Sunday, April 10, 2005

James Wolcott discusses CNN's religious bias

Vanity Fair contributing editor James Wolcott on his always-worth-reading blog turns his sharp-tongue on CNN for the former news network's pandering to religious conservatives.
I only hope for the sake of his blood pressure and equanimity that he hasn't been watching the network he founded for the last few days because he might do an Elvis on the TV set--blow a hole through screen over the Catholic pandering CNN has done. I'm not talking about the Pope's death and funeral, where every outlet was equally guilty of airbrushing history and overplaying his personal place in that history (a replay of the Reagan funeral coverage). No, I'm talking about how CNN has disgraced itself since, hitting lows in the new Jon Klein era that we didn't know were drillable.

First, we have Wolf Blitzer teasing Paul Begala as to whether or not he qualifies as a "good Catholic" as compared to Crossfire host and fellow Catholic, Robert Novak. Begala was rightly irritated because implicit in Blitzer's teasing (and most teasing masks demeaning, hostile intent) is the notion that only conservative Catholics can be truly considered good Catholics. (Which of course was one of the weapons used against John Kerry.)

That however was just the warmup pitch to what was on tap tonight.

The Capital Gang went full metal Catholic in this week's edition, using the Pope's death as an altar to celebrate Novak's Catholic conversion as the fellow panelists reminisced about the great day he received his first communion. The centerpiece of the show was a segment devoted to Novak's embrace of the cross, tracing his spiritual development through a visual montage that showed a young Jewish boy from the Midwest evolving into a political reporter aging into a smug man in a banker's vest staring thoughtfully at church statuary and appearing on Crossfire with ashes smudged on his angry brow. He was even interviewed by Judy Woodruff (Hunt's wife) about his newfound faith! It was bad enough when pundits started fancying themselves as political players, now we're supposed to take them seriously as religious pilgrims too. (The only portion of the show that rang metaphorically true were the glimpses of Novak walking down the aisle between rows of empty pews, because the arid, conservative, high-horse Catholicism that he and O'Beirne espouse is doomed to play to empty houses.) The footage and the testimonials afterwards from Hunt and company treated Novak's conversion and Holy Communion as if it were a major event in the journalistic-political life of Washington, one of those inspirational moments that brought together people of different faiths and political persuasions who put aside their differences and agree on one incontrovertible thing: Bob Novak is one swelluva guy.

Although Hunt joked about Bob not signing on to the "Blessed are the poor" part of the Bible and Dionne facetiously said he now was hoping for a political conversion as well, the truth as any CNN viewer knows is that Novak's Catholic conversion has made him no more compassionate to the poor, weak, and infirm, no less smarmy and reputation-slurring than he was as a young punk sneering at Commie-symps and rummaging Martin Luther King. Catholicism has just provided him with a church organ for his natural pomposity.

Funny how CNN can find so much time to cover Novak's conversion, but not cover the fact that Robert Novak printed the name of a top CIA official working to protect the nation from the spread of nuclear weapons to keep them out of the hands of terrorists and he did it strictly for brutal, blatant partisan purposes.

Novak and his ilk wear their faith as a cloak to hide the devil within them rather than seek to please the Lord.



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