Rewarding Bad Journalism and Bigotry: Columbia University Bestows Prestigious Award to Error-Laden Series by Minn. Public Radio

Steve Coll

Diminished journalistic standards: Columbia University's Steve Coll

It is now abundantly clear – if it were not already – that truthfulness and fairness mean absolutely nothing to the media establishment when it comes to reporting about the Catholic Church and sex abuse. Indeed, the journalism school at Columbia University has now bestowed a prestigious "Alfred I. duPont – Columbia University Award" to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) for its phony radio series, "Betrayed by Silence."

We previously noted, in all of our years of analyzing the media and the Catholic Church sex abuse story, we have not witnessed journalism as breathtaking in its dishonesty and maliciousness as the MPR series.

Link: **MPR's 'Betrayed By Silence': A New Low In Vengeance Journalism** [Aug. 2014]

A need to check the facts at Columbia

Madeleine Baran

Scraping the bottom
of the journalism barrel:
Madeleine Baran from MPR

After receiving word of its award, MPR "managing editor" Chris Worthington claimed that "Betrayed by Silence" had been "well-documented and carefully reported." As our research clearly uncovered, however, Worthington's claim is simply comical.

Even a cursory examination of MPR's "Betrayed by Silence" would reveal its gross factual errors and distortions.

For example, a recurring theme throughout "Betrayed by Silence" is that Church officials always aggressively sought to "protect their own" by shielding criminal actions by priests from law enforcement.

Yet when one looks to a 2004 letter in MPR's own files by Rev. Kevin McDonough, who served for many years as vicar general under two different archbishops in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and counseled numerous abuse victims in his job during his tenure, one tellingly reads:

"[In] my message to you last Friday, I emphasized that reports about even-potentially-criminal behavior should be brought immediately to the police."

McDonough's words are hardly indicative of someone looking to criminally "cover-up" crimes by clergy and "protect his own." In fact, McDonough's letter is proof that Baran's malicious caricature of McDonough and the archdiocese is flat-out false.

And even outside MPR's heinous series, we have shown that MPR's Madeleine Baran has tarnished the reputations of innocents priests and has been flagged for outright falsehoods.

We call on Columbia University to actually re-review MPR's series (if it even reviewed the series to begin with) and then revoke its award for this bogus and bigoted journalism.


  1. True Catholic says:

    The fact that Archbishop Nienstedt, lied several times, means nothing to you guys.

  2. Jim Robertson says:

    "2004 letter" and where are all the police reports on all the criminal acts commited by priests before 2004?  Nowhere that's where.

  3. Publion says:

    I think that what’s going on with the award is this: the Stampede “been bery bery good” to those media types who have been willing to get on the game (the Boston Globe got some Pulitzers out of it 13 years ago); but now the Stampede is running out of steam, and this award-bit is a high-level (Columbia J-School was known as one of the top J-Schools in the country) dog-whistle to the media troops that there is still the possibility for some career bennies if they can just hang on.


    Hang-on until what?


    Until the two up-coming possibilities for re-igniting the Stampede – i) the Vatican abuse commission and ii) the Papal visit – have  been given a chance, with enough planning and pushing, to provide some new fuel.


    As I had said previously, Bishop-Accountability and SNAP are going to be looking and needing to make some hay off this Vatican abuse commission and the Papal visit. By now they are already working on the demands they are going to want to have met. The recent Baran article was designed to lay the groundwork for at least one element of those demands: that the Church turn over the names and addresses and files of any priest – whether still in ministry or not – in order to bolster the Bishop-Accountability’s new business model, which is to be a sort of informal sex-offender registry for priests going as far back as the files can go. (And – who knows? – maybe drum up some fresh allegations and get the torties back on the gravy train while also providing ‘fresh’ stories for cooperative media types.)


    Something along these lines is going to be necessary and vital since there are almost no new cases; the front organizations will have to go back and way-back in order to Keep The Ball (and Their Ball) Rolling.


    Whether the Church decides to go along with it is another question, but that can’t be ruled out at this point.


    All of which throws into sharp relief the strategized and calculated nature of the whole Thing.


    Journalism has changed quite a bit. To go deep we could look at the 20th-century philosophical embrace of the subjective and the emotional, building upon – to go really deep – the Modern philosophical rejection of independent objective reality (and thus of objective truth).


    More recently, some readers may recall Tom Wolfe who – in the 1970s – came up with what was called ‘New Journalism’, which basically seeks to spiff up reporting with elements from fiction.


    All of which blended with the concept of ‘revolutionary truth’ and – I suppose we could say – ‘revolutionary reporting’ or ‘revolutionary journalism’: what is ‘true’ is what furthers the cause and agenda, and what doesn’t further the cause and agenda is by definition not-true. Thus: in the revolutionary sense, to ‘report’ is to pass off as fact anything that supports the agenda and the cause.


    And that actually is a pretty good working definition of propaganda in the Goebbelsian sense.


    As an example of how ‘reporting’ and statistics can be tinkered with before they are even compiled and conclusions drawn from them, readers might want to look at the Op-Ed entitled “Climate Reporting’s Hot Mess” in The Wall Street Journal’s print edition for January 21, 2015, p. A-13.


    While the entire piece is an enlightening example of the type of objective analysis of material that is so necessary in this era of diminished objectivity and of heightened and manipulative emotionalism, there is also a specific bit:


    A claim was put forward (and ‘reported’) to the effect that in the NOAA’s records nine or ten of the hottest years in the record have occurred since 2000, from which bit advocates (and Associated Press ‘reporters’) claim that the odds of this happening randomly are something on the order of 650million to one; this bit cites the finding of a statistician at U/South Carolina named John Grego.


    But when John Grego was interviewed by a skeptical follow-on researcher, he said that the Associated Press “specifically instructed him to assume ‘all years had the same probability of being ‘selected as one of the 10 hottest years on record’” (italics mine). The Op-Ed writer notes drily: this is the equivalent of “assuming that because you weighed 195 pounds at some point in your life, there should be an equal chance of you weighing 195 pounds at any point in your life, even when you were a baby”.


    This is the type of manipulation of statistical results before-the-fact that can result in the type of scare-numbers we so often see thrown around (which should be familiar enough to those familiar with the Stampede).


    So I think that this award by the Columbia J-School  reflects not a lapse in professional judgment (such as the professional journalism standards are nowadays) but rather indicates a strategized gambit to encourage the flagging interests of media types who are losing confidence in the Stampede as being able to provide careerist opportunities for advancement in status.

  4. Jim Robertson says:

    I see, let's be afraid of the word revolutionary unless it's used on the 4th of July and sold like fireworks and Budwieser.
    Let's compare the words, revolutionary and journalism to Joe Goebbles, an f'ing Nazi.

    Let's compare emotionalism to objectivity has defined by the least objective person here.

    And we are left with the Windmills of P's mind. P's definitions of what's either true or important.

    P's opinions being passed off as a collective/ universal truth with no back up proofs. No evidence that the church is, in fact, being victimized. If you are being victimized why not go to the police and report the crime? No evidence to show them either?

  5. Publion says:

    On the 22nd at 1149AM we get – yet again – a fine example of the Abusenik-Playbook method of insinuation. Precisely where the Scientific Method would call for an explication of the conclusions to be drawn from the assertion that “all the police reports” are “nowhere”, we get … nothing. Is it that they don’t exist because there was nothing to be reported or because nothing was reported to be investigated and reported-on? Those are perfectly logical possibilities.


    Of course they don’t fit the preferred Stampede-Abusenik cartoon, so they – and thus the entire step of ‘explication’ – are left out.


    And the Abusenik mind doesn’t really like to do the hard work of thinking and explicating or any of the other phases of the Scientific Method for that matter, and the chances are so good that any such efforts are simply going to increase the risk of the Abusenik-Stampede cartoon being further revealed for what it is, so why should they try?

  6. Publion says:

    On the 22nd at 1048PM we get the hardly unfamiliar JR gambit of trying to accuse me of his signature Playbook moves. The Church has paid almost 3billion for allegations, claims and stories for which there is no proof or evidence that we have seen here. That's not victimization?

  7. KenW says:

    Pub, that's not 100% true.I don't know the actual number, but in many cases the insurance company opts to pay settlements in leui of going to trial, and there are many instances in these cases where the insurance companies have made this decision in spite of the diocese and the accused priest standing willing and able to mount a vigorous defense. If the insurance company feels it is cheaper to pay out the settlement, regardless of the weight of the evidence, they pay it. Those cases are lumped into the "guilty" category, and those monies are factored into the "$3 Billion".  

    • Publion says:

      In regard to ‘Ken W’s comment of the 23rd at 465PM: Yes, the dynamics he describes are very often operative in these matters. I’m not sure what in my material (if he’s referring to my material) to which he is referring as being not “100% true” but I’ll be happy to address the issue if he can be a bit more specific. But his précis of the dynamics is, I would say, spot-on. (Is it possible that his comment pre-dates the JR comment of the 23rd at 851PM and he is referring to the JR material?)

      Then JR (the 23rd at 851PM):

      JR’s confusion as to the difference between “libel” and (the proper term here) ‘liable’ might indicate his own lack of knowledge or might simply reflect a failure in telephonic transcription. Who knows?

      But again we see the usual Abusenik effort: with the Anderson Strategies having nicely managed to get pay-outs (from Church or, more likely, Insurers), the Abuseniks want to now claim that the simple fact of Settlement (with whatever provisos were demanded by either Party) somehow constitutes the equivalent of demonstrable proof through a public trial-process.

      Which, as I have said, is precisely what the Anderson Strategies – for numerous reasons – sought to avoid. The legal stratagem of aiming a lawsuit at Insurers rather than the actual Defendant is well-established, figuring that the Insurers are simply going to want to pay-and-be-done-with-it while the Defendant’s interests in challenging the (in Stampede cases often numerous) Plaintiffs’ claims and allegations in open trial are shunted aside. 

      And then we are marvelously lectured by JR on ‘accepting responsibility’.

      Then more bits stuffed and tossed, which simply presume the veracity of the (never proven) allegations and claims and stories. 

      JR then – again marvelously – lectures me to the effect that I am not being “attacked”, when all along it is he who has claimed to be “attacked” (merely by the questioning and assessing of his and all the other Stampede material). 

      But that bit was really just tossed-up in order to provide his lead-in to the manipulative effort to get us to presume what has yet to be proven about the Stampede vision of the Church.

      Then another toss of the mere assertion that what stories he and other Abuseniks have told here is the truth, although that is precisely the point that we have been trying to establish and never have been able to establish and it is the very assessment of those stories that the Abuseniks have considered to be ‘attacks’ on them. 

      How very much a truism it is: just because they are not believed doesn’t mean they weren’t raped. But then again just because they say they were ‘raped’ (however defined) doesn’t mean that they were, either. This is precisely the problem at the very heart of the Victimist sexual-stories problem and not only in the Church venue but also in all the other venues we have considered here over time. 

      And flowing from that is the ‘evidence problem’: if allegants have no evidence then how can they expect the Sovereign Coercive Authority to be legitimately deployed on the basis of their stories and claims? And this is precisely where legislators attempted to pander to what they saw as a useful demographic (and to torties who are great contributors to political types) by ‘reforming’ evidentiary principles by weakening them to make the mere ‘stories’ appear ipso facto more credible by creating privileged ‘space’ for them in legal proceedings (civil and criminal). 

      Then – the Wig of Exasperated Innocence – JR doth declaim that he is “getting hypnotized” by my repeated use of the words “Gambit” and “Playbook” to characterize certain phenomena. Awwww. The vampires do declaim they are being victimized by holy-water – that’s a neat twist that I haven’t seen in any horror movies. (No – wait: 1979’s Dracula, where Frank Langella’s eponymous vampire, confronted by Van Helsing wielding a consecrated host, recoils and retreats, screaming “Sacrilege!”.) 

      It is my belief – explicated at length on this site – that those two terms are very accurate characterizations. I will continue using them. 

      Then an almost histrionically self-serving characterization about JR’s “labors here”. This is an uncharacteristic usage and tone for him, and yet recalls to me the histrionic stylings of another Abusenik commenter who – we are to presume – no longer proffers material here.

      That is followed by a rather clear and concise statement of his plight: “What’s in it for me?”. Nicely put. Since he has asked the question, I might be tempted to list the bennies accruing to him, but I think that would be an exercise best handled in the privacy of a professional’s office and within those parameters. I’ll let it be. 

      Then – and this is indeed marvelous and a genuine keeper for those clinically-inclined who are keeping a notebook on the Playbook – JR creates a pitch-perfect two-fer: he will “get even with” me by – waittttt for ittttttttttttttt! – “telling the truth to you”. And when might it be expected for that glorious day arrive? It is a consummation devoutly to be wished, as used to be said.

      Then a typical attempt to turn around the vampiric imagery I have used, although the record is rather clear here as to who sticks to points and tries to explicate and assess them, and who heads for the Playbook (with its pandemonium of epithets, distractions, innuendoes, and so on and so forth) at the first appearance of sustained and logical questioning. 

      Then the attempt to sew-together two very different pieces of fabric: a) his (personally conceived) ‘truth’ and b) what is also “just true”. That is the core and heart and nub of the entire Victimist gambit, as I have often explained. And no such grounds for the valid connection or conflation of (a) and (b) has yet to be reached here or anywhere else.

      Then a pronunciamento to the effect that the Church has “screwed up” (in some ways, certainly true) followed by the dark future-telling that the Church “is never going to recover from it” (really?). The Church certainly has in place the most comprehensive policies for preventing child sexual abuse (however defined) of any large institution on the planet, whether religious or public or even governmental. 

      And from a purely philosophical viewpoint, things are always changing and rarely do things ever stay the same in every respect. But that’s a truism if it is the meaning of JR’s little stab at fortune-telling here. 

      As for the rest of the possible content of his innuendo – that the Church is fatally and permanently weakened to the point of incipient implosion – he is welcome to take his place among two millennia’ worth of individuals who were equally and similarly convinced and comforted by that vision. And good luck with that. 

      I don’t recall myself ‘raging’ here (can JR provide a quote, accurate of course?) and the fact that my material seems ‘droning’ to him simply reveals once again both i) the inability of some mentalities to handle complex information-processing and ii) the Playbook and Abusenik requirement that all uncongenial investigation and discussion be avoided by any means possible. Nothing new with any of it. 

      As to the value of JR’s opinion as to ‘sanity’ and whether or not the world is “saner than it used to be”, I am very happy to let readers consider and judge as they may. 

    • Ken W says:

      Pub, I was referring to your comment that the Church (singularly) has paid out $3 billion. I do not know the exact number, but a serious chunk of that $3 billion is the insurance company opting to settle rather than litigate…..even in the face of weak/ non existent evidence. Even in the face of any given accused priest and his respective diocese showing a willingness to mount a vigorous defense. It's a very common practice in the tort world at large. I know a consultant to a law firm whose sole practice is defending hospitals. There have been times that they, with the blessing of the insurance company, make a settlement offer to the plaintiff even in the light of weak evidence. There have also been instances where the plaintiff refused the offer and chose to litigate with confidence of a higher award. It's not unusual for the plaintiff to technically "win" the case in court, only to have the court award them monies that were less than the initial offer to settle. In those scenarios, the defense team regards that as a victory. There have even been times where settlement was refused, the plaintiff list in court and walked with -0-. 

    • Ken W says:

      And pub, with what I just said in mind, that'd mean that if JR's conspiracy theories are true, then the insurance companies would also have to in on the collusion. Which moves the veracity of JR's theories from "highly improbable" to "near impossible". 

  8. Jim Robertson says:

    No it's not victimization not when both sides church and insurors who are libel for damages that occurred. Accept that liability. Accept responsibility for the crimes that occured.

    The only reason you have to pay anything to people my age is that you had a system for protecting the molestors by engineering a system that protect guilty priests at the cost of innocent children.

    You're not being attacked. You're only being held responsible for what you did.

    I told the truth of my abuse and at least 2 other victims told you the truth about their's.

    Just because you don't believe us doesn't mean we weren't raped.

    There are no fingerprints on our asses or kept kleenexes. What other proof do we have but our experiences?

    I'm getting hypnotized by the repitition of two words "Gambit and Playbook" they've been written and re written here endlessly. If what you say is true about me.

    How will I benefit from my labors here? In good old American slang: What's in it for me?

    I know I just want to get even by telling the truth to you.  You run from the truth like P's imaginary vampires run from holy water. It's my truth granted but it's also just true.

    Your church screwed up and it's never going to recover from it. You can rage and drone on but nobody in the secular world sees anyone persecuting you. The fact that that's the line your peddeling these days, will get no purchase in the real world. If it could it would have happened  by now. It hasn't. It won't. The world's saner than it used to be.

    • Jim Robertson says:

      Ken W. There was a conspiracy with the insurors. They didn't ask questions but took the church's insurance money. The church would pay some victims secretly when heavily pressed to do so; but the church never reported claims to it's insurors. Still some claims did get to the insurors so the insurors knew the church statistically had problems with a small but real minority of it's priests. The insurors also figured out the church was paying privately and they still took the church's money. So they were equally a co-conspiritor in the cover up of and continuence of child rape in he catholic church. Jury awards held the insurors liable as much as they held the church liable.

    • Jim Robertson says:

      That's right P. The church will never recover from what it's failed to do; care about it's own children.

      Your priests have become a runing joke and when the most powerful christian religion has  it's priests become a joke. That you will never recover from.

      Check the collection plates and the empty pews. they ain't coming back.

      Frank's fake charisma is wearing thin. He's a cosmetic change. No real progress has been made in your church nor will it be because of your own inhuman rigidity around imaginary fantasies. Therefore no recovery for your church.

      Unless you change beyond your capabilities; your stricture; your hardness. You are through.

      If you were sensible, you'd race to a joyous, more human, gender equal church; but you are all damaged goods, sad to say; and that can't happen. You've lived off hate too long.

      Of course you may gain population within the ignorant,superstitious, uneducated countries but that won't save you. Neither in the short run nor in the long.  imho

  9. Publion says:

    Answering ‘KenW’s comment of the 24th at 448PM: Ken is correct; I was remiss in not fully stating the sources of the settlement monies, large portions of which came from Insurers. And the examples he recounts are certainly congruent with established tortie strategies and the dynamics and praxis of tort law proceedings.


    His point (the 24th, 939PM) about the need for the Insurers to also be part of the general-collusion aspect of the Abusenik theory is also well-taken and nicely-observed.

  10. Publion says:

    I had overlooked JR’s of the 22nd at 1048PM.


    Cartoonishly, he reduces my discussion to the mere use of “the word revolutionary” (sic). It is not the use of the word; it is about the dynamics described by the word. The revolutionary dynamic is built upon an End-justifies-the-Means presumption: if the purpose (or End) of the act or statement is to serve the cause, then it is ipso facto and per se ‘good’; if the purpose (or End) of the act or statement is to hinder or obstruct the cause (and this would include doubting or questioning or any form of skeptical activity whatsoever) then the act or statement is ipso facto and per se ‘bad’.


    So there’s nothing of the Fourth of July or “Budweiser” (correction supplied) in it.


    Ditto the cartoonish effort to reduce my thought to merely ‘comparing words’ and using the example of Goebbels’s propaganda. Again: it is the dynamics involved here that are similar, i.e. that the same dynamics that operated in Goebbel’s propaganda gambits are also operative in the Stampede.


    And then the even more cartoonish (and inaccurate) effort to pooh-pooh the profound difference between grounding the perception of truth and reality via “emotionalism” rather than “objectivity”.


    And whether then – in his signature effort of I’m Not/You Are – I am “the least objective person here” is for readers to contemplate and decide.


    But that then gives him a lead-in to the bit about “the windmills of [my] mind”. Cute, but that’s about all.


    And ditto then his effort to pass off my material “as a collective universal truth with no back up proofs”. If he can explicate that assertion (with accurate quotations from my material, of course) then wouldn’t that be nice? But we needn’t postpone our next meal until we see it.


    But that serves as a lead-in and set-up for his implication that his material is both “true” and “important”.


    If JR is of the opinion that the “evidence” I have amassed here does not lead to the very high probability of the Stampede’s lack of veracity then he is welcome to that opinion. But I say that he has proffered nothing to effectively contradict my material and to reduce the probabilities to which it clearly leads.


    Once again, I will say this: Readers may think that spending the time and effort on such low-grade stuff is a waste. But my point is that what we see here is not simply some low-grade chatter such as one might see about any public matter on the internet if one wishes to trawl the lower-levels of internet commentary.


    Rather, the stuff we are seeing here is just about all that there is to the Stampede. Even when we encounter ‘reporting’ in venue like the National Catholic Reporter or as we saw in an otherwise competent historian such as Lawler in his book about the history of the Boston Archdiocese, we still see a presumption as to the essential validity and veracity of the Stampede.


    And – if memory serves – we have even seen one commenter who identified herself as a university professor (I am not including ‘Rondre’ here, whose claim to teaching some form of media classes seems grossly unsupported by the quality of her comments); this professor put up a pro-SNAP type of comment, but then never came back to respond to further analysis or discussion – instead just doing the internet equivalent of a ‘drive-by’, claiming creds and putting up a boilerplate statement and then getting out of town and staying out. This is not the procedure for competent and informed exchange in the consideration of issues and ideas. But that is never the objective of pro-Stampede types, no matter how apparently competent and qualified they claim to be.


    As we head into 2015, with the Vatican abuse commission activity starting-up and the run-up to the papal visit, it will be interesting to see a) if there will be any competent defense of the Stampede and b) whether both the pro-Stampede and the Church authorities work from the presumption that the Stampede is fundamentally and largely a veracious phenomenon.

  11. Publion says:

    An additional thought in regard to this award from Columbia School of Journalism: it is also a dog-whistle necessary to reaffirm from the highest levels that ‘advocacy journalism’ is still a viable and valuable method and career-path for journalists. And it is necessary in light of the recent blow-up over the Rolling Stone article (by Sabrina Erdely) in regard to the story alleging that U/Virginia frat-boy gang rape of a (black, if I recall correctly) female.


    The February edition of Chronicles magazine carries an article entitled “Rolling Stone Gathered No Moss” on pages 23-4 of the print edition, by the newspaper editor R. Cort Kirkwood.


    Reviewing all the now-known facts, Kirkwood asks the next logical question: in light of all the problems with the magazine’s handling of the already-dubiously researched story, “why, then, did Rolling Stone publish it?”.


    Kirkwood’s sees the answer to be “in the biases of the editors and writer”.


    Specifically, he names what he calls three “leftist biases”: a bias against white males, a bias against the South, and “a bias in favor of believing phantasmagoric takes about ‘rape culture’.


    He notes that while Obama and numerous other pols are still quoting the advocate-derived figure (he calls it a “myth”) of 1-in-5 (or 20 percent) of college women being raped, the DOJ’s own report – supported independently by Heather MacDonald of The Manhattan Institute – yield a percentage of 0.6 percent. But, he continues, the 20-percent figure is “feminist gospel”.


    And “it played into Erdely’s thesis” – meaning that she was primed to ‘discover’ such ‘rapes’ and ‘rape culture’ from the get-go. She – and the editors, he adds – were “looking for white scalps at a Southern college”. Erdely even admitted that she by-passed Harvard (with 128 claimed rapes in the 3 year period 2007-2010); and that she had “made contact with a student activist” (might we say Rape-nik?) at U/Va, and that the contact gave her a picture of “the culture of the school” (she termed it “elitist”), which – she continues – “was one of the important things, sort of criteria that I was looking for the right school to focus on” (sic).


    Of further interest in light of Tom Wolfe’s New Journalism style is her own impression of the U/Va campus when she visited it: “preppy success, where throngs of toned, tanned, and overwhelmingly blond students” were lolling around a campus of “stately classical buildings”. Which almost sounds like a description of an SS training academy back in the day (Kirkwood wonders why she didn’t just go ahead and add “blue eyes”).


    She is – Kirkwood opines – “fixated on the feminist rape narrative” which “pits helpless victims, mostly women, against powerful institutions that circle the wagons to protect even more powerful men whom everyone knows are guilty”. Sound familiar?


    He looks over her publication history and sees that in 2011 she went after the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with the same ‘narrative’ frame, and in 2013 ditto about the military. And ditto about “evangelicals” who wage “war on gays”. In short, “she retails all the left’s narratives about sex, particularly ‘rape culture’ in male-dominated and conservative institutions”. Sound familiar?


    Further, her “expert source” for the U/Va story was a female attorney “who peddled dozens of lies about the defendants in the Duke rape hoax” of 2006.


    Indeed – Kirkwood notes – her descriptions of the (accused) rapists was so over-the-top that even the Washington Post accused her of “stereotyping”.


    Further – and of even more relevance to the TMR article’s point – is that Will Dana, the Rolling Stone editor who allowed this thing to be published, had given a speech in 2006 entitled “The Myth of Fair and Balanced: A Defense of Biased Reporting”, in which he asserted that reporters “needn’t ‘worship the grail of objectivity”, stating that he himself wanted “to do stuff that was biased” (although he quickly and slyly – but impossibly – added that such bias “does not mean unbalanced”).


    About the Rolling Stone fact-checker who was responsible for going over the manuscript before publication: she later tweeted so glowing a bit about the story that Kirkwood says that it was “the tweet of an advocate and a cheerleader, not a fact checker”.


    In light of what we have been discussing here for so long about the Stampede, this article by Kirkwood (himself a decades-long media professional and newspaper editor) gives us even more of a picture of the type of media bias that has played so vital a role in the Anderson Strategies and the Stampede.

  12. Publion says:

    On the 25th at 1106AM JR simply repeats to ‘Ken W’ his assertion that – waittt for itttttt – the Insurers were in on the conspiracy that the Church was theoretically running.


    But if the Insurers “didn’t ask questions” then that would have played into the Anderson Strategies and would work to the tortiess’ benefit but not the Church’s. (And if the Insurers – through their counsel – “didn’t ask questions” then there goes JR’s long-standing claim that allllegant-Plaintiffs’ stories and allegations were indeed examined and found to be demonstrably genuine.)


    As for JR’s theorizing that the Church paid out some monies on its own without having “reported its claims to its Insurers” (correction supplied): what is the relevance of the point here (presuming that the point is accurate, which has not been demonstrated here)?


    As for the assertion that “some claims” were brought to the Insurers: does JR have reliable information to share about the proportion of claims settled with Church monies as opposed to Insurer monies?


    And then he himself says that “a small but real minority of its priests” had abused (is there such a thing as a small but unreal minority?). This undermines the Stampede scare-vision of a Church besotted with rapine and cover-up on a global scale and down through the ages, perhaps even as its primary purpose. And if it was only a “small … minority” then, in light of the world-historical scope of the safety protocols now in place in the Church, what are the Abuseniks going on about at this point?


    And it is utterly incomprehensible when he then asserts that somehow the Insurers were a “co-conspirator” (correction supplied) simply by continuing to accept the contracted-for premiums that the Church continued to pay on its various insurance policies. Surely the Insurers rightly made a professional business judgment that the Church – given the nature of the Stampede situation – was probably going to be calling upon those policies sooner or later.


    Thus then: in what way did the Insurers become ‘co-conspirators’ with the Church? Are we to seriously accept his theorizing to the effect that merely by accepting premiums due by contractual agreement, the Insurers became a party to a ‘conspiracy’? What was the precise nature of the ‘conspiracy’? What object would the Insurers have in participating in such a theorized conspiracy?


    And on top of (or beneath) all of that, there remains the fact that there was no demonstrable way of proving the genuineness of the allegations and the Insurers knew that. Their role is not to assess the credibility of allegations sworn-to in legal proceedings; their role and objective is to assess how to minimize their potential outlays while simultaneously fulfilling their contractual obligations under the insurance policies.


    And since the Insurer monies would be paid out to those allegants, then whom were the Insurers conspiring against? Against whose interests were they (theoretically) conspiring? Surely not the interests of the allegant-plaintiffs, who – with 2.7 billion spread over some 12,000 or so allegants – made out like bandits, as the saying goes.


    And – once again – there were very very few “jury awards”. Most of these cases were settled before trial and thus were settled in lieu of trial and thus were settled with no trial whatsoever.


    And that’s the nature of these rickety ‘logical’ constructions Abuseniks whomp up in order to reach their pre-determined Stampede conclusions.


    Then on the 25th at 1124AM:


    JR merely repeats his reading of the tea-leaves and that’s as may be.


    Combined with his impressions about the Pope and so on. Although we also see here again the typical Abusenik bit that “no real progress has been made in your church” – which readers may consider as they will (it’s a topic that has been discussed at length on this site).


    Then the assertion that any such “change” is “beyond [the Church’s] capabilities”. Are we still talking about the sex-abuse matter here (with that “small … minority” of priests?) or is JR now declaiming on the Church generally?


    The answer to this question is then partially revealed in the next paragraph: JR is on about the Church generally and we are no longer focused on the Abuse Matter.


    And he wraps up the whole performance with the familiar Abusenik bit that only the “ignorant, superstitious uneducated countries” (that’s rather insensitive from a multicultural point of view) will help the Church “gain population”. Because – doncha see? – only the not-ignorant and educated types such as JR and the Abuseniks and the rest of the pandemonium actually ‘get it’. JR as not-ignorant and educated: now there is a consummation devoutly to be wished.


    But the whole performance, he concludes, is merely his own humble opinion (“imho”) and he is most certainly and surely and absolutely spot-on and totally and perfectly accurate in that characterization. Good for him.

  13. Jim Robertson says:

    You are a small but unreal minority who like your sociopathic diety "lives" in Never-Neverland. Only your imaginary world would be sans fairies. No claps for Tink. Awwwwwww!

  14. Jim Robertson says:

    Being ignorant supertstitious uneducated countries is no slur it's just a fact .

    Your religion keeps people ignorant and superstitious by how you do and don't educate them. Let's be honest your poorest catholic countries rank amongst the world's poorest christian countries. And your religion has been preminent in the causation of said poverty by it's support of the olicarchies that rule them until very very very recently..  Roman cathalocism has been the one and only religion of "love" in those countries since white Europeans conquered them and formed them as countries. So far so what? Over population; poverty; desperation?

    oh I forgot you god jest loves suffering. he made so much of it.

    You are worshiping your own imaginations. That's immoral.

  15. malcolm harris says:

    Publion's comment on January 25th at 2.40 pm suggests that Columbia University is appearing to encourage 'advocacy journalism' by giving a prestigious award to Minn. Public Radio. He is spot-on in raising this question because of the public perception. The general public would assume that such an award would only have been bestowed on an outstanding example of journalism. And that the radio program.. 'Betrayed by Silence' was based upon the highest standards of investigative journalism. 

    But how did Columbia University arrive at that judgement?. Surely it would have required a carefully assessment of the material in the broadcast.There should have been a careful examination to see that it had passed the basic test of good journalism. Namely that it was fair and accurate in it's reporting of the subject matter. Well it actually fell a long way short of that basic test.

    Just one example of the MPR's dubious material. It gave as supposed proof of a cover-up the case of Rev. Gilbert Dutel who was accused in 1992 of sexual abuse in the 1970's. The accuser, an openly gay man, also accused three other priests. An independent panel investigated these accusations and found them all to be completely bogus. And Rev. Dutel had no other accusations against him… in four decades of priesthood. The accuser never did what most people would have expected him to do….to go to the police. I wonder why?

    But did the radio program reveal these facts?. No… it did not. You could be forgiven for thinking that it was so one-sided it really did add up to 'advocacy journalism'. 

    Columbia University has discredited itself by publicly endorsing this second-rate journalism. Somebody once said that a University has these high-minded goals to pursue excellence in all fields of human endeavour. It would appear that Columbia has abandoned these goals and is now playing to the gallery.

    On any reading of history this is not really clever. Because Emperor Nero also played to the gallery. Not a good example to follow.

  16. Jim Robertson says:

    I can talk about what ever I want.

  17. Jim Robertson says:

     Malcolm, What does being "an openly gay man" have to do with anything?

    Hitler was an "openly" heterosexual man. Do we loathe him for who he loved or for what he did to those he hated?

    The man who ended WW2 in Europe by breaking the Nazi's enigma codes was a "gay man", Alan Turing. Any problem with what he did? 

    Michelangelo was a gay man. His male nudes cover the ceiling of the Sistne chapel. Outnumbering his female nudes there, ten to one. Would you like some "heterosexually" made whitewash to eliminate his painting?

    As far as Nero goes he played to a Rome that latter "transitioned" from the brutality of his pagan Rome by keeping "to the death" gladitorial bouts; 200 years into Christian rule.


  18. Publion says:

    Getting JR’s assorted bits out of the way first:


    On the 26th at 1246PM we get nothing but name-calling and epithet. Readers, however, may also contemplate that while JR so frequently resorts to name-calling (which we are supposed to take quietly), we are not supposed to allow ourselves similar gambits in his direction.


    Then at 541PM he claims that “being ignorant, superstitious, uneducated countries is no slur – it’s just a fact” (corrections supplied). Does that, one wonders, also apply to individuals? If so, then we might take certain characteristics of his material as being “just a fact” – as it may well be.


    He continues, yet again, with his epithets about a  Catholicism that “keeps people ignorant and superstitious by how you do and don’t educate them” (notice the neat boxing of the compass here: the Church keeps people uneducated and ignorant and superstitious when she does educate them and when she doesn’t).


    The very concept and institution of a university is a Western development whose roots are solidly grounded in the great medieval universities established by the Church throughout Europe (starting with Bologna in the 13th century, if memory serves). And while in that era the concept of educating every person was not within the bounds of any political schematic then existing, such universities played a profound and vital role in the development of Western culture and knowledge; in no other of the world’s cultures and civilizations did universities exist nor were they considered valuable. Which also leads to the reality of the Church’s role in the foundation of Western science as we know it today. Indeed, the Scientific Method and Stance is itself grounded in the presumption that the universe is the product of a rational Creator Whose rational laws of creation can be known rationally by persons pursuing investigations and studies rationally. (Again, readers may want to consult Rodney Stark’s various works, which go into the subject readably and in great (and well-annotated) detail.


    And while the early Modern and Enlightenment eras tried to then tried to keep the ‘science’ without the Creator (thus restricting themselves to the Monoplane, to the exclusion of the Metaplane and Multiplane), yet the results of that still-active strategy remain to be seen as unable to provide humans with the full range of knowledge that also reaches toward the perennial human need for meaning and for Meaning.


    In fact, readers may consult British historian Peter Watson’s recent book The Age of Atheists. In this book, Watson, who is himself partial to the atheistic approach, recounts the various efforts of atheist thinkers and writers to compensate for the rejection of the Metaplane (and hence of God) by trying to ultimately ground human life and meaning/Meaning in assorted bits: enthusiasm, brute will power, poetry and art and other bits. He does a voluminously good (and readable) job of describing the numerous and various atheist efforts, but we are left in the end with merely a collection of constructions whose elements are incapable of supporting and meeting the type of Meaning provided by the theistical approach.


    Whether non-European countries are “poor” because of the Church or because of the political systems they have embraced and/or the many other elements that go into lifting a country into ‘wealth’ and out of ‘poverty’ … is a vast question that JR’s cartoon-thinking does not even begin to address sufficiently.


    We also note in that paragraph the numerous misspellings of larger words (e.g. “pre-eminent” and “oligarchies”) that indicate JR’s unfamiliarity with the words or the concepts behind them. And again, perhaps, we see errors in transcription.


    And are we to presume that all of those countries were ‘rich’ until – waittt for itttt – the Church came to them?


    Then a juvenile bit about God Who “just loves suffering” because “he made so much of it”.


    Followed by the pronunciamento that we Catholics (as best I can make out the sense here) “are worshipping your own imaginations”. Which is a dubious enough assertion as it stands, but then the bit goes even further: it is merely a set-up for the Wig of Denunciation to proclaim that such “worshipping” (which has hardly been established) is “immoral”. We can take JR’s word for it.


    And the sequence concludes at 818PM with the odd plaint that JR “can talk about whatever I want” – which brings us back to tots around the breakfast table. He can “talk about” anything he wants, but if he does he has not grounds for complaining that his material is not ‘respected’.


    In regard to ‘Malcolm Harris’s comment of the 26th at 816PM: I think that the core reality underlying the Columbia J-School’s award is that the principles informing good journalism have been rather substantially deranged under the combined pressures of a) philosophical  Irrationalism or anti-Rationalism and of philosophical Subjectivism as opposed to Objectivism and Objectivity, b) Advocacy Journalism (drawing upon Gramsci and Goebbels through Alinsky), and c) Tom Wolfe’s New Journalism. We saw a clear example of all this with that speech made by Rolling Stone editor Will Dana’s in 2006, referenced and quoted in the Chronicles article I included in a recent comment above on this thread.


    Again, as exemplified in the 1992 priest case that ‘Malcolm Harris’ mentions: the principles of the current approach to journalism permit (and perhaps even require) that information uncongenial to the pre-determined narrative are omitted, so as to move readers in a desired direction and deprive them of a full knowledge of the facts whereby they may make their own judgments; rather, they are manipulated by the ‘report’. This is a working example of propaganda and not of actual objective and accurate and full ‘reporting’ as classically defined.


    And I agree with his conclusion that this involves “playing to the gallery”. Because it is precisely the members of that “gallery” – i.e. the people and the readers – who are the targets of such manipulative ‘reporting’ practices and strategies.


    I would go further and say that such new journalism strategies – especially in the age of the internet – also play to the peanut-gallery, seeking easy pickings and support among the many persons incapable of competently processing complex informational problems and issues, and who are far more susceptible to embracing such phantasmagoria as are pushed their way by the pre-selected and pre-determined narratives that are ‘reported’ to them, which they then take up according to their own deficiencies and echo like mal-tuned tuning forks throughout the various lower levels of internet exchange.


    And we have seen and continue to see plenty examples of that.

    • Jim Robertson says:

      If you choose to quote me, do so accurately.

      What I wrote was: "your god must jest love suffering. He made so much of it. "

      And you call that line "juvenile"?  Explain that if you will. Why is that line juvenile, Patriarch boy?

      6,000,000 children die every year from malnutrition and easily cured diseases. Quite a bit of suffering engendered with those deaths, wouldn't you say? Who's responsible if not your god of love?

  19. Jim Robertson says:

    I don't care about spelling. People I care about.

    You might try correcting yourself. You are a misanthrope.

    I may not spell correctly apostate boy but I know the meaning of the words I misspell. You and meaning never meet on any plane.

  20. Kathy says:

    Sadly, some good (normal) catholics are mispercieved because of some sneaky

    retarded priests.  ANYWAY, another form of media ignorance is how many good christians

    and or catholics survive in spite of lousy priests.

    Please read the following article:  Why do we allow Non-Jewish Victims to be Forgotten?

    by Dr. Richard C. Lukas. 

    P.S. Don't hold your breath waiting for some looney tune professors to calculate the demographics of who fought, died and continue to defend them.