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Fox News Resident Priest Jonathan Morris Pushes Anti-Choice/Anti-Obama Talking Points

Reported by Priscilla - March 5, 2010 -

Now that health care reform is heading towards the end game, conservative activists are pulling everything out of their arsenals to defeat it. In addition to the “government takeover” blah, blah, blah meme, the argument that the Senate bill contains federal funding for abortion is being made by the conservative, Christian, anti-choice community. As Fox News is the mouthpiece for conservative Christians and their causes, chief among them being abortion, it’s not surprising that this misrepresentation is being promoted on the Fox Opinion News. While not surprising, it’s also quite interesting that Fox is using its own Roman Catholic priest, Father Jonathan Morris, to push the anti-choice meme. I guess if Morris, whose “inspirational” commentary is usually innocuous, needs “crumbs from the master’s table,” he needs to promote whatever conservative message needs spreading. Obviously, the Catholic Church is anti-choice and he’s entitled to his opinion; but he’s not entitled to his own facts. But then Fox Opinion News doesn’t deal with facts. One wonders if Fox assumes its audience (particularly those Catholics who were brought up to believe everything “father” says) will never question what appear to be “facts” according to a Catholic priest whose homily on “Hannity,” contained at least one lie. Father Morris’ pulpit in “America’s Newsroom” is quite interesting.

Last week, on “Hannity,” Father Morris made the legitimate argument that “people don’t trust their government.” But then he seamlessly launched into the requisite anti-choice propaganda point (previously touted by Fox's Bill Hemmer): “When President Obama says that there is going to be no federal funding for abortion in this new health care reform bill and all of a sudden in his own plan, not only in the Senate, but his own plan. There are so many other examples. Why do I trust this guy?...” Fact – The Senate health care bill does not permit federal funding for abortion. Women who choose an abortion rider pay for it with their own funds which are segregated. Fact – Obama’s health care proposal contains NO mention of abortion. So why is Morris lying about this. Doesn’t he know that lying is a sin!

Comment: Fox calls itself “America’s Newsroom,” yet only 23% of Americans identify as Roman Catholics. The percentage of evangelical Protestants is 26.3. So why does the “fair and balanced” news network employ only a Catholic priest? One assumes that, given the conservative orientation of Fox, there would be a large percentage of evangelicals in their audience. So why, then, is there no evangelical clerical presence on Fox? Why, if this is “America’s Newsroom,” don’t they employ other religious folks from mainline Protestantism, LDS, and Judaism? Fox does provide occasional commentary, from other Protestant and Catholic clergy: but Morris is the only ongoing religious voice at Fox where he has his own blog. While Morris is free to comment on issues, it is clear that his perspective is that of the Catholic Church and, thus, not exactly objective. This isn’t the first time he has alluded to the “untrustworthiness” of health care reform which suggests that his mission is to promote partisan points. The Catholic Church, apart from the abortion issue, supports health care reform. Morris is also a regular on Greg Gutfeld’s “Red Eye.” While I admire his grace under the pressure of the smarmy “humor” directed at him, his appearances seem to be mini Catholic catechism lessons for the late night crowd of insomniacs and those listening to UFO signals in their fillings. Recently Morris gave a little lesson on “transubstantiation” (eucharist actually being the body and blood of Christ) without stating that this is the position of the Catholic church and not the view of the Protestant church which believes in “consubstantiation” which implies a symbolic presence. Gutfeld is a Catholic so I guess he’s giving a pulpit to one of his homies. Morris also ministers to lots of other Fox shows.

Fox is the only major cable news network that has an on call Catholic priest. Morris has been with Fox since 2005 when he “proposed to not just cover Vatican news events only, but to also analyze bigger news stories from an ethical dimension.” From what I have seen of Father Morrison, his ethical dimension is in synch with the right wing dimension that Fox News exists in. While his position on abortion is understandable (one that he drove home during the Obama/Notre Dame controversy), one would hope that his position on illegal immigration would be a little more liberal and it’s not so much as seen in his comment that “Democrats aren't really the moral puritans they profess to be because they refuse to control the borders and penalize employers.” Morris is affable, seems sincere, presents a positive message, and he has a pretty face so he’s perfect for TV and with his conservative views he's perfect for Fox. But one wonders why Fox chose to hire a Catholic priest to the exclusion of clergy of other faiths. Is this an attempt, by Fox, to bring into the fold those Catholic voters who might not buy the gospel of GOP conservatism? Father Morris seems like a pleasant chap. Is his presence at Fox just a spiritual service provided by a “news” network with a pro-Christian bias or is there something else? Maybe it’s just “divine providence!”