Retaliation? After Diocese Criticizes Its Coverage, LA Times Slams Cardinal Mahony

Two weeks ago, we reported (in this NB post) that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles publicly objected to coverage of the priest abuse scandal by the Los Angeles Times. Two articles by the Times in the second half of March contained false information, contended the Archdiocese. One of the articles was cited as being particularly "insulting to all Catholics." Rebuttals to the Times were printed in the archdiocese newspaper, The Tidings, the largest diocesan paper in the United States. (Here and here are the rebuttals.)

Is the Times now retaliating against Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony for calling the paper out on its falsehoods?

Yesterday's Times (Saturday, April 15, 2007) parades a front-page article that claims that "Mahony's influence is dwindling in L.A." It's a typical unflattering portrait of its subject. Many would call it a hit piece. The article seems to serve no other purpose except to take a cheap slap at Mahony.

Does the article cite any polls or studies to back up its claim of the Cardinal's supposed "dwindling influence"? No. Rather, it quotes a potpourri of various individuals, largely unknown, including a Cal State professor (big whoop), the leader of a "mainly Protestant" activist group, and a minister "who spoke on the condition that his name not be used." Good grief.

The paper also reports that "a growing number of Latino officials — notably [Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian] Nuñez and [L.A.] Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — … now command much of the leadership that once was Mahony's." Hmm. The last time I checked, the Cardinal did not hold any political office. But apparently the Times didn't think of this.

The paper also shamelessly drags the tragedy of the church abuse scandal into the current political debate over AB 374. AB 374 is a bill that would make California the second state in the country (behind Oregon) to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The Times, following the lead of top Democrats in the state, has thrown its support behind AB 374 (here). Cardinal Mahony strongly opposes it, and he has reminded Catholic politicians of the Church's teaching against physician-assisted suicide. (Assembly Speaker Nuñez still doesn't get it, and he probably never will.)

Fairness? Balance? Honest reporting? Not at the Times.