Why Media Fix on Wright and Ignore Hagee

Published on
by
the Chicago Sun-Times

Why Media Fix on Wright and Ignore Hagee

by
Andrew Greeley

I fail to see that the envious and bitter attacks of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright should have created the crisis in Sen. Barack Obama's campaign when the remarks of Pastor John Hagee have not created a similar crisis in Sen. John McCain's campaign. Why is McCain somehow not responsible for Hagee while Obama is responsible for Wright? I suggest the difference is that the senator from Illinois is a Kenyan American and the senator from Arizona a white American.

A second question is why the elite national media fix on Wright and ignore Hagee. Wright, you will say, is much better media copy than Hagee. Yet the latter explains Hurricane Katrina as God's wrath on gays and lesbians and describes the Catholic Church as the "whore of Babylon."

As the watchdog group Media Matters points out in a recent report, two elite papers -- The New York Times and the Washington Post -- have paid 12 times as much attention to Obama's clergy as to to McCain's.

Since McCain accepted Hagee's endorsement on Feb. 27, the Times has published 46 articles about Obama and Wright and five articles about McCain and Hagee. The Post's score is 53-3. The Times has produced 22 editorials and op-eds that mention Obama and Wright and two about McCain and Hagee, and the Post scores 40-2. In the words of Karl Frisch of Media Matters, "It is time for the major media outlets to ask themselves if they've been covering the candidates for president with equally critical eyes. . . . If they are honest, they'll admit they have not."

One must wonder why not. Obama is the front-runner and hence his destruction is raw meat even for the top journals in the country. Surely both papers understand that many Americans are looking for a reason not to vote for a Kenyan American and that this gaffe will feed their hunger.

The same observation could be made of the rigged "debate" on ABC. Both Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos knew what they were doing.

Moreover, it is hardly politically incorrect to assert that the Catholic Church is the "Great Whore of Babylon." When was the last time either paper became righteous about anti-Catholicism? At some deep level in the souls of the editors and op-ed page editors of both the Times and the Post there must lurk the suspicion that the Catholic Church is, if not the Great Whore, then it is the next worst thing.

Yet to serve the sickness of the racists in American society should hardly be politically correct. Are the decision makers at the Times and the Post that eager to provide grist for Sen. Hillary Clinton's election mill? Moreover what about the McCarthy sin of guilt by association? Did not the two papers fervently oppose that tactic in the era of Tail-Gunner Joe -- and ever since. When did their ethics change?

And why?

The truth is that McCain is not responsible for the wild babbling of Hagee and should not be blamed for it. Nor is Obama responsible for Wright's crazy pronouncements. It is improper and indeed immoral to hector either man about their "troublesome priests." There is no more reason to believe that they will have tunnels into the White House than the pope did to John Kennedy's White House.

Therefore, I charge the editors of both papers, and Gibson and Stephanopoulos, of intellectual dishonesty, flawed ethics and McCarthyism.

Andrew Greeley is a priest in good standing of the Archdiocese of Chicago. for 52 years, a columnist for 40 years, a sociologist for 45 years, a novelist for 28 years, distinguished lecturer at the University of Arizona for 28 , research associate at National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago for 46 years.

© Copyright 2008 Digital Chicago, Inc.

More in: