Did Cardinal Theodore McCarrick hide behind old wall of anti-Catholic media bias?
By Terry Mattingly
June 24, 2018
If you have not had a chance to do so, check out the waves of reader comments that we have received in response to GetReligionista Julia Duin's epic post at the end of last week entitled "The scandal of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and why no major media outed him."
As you can see from the headline, a major theme in this post is directly linked to life on the religion-news beat. On a technical level, in terms of journalism craft and ethics, why was it so hard for veteran reporters – like Julia – to nail down the final details of hard-news reports about McCarrick and the years and years of rumors and allegations about his sexual abuse of seminarians (among others)?
Part of it, of course, was getting people to go on the record. In some cases, people even had documentation to help support their horror stories. But, but, but ... They just could not go on the record.
As Duin noted, another reporter from that era has also been writing, day after day, about his own attempts to cover this story. That would be Rod "Benedict Option" Dreher. In typical Dreher fashion he has – even while overseas on a speaking tour – poured out 10,000 words or so worth of posts on this topic.
You really need to dig into that, if this topic is important to you. However, as this weekend's think piece, let me point you to Dreher's piece entitled "Uncle Ted & The Grand Inquisitor" – in part because it offers yet another journalism twist in this sordid drama.
Why was it so hard for journalists to nail down this story? Well, it was easy for Catholics leaders to point at years and years of biased media coverage of the Catholic church and then say, "Well, here we go again." And then there was another twist, on top of that reality.
Hang on, this gets complex. Thus, Dreher writes:
I ... want to mention that some pretty nasty characters – including Cardinal McCarrick – benefit from the media’s biases too. Ordinary Catholics (and others) have a hard time understanding this, because they have this fixed idea that the media hates the Catholic Church, and will go after it on any pretext whatsoever. That’s not entirely true.
Yes, the media, in general, does despise the Catholic Church, and any church that it considers to be on the Wrong Side Of History™ (that is, opposed to feminism, abortion, homosexuality, and liberalized sexuality). But you’d have to have been the world’s worst reporter on the church abuse scandal beat not to recognize the role that clandestine networks of predatory homosexuals in the Catholic clergy played in creating and sustaining a culture of abuse. It was everywhere. There were some very, very good reporters on these stories, but they didn’t tell those particular stories. They were off limits, owing to political correctness.
As of this writing, not a single mainstream media outlet – at least none that I have seen – has said one word about Uncle Ted’s molestation of adults under his ecclesial authority. It may be that they haven’t yet done the reporting, and that they have their reporters out now gathering that information. If mainstream media do report these stories, it will be a sign that #MeToo has really changed things.
If you want to see an example of someone playing the "journalists hate us" card, Dreher has a dine example – from McCarrick himself. This quote is taken from a Boston Globe piece in the "Spotlight" series, in 2002:
Over the last several days and weeks, prominent church opinionmakers, including two cardinals, have suggested that the clergy sexual abuse crisis is a relatively minor phenomenon that is being turned into a major scandal by the media and others with an ax to grind.
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, for example, told The Washington Post this week that some newspapers are having a ”heyday” with the issue.
”Elements in our society who are very opposed to the church’s stand on life, the church’s stand on family, the church’s stand on education … see in this an opportunity to destroy the credibility of the church,” he said. ”And they’re really working on it – and somewhat successfully.”
After Dreher published this piece, an angry reader send him a blunt email that almost reads like satire.
If you have worked on the religion beat, you have received letters like this one. Dreher added it to his post as an update:
I simply don’t understand your eagerness with this prosecution of McCarrick. I support the legal ramifications, but not your public dancing on his grave.
You have to understand the intense hatred that the media (entertainment and news) have for Catholicism.
We MUST protect our brand, our shield, our faith!
I fully support Pope Francis and his softened tone, and even swipes at capitalism because the media love him. And image is everything. Similarly with Cardinal Dolan, I will fight to the death to defend him, and would go to extreme lengths to protect him because he is so well liked in the leftist NYC media.
In short, we must handle these issues swiftly, legally, but privately! As a successful advertising executive in NYC I am looked up like an alien because I am a weekly mass attender, and a conservative. I am respected by my liberal media friends because I loathe the Trump-Palin-Brietbart wing of my party. ...
Image is everything, and when it comes to the One True Church we MUST protect her!