Where's the birth certificate

Free and Strong America

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The perils of covering religion and politicians

The local newspaper here carried a good article by Edward Wasserman with the above title. Being someone whose very first blogging experience was through MittRomney.com, I found it quite interesting. (You can access Mitt Romney's Free and Strong America by clicking on the icon on the left margin). Here are some of the more relevant quotes from the article by Wasserman...

"...... a thoughtful presentation I heard last week at an academic ethics conference. Titled, “Getting Religion Right,” it was about the news media’s sins in the coverage of politicians’ religion. The chief focus of the authors, students from Brigham Young University, was on the media’s treatment of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, tipped as a likely 2012 presidential contender.

The students found that one-third of the coverage of Romney’s 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination concerned his Mormonism. Much of that included questions about such long-repudiated practices as polygamy. (Mainstream Christians, they said, were unlikely to face similar questioning about, say, the immaculate conception.)

This handling, they argued, reflected wider problems with the media’s approach to religion and politicians. Their recommendations: Don’t report on religious doctrine. Don’t force candidates to speak for their faiths. Treat candidates equally. Respect the way religions see themselves and give religious leaders their say. And provide voters with the information they need to make informed choices."

Romney is not a perfect candidate. His recent endorsement of John McCain in the Arizona US Senate race is one recent example where I disagree with the man. (The Phoenix Police Dept, BTW, endorsed McCain's republican rival in the primary, JD Hayworth, Link) However, in spite of any shortcomings by Romney, I think he would be the best candidate for the Republican nomination to run against Obama in 2012. Romney has forgotten more about capitalism and macro-economics than Biden and Obama could ever learn if they studied the subject for the rest of their lives and in these difficult financial times, we here in the US need the leadership of a man like Mitt Romney.

Wasserman's goes on to state in his article.....

"If you believe in religious diversity, and tolerate—even welcome—the reality that our society is home to a multiplicity of religions, cults and gumball creeds, then perhaps the other side of the diversity coin is to ask the people who claim inspiration from them to submit to serious, hopefully fair-minded, scrutiny about what their beliefs might mean to the people who are asked to anoint them as leaders.

Some of that scrutiny might be mindless, uninformed, mean-spirited. That’s deplorable. But the alternative is a level of ignorance that’s even more unacceptable."

I agree in principle, however I doubt that the media can contain itself insofar as it's coverage of Romney without being "mindless, mean-spirited and uninformed". The left controls the media in the US and look for scrutinity of Romney, particularly his religion to ramp up significantly, especially if he wins some of the early primaries. Just sayin'.

TRIVIA QUESTION: What is Mitt Romney's real first name?

UPDATE: A new poll out now has Romney tied with Obama Link


Tracy said...

Romney's real first name is Willard. Why is it that I always seem to know these not so useful facts?!

photogr said...

Personaity wise, I don't think there is a strong candidate to oppose Obama in 2012 yet.Naturally the leftist press will have a folly on the religion part. I do remember when John F. Kennedy ran for president, the press had a field day denouncing his Catholic roots.Wonder why that is?

JD Curtis said...

Probably because Catholics are in the minority among the Christian community and they have some distinct beliefs.

The Maryland Crustacean said...

Point well taken in general. Romney would be a good candidate and I would probably end up voting for him in the general election if he got the nomination.

On the other hand, I think it is a bit of a stretch to compare polygamy--which was only reputdiated by Mormonism a century or two ago--and only because they had to if they were going to live in this country--with the Immaculate Conception--a more ancient Catholic doctrine which has little or no relevance to the social, political, or economic life of the nation.

The bugaboo with Kennedy was fear of divided loyalty between the United States of America vs the Pope. Looking back at Kennedy, that fear now seems laughable, as it is with far too many Catholic politicians today. Not that I am a practicing Catholic, but I wish more Catholic politicians would be a bit more loyal to their faith! It would be nice to see some politicians with some character and integrity, no matter what their religious background.

Whether Mormon, Catholic or Protestant or whatever, I would be more comfortable with politicians who take their faith seriously and make that clear to the voters, who can then make an informed decision.

ATVLC said...

The left controls the media in the US...
Naturally the leftist press will have a folly on the religion part.

Question; why do you consider the media to be controlled by the left?

I asked a Christian Identity blogger once why he thought the media was controlled by Jewish people (or "the Jew" as he put it) and all he gave me was a list of names. I expect more from you.

JD Curtis said...

I wouldnt say that Jewish people dominate the media here in the US. Liberals definately do. Every single network except FOX News is dominated by them along with the majority of all editorial boards of nearly every single major newspaper. The NY Post skews somewhat conservative though.

If youre interested, simply peruse the webpage of the Media Research Center that keeps statistics on the bias of the coverage of different media outlets here. It's more or less widely known here.

JD Curtis said...

Here you go ATVLC....

"Media Bias 101 summarizes more than 25 years of survey research showing how journalists vote, what journalists think, what the public thinks about the media, and what journalists say about media bias. The following links take you to more than 40 different surveys, with key findings and illustrative charts." Link

photogr said...


"Naturally the leftist press will have a folly on the religion part."

Did you see all the hoopla on Huckabe in one of his campaign videos? Did you see very little or no coverage on national news about the Tea Party demonstrations opposing Obama health care but it represented a vast majority of Americans opposing the plan? It was quite apparent on the national networks the bias they showed in the 2008 elections and campaign coverage. Are you old enough to remember the job they did on Kennedy during his bid for the white house?

ATVLC said...

I read an study (nearly two decades ago) that people who self-identify as left-wing almost uniformly see the media as right-wing and people who self-identify as right-wing almost completely see the media as left-wing.

I would say the media leans right. The fact that the media is owned by corporations should be a huge hint.
Here's a few more hints that it leans right:
-The media's nationalism/flag waving
-The glorification of the military
-The protection of corporate power
-Its disdain for intellectualism
-Its obsession with crime and punishment
-Its use of scapegoats.

ATVLC said...

Hey JD, you do know the stated goal of Media Research Center is "documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias" and it's run by L. Brent Bozell III from the National Conservative Political Action Committee and from American Conservative Union. Right?

That would be like me using the progressive media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting's magazine Extra to criticise the MRC like this:
the MRC ... selective use of evidence--the MRC had complained, for example, that there was more coverage of government death squads in right-wing El Salvador than in left-wing Nicaragua, without mentioning that there were roughly a thousand times more extra-judicial killings in El Salvador. Extra! also characterized the MRC as wanting to force out of the media any opinions that it disagreed with, even tracking the off-screen political comments of actors in a project that the magazine said "bore an uncomfortable resemblance to Red Channels, the McCarthy Era blacklisting journal."

I'm too young to remember Kennedy but we've had Catholic politicians too.

Froggie said...

JD Curtis said...
"Probably because Catholics are in the minority among the Christian community and they have some distinct beliefs."

That is not true. Catholics are the largest organized Christian sect in the US with Souther Baptists coming in at number two. All the other are merely non-affliliated fractious subgroups.

JD Curtis said...

I'm counting Protestants as an overall group and not making any distinction between denominations of "like precious faith".

Ross said...

We have a similar situation here with our Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott. Sections of the media and some of his opponents are making an issue of his Catholicism and how it informs his beliefs on different issues.

JD Curtis said...

I'll google that Ross. Thanks for the report. Keep us abreast please.