CNN foolishly asked if the head of the U.S. Catholic Bishops was playing politics by giving the benediction at the Republican National Convention, leaving out that the same Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently invited President Obama, along with Mitt Romney, to a high-profile Catholic event, the Al Smith dinner.
"Is this a big play to help shore up Paul Ryan's Catholic base?" anchor Don Lemon asked of the RNC benediction. "How does Dolan help Mitt Romney win Catholics?" inquired OutFront host Erin Burnett.
CNN's double standard is evident because the same network cheered liberal nuns protesting the Paul Ryan budget and hyped liberal Catholic critics of his budget, but saved its scrutiny for Archbishop Dolan by suggesting he was playing politics at the RNC.
EWTN's Raymond Arroyo responded that Cardinal Dolan "did catch a lot of flak for inviting Obama to the Al Smith Dinner" and added that "Dolan is actually showing that he's non-partisan."
"He is giving the benediction at the Republican National Committee – Convention. He's agreed to do so at the Democratic Convention if they invite him, and he is having everybody together at the Al Smith Dinner," Arroyo explained.
A Nexis search reveals that CNN made no mention of Dolan's invitation to Obama until Burnett's August 23 show – even though CNN's Religion blog reported the controversy over his invite.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on Erin Burnett OutFront on August 23 at 7:02 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
ERIN BURNETT: So this year, the Catholic vote is up for grabs and it could decide the whole thing. Mitt Romney doesn't want to give any ground. He has put heart and soul into the Catholics. Exhibit "A," the highest ranking Catholic in the United States will be front and center at the Republican National Convention next week. We are talking about someone who has become a household name in this country, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York.
He's going to deliver the benediction the very night that Mitt Romney accepts the nomination. Now Dolan's spokesman says oh this is not an endorsement. He would have accepted an invitation to pray at the Democrats' Convention, but here's the thing. Dolan's archdiocese is one of more than 40 Catholic organizations suing the Obama administration over its mandate requiring health care plans to cover contraception. Now, after the Obama administration made that announcement back in January, Cardinal Dolan issued this response.
Cardinal TIMOTHY DOLAN, Archdiocese of New York: Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.
(End Video Clip)
BURNETT: First in the Bill of Rights, (Inaudible) make you know where he stands politically, then take this. Dolan is also a friend of Mitt's running mate, Paul Ryan, who of course is Roman Catholic. And Ryan and Dolan are actually good friends from Dolan's time as Archbishop of Ryan's home parish. Yes, he was the Archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. And remember Mitt's big trip overseas, he made a big show of stopping in Poland – Poland is Catholic – and talking about Poland's native son.
MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: Here in Poland, in 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, spoke words that would bring down an empire and bring freedom to millions who lived in bondage. Be not afraid. Those words changed the world.
(End Video Clip)
BURNETT: But Poland is as Catholic as Saudi Arabia is Muslim. And Mitt later used that trip to Poland in his campaign ad, attacking President Obama for a quote "war on religion." Why? Well here are the numbers. More than 96 percent of Polish citizens are Roman Catholic. And here in the United States, Catholics can make all the difference in some very important swing states. We actually took a look at this, because we were amazed at how powerful Catholics are.
Throughout Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, in that state Catholics make up a third of the vote. That's what they did in 2008. Obama won their support by a six-point margin. In Florida it was tighter. Catholics about 28 percent of the vote, Obama won them by just one point. And then there's New Hampshire, nearly 40 percent of voters in New Hampshire are Catholic. The split was 50-50 four years ago.
BURNETT: So, Ray, what do you think? How does Dolan help Mitt Romney win Catholics?
RAYMOND ARROYO, EWTN, "The World Over Live": Well Erin look, I think just politically speaking I think James might agree. We are all Catholics here. Catholics are people who look not only for what is being said, but they look for signs. And I think the fact that he is inviting Cardinal Dolan to end the Republican Convention certainly conveys a message. Cardinal Dolan was the primary negotiator in all this religious liberty stuff, the HHS mandate. He was the person in contact with President Obama throughout the process. So clearly a message is being sent here. However, I have to say, and take a little umbrage with the way this is kind of being depicted. Cardinal Dolan caught hell a couple of weeks ago –
BURNETT: Interesting word, wow, well we're Catholics here.
ARROYO: What – what?
BURNETT: You just said he caught hell –
ARROYO: That okay. Well we believe in hell and heaven, purgatory, but we'll get into that another time, Erin. But you know he did catch a lot of flak for inviting Obama to the Al Smith Dinner, a big political gathering in New York. People said how can you do this? You've been arguing with this man. You're suing him and now you are going break bread with him?
Well here I think Dolan is actually showing that he's non-partisan. He is giving the benediction at the Republican National Committee – Convention. He's agreed to do so at the Democratic Convention if they invite him, and he is having everybody together at the Al Smith Dinner. So I think to try to say oh he's endorsing one team over the other, I don't think that's what's happening, but look, there's no doubt President Obama and that HHS mandate has created a lot of friction within the Catholic community, and certainly among the bishops.