I was never really any good at math, but I would imagine even the best mathematician is having a hard time keeping track of all the double standards — compliments of many in the secular press — that keep popping up since the presidential election. Not that there weren’t plenty leading up to Nov. 8 in the way the two presidential candidates were covered, but there simply is not enough room in this column (nor in this entire issue of OSV Newsweekly) to include pre- and post-election press hypocrisies.
As a concerned Catholic, I try to consult a variety of sources to keep me informed. That’s why a media mea culpa is on my Christmas list this year.
It became increasingly difficult for voters to find anything but agenda and propaganda when trying to learn more about the candidates and their positions. No wonder those of us who have had it with the “what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander” approach in the press are coming up empty. It doesn’t matter that the polls show public trust of the media is at an all-time low.
Earlier this fall, for example, Gallup reported that America’s trust and confidence in the mass media to “report the news fairly and accurately” was the lowest in their polling history, with a mere 32 percent saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. That figure was down eight percentage points from 2015.
There are many media double standards to choose from, but one in particular stands out in my mind due to its connection to Catholics and other Christians who have had their religious freedoms violated. Perhaps you heard the story about New York’s fashion elite. Shortly after the election, a group of designers made the front pages with their move to get their colleagues in the industry say “no” to designing an inaugural gown or any other clothing item for the incoming first lady, Melania Trump. How could they, after all, since providing a service would mean they were supporting not only the first lady but her husband and his policies, which they find totally offensive?
The headlines were sympathetic to their stance and supportive of their campaign. No one, after all, should be forced to provide a service to someone or something they find extremely offensive. Melania can certainly find someone else to design a dress.
But wait a minute. What about the butchers, the bakers, the florists and candlestick-makers who were fined, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars for refusing to provide services for gay weddings?
These small business owners did not decline services in general. They only refused when it came to weddings because of their Christian faith and their desire to support the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. They asked the couples to — you guessed it — please find someone else to bake the cake or take the photos. Some of them were sued. Most were publicly humiliated in the press, and some even had to close their doors. Funny how the attitudes — along with news coverage — concerning “beliefs” suddenly change when the shoe is on the other foot.
Maybe I’m overreaching with the wish list this Christmas season. But I have a feeling I’m not the only one hoping — and more importantly, praying — for peace on earth, goodwill toward men, along with fewer double standards and at least an honest attempt at accuracy and fairness on the part of the press.
These are gifts that will no doubt keep on giving long after the holidays have come and gone.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and SiriusXM Channel 130.