NY Times, AP reported Donohue's criticism of Edwards campaign bloggers -- but ignored Donohue's own controversial comments and inconsistent outrage

››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

The New York Times and Associated Press have both reported criticism by Catholic League president Bill Donohue of two bloggers hired by John Edwards' presidential campaign; Donohue contends that the bloggers are "anti-Catholic, vulgar, trash-talking bigots."

But neither the Times article, by reporter John M. Broder, nor the AP article, by writer Nedra Pickler, included any mention of Donohue's own history of vulgar, trash-talking bigotry -- or of Donohue's decision to dismiss anti-Catholic bigotry on the part of a key anti-Kerry operative in 2004.

In 2004, Media Matters first detailed anti-Catholic comments made by Jerome Corsi, who, as co-author of Unfit for Command (Regnery, 2004), was one of the ringleaders of the smear campaign by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) -- a Catholic presidential candidate. Among Corsi's bigoted comments:

  • CORSI: "So this is what the last days of the Catholic Church are going to look like. Buggering boys undermines the moral base and the laywers rip the gold off the Vatican altars. We may get one more Pope, when this senile one dies, but that's probably about it."
  • CORSI: "Boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press."

Corsi also called Islam "a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion," and a "cancer that destroys the body it infects" and claimed of Muslims: "RAGHEADS are Boy-Bumpers as clearly as they are Women-Haters -- it all goes together."

Despite the uproar surrounding Corsi's comments, Donohue apparently remained silent at the time, and subsequently dismissed the comments as "quips." A search of the Nexis database yields no examples of Donohue denouncing -- or even commenting on -- Corsi's anti-Catholic remarks.

A search of the Catholic League's website for "Corsi" yields only one result -- a 2006 news release in which Donohue defended Corsi (who is referred to in the release as "Jerry Corsi"). The Catholic League release stated, "Corsi once made anti-Catholic jokes on the Internet, and later apologized for doing so," and quoted Donohue describing Corsi as "someone who once made anti-Catholic quips for which he has long apologized."

Neither the Times nor the AP reported Donohue's selective history of criticizing political actors for anti-Catholic comments.

Nor did the Times or the AP report Donohue's defense of actor Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic comments. Donohue said of Gibson, "There's a lot of people who have made comments which are bigoted who are not necessarily bigots," adding that he is "concerned now about piling on." Of those who won't forgive Gibson, Donohue said: "Who gives a damn about those people?" Donohue then asked, "What kind of blood do they want out of this man?

Nor did the Times or the AP report that Donohue has his own history of comments that could easily be described as "vulgar" and "trash-talking" examples of bigotry, which Media Matters form America has repeatedly documented:

  • "People don't trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/9/06]
  • "Name for me a book publishing company in this country, particularly in New York, which would allow you to publish a book which would tell the truth about the gay death style." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/27/04]
  • "The gay community has yet to apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 4/11/05]
  • Addressing former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) in a press release, Donohue said: "[W]hy didn't you just smack the clergyman in the face? After all, most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn't allow themselves to be molested. So why did you?" [10/4/06]
  • "I'm saying if a Catholic votes for Kerry because they support him on abortion rights, that is to cooperate in evil." [MSNBC's Hardball, 10/21/04]
  • "We've already won. Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. ... Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 12/8/04]
  • "Well, look, there are people in Hollywood, not all of them, but there are some people who are nothing more than harlots. They will do anything for the buck. They wouldn't care. If you asked them to sodomize their own mother in a movie, they would do so, and they would do it with a smile on their face." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/9/06]

A February 2 article in Women's Wear Daily described Donohue's efforts to "manufacture controversy" -- and, unlike the Times and AP articles, noted that other Catholics disapprove of his antics:

It's this ability to manufacture controversy that has brought a moribund advocacy group firmly into the black and turned Donohue into catnip for the press. For talk show bookers and reporters on deadline, he's a never-ending sideshow who comes ever ready to hurl expressions of indignation and opprobrium at anyone who might have offended him. As prejudice against individual Catholics has receded, Donohue has simply turned up the volume, taking aim at everyone who questions the church's official positions on homosexuality, abortion and birth control, lapsed Catholics included.

[...]

But the same thing that keeps Donohue in the press prevents him from becoming truly respectable within the religious community, where his antics are a source of frequent consternation.

Mark Silk, director of the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College said, "He's a thug. He reverts to bullying because he thinks that's what the job entails."

Rev. Mark Massa, a Jesuit priest and co-director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University, accused Donohue of being unable to differentiate between healthy debate and real religious bigotry. "Not everyone who criticizes the church is anti-Catholic," he said.

The editors at the Catholic weekly magazine America seem to agree. In 2000, they chastised Donohue for denouncing movies he hadn't even watched. "While being first may increase one's chances of attracting media attention, there is a danger that the Catholic League reinforces the stereotype that the Catholic Church is at best unreflective and at worst unfairly biased and paranoid," wrote Rev. James Martin. "In the long run, this may do more harm to the church's reputation than a short-lived movie or play."

Donohue's criticism of the Edwards' campaign bloggers concluded with a demand that they be fired: "John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots. He has no choice but to fire them immediately."

The Times and the AP both noted Donohue's call for the bloggers to be fired for what he described as their bigotry. But neither noted that Donohue's Catholic League lists Dinesh D'Souza on its Board of Advisors. D'Souza's own history of inflammatory rhetoric and actions -- and Donohue's willingness to associate himself with D'Souza -- would seem to be relevant to an article about Donohue denouncing trash-talking bigotry. As Media Matters has explained:

As an undergraduate in the early 1980s at Dartmouth College, D'Souza gained national notoriety as co-founder and editor of the conservative newspaper The Dartmouth Review. During D'Souza's tenure as editor of the Review, according to a September 22, 1995, article in The Washington Post, "[T]he off-campus newspaper [The Dartmouth Review] published an interview with a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, using a mock photograph of a black man hanging from a campus tree, and 'outed' at least two gay students."

D'Souza has recently gained attention for his new book, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 (Doubleday, January 2007), in which he asserts that "without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened" and seems to suggest appeasing terrorists. The New York Times wrote of The Enemy at Home:

His new book, ''The Enemy at Home,'' is filled with willfully incendiary -- and preposterous -- assertions that ''the cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11''; that the left is ''secretly allied'' with the movement that Osama bin Laden and Islamic radicals represent ''to undermine the Bush administration and American foreign policy''; and that ''the left wants America to be a shining beacon of global depravity, a kind of Gomorrah on a Hill.''

[...]

In this shrill, slipshod book, Mr. D'Souza often sounds as if he has a lot in common with those radical Middle Eastern mullahs who are eager to subject daily life to religious strictures and want to curtail individuals' freedoms and civil liberties.

It's an interpretation he does not deny: ''Yes,'' he writes, ''I would rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Michael Moore than with the grand mufti of Egypt. But when it comes to core beliefs, I'd have to confess that I'm closer to the dignified fellow in the long robe and prayer beads than to the slovenly fellow with the baseball cap.''

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
Network/Outlet
The New York Times, Associated Press
Person
William Donohue
Stories/Interests
John Edwards, 2008 Elections
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