Catholic Social Teaching Supports Trump’s Challenges To the Media…


From
Crisis

It is not an overstatement to say that the time of the Trump presidency has been one of protracted struggle between the national administration and most of the media. To be sure, the press and the electronic media have faced off with presidential administrations for a long time. Actually, the press has had their political and ideological biases since the beginning of the Republic. After all, weren’t the Federalist Papers originally articles in newspapers that wanted to support the proposed U.S. Constitution and influence the crucial ratification debate in New York State? Don’t historians write about how “yellow journalism” helped lead to the Spanish-American War? Still, when one looks at the behavior of the media in recent decades, the argument can easily be made that as far as concerns political bias, lack of concern for fairness and objectivity, separating out reporting from commentary, a willingness to dig for the facts instead of just reporting what someone claims, journalistic professionalism, and even attention to whether something reported on actually even happened, we are at a historic low.

While Republicans have probably borne the brunt of harsh presidential media treatment since LBJ, the level of vituperativeness directed at Trump is perhaps unparalleled—even surpassing what Nixon, who was known for his long chilly relationship with the press, faced. Certainly, the media’s unremitting pounding of Trump, beginning even well before Inauguration Day, is unprecedented in these recent decades. Some might say that Trump has invited it, with many questions about his background before coming into office, the attention to the ongoing investigation of “collusion” with Russia during the campaign (although this may actually be an example of the “fake news” that the president criticizes), and Trump’s constant sniping at the media with his regular barrage of tweets. Still, it’s hard to make the case that the media has given any breathing room to Trump anywhere along the way.

Most people would probably say that a president is justified in calling out the media and challenging their misconduct. Other presidential administrations have done it, although probably not as regularly and publicly as this one—nor has the president himself usually been the point man, as is the case with Trump. Despite plenty of grounds to challenge the media, Trump was recently attacked in a manner that surely seemed “over the top” by two senators from his own party. Senator Jeff Flake, who has repeatedly tussled with Trump, first conceded that presidents can surely criticize the press but then equated Trump’s actions with Stalin and seemed to suggest that the media can almost unquestionably be relied upon to present the truth. Flake’s fellow Arizonan, Senator John McCain, who has also had a strained relationship with the president, wrote an op-ed arguing that Trump’s criticism of the press is having the dangerous effect of discrediting it and so was emboldening foreign despots to suppress journalists.

All the while, Trump has not threatened the press with anything like censorship, or prior restraint as in the Pentagon Papers case, or imposing a special tax on oppositional newspapers like Huey Long did, or imprisoning journalists as various judges have done for not revealing their sources. Neither senator had much to say about journalistic responsibility or about whether the media—and what we’re mostly talking about here is the mainstream or “big” media—has in fact been discrediting itself by its actions, the most egregious of which has been reporting on stories that have no factual basis (“fake news”).

One wonders if the senators have any sense about the need to confront adversaries, even when they royally deserve it. Their response to Trump was a particularly striking example of what the Republican “establishment” in Washington has been consistently criticized for: routinely conceding to the other side, a “go-along, get-along” attitude that results in the left advancing its agenda even when it loses elections.

The strikingly uncritical and almost apologetic attitude about the media of Senators Flake and McCain is not something that Catholics should countenance, whether or not they like Trump’s approach or manner—that is, if they think he doesn’t act in a way that is “presidential”—or even if they think he carries it too far. Untruthfulness and wrongdoing—and imperviousness to propounding untruth certainly qualifies as wrongdoing—need to be challenged. Let’s remember how Christ had little reluctance about confronting the errant Jewish authorities of his time and that admonishing the sinner is a spiritual work of mercy. It’s especially necessary for top leadership to do it—both for the greater effect they can have and to inspire others to do the same in their own little arenas. Recall what St. Thomas Aquinas said about how those who rule set the norms for their people.

Moreover, when we talk about the media and calling it to responsibility, Catholics need to be particularly attentive to what the Church has said about this. In his social encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Pope St. John XXIII set out his famous listing of human rights and stressed that rights always have corresponding duties. So, while there is a right to express and communicate one’s opinions, to freedom of speech and publication—which certainly includes people acting in the context of the formal organs of communication, like the news media—the people on the receiving end have “the right to be informed truthfully about public events” (#12).

Vatican II’s Inter Mirifica (The Decree on the Means of Social Communication) stresses that while the media has rights it also has the duty to uphold the moral law, which certainly includes the obligation to report truthfully so that this right of people, the citizenry, to be truthfully informed is realized. It also asserts that civil authorities have a duty “to ensure … that public morality and social progress are not greatly endangered through misuse of these media” (#11-12). The Church here is not saying that government should or that it’s desirable for it to impose censorship, or even that it’s mostly government that should be the vehicle to promote this grave journalistic responsibility. She just says that government has or may have a role of some kind in this. That, of course, may involve nothing more than “setting the record straight” or challenging the media when it puts out false or biased information.

Recently, Pope Francis scored the media’s reporting of “fake news,” saying it always has bad effects, and emphasized the obligation of journalists to report the truth.
From a Catholic standpoint, then, while Trump’s confronting the media about ideological bias, reporting “fake news,” and the like may not be elegant and may even seem excessive sometimes, it is warranted as a means of prodding then to act rightly and be more responsible. As such, it certainly may help the cause of promoting the common good. While scrutiny and challenges of the media’s errant practices should come from many sources, to be sure, when the highest American public authority is willing to take it on it especially highlights the problems and may have the most effect. Again, as St. Thomas said, rulers or leaders shape the course of things. Further, the way Trump is doing it is entirely in line with American constitutional principles. Contrary to what Senators Flake and McCain may think, the First Amendment is in no way being trodden upon. [Stephen M. Krason: A Catholic Reaction to Trump and the Media]

Comments invited…  

Sky News Owes Catholic Church Apology

I walked into my living room this morning, just as the journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was saying: “The problem is, Catholicism is making women have babies.”

I immediately rang Sky to lodge a complaint about this blatant bias, and then emailed viewer@sky.uk as follows:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I was appalled to hear the journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the All Out Politics Show on Sky this morning, remark that “…The problem is, Catholicism is making women have babies.” (then laugh.) Nasty woman.

Were I to dare to make a similar nasty remark about Islam (her religion, I believe) I would face a visit from my local police – no doubt about it.  Can you imagine the outcry if I, or anyone else, were to say “the problem is, Islam is making these people into terrorists”?

There is one rule for Islam and another rule for the rest of us, notably the Catholic Church.

I will be posting this email on the Catholic Truth blog shortly, because I doubt very much if any publicity, let alone an apology, will be forthcoming from Sky, so I will do what is within my limited power to publicize the unconscionable anti-Catholic bias of Sky.

Signed
Editor
Catholic Truth

Comment:

If a comparable comment were made on air about Islam – “the peaceful religion” – to the effect that “Islam is causing people to become terrorists” all Hell would break loose, so should, in your opinion, Sky News apologise for this scandal – and should Yasmin Alibhai-Brown be dropped as a political commentator on their programme(s)?

I will, of course, seek an email address in order to send Yasmin Alibhai-Brown a link to this thread. She comes across as a tad arrogant, in my opinion,  so I doubt if she will give a toss, but in the interests of fairness, I feel obliged to offer her the opportunity to exercise her right to reply. Just don’t hold your breath, not least because it’s never easy to defend the indefensible and an apology is, to say the least, highly unlikely unless it is in the category of “I’m sorry if I offended you… “  Not acceptable. We require an apology for lying about the Catholic Church and insulting every Catholic woman on the planet – that’s what we are looking for – nothing less.  So, as I say, don’t hold your breath.

Defend Donald – Sign Counter-Petition

MORE than 1.6 million Britons have signed a petition calling for Donald Trump’s state visit to be cancelled. But will it stop the new US President coming to the UK?  Click here to read more

There’s now a counter petition – I’ve signed it and hope you will, too.  Click here to sign or click on the image to reach the petition…

trump-counter-petition

The media in the UK is 100% agin Donald Trump.  The hatred of him coming from TV news broadcasts is palpable.

But why?  IS it because he is seeking to improve security by imposing temporary restrictions – his spokesperson insists there is no “ban” and only a very small number of people have been detained as part of an attempt to review security. So, what’s really going on here? 

Comments invited…

 

 

 

Media Silence: Christians Persecuted in Iraq – Not That You’d Ever Guess…

Christians-Flee-Islamic-Threats-316x237The plight of Christians and other minority groups in northern Iraq has taken a turn for the worse, according to reports, as thousands fleeing regions controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, have been robbed of their possessions at ISIS checkpoints.

ISIS, a Sunni extremist group that advocates Islamic Shariah law, is reportedly persecuting Christians in Iraq, forcing them to flee their homes in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, even as Muslims in Baghdad showed solidarity with persecuted Christians by joining them in symbolic protests across the city. Mosul is one of the holiest cities of Christianity in the Middle East and the ancient churches of Mosul are some of Christianity’s oldest.

At a rally in Baghdad, many Christians who arrived in the city after fleeing the violence of ISIS in the north held up signs that read, “I am Iraqi, I am Christian.” They were joined by Muslims expressing solidarity with the Christian community, also holding up the same signs, a report said.

ISIS reportedly issued an ultimatum to Mosul’s Christians ending Friday, to either convert to Islam, or pay the Islamic tax for non-Muslims known as jizya, or leave Mosul. However, a day before the city’s minority communities fled, ISIS took away the option of paying the tax and staying back, reports said. 

“The world must act, speak out, consider human rights,” Bishop Shlemon Wardooni of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch and head of Iraq’s largest churchsaid on Sunday, adding that the Iraqi state was weak and divided and Muslim leaders had remained silent. “We haven’t heard from clerics from all sects or from the government,” he told Reuters.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, on Sunday, condemned the treatment of Mosul’s Christians, saying it showed “the extreme criminality and terrorist nature of ISIS” while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said ISIS actions were akin to “a crime against humanity.”

Pope Francis, in his weekly public prayers on Sunday, said: “I learned with great concern the news that came from the Christian communities in Mosul. Today they are persecuted. Our brothers are persecuted. They’ve been driven away. They must leave their homes without being able to take anything with them.”

On Sunday, about 200 Muslims attended the rally in Baghdad, with some marking themselves with the Arabic letter “N” for “Nazarene,” or Christian.

Christian leaders thanked Muslim supporters for standing up for their right to live in Iraq. “What gives us hope is a group of citizens – I do not want to say Muslims but they were Muslims – from Baghdad carrying slogans saying ‘I am Iraqi, I am Christian,’” Maysar Bahnam, a priest at Mar Korkis Catholic Church in Baghdad, told Al Arabiya. “They prayed in solidarity with us, saying that we are people from this land.”

On Twitter, hashtags such as #WeAreN and #IamNasrani served to share news and pictures of the plight of Iraqi Christians, and for helping organize support demonstrations.

Families leaving from the checkpoints on the eastern side of the city were reportedly harassed and robbed of their possessions. People also reported that money, jewelry and documents were taken from them, while the Daily Beast reported that women had crucifixes torn from their necks. Christian families and church leadership were among the last of Mosul’s minority communities such as Shabak, Shia, Yezidi, Turkmen and Kurds to leave the city, according to reports.

Comment

It seems odd that this savage persecution of Christians is not all over the news here in the UK. Isn’t it?  

Global Warming Scientists in Antartica: the stuff of comedy – and cover-up…

ImageWhen the Russian ship, Akademik Shokalskiy, became stranded in the Antarctic ice on Christmas Eve, the media couldn’t wait to cover stories about the ship and its inhabitants. What these reports failed to mention, however, was what the Russian ship was doing in Antarctica to begin with. The Akademik Shokalskiy carried climate change scientists who were looking to do global warming-related research.

According to NewsBusters:

The Russian ship, Akademic Shokalskiy, was stranded in the ice while on a climate change research expedition, yet nearly 98 percent of network news reports about the stranded researchers failed to mention their mission at all. Forty out of 41 stories (97.5 percent) on the network morning and evening news shows since Dec. 25 failed to mention climate change had anything to do with the expedition.

In fact, rather than point out the mission was to find evidence of climate change, the networks often referred to the stranded people as “passengers,” “trackers” and even “tourists,” without a word about climate change or global warming.

The blatant omission is egregious, but when you consider the fact that this particular incident is a black eye for the global warming movement, it’s really not all that surprising.

“It’s just unbelievable – the cover up,” Stu sad exasperatedly. “It’s amazing, the evidence coming out now. I mean they have had a rough go of it. If you are a global warming supporter, you have had a rough go over the past 7 or 8 years… As far as facts go, the earth did for a period of time between the 70s and the 80s. It hasn’t since… [But] they just keep doubling down and doubling down… I mean you have been doing this for 10 years and now it’s not working.”

As Glenn was quick to point out, however, is when the people who are in power and control the media are complicit, you can get away with just about anything.

“Well, it was working for… Kim Jong Un,” Glenn concluded. “You just keep denying by saying ‘The people are happy.’ ‘The people are fat and sassy.’ It works for him.”  Source (short video clip at source worth watching)

Catholic Truth Comment:

The above hilarious situation (where three rescue attempts had been thwarted by growing levels of sea ice and weather conditions) raises, afresh, the question of why Catholics are to be found among those gullible folk who believe in man-made climate change. Surely, we should know better?