While the New York Times' travails are well known, it appears that the venerable old newspaper still has the resources to devote a reporter to cover a single story line if that story line happens to dovetail with the paper's political leanings.
As our nearby Scoreboard illustrates, the Times' National Religion Correspondent, Laurie Goodstein, seems to really only cover one story in the vast world of religion today: old sex abuse claims in the Catholic Church.
Now Goodstein is providing free p.r. for another lawsuit against the Church by Jeff Anderson and promoting a flimsy campaign among left-wing crazies to sack St. Paul – Minneapolis Archbishop John C. Nienstedt.
And, as it just so happens, the Times' editorial board later wrote an editorial calling for Nienstedt's resignation.
Calls for resignation: An army of one?In her piece, Goodstein reveals that the disgruntled former canon lawyer for the archdiocese, Jennifer Haselberger, submitted an affidavit in support of a lawsuit filed by the notorious Jeff Anderson alleging that the 2002 Dallas Charter was not being followed.
Goodstein then goes on to recount a disparate litany of other archdiocesan alleged "scandals" – such as the wacky and discredited claim that Nienstedt somehow molested a boy at a public confirmation ceremony – and concludes that there was now a big public outcry for Nienstedt's resignation.
Goodstein claims that "calls for resignation" are now "mounting" against Archbishop Nienstedt, yet Goodstein cites exactly one person who has actually done so.
Ever heard of "Tom Horner"? We haven't either. But, according to Goodstein, Horner is a "prominent Catholic public relations consultant and former Independent Party candidate for governor," and he happens to think the archbishop should resign. Powerful stuff.
Goodstein's flaky sourcesGoodstein principally cites the disgruntled former employee of the archdiocese, canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger, to attack Nienstedt and the Church, yet Goodstein makes no mention at all of Haselberger's obvious bias as a disgruntled former employee or her record of making false claims.
As we reported months ago, Haselberger was the source behind an explosive story which received widespread media attention that a Minnesota priest possessed "images of pornography," some of which, in her view, "appear[ed] to show children."
However, after police spent months investigating the claim, not a single frame of child pornography was ever found. Zilch. Nada.
In the end, Haselberger's machination of child pornography was completely false, and the media firestorm over the case completely destroyed the reputation of an innocent priest. But, of course, Goodstein makes no mention of Haselberger's past propensity for hysteria and overstatement when it comes to her former employer.
Haselberger's new leftist bedfellows
Goodstein also makes no mention of the troubling fact that Haselberger is currently scheduled as a headline speaker at this week's annual conference for SNAP, the notorious anti-Catholic hate group. While Haselberger has claimed she is "pro-life," she is now embracing a group who last year celebrated at its conference one of the country's most radical abortion advocates and outspoken Church bashers, Eleanor Smeal. Go figure.
Indeed, Haselberger has not always been an exactly strong defender of Catholic teaching, despite her position as a canon lawyer. As the Catholic League recently noted, Haselberger has admitted that she is seemingly O.K. with a loopy dissident group called "Rent-a-Priest" using her work to claim that the group does not necessarily violate Church teaching by promoting married priests administering the Sacraments.
The not-so-hidden agenda
Goodstein also defames Nienstedt by repeating the crazy charge that he somehow molested a boy in broad daylight during a public confirmation ceremony back in 2009. Goodstein lends credence to the charge by merely saying police dropped charges against Nienstedt because of "insufficient evidence."
In truth, the claim against Nienstedt was far beyond ridiculous. The charge was so bogus that even the youth at the center of the episode said nothing had happened and told police as much. The investigation into Nienstedt was nothing short of a left-wing witch hunt.
Last year, Minnesota passed a so-called "window statute" permitting decades-old, stale claims of abuse, principally against the Catholic Church, to now be suddenly resurrected for a period of three years. This has naturally thrown contingency lawyers such as Anderson into a tizzy filing new lawsuits in the hunt for big bucks.
And ever at the ready to assist Anderson is Goodstein, especially when the target of Anderson's lawsuits just-so-happens to be a bishop such as Nienstedt best known for his politically incorrect positions such as opposition to homosexual "marriage."