Posted by: mulrickillion | February 13, 2012

All The News That’s Fit to Spin

Posted by SoWellRead, Feb 12, 2012 —

Since he took over the Wall Street Journal in 2007, Rupert Murdoch has infused the previously respectable paper with his version of “fair and balanced” reporting. The Journal’s editorial page has long been home to a particularly unhinged brand of conservatism — Obama is not just a bad president, but a secularist who showscontempt for the liberty of religions that believe in God— but Murdoch’s arrival seems to have lowered the wall between opinion and news. It’s more than a little ironic, considering the indignant stance of the paper’s”Best of the Web” column, which runs weekdays in the Opinion section and takes mean-spirited delight in pointing out the ostensible liberal bias of the mainstream media. The column’s chief writer, James Taranto, sees communists — or at least left-wing conspiracies — behind every CNN headline or NYT punctuation mark. In a snark-filled roundup of the day’s “best” headlines, Taranto takes a Salon story about liberal support for drone attacks, titled “Repulsive Progressive Hypocrisy,” and files it under the category of  “Longest Books Ever Written.” Oh, snap.

Taranto’s standard criticism of the Associated Press, that it injects opinion into its news stories, is as perfect a case of the pot calling the kettle black as you can imagine. . . .

*****

Amid last week’s controversy over the Obama administration’s mandate that all employers — even religiously-affiliated charities and schools — cover contraception in their health plans, the Journal’s editorial page railed against the “assault on religion.” Another clever headline: “HHS tells religious believers to go to hell.” And while James Taranto may not see communists behind every bush, on Feb. 9, columnist Daniel Henninger compared the “Obamaites” to the Communist Party of Poland that Pope John Paul II fought against. As shrill and offensive as such rhetoric may be, it was hardly unusual. More distasteful, however, was the way in which the Journal allowed its hostility toward the contraception mandate to creep into its news coverage.

While other media outlets, even the arch-conservative Boston Herald, referred to the effected institutions as “religiously-affiliated” non-profits and universities, the Journal insisted on a different formulation. “Under the new policy,” the Journal stated, “religious employers opposed to most forms of birth control wouldn’t be required to directly pay for such coverage in their workers’ insurance policies.” Never mind that the mandate explicitly exempted truly religious organizations — churches — that catered only to co-religionists. The Journal was determined to imply that the Obama administration had crossed an even brighter line. The Washington Post stated plainly that “Churches have always been exempt from the mandate.” The Times wrote that, despite dissent in the White House over how to implement the rule, “All agreed early on that churches would be exempt. The question revolved around colleges, charities and other religiously affiliated institutions that employed people of different faiths.” Yet a Feb. 11 article in the Journal, “Obama Retreats on Contraception,” never includes that all-important caveat. It speaks only of “religious employers” and “religious organizations” without once noting that the organizations in question are not churches or temples but million-dollar hospital conglomerates and schools like Fordham and Loyola. Less religious institutions than medical and educational ones, neither Catholic hospitals nor Catholic colleges protest the rules they must follow to obtain their share of Medicare dollars and Pell grants.

If the Journal insists on dropping the “affiliated” qualifier for these organizations, it could at least have gone the route taken by the Los Angeles Times, which discussed “a new federal rule requiring religious institutions to include coverage of contraceptives in non-church employee health insurance plans.” That the majority of the Journal’s readers were already familiar with the controversy is beyond the point. A responsible journalist would include all the facts. It’s no different, really, than if the Journal had written, “President Obama is withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan,” yet failed to add, ” . . . by 2014.”

*****

Continuing the paper’s solicitousness toward religion, a Feb. 10 article about a school-prayer case. . . .

All The News That’s Fit to Spin « . . . So Well Read. . .

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See also Obama’s Accomodations to Religious Institutions – The Quiet Resolution of an ‘Ab Initio’ Non-Issue:

When writing about Republicans, the new allegiance of Republican forerunners to “Personhood USA” (i.e., Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul,  and Mitt Romney have pledged to pursue “personhood” at the federal level), and the so-called “contraception mandate”, as Maddow rightly observed,

There is no constitutional infirmity in requiring religious institutions to follow the same insurance and labor regulations as other employers. Twenty-eight states already require that health insurance plans cover contraception; eight states do not even exempt churches from that requirement, as the Obama administration’s rules would, even before the president announced an expanded religious exemption on Friday. New York, whose Catholic archbishop has railed so vehemently against the administration on this issue, already lives under the rule he decries — it’s state law. The rule is also partially enshrined in federal law thanks to a December 2000 ruling of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More than a dozen congressional Republicans proposed that this same rule become federal law in 2001, to a furious outcry from precisely no one (Rachel Maddow, War on birth control, Washington Post, February 10, 2012).

According to Maddow, “The right has picked a fight on this issue because religiosity is a convenient partisan cudgel to use against Democrats in an election year”. . . .

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