[UPDATE: CNN covered the story throughout the day, interviewing Fr. Reese from Georgetown University not twice, not three times, but a total of four times on Thursday. Aside from the liberal James Salt of Catholics United, no other guest appeared on CNN to discuss the issue.]
When liberal Catholics protested Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) speaking at Georgetown University on Thursday, CNN jumped all over the story and gave it 11 full minutes of coverage during the 9-11 a.m. hours of Newsroom. In contrast, when the Obama administration issued its birth control mandate and Catholic bishops voiced their staunch opposition, CNN mentioned the story once in ten days.
Anchor Carol Costello brought on two guests protesting Ryan's budget, and hosted no supporter of Ryan although she did read his own statement in defense of his budget. She reported the "collision of politics and faith" and that the congressman was "about to get his knuckles rapped by dozens of Catholic priests." The CNN headline blared "Fellow Catholics Blast Ryan."
So when the U.S. bishops – the highest Catholic authority in the country – stood in direct opposition to President Obama's contraception mandate, the story basically got shelved for ten days. However, when a GOP congressman spoke at a university, dissenting priests and laypersons received airtime from CNN.
The two guests were James Salt, executive director of the Soros-funded Catholics United – who dissented from the U.S. bishops in siding with the HHS contraception mandate – and Fr. Thomas Reese, a liberal priest and a past dissenter. Costello listed Catholics United as a "non-partisan" group, although it is funded by Obama-supporting billionaire George Soros.
<<UPDATE>> CNN hosted Fr. Reese three more times during the day to give his take on the Ryan budget. No bishop or other Catholic guest appeared on CNN Thursday, with the exception of fellow protester James Salt of Catholics United.
And CNN went to Fr. Reese not just for his side of the story, but for Ryan's as well. "After listening to Congressman Ryan, explain his side of this," anchor John King asked Fr. Reese. CNN's Brooke Baldwin even asked this: "Now your letter, Father, accuses Congressman Ryan of misusing Catholic teachings to justify his budget cuts. My question is, then, does that make the congressman a bad Catholic?"
And CNN asked Fr. Reese softballs like this one: "[D]o you at least find comfort in the fact that this version of the budget plan will likely not pass this Senate?"
But for CNN, statements from Ryan and devil's advocate questions sufficed to cover the "other side" of the debate.