NY Times, Wash. Post report Donohue's role in blogger flap, again fail to note his own bigotry

››› ››› JOSH KALVEN

In reporting that William Donohue had criticized John Edwards for retaining two campaign bloggers despite their purportedly "anti-Catholic" writings, The New York Times failed to mention Donohue's own history of bigoted comments. A Washington Post article on the issue reported that Media Matters for America "cast [Donohue's] comments as purely partisan," when, in fact, Media Matters faulted the media for ignoring Donohue's extensive record of bigoted statements and of tolerating and excusing bigotry from conservatives.

In a February 9 article by reporter John M. Broder on John Edwards' decision to retain two bloggers hired by his presidential campaign, The New York Times reported that William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, blasted Edwards for not firing the bloggers, whom he had characterized as "anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots." But as with its original article on the controversy, the Times failed to mention Donohue's own history of anti-Semitic and homophobic comments and his tolerance of bigotry from conservatives.

A February 9 Washington Post article said that "left-leaning groups -- led by Media Matters for America -- ... cast [Donohue's] comments as purely partisan." In fact, Media Matters faulted the media, not for failing to note Donohue's partisanship, but for ignoring his extensive record of bigoted statements and of tolerating and excusing bigotry from conservatives.

On February 6, ABC News published on its website various controversial excerpts from the previous writings of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, two bloggers recently hired by Edwards' presidential campaign. That same day, Donohue issued a statement demanding that Edwards "fire them immediately."

The following day, articles on the brewing controversy by the Times and the Associated Press quoted Donohue's criticism of the bloggers. But as Media Matters noted, neither February 7 article noted his own "vulgar" and "bigot[ed]" comments. These included his statement that "[p]eople don't trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty," his reference to the "gay death style," his demand that homosexuals "apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done," and his assertion that Hollywood "is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular." (In a February 8 press release, Donohue asserted that Edwards' "goal is to loot the pockets of the Soros/Hollywood gang, and they -- like him -- aren't offended by anti-Catholicism. Indeed, they thrive on it.")

Media Matters further noted that both the Times and the AP overlooked Donohue's previous dismissal of anti-Catholic bigotry on the part of a key GOP operative, Jerome Corsi, in 2004. And following actor Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic comments in 2006, Donohue said of Gibson, "There's a lot of people who have made comments which are bigoted who are not necessarily bigots." Additionally, as the weblog Think Progress noted, Donohue defended President Bush's Catholic outreach coordinator, Deal Hudson, after it came to light in 2004 that he had allegedly taken advantage of a drunken 18-year-old a decade earlier.

On February 8, Edwards announced that he had decided to retain the bloggers after receiving assurances from both of them "that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith." Yet in its February 9 article on Edwards' decision, the Times again quoted Donohue expressing outrage over the development without noting his own previous comments. From the article:

This week, William A. Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, had called for Mr. Edwards to dismiss the women. Stunned to learn that he did not, Mr. Donohue said in an interview Thursday, "The bloggers are no longer the issue. Edwards is the issue."

By contrast, a February 9 article in North Carolina's Charlotte Observer juxtaposed Donohue's criticism with his 2004 remark that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity," citing Media Matters. From the article:

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, which represents conservative Catholics, called Tuesday for Edwards to fire the bloggers.

"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," Donohue, who has himself been accused of religious intolerance, wrote on his Web site.

According to the liberal Web site MediaMatters.org, Donohue said on MSNBC in 2004, "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular."

A February 8 AP article also noted this comment:

On Tuesday, Donohue called for Edwards to fire the bloggers, citing posts that the women made in the past several months in which they criticized the church's opposition to homosexuality, abortion and contraception, sometimes using profanity.

[...]

Donohue is a frequent critic of those who speak out against the church and what he calls "political correctness run amok," such as the separation of Christmas and the holiday season.

Donohue also doesn't shy from blunt language sometimes in his criticism of gays, Hollywood's control by "secular Jews who hate Christianity" and even the Edwards bloggers, whom he referred to as "brats" in an interview Wednesday on MSNBC.

Meanwhile, the February 9 Post article reported that Donohue had come under fire from Media Matters and others for his "partisan" criticism of the bloggers:

Before joining the Edwards campaign, Marcotte and McEwen each maintained personal Web logs on which they posted highly critical and profane thoughts about topics including the Roman Catholic Church. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, called on Edwards to fire the duo, whom he described as "vulgar, trash-talking bigots."

Donohue was subsequently attacked by a number of left-leaning groups -- led by Media Matters for America -- who cast his comments as purely partisan.

The Post made no mention of the actual substance of Media Matters' criticism.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post, The New York Times
Stories/Interests
John Edwards, 2008 Elections
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