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After Spiking Catholic Lawsuit Against Obama, Networks Unleash Avalanche of Stories Hyping Vatican ‘Scandal’

By Kyle DrennenThe Wall Street Journal
Posted on: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
Original publication date: June 5, 2012

While the networks largely ignored 43 Catholic institutions suing the Obama administration over the ObamaCare contraception mandate, since news broke on May 25 of the Pope’s butler leaking classified Vatican documents, those same networks saw fit to provide 13 stories in 5 days proclaiming “another black eye for the Vatican” and supposed “corruption at some of the highest levels.”

ABC News led the charge, with a total of six reports from May 26 through 28. NBC followed close behind with five reports, one of which was a news brief, from May 25 through 29. CBS had the lightest coverage of the controversy, with only two reports on May 28. CBS was also the only one of the three networks to provide any coverage of the Catholic lawsuit, offering a 19-second news brief on the May 21 Evening News and an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan on the May 23 This Morning.

Having completely skipped the Church fighting for religious liberty, ABC and NBC seemed to delight in reporting every salacious detail of the Vatican leaks. On Tuesday’s NBC Today, correspondent Michelle Kosinski touted a nickname in Rome for the incident: “Here they’re calling it ‘Vatileaks.’” During a report on Sunday’s Today, correspondent Duncan Golestani remarked that the whole affair was “like something from a Hollywood movie,” followed by a clip of the conspiratorial anti-Catholic film Angels & Demons.

ABC made the Angels & Demons comparison three times in its coverage, with correspondent Jeffrey Kofman declaring on Sunday’s Good Morning America: “All of this talk of conspiracy and palace intrigues sound much like a Dan Brown novel….There are similar scenes in his book ‘Angels and Demons.’ But this is very real….Years ago, Vatican conspirators used to poison their enemies. Today, it’s a little more subtle. They leak to the media.”

All three networks used highly charged language to portray the Church as some sort of criminal enterprise. On Friday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Jim Maceda wrapped up his report by ominously asserting: “…the alleged leaks by the man closest to the Pope may have lifted another veil on the secretive and perhaps illegal activity inside the Vatican itself.”

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About Preserve Religious Freedom

This lawsuit is about religious freedom and our ability to serve the public, not about contraception. The Church maintains that the First Amendment protects the Catholic Church's ability to serve the public in accordance with its faith and to operate its religious institutions without government interference. The argument challenges the way the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines what is, and is not, a religious institution. By including an exemption at all, the government apparently agrees that, in keeping with decades of practice and precedent, religious institutions should not be compelled to purchase drugs or procedures that violate deeply held religious or moral beliefs.

But, the Administration's HHS mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that religious schools, hospitals, and social services don't qualify as religious, and must therefore provide these drugs and procedures. This violates the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. It forces religious organizations to sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving the public. Read more about the plaintiffs filing this lawsuit here.

Preserve Religious Freedom
c/o Archdiocese of Washington
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

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