Editor's Note: What follows is a letter that NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center president Brent Bozell sent to the presidents of the news divisions of ABC, CBS, and NBC as well as to CNN president Jim Walton. It has also been carbon copied to 10 leaders representing various Catholic and Protestant faith organizations.
The broadcast and cable television networks need to report the current, unprecedented assault against freedom of religion in this country, as well as the millions of Americans who would be left out in the cold by the Obama administration if it does not rescind HHS’s recently issued insurance mandate requiring contraceptive coverage. As our statistics and analysis below outline, they are not, and it’s a glaring double standard.
First, allow us to offer perspective on whom this new mandate affects. There are more than 65 million Catholics in the United States. Collectively, they operate more than 7,000 Catholic schools to educate children of all faiths and backgrounds. They also manage hundreds of health care facilities. In fact, one in six patients in the United States is cared for in a Catholic hospital.
All of these institutions and countless other Catholic-run charities will be forced to close their doors – or forfeit their most fundamental and deeply held religious beliefs if the Obama administration’s new mandate is not rescinded. The mandate forces these religious institutions to provide insurance covering sterilizations, abortion-causing drugs and artificial contraceptives, all of which fly in the face of Catholic teaching.
Yet to date, the broadcast networks have nearly ignored it. In contrast, in reaction to a decision that would affect vastly fewer potential patients, the networks pounced on the Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision (now overturned) to cease a measly $480,000 in a grant to Planned Parenthood, the country's largest abortion provider
Since the mandate was finalized on January 20, 2012:
ABC and NBC waited 16 days to cover the anti-Catholic ruling, finally citing the new rule on “This Week” and “Meet the Press” on February 5.
CBS waited 10 days to mention it on “This Morning” and provided no subsequent coverage.
CNN briefly mentioned the rule when it was announced on January 20th, then didn’t bother to mention it again for 10 days.
That stands in sharp contrast to the decision of the private Komen Foundation, when these same networks almost instantly piled on with publicity that helped fill Planned Parenthood's coffers and added to the pressure that forced Komen to reverse.
In fact, as of February 5th, ABC, CBS and NBC covered the Komen controversy six times more than the anti-Catholic HHS law.
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan has said this new law “is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom” and bishops across the country have issued the strongest letters in memory condemning this assault on religious liberty. Indeed, non-Catholic institutions across the country have joined the Catholic Church in condemning the administration, so you have no lack of experts and interviewees to discuss this outrage on-air.
The double standard is clear for all to see. You are ignoring the attack on the freedom of religion by the Obama administration, but coming to the aid of Planned Parenthood because you agree with them.
Your network must cover the administration’s insurance mandate accurately and comprehensively for what it is – an unprecedented assault against religion and a devastating blow to the millions of American school children, sick, elderly and poor of all religious faiths that are served by these Catholic institutions. If you refuse, and limit your networks to reporting about the Komen Foundation’s decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, then you cannot be seen as anything but an anti-Catholic, pro-abortion advocate.
Report both sides.
L.Brent Bozell III