Newsroom bias

The day the Supreme Court decided that so-called same-sex marriage would become the law of the land, I envisioned champagne corks popping like crazy in newsrooms across the country. Extreme media bias in areas pertaining to the Catholic Church, life issues and human sexuality was one of the main reasons that led to me leaving the news business and applying my communication skills in religious media and public speaking.

The blatantly one-sided coverage on the marriage ruling in the majority of secular outlets further confirmed my thoughts on that fateful Friday. I would soon learn from an insider, however, that headlines such as “We Do” emblazoned on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle were small examples of how journalists have allowed themselves to become propagandists and cheerleaders for issues with which they strongly agree. It would be one thing if the opinions were where they are supposed to be — on the opinion page — but it is an entirely different story, no pun intended, when the promoting ends up in the regular news coverage. And it is even worse than I imagined.

On the Monday following the ruling, I received an email from a listener of mine, an experienced journalist. This was the first time I heard from this reporter, and since he knew my media background as well as my concerns about media bias, he felt compelled to send me a shocking snapshot from one of America’s newsrooms. He has given me permission to describe what it was like for him after the decision was announced. Brace yourself. It’s not pretty, but it is reality in far too many news operations across this once great land of ours.

“The glee with which supposedly objective journalists greeted the news, the rush of the columnists to out-do one another in their sweeping praise, the vicious slanders directed at justices and anyone else who disagreed with the decision was nothing short of sickening. The company even (bought) lunch to celebrate the ‘historic’ day.”

Think about that. The paper is popping those corks indeed, buying lunch for its staff in celebration of the decision while that very same staff is writing about it! This did not happen at an activist’s publication but at a major newspaper.

If you think this is a unique situation, here’s another example of bias. A Pennsylvania newspaper, The Patriot News, and its online link, Penn Live, informed its readers that it won’t publish letters that criticize the morality of the Supreme Court ruling. Oh, they would accept and print some not-so-positive letters, but only those that discuss the issues from a legal and not a “moral” perspective, and only for a limited time.

The announcement came in the form of an editorial published barely before the ink dried on the Supreme Court paperwork.

“These unions are now the law of the land. And we would not entertain such criticisms that these unions are morally wrong or unnatural any more than we would entertain criticisms of interracial marriage or those claiming that women are less equal than men in the eyes of the law.”

This editorial that equates respectful debate with sexism and bigotry went viral, and even after a huge backlash, the best the outlet could offer was a weak apology letter, which included a reminder that although they didn’t mean to stifle public debate, the policy still basically stands.

These are the folks who are informing our nation. Welcome to the land of all the news that is free to twist, the land of the not exactly free press and the home of the extremely brazen. Heaven help us.

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.