to allow us to communicate and collaborate with teams, share files, chat in real time or switch to video/audio conferencing and even have highly secured “Off The Record” end-to-end (E2E) encrypted communication.
The result is a secure communication platform that doesn’t have the myriad of risk that comes with proprietary or off-the-shelf applications such as Slack.
This is the last of a series. Yes; I know it is 2019; this is late because government shutdown. I will provide an index to the other entries in a comment. I have been posting periodically on the hostile coverage of Evangelicals on the part of Big News Media. It is clear that a large driving force in the hostile media accounts was Donald Trump. Big Media has sought to divide Evangelicals from President Trump. They sought to divide Evangelicals from each other, they trashed Evangelicals at every opportunity, and primarily they sought to convince Evangelicals not to vote for President Trump or for any politician who expressed support for President Trump. They wanted Evangelicals to believe it was hypocritical for Christians to support President Trump. They wanted Evangelicals to believe that Republicans were all going to lose badly so it was a waste of time to vote. I don’t know how much success they actually achieved, but they were hard at work to accomplish real voter suppression, while spouting accusations of voter suppression at Republicans.
The cascade of articles seemed to abate, oddly, during the runup to the midterm elections. That was primarily because all of Big Media was in full hair-on-fire excitement over the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. They got themselves worked up real good, anticipating a major defeat for President Trump, and they focused all their energy on that. Other issues were pushed aside. Then, with about two weeks before election day, they resumed running attacks on Evangelical voters.
There was nothing really notable. It was just the usual stuff that I have been observing in nine previous posts in 2018.
I did observe some interesting postmortems about the awfulness of mass media news in the runup to the midterm elections. My favorite media critics at GetReligion put up the best ones. They are putting a happy face on the field of journalism. Mostly they are explaining to Evangelicals just why they have been trashed so badly for years, and attributing the problem to ignorance rather than malice.
In part, I see their point. Journalists as a group are very ignorant when it comes to matters of religion. While 80 percent of Americans generally say they “believe in God,” this is only true for 20 percent of journalists. In comparison to average Americans, journalists are three times as likely to say they are Atheist, and five times as likely to say they are Agnostic. Journalists either grew up without religion at home, or in homes with mixed religions, or else they are openly hostile to the faith of their parents.
Journalists do not recognize religious jargon and do not understand the differences between religious groups. Ignorance on their part can go a long way to explaining a lot of bad reporting on religious people and religious issues.
But there is a lingering matter of open hostility on the part of journalists expressed towards people of faith. This explains some anti-Catholic bias and general anti-Christian bias.
As Leftists, journalists also share a hostility to all conservatives. This shows up as the “pew gap.” The pew gap is a phenomenon that first got talked about in the 1980s. People who attend regular worship services are more likely to vote Republican. People who rarely attend worship are more likely to vote Democrat. This divide has been increasing for forty years.
In terms of journalism, the upshot is that religious people are usually on the opposite political side from Atheists and agnostics. Which is, I think, the root of so much hostile coverage of Evangelicals. For most journalists, politics is their religion.
Journalists howled when President Trump labeled them the “Enemy of the People.” I think that label is accurate. They are certainly the Enemy of traditionally religious People. They are the Enemy of conservative People.
Native American Drummer Nathan Phillips was very busy on Saturday. After a full day of protesting and drumming at the “Indiginous Peoples March,” which had been scheduled for right after the March for Life on Friday in hopes of garnering some attention, he was the toast of media on Saturday. Leftist “journalists” clamored all day for interviews. He said some things to some media outlets, and he said some other things to other media outlets. It would be really interesting to put together a montage of his contradictory statements, but that is not my purpose for this post.
I just searched Google News for “Nathan Phillips.” There were lots and lots of hits. Buried way down at the 42nd place in the search results was an item that reported on his activities on Saturday evening. No, it was not in a mass media outlet, it was a story from a small conservative niche media outlet. Catholic News Agency (yes, the little guys, not the National Catholic Register) broke a story about a protest event that was led by the intrepid “elder” of the Omaha Nation.
Phillips led a group of about 20 who started to enter the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (400 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC). Since the evening mass was in progress they were stopped by security guards who ran to close and lock the doors. They pounded on the doors for a few minutes, and drummed on their drums. Then Phillips made a statement.
Just a typical Saturday evening in Washington, DC, I suppose, which is a magnet for all sorts of crazies. But you would think that since the entire country is still arguing over the events of Friday in which Phillips marched into a group of high school kids and beat his drum in the face of one of them, you might think some mass media outlet would pick up the story.
Nope. Crickets. It doesn’t help their narratives.
The Enemy of the People were very aptly dubbed “the drive-by media” by Rush Limbaugh over 20 years ago. They mangled the story, fueled social media hysteria that got the kids and their parents doxxed, threatened, with enough threats to the Diocese to get their school as well as Diocesan offices closed for security reasons.
Then when it turned out that there was video evidence of how badly wrong their reporting was, they dropped the story. None of them ran the item about Phillips’s Saturday evening attempt to disrupt worship at the Basilica. As near as I can tell, the only legacy media outlet to cover this story is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and I only found them because the media critics at GetReligion linked to them.
If any other legacy media carried this story, Google is making sure we don’t know about that.
Big Media is a thoroughly Leftist project, and, as such, an anti-American project. They are to be scoffed and mocked at every opportunity. They pretend to do journalism. What they actually do is serve as the propaganda operation of the Progressive movement.
Since the Church of Rome is America’s largest faith group, everyone ought to have a little understanding about the important parts of the scandals that are rocking the Catholic Church. This is a big deal that will affect most of the culture wars and will spill over into politics. Of course, Big Media won’t cover any part of this except the parts that affect politics, and they can be relied on to bury the parts that embarrass the Left. So, here is a long post by a schismatic Lutheran to explain some of the distress in the Catholic Church.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops scheduled a conference last November, intended to get serious about setting up a monitoring and checks and balances system to address the sexual scandals in their own ranks. The lay Catholics, with the whole world watching, had been catching on that there were priests who had committed sexual sins and who had disappeared with some vague words about penance. Then it started coming out that bad priests had simply been moved around, in most cases with their new diocese unaware of their sexually sinful past. It turned out that this had happened in an astonishingly large number of cases, which became clear when the Pennsylvania Attorney General released a long and damning report on an investigation into sexual sins by priests. What really frosted the lay Catholics was that bishops who had preached about the need for openness and clarity and penance and oversight and confession and such, turned out to be the men who had deliberately hid the bad cases, covered for them, and in some cases put sexual predator priests into positions where they could repeat their bad behaviors.
If you are a Catholic who has been paying attention to this stuff, then scroll down to the heading called GetReligion. Most of the next couple of pages is background info.
American bishops put on hold
The USCCB assembly met two months ago with the expectation that they were going to vote on two action items. These were standards of accountability for bishops and a special commission for receiving complaints against bishops. This was part of several initiatives intended to work out a process for improved monitoring/oversight on matters of ecclesial discipline, to make sure that penances were concomitant with the infraction, that real crimes were promptly reported to police, and that violators who were likely to repeat their offense did not get placed into circumstances with future temptations, and that priests so placed would be subject to follow-up counseling and monitoring.
But an odd thing happened when the conference opened. The first thing was that a surprise letter from Pope Francis was read that told them to take no action on the topic. Pope Francis, you see, is planning a super conference in February that will be a global conference to take up such issues for all the world’s Catholic bishops. It would not do for the Americans to get out in front.
A letter that had gone from the Vatican to the USCCB President, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, was recently leaked to the Associated Press. It reveals that DiNardo had been slow to provide information to the Vatican, and this made the Vatican position easier to justify. It makes sense that the Vatican would want more time to consider what the Americans were up to, since it could have ripple effects for ecclesial canon law throughout the Catholic world.
Scandal of 2002 – 2005
In the late 1980s there were a couple of scandals involving sexual sins by predator priests. A couple more were made public in the early 1990s, generating some media buzz. It was a great excuse for some Catholic bashing and some Christian bashing. This scandal got mashed up with other scandals, such as revelations about poor treatment of indigenous peoples by Catholic missions, and a general apology for past bad behaviors was made for several scandals by Pope John Paul II in 2001.
Then a blockbuster scandal became a media sensation following an exposé by the Boston Globe in 2002. They produced a long special report on over a hundred victims of one bad priest, plus other victims of sexual misconduct by other Boston area priests. They followed that up with a survey of sexual scandals involving Catholic priests from all over the world. It sparked a media feeding frenzy that kept the Catholic Church in the spotlight for three years.
After three years of solid media attention, the issue went away. It just vanished. It was only a few of us highly-engaged culture warriors who figured out why. Stay tuned.
Pope Francis, friend of homosexuals
Pope Benedict XVI abdicated his position in early 2013. Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina was elevated to the “Throne of St. Peter” that year. He has given conservatives indigestion ever since. Of particular interest to this story is his friendly and accommodating posture towards homosexuality. You just knew we were going to get around to homosexual priests, didn’t you?
Pope Francis is famously squishy when it comes to traditional doctrines on all sorts of social matters. This has won him favorable treatment by mass media (cover of Rolling Stone, Time “Person of the Year 2013,” etc.). One of the first big instances of his papacy involved a throw-away line he said to a clutch of reporters on his plane as he returned to the Vatican from World Catholic Youth Day 2013. Pope Francis said (speaking about priests) “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?” The media exploded with awful distortions.
There were some really unfortunate media accounts predicting that Pope Francis would reverse thousands of years of doctrinal positions on homosexuality and other sexual sins. Pope Francis coyly rebuked some of the excess. Subsequently he has done some things that made some observers call him a “homophile.” For example, in 2017 he appointed Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia as President of the Pontifical Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. That is not so much a scandal as an opportunity for more whispering.
Scandals of 2018
In April and October last year, Pope Francis made a trip to Chile for some damage control involving sex scandals. He de-frocked (“laicized”) four priests. He spoke with a homosexual man who had been a victim of a predator priest. Pope Francis said some happy-talk things to soothe the man, and this got reported and caused a little dust-up within the ranks of conservative Catholic bloggers. Since that is not America, you probably never heard about it. I only bring it up to note that the Catholic Church has problems with homosexual priests all over the world.
In America, two separate sex scandals rocked the Catholic summer.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, age 87, was removed from priestly office last June by Pope Francis because of charges of sexual misconduct. A priest was being tried for sexual misconduct. He was defending himself by saying that he had been introduced to sex and sexual predatory ways by McCarrick back in the early 1970s when McCarrick was serving as secretary to Cardinal Cooke and the victim was a boy of 17. Then a couple of priests said that other people had accused McCarrick of sexual misconduct, and that they had been kept silent with settlement awards.
Then it turned out that it had long been known that McCarrick had been a sexual predator for a very long time. He had been pressing seminarians for sexual favors for decades. Then it came out that Pope Benedict XVI had found out about McCarrick and had instructed him to remove himself from priestly duties, from involvement with seminaries, and from public appearances. But McCarrick had ignored his instructions and then was “rehabilitated” by Pope Francis.
This really blew up in mid-July when the New York Times dug into McCarrick:
In 2000, Pope John Paul II promoted Archbishop McCarrick to lead the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., one of the most prestigious posts in the Catholic Church in America. He was elevated to cardinal three months later.
At least one priest warned the Vatican against the appointment. The Rev. Boniface Ramsey said that when he was on the faculty at the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in New Jersey from 1986 to 1996, he was told by seminarians about Archbishop McCarrick’s sexual abuse at the beach house. When Archbishop McCarrick was appointed to Washington, Father Ramsey spoke by phone with the pope’s representative in the nation’s capital, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the papal nuncio, and at his encouragement sent a letter to the Vatican about Archbishop McCarrick’s history.
By August most Catholic watching was diverted to a different scandal that had erupted in late July.
The Attorney General of Pennsylvania released a report on an investigation into sexual crimes by Catholic priests. The numbers were staggering. Initially it sounded like sexual mayhem by a majority of priests. Then things quieted down when it turned out that it was a report that summarized prosecutions, settlements and “credible allegations,” over a period of decades. The press release from the Attorney General gave this summary of findings from the grand jury:
301 Catholic priests identified as predator priests who sexually abused children while serving in active ministry in the church.
Detailed accounts of over 1,000 children victimized sexually by predator priests, with the grand jury noting it believed the real number of victims was in the “thousands.”
Senior church officials, including bishops, monsignors and others, knew about the abuse committed by priests, but routinely covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges against priests, and monetary damages to the dioceses.
Priests committed acts of sexual abuse upon children, and were routinely shuttled to other parishes – while parishioners were left unaware of sexual predators in their midst.
This truly ignited a media feeding frenzy. It also prompted other states to launch investigations of their own. People came out from all over with their own stories of abuse. Then, just as quickly as it had erupted and claimed all the media air, this scandal dropped out of the public conversation, almost as abruptly as the previous “pedophile priests” scandal of 2002-2005.
Enemy of the People
First, it turned out that there are only about 64 of the three hundred priests who are still alive. Most of these cases are really old. Then it came out that the overwhelming majority, all but a few dozen, of the victims, were males ages 13 to 18 at the time of the abuse.
Yes, this is similar to the previous scandal. When they learned it was not “pedophilia,” but homosexuals preying on minor teen boys, Leftist mass media lost interest.
Leftist mass media cried “pedophile priests! Pedophile priests!” until traditionalist Catholics started to get some traction with their push-back, and then media dropped the story before they had to run any corrections.
Just like Cardinal McCarrick. Since the predatory misconduct was all homosexual, then it did not help Leftist narratives to report on the scandal. After some hystrionical Catholic bashing, the story quickly dropped out of sight.
Of course, by late August, the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh started taking all the oxygen out of the journalistic world. Between Kavanaugh and the mid-term election campaigns, it was easy for news media to drop the Catholic scandals.
Bad Boy Bishops
The really big scandal in all of this was the way Catholic bishops had kept it all under wraps. They knew about homosexual predator priests and covered up for them, hid them, hired lawyers to quickly bring aggrieved victims into settlements that featured non-disclosure agreements, moved bad priests around, and hid the records. They were afraid such matters would damage the church, but in the end what they did was far more damaging.
Pope Francis apologizes
On 20 August 2018, Pope Francis apologized in a 2,000 word letter [addressing the Pennsylvania] grand jury report confirming that over 1,000 children were sexually abused by “predator priests” in Pennsylvania for decades, often covered up by the Church.
“With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives … We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them … The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced.”
The Pope said the church was developing a “zero tolerance” policy on abuse (which he called “crimes”) and cover-ups. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke emphasized that the letter was not about incidents in a specific geographic area but relevant worldwide.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
Archbishop Viganò had served for ten years as the head of personnel for the Vatican when he was elevated to Secretary General of Vatican City. He made a name for himself by cleaning up finances and installing better procedures for checking and auditing. In a really mysterious episode, a letter he had written about apparent corruption was leaked to the press, prompting a public shaming in which he was said to be embarrassingly wrong by three higher-ups in the Curia. Vatican watchers took different sides, and some said it was all over personality clashes. Then the higher-ups prevailed and Pope Benedict XVI assigned Archbishop Viganò as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States in 2011.
Viganò retired in 2016 at the age of 75 and returned to Italy.
On August 25, a damning letter from Archbishop Viganò appeared. It broke in Italy. It also hit the English-speaking Catholic blogosphere, because Archbishop Viganò had copied his letter to a little pro-life blog and aggregator in Toronto. I posted about LifeSiteNews back in the fall, mostly about how they were being harmed by Facebook and other Silicon Valley tech giants. Here is a part of Viganòs letter:
To dispel suspicions insinuated in several recent articles, I will immediately say that the Apostolic Nuncios in the United States, Gabriel Montalvo and Pietro Sambi, both prematurely deceased, did not fail to inform the Holy See immediately, as soon as they learned of Archbishop McCarrick’s gravely immoral behavior with seminarians and priests. Indeed, according to what Nuncio Pietro Sambi wrote, Father Boniface Ramsey, O.P.’s letter, dated November 22, 2000, was written at the request of the late Nuncio Montalvo. In the letter, Father Ramsey, who had been a professor at the diocesan seminary in Newark from the end of the ’80s until 1996, affirms that there was a recurring rumor in the seminary that the Archbishop “shared his bed with seminarians,” inviting five at a time to spend the weekend with him at his beach house. And he added that he knew a certain number of seminarians, some of whom were later ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Newark, who had been invited to this beach house and had shared a bed with the Archbishop.
The office that I held at the time was not informed of any measure taken by the Holy See after those charges were brought by Nuncio Montalvo at the end of 2000, when Cardinal Angelo Sodano was Secretary of State.
Likewise, Nuncio Sambi transmitted to the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, an Indictment Memorandum against McCarrick by the priest Gregory Littleton of the diocese of Charlotte, who was reduced to the lay state for a violation of minors, together with two documents from the same Littleton, in which he recounted his tragic story of sexual abuse by the then-Archbishop of Newark and several other priests and seminarians. The Nuncio added that Littleton had already forwarded his Memorandum to about twenty people, including civil and ecclesiastical judicial authorities, police and lawyers, in June 2006, and that it was therefore very likely that the news would soon be made public. He therefore called for a prompt intervention by the Holy See.
In writing up a memo on these documents that were entrusted to me, as Delegate for Pontifical Representations, on December 6, 2006, I wrote to my superiors, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Substitute Leonardo Sandri, that the facts attributed to McCarrick by Littleton were of such gravity and vileness as to provoke bewilderment, a sense of disgust, deep sorrow and bitterness in the reader, and that they constituted the crimes of seducing, requesting depraved acts of seminarians and priests, repeatedly and simultaneously with several people, derision of a young seminarian who tried to resist the Archbishop’s seductions in the presence of two other priests, absolution of the accomplices in these depraved acts, sacrilegious celebration of the Eucharist with the same priests after committing such acts.
Leftist Catholic defenders of Pope Francis and the Lavender Mafia went into full character assassination mode. Archbishop Viganò went into hiding.
Viganò has since released two additional letters, from his hiding place, defending himself and describing correspondence that he says vindicates him. The letters he references have not been produced.
In the case of the current Catholic disgrace, Leftist mass media is all on one side. They want to trash the Catholic Church as home to “pedophile priests” while hiding the fact that the scandal is actually a homosexual scandal. Mass media love Pope Francis and act to trash anyone who says anything that makes Pope Francis look bad.
On the other side are intrepid traditionalist Catholic bloggers. They are outgunned, overmanned, overwhelmed, and demoted, deplatformed, censored, slandered and libeled. It takes real determination to cut through the noise with their message.
I have found that the best way to follow any major story that centers on religion is to monitor the media critics at GetReligion.org. These are mostly “pro-life Democrats,” and they are Christian journalists who have focused on religion stories for many years. Their focus has been to observe on the journalistic failures in mass media news reporting that can be attributed to journalists simply not having the background, or not understanding the jargon, or not caring about whether they get the details right, when it comes to religious issues. At GetReligion.org I frequently see not only where and how the journalists failed, but then I also get correct information and links to the best-quality reporting on any religious issue.
Back in the spring when the Cardinal McCarrick story first came out, there was a really interesting post at GetReligion by Julia Duin. She had wanted to write about McCarrick the sexual abuser for many years, but could not get any sources willing to go on record:
I ran into similar blockages everywhere. There were priests and laity alike for whom McCarrick’s predilections were an open secret, but no one wanted to go after him. I heard about various settlements but couldn’t confirm the details. No newspaper can publish such explosive accusations with only anonymous sources and no court documents to back it up.
Various Catholic friends advised me to let it go. “What difference does it make now?” they’d say. “McCarrick is retired.” The archdiocese was represented by a powerful law firm. Did I want to take that on?
After I was laid off in 2010, I sent copies of my files to another reporter on the East Coast so he could have a go at cracking this story. He too ran into the same barriers: People who refused to go on the record and there was always the threat of a lawsuit should he get one detail wrong.
One thing I learned from GetReligion.org was that Theodore McCarrick had a golden rolodex, and had been a very large fundraiser for all sorts of Catholic projects in a variety of locations involving lots of wealthy Catholic movers and shakers and touching on over a dozen major Catholic missions/charities.
The lead guy at GetReligion is Terry Mattingly, who writes a weekly newspaper column for the Universal Uclick Syndicate. He also does a podcast called “Crossroads.” He had a really interesting discussion about Pope Francis’s upcoming big international assembly of bishops. Mattingly makes a lot of sense most of the time.
What to expect
In the podcast Mattingly discusses the recent resignation of top Vatican spokesman Greg Burke with Todd Wilkins, the “Crossroads” M.C.. (They decided that Burke has a news background rather than marketing, and he doesn’t want to be unable to return to journalism, which he probably would be if he continued in his current position through the upcoming assembly.)
Mattingly said to expect that the assembly is very likely to focus on the grave sin of sexual abuse of children. There are a few dozen actual cases of children under age 12 who were abused, and there are a few cases in which girls were abused. Expect the whole assembly to focus on those cases. As much as possible, the entire proceedings will be engineered to avoid the word “homosexual.” The sex of victims will seldom be mentioned. There will be lots of room for journalists to cover the event without ever noting that the core of these scandals is homosexuality in the priesthood. Unchaste acts between consenting adults will not be mentioned. And you won’t find them saying out loud that the age of majority in Catholic canon law is sixteen, not eighteen.
In short, expect a whitewashing. Surprised? Probably not; we have all grown quite cynical, haven’t we?
You all recall who Julie Swetnick is, right? She is the woman who said that Brett Kavanaugh had participated in gang rapes at high school parties. She connected with Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who became famous for his representation of Stormy Daniels the porn star.
Avenatti sent a statement that he took from Ms. Swetnick to the FBI, and offered on her behalf that she was willing to testify as to Judge (now Justice) Kavanaugh’s youthful misdeeds. The day before the supplemental hearing that was scheduled to hear the accusations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Avenotti went public with Ms. Swetnick’s allegation.
Here is a summary version from the Washington Post:
She said in an affidavit that Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she alleges she was the victim of a gang rape.
Kavanaugh immediately issued a statement in response: “This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
Enemy of the People
So here is how NBC News showed themselves to be the Enemy of the People. The Daily Caller has the story. On September 27,
…Avenatti claimed … that he knew a second woman who could back up Swetnick’s allegations.
The second woman wrote in a declaration, “During the years 1981-82, I witnessed firsthand Brett Kavanaugh, together with others, ‘spike’ the ‘punch’ at house parties I attended with Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol. I understood this was being done for the purpose of making girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say ‘No.’”
But that second woman contacted NBC News to say that Avenatti had her story wrong.
The second woman, however, contradicted those claims in a phone interview with NBC on September 30, just a few days before Avenatti published her declaration. “I didn’t ever think it was Brett,” she told NBC.
She later texted NBC on October 4 after reviewing the declaration published by Avenatti, writing, “It is incorrect that I saw Brett spike the punch. I didn’t see anyone spike the punch … I was very clear with Michael Avenatti from day one.”
But NBC News sat on that information. They did not disclose this information until after the Senate had voted to confirm Justice Kavanaugh. NBC News allowed their comrades in Leftist Big Media continue to call Brett Kavanaugh a “serial rapist” and a “gang rapist,” knowing that the gang rape story had holes in it, and that the alleged witnesses disputed the story. In particular they had the comments from this one key witness, but they chose to stifle that information.
This tweet followed this interesting follow-up exchange at the White House yesterday.
“For the sake of this room, the people who are in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you’re saying, Sarah,” Acosta said. “The president of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people.”
“I appreciate your passion,” Sanders responded. “I share it. I’ve addressed this question. I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his comments clear.”
Acosta and his fellow-travelers in mass media think they are on the high ground here.
I think they are “the enemy of the people.”
In fact, I think they are unwittingly doing the work of the Enemy.
President Trump called them the “Opposition Party.”
They 0ppose my political values.
They oppose my social values.
They oppose my moral code.
They oppose my traditionalist Christianity.
They oppose my ability to freely exercise my religion.
They oppose American leadership in the world.
They hide the murderous crimes of America’s enemies while trumpeting any fault they can find with America.
They hide the murderous crimes of all other religions aside from Christianity, including Atheism, while haranguing us with repeated tales of Christians’ violence.
They do not want me to be able to teach my children my religion and values; they do not want me to be able to defend my family; they do not want me to have a voice in the public square; they do not want me to know the truth.
I think they are the enemy of the people, even more than President Trump does.