May 02, 2004

NPR works in strange and wondrous ways

Atrios has a running analysis (Exhibit A, B, and C) of a story on John Kerry and Catholic voters that ran on National Public Radio's Morning Edition last week. The piece was done by religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty, who believes that "Journalism informed by a Christian worldview will glorify Christ and make an eternal impact."

There are several problems with the report. First, it is part of a wider pattern of reporting on the issue of Catholic politicians who hold views contrary to church doctrine, but which focus only on abortion (and not, for example, the death penalty or the war in Iraq) and which simultaneously ignore Republican pro-choice Catholics (Rudolph Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Pataki, and Tom Ridge, to name a few).

Second, Hagerty left the impression that her interviews were conducted in an average church after an average Mass. But as Atrios and his readers have determined, the church (St. Matthew's) is convenient to all the high-powered think tank-type places in DC, and, more importantly, the Mass in question was not a Sunday Mass, thus attracting the extra-devout (and thus representative of only a small percentage of US Catholics).

Third, of the four "average parishioners" she quoted, the only one who was pro-Kerry was the only one whose occupation she identified: Charles Loveless, an official with the AFSCME union. The obvious implication is that a "true" Catholic could only have an ulterior motive for supporting Kerry.

But now it seems that the other three people interviewed have their own ulterior motives for saying nasty things about Kerry. Atrios reader e matched the names of two of the three: Ted Flynn, author of a Pat Robertson-esque New World Order conspiracy book, and Carrie Gress, program director of Richard Mellon Scafie's (of Clinton witchunt fame) Ethics and Public Policy Center. Later, reader patience matched the phonetically-rendered "Philip Monos" with Vincent Phillip Muñoz of the American Enterprise Institute. Still later, reader Bolo emailed the above three, and all of them have confirmed that they were the ones interviewed.

Finally, doing my own bit of googling, I found that Hagerty has at least a superficial connection to Gress and the EPPC, participating in their annual seminar in Key West (also mentioned here). She also interviewed another EPPC official, Michael Cromartie, for another piece for NPR. This hardly proves that Hagerty and Gress are in cahoots, but it does seem unlikely that they were unacquainted.

In any case, not identifying the right-wing partisan affiliations of the three "random parishioners" is either bad or duplicitous journalism.