Bill Hemmer Report on Bishop Meeting Omits Sexual Abuse Agenda and Nun Protest

June 17, 2012

[with video]

The right wing "Newsbusters" website whines about how the librul media focuses on dissident nuns while ignoring the Catholic bishops crusade against the Obama administration. They say that no conservative Catholic views are entertained. Meanwhile, the "fair & balanced" news network focuses on the bishop's concern about "religious freedom" while ignoring the nuns who are the subjects of the newest Vatican inquisition. While Fox has provided coverage of the upcoming Catholic protests against the mandate, they ignore the rallies in support of the nuns. Voices of liberal Catholics, one of whom says that the bishops convey the image of "the Republican party at prayer," are not heard on Fox which keeps hammering home the bishops' talking points about "religious freedom." During last week's Bishops' Conference, religious freedom was a huge agenda item. But they also discussed how the church is dealing with sexual abuse. Outside the meeting, supporters of the nuns rallied. But in reporting on the conference, alleged Fox "news" guy Bill Hemmer conveyed the impression that it was all about - wait for it - "religious freedom."

Hemmer, a devout conservative Catholic, reported that the issue "topping" the bishop's agenda is - wait for it - "religious freedom." They chyron reinforced the message: "Religious Freedom, Birth Control Mandate, Expected to Dominate Bishop's Conference." He tossed to Lauren Green, Fox religious correspondent who also happens to be a devout Catholic. She said "there is a sense of urgency as never before" and reinforced the Fox/bishop talking point: "As you said, top on the agenda is the threat to religious liberty and for them, how to make their voices heard." (Notice, she didn't say "what they say is a threat to religious liberty" but rather, defined, as fact, that it is a "threat to religious liberty." She said that "key to the bishops is their right to express their faith outside of church walls" and referenced the Catholic lawsuits against the Obama administration. Meanwhile, footage of very prayerful men (cause there sure ain't no women!) in black was shown. She showed video of commentary by Archbishop William Lori who was part of GOP Representative Issa's morning conservative religious congressional "sausage fest." He said that "civil disobedience" is a "last resort" but they're "Not taking it off the table." (Funny, Fox doesn't like "Occupy" civil disobedience!)

When Hemmer said that the bishops say that the meeting is beyond the birth control mandate, Green could have mentioned their agenda items about sexual abuse and poverty, but she talked about how the bishops' are concerned with the definition of church and that's all part of their religious freedom argument. As Washington DC's Cardinal Wuerl spoke, the "religious freedom" chyron was repeated. And as if on cue, Green spoke about the upcoming Catholic "fortnight for freedom," a topic covered on other Fox programs. Hemmer said that the bishop's "voice is significant especially in this election year."

What the Fox viewer didn't learn was that the bishops did admit that more needs to be done regarding their handling of sexual abuse. What the Fox viewer didn't learn was that a petition, with 57,000 signatures in support of the nuns, was handed to the bishops. But if it's only fitting that the media outlet for the GOP would be deferential to the priorities of those men whose priorities and prayers do seem to dovetail nicely with those of the GOP. Fox News (and Hemmer's show is officially that) - fair & balanced as always.


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