NEW YORK (NY)
July 14, 2020
By Matt Malone, S.J.
My late philosophy professor, W. Norris Clarke, S.J., was always telling me to “interrogate the premise” of an argument. He believed that, generally speaking, most conclusions follow logically from their premises; so if an argument is false, it is likely because one or more of its premises is false. I apply this skepticism to news stories published in America and elsewhere. This is important because reporters mostly live in a two-dimensional world. Their task is to record events quickly by reducing complex phenomena to their simplest formulation.
The problem with that approach is that it can distort the very reality reporters are seeking to make clear. A good example is a news story published by The Associated Press on July 10. The lead paragraph was as follows:
The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.
Shocking, no? But is that what happened? All of the facts cited are true. Indeed, as far as I can tell, all of the facts cited in the story are true. But how are those facts related to one another, if they are related at all?
Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.