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Fox News Joins Randall Terry Inspired Crusade Against Notre Dame and Barack Obama

Reported by Priscilla - April 4, 2009 -

Line have been drawn in the so called “culture war” and Fox News is definitely on the “right” side of the battlefield. Despite polling data that shows a majority of Americans being pro-choice, “The Fox nation” is the America of those who do not support a woman’s right to choose. While Bill O’Reilly gets to rant about a late abortion provider as a “baby killer,” Sean Hannity interviews radical anti abortion zealot Jill Stanek, and Planned Parenthood is attacked, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll see any commentary presenting a pro-choice argument on Fox News. Despite polling data that shows the Roman Catholic Church in decline, Fox News does seem to have affection for Catholics – the conservative kind represented by Bill Donahue of the Catholic League. Unlike other, appropriately secular media outlets, Fox even has a resident priest who contributes articles to the Fox website. (liberal clergy need not apply) Prior to Vatican II, the Catholic Church allied itself with wealthy, rightwing political interests; so it’s not surprising that Fox, which promotes a 50s worldview, would do the same. The Catholic intramural so called “controversy” over President Obama’s invitation to speak and receive an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame has provided Fox News with lots of red meat for anti choice Christians all over the “Fox Nation.”

The Fox coverage of this so called controversy has been, for the most part, unfair and unbalanced. The segments that could be considered even handed were laced with commentary that revealed a bias on the part of the interviewer so “fair and balanced?’ – not so much.

Earlier this week Martha MacCallum, of the Live Desk, moderated a debate between liberal Catholic Phil Donahue (Notre Dame graduate) and Fox’s chaplain, the erstwhile Father Jonathan Morris (based in Rome and who did PR work for the arguably anti-Semtic “Passion of the Christ”). MacCallum began by asking if the invitation was correct given that “critics say that his stance on abortion makes him the wrong pick”. The chyron read “Obama commencement address stirs firestorm at Notre Dame.” (Comment: the “firestorm" is outside of the University). MacCallum mentioned the online protest petition and not the one in support of the invitation. She asked if this is something the school should do “given all the controversy over stem cell research which many Catholics are against (63% approve of) and the abortion issue.” Donahue felt that the “lashing out” by alumni was unproductive given the decline of the Church. MacCallum said that she didn’t believe that the Church was in decline because Masses at her parish are standing room only. (Martha, obviously, hasn’t seen the polling data). Martha defended the church’s position: “The Catholic church needs to defend life from moment of conception.” (Hey Martha, how about social justice, immigration, and poverty issues which Obama and the Catholic Church agree on?) She then asked Morris (who has written an article about the invitation on the Fox website) how many priests he was training. When he said 450, she smiled in the secure knowledge that her point about the church’s popularity was proven. Morris talked about “respect for life” as the “core” of Catholic belief. MacCallum repeated that theology in the context of her question: "What if you had an anti-Semitic speaker speak at a Jewish university? It goes against the central core of the most fundamental belief. The central core of Catholicism is a respect for life which isn't backing embryonic stem cell research while negating other areas of research. When you have a central core belief isn’t that wrong?” (MacCallum is spouting pure “pro-life” propaganda because providing funding for embryonic cells isn’t negating “other areas.” And Martha seems to have forgotten that former president Carter spoke at Brandeis when he was being accused of anti-Semiticism.) When Donahue said that these conservatives, who are protesting, had no problem with the killing of thousands in the Iraq invasion, it was more talk about “core beliefs.”

Comment: As Sara Posner writes, in The American Prospect, extremist Catholics groups immediately reacted to the Obama invitation. They issued web statements, in language near and dear to a few Fox pundits, saying that they would "turn over tables until the traitors surrender" and vowing to "recruit and train new warriors to defend Life and Truth in future culture conflicts.” The person behind the crusade was none other than convicted anti-abortion thug Randall Terry, founder of the extremist group, Operation Rescue. Terry joined up with some Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Newman Society (and Fox News) to spin a story about a “controversy.” As noted in Posner's article, and not noted by Fox, “On campus, the editorial board of The Observer, the Notre Dame student newspaper, noted "a clear disconnect between alumni and the student body as a whole on this issue." The student body -- particularly seniors -- has deluged the paper with letters supporting Obama's appearance." If Fox were “fair and balanced,” they might mention this article in “The Observer:” “Countering the Cardinal Newman Society,” which states “Their staunch stand against abortion rights focuses so tightly on our political process with single-issue political blinders that some question if they are consistent when the issues turn to war and capital punishment.” If Fox were “fair and balanced,” they would interview faculty and students at the university. While I don’t begrudge Catholics the right to protest, the spin is being aided and abetted by the same network that turned the Schiavo thing into a “pro-life” media circus complete with Sean Hannity giving smiling interviews to Randall Terry. Talk about “palling around” with the wrong people! Once again, the Fox Nation is a small, but loud, lunatic fringe!