Death No Escape from NYT Bias for Conservatives: Castro Treated Better Than Mormon President

January 4th, 2018 4:07 PM

More proof that the New York Times’ political bias extends into death. A backward glance at the paper’s obituaries for contrasting political figures (lauding Sen. Ted Kennedy while condemning Sen. Jesse Helms) can tell you that.

The latest hostile treatment of a figure who ran afoul of the liberal line on social issues appeared Thursday, in an obituary of the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon church). Thomas Monson received less sympathetic treatment than did ruthless longtime Communist dictator, Fidel Castro (hat tip to Neontaster on Twitter).

Check the beginning of the obituary by Robert McFadden: “Thomas Monson, Mormon Leader Who Held the Traditional Line, Dies at 90.” Defying the tradition of respectful obituaries, it delves into controversy from the start:

Thomas S. Monson, who as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2008 enlarged the ranks of female missionaries, but rebuffed demands to ordain women as priests and refused to alter church opposition to same-sex marriage, died on Tuesday at his home in Salt Lake City. He was 90.

His death was announced on the church’s website.

Facing vociferous demands to recognize same-sex marriage, and weathering demonstrations at church headquarters by Mormon women pleading for the right to be ordained as priests, Mr. Monson did not bend. Teachings holding homosexuality to be immoral, bans on sexual intercourse outside male-female marriages, and an all-male priesthood would remain unaltered.

Mr. Monson displayed a new openness to scholars of Mormonism, however, allowing them remarkable access to church records. But as rising numbers of church members and critics joined the internet’s free-for-all culture of debate and exposé, his church was confronted with troubling inconsistencies in Mormon history and Scripture. The church even found itself at odds with an old ally, the Boy Scouts of America, which admitted gay members and gay adults as scout leaders.

In contrast, the lead paragraphs to long-time Cuba correspondent Anthony DePalma’s treatment of the death (also at 90) last year of the Cuban dictator, showed Castro in a “rebellious” favorable light: “Fidel Castro Dies at 90; Cuban Revolutionary Who Defied the U.S”:

The lead to the November 27, 2016 story:

Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader, bedeviling 11 American presidents and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war, died on Friday. He was 90.

Cuban state television announced the death but gave no other details.

In declining health for several years, Mr. Castro had orchestrated what he hoped would be the continuation of his Communist revolution, stepping aside in 2006 when a serious illness felled him. He provisionally ceded much of his power to his younger brother Raúl, now 85, and two years later formally resigned as president. Raúl Castro, who had fought alongside Fidel Castro from the earliest days of the insurrection and remained minister of defense and his brother’s closest confidant, has ruled Cuba since then, although he has told the Cuban people he intends to resign in 2018.

Incidentally, what was Fidel Castro’s record on gay rights? It was relegated to a single sentence in paragraph 86 of his epic obituary: “Thousands of dissidents and homosexuals were rounded up and sentenced to either prison or forced labor.” James Kirchik has more of Castro’s horrific treatment of gays, including that of author Reinaldo Arenas in his memoir Before Night Falls.

Yet Monson, who by all accounts imprisoned not a single gay during his reign, had his obituary marred with a same-sex marriage controversy.

It seems any prominent social conservative, politician or not, can be assured that opposition to gay rights will be the primary focus of their New York Times obituary, like the one it issued in 2012 for Danny Evins, founder of the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel. It opened:

Danny Evins, who created Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a restaurant heavy on grits and nostalgia, expanded it into a $2 billion chain and then fought a losing battle to discriminate against gay employees, died on Saturday in Lebanon, Tenn. He was 76.