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Clinton 'Finds' Religion -- A Fox Oops!

Reported by Judy - March 23, 2006

Juliet Huddy had an "Oops!" moment Thursday (March 23, 2006) on "Dayside" when she discussed Sen. Hillary Clinton's opposition to a bill on immigration, saying the senator "found religion yesterday."

Clinton is known to be a lifelong, devoted Methodist. Although she often has been criticized by Catholic groups for her pro-choice stance on abortion, Senator Clinton has sided with the Catholic cardinals and bishops in opposition to the House version of an immigration bill that would make it easier to prosecute people who aid illegal immigrants.

"Dayside" cohost Huddy introduced the piece saying, "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton found religion yesterday when she spoke out against a controversial immigration bill." Then Fox showed the video of Clinton speaking about the legislation, in which she said, "This bill will literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."

Immediately after the sound bite ran, Huddy said, "Let me rephrase that. She focused on religion. She didn't find religion. She already found that." Co-Host Mike Jerrick chimed in: "She's a church-goer."

The duo then went to their guest, Republican Rep. Peter King of New York, who went on to demean Clinton's religious credentials, saying she "is not a theologican, let's start with that." King, who is a Catholic, went on to criticize Clinton and the leaders of his own church for "totally distorting the law, and quite frankly, the cardinals should go to confession."

The church leadership has expressed fears that the language in King's bill would make it more likely that Catholic priests and nuns who provide counseling, religious services, even emergency food and shelter, will face prosecution under the law. "It has nothing to do with nuns and priests. The know it and it's a phony issue they're raising," King said.

Huddy raised the issue that the language might be broad enough that a prosecutor might try to use it that way and a judge could agree. King dismissed her concern, insisting that he intends only that groups that help print phony ID cards and similar services are targeted by the bill.

Huddy and Jerrick also took questions from the audience, including one from an elderly man who said, "I think Reverend Clinton would want us to obey our laws," drawing snickers from the "Dayside" audience.

King took the opportunity to beat up on Clinton for mentioning religion as well, calling her comments a "cheap demagogic argument against Republicans" and "criticizing us and saying that Jesus is with her. Jesus has more important things to decide than whether or not he agrees with Hillary Clinton."

Huddy's dig at Clinton was a typical "Fox Oops!" She makes a statement that falsely implies Clinton is irreligious, and then shortly afterwards takes it back, but not before the damage has been done and the catchy phrase has been imbedded in the listener's brain. Fox has the best of both worlds -- a dig at Clinton and the illusion of fairness.

Then Fox reinforces its negative image of Clinton's religious practices by allowing its only guest to demean her faith and then furthermore goes into the audience to let someone else do it. Where's the balance here? Where was a Catholic church official who agreed with Clinton's position?

Clinton certainly is not alone in her feeling about the provision. The immigration bill being crafted by the Senate Judiciary Committee does not include the King language that the Catholic hierarchy objects to. Last I checked, Republicans dominate that committee and the chamber as a whole, but "Dayside" never mentioned the Senate bill.

This segment, of course, was only superficially about illegal immigration. It really was meant to show that progressives are non-religious and immoral. How dare Clinton mention Jesus by name? Doesn't she know only Republicans can do that? Doesn't she know that Jesus only hangs around with Republicans?

As for King dissing his church superiors, just once I'd like to see a Catholic bishop lecture a Republican about adhering to church views, especially a church position that is about something other than abortion. Certainly caring for immigrants is as important as caring about the fetuses some of them might be carrying.

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