Journalistic Malpractice Again: Boston Globe Untethered In Its Latest Hit Piece Against the Bishops

Jenn Abelson : Boston Globe : Thomas Farragher

Malpractitioners Jenn Abelson (l) and Thomas Farragher (r) of the Boston Globe

What does it say about the integrity of a newspaper when the second sentence of a major front-page article is an outright falsehood?

When it comes to writing hit pieces about the Catholic Church at the Boston Globe, do facts even matter anymore?

Flat out wrong

Brian McGrory

Professional anti-Catholic bigot:
Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory

The latest attack by the Boston Globe on the Catholic Church purports to be some kind of exposé on the bishops' handling of abuse cases from decades ago.

Yet in a hint of how little the Globe cares about accuracy when writing about the Church, the article begins with a flat-out falsity:

"[Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph] Bishop Robert Finn wasn't going anywhere.

"He never alerted authorities about photos of young girls' genitals stashed on a pastor's laptop."


The Globe's Jenn Abelson and Thomas Farragher write in reference to the case of disgraced ex-priest Shawn Ratigan. And the truth is that it was Finn's own diocese who reported Ratigan to the police.

The police barely had to lift a finger in the Ratigan case, as it was the diocese who gave them almost everything they needed to move forward against Ratigan.

The Globe's error is clear and egregious. Check out our October 2011 post, "What the Media Got Wrong in the Bishop Finn Case," and the article cited therein by a veteran St. Louis lawyer, "Bishop Finn indictment is legally defective."

A litany of slanted or phony facts

There are numerous other misleading passages in Abelson's and Farragher's attack piece:

● The pair spotlights the case of Wheeling, West Virginia, Bishop Michael Bransfield and reports that the Church "fielded a complaint from a man who said Bransfield had sexually abused him in the late 1970s."

Yeah, we knew that. But the accusations against Bransfield were later wholly discredited, with witnesses even coming forward by name to say no such abuse ever occurred.

● The writers also spotlight the case of a 55-year-old woman who claims that she suffered "near daily abuse" from 1977 to 1981 (nearly 40 years ago) as a "teenager" by a priest, yet the priest was not removed from active ministry until this year.

However, the journalistic duo somehow left out a critical fact: The woman was over the age of consent at the time of her allegations, and, according to Church norms when the charges were first brought forward in 1994, the priest did not to have his entire livelihood stripped away for it.

Abelson and Farragher also left out the fact that the accused priest had no other accusers in nearly four decades in the priesthood.

● Abelson and Farragher also trumpet the self-absorbed and disgruntled former employee of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Jennifer Haselberger, as some brave whistleblower against clergy abuse. She is not.

As an employee of the archdiocese, Haselberger seized a priest's computer and took it to the police, claiming that it had "images of pornography," some of which, in her view, "appear[ed] to show children." Well, Haselberger was flat wrong. Police spent months scouring the guy's hard drives, but not a single frame of child pornography was ever found. Zero.

In the end, Haselberger's wild imagination and claim of child pornography was completely false, but the media firestorm completely destroyed the reputation of an innocent priest. But, of course, Abelson and Farragher make no mention of Haselberger's past propensity for hysteria and overstatement when it comes to her former employer.

Not drawn and quartered in the public square?

Abelson and Farragher then complain that some bishops appear to "live comfortably" in isolated retirement. They make note of retired Bishop Finn's "comfortable life" – as opposed to daily beatings in the public square – that includes walking his dog, collecting a pension, and even living in close proximity to a soybean farm.

The outrage.

Make no mistake. The reporting by the Boston Globe on the Catholic Church has absolutely nothing – nada – to do with "protecting children," "exposing wrongdoing," or even "holding leaders accountable." It is not even journalism unless you stretch the meaning of the word.

The Globe's brazen disregard for truth and even-handedness in its reporting are nothing less than unabashed acts of anti-Catholic bigotry. Period. And it's high time that more people stand up and call out the Globe for its bigoted practices.


  1. Greg says:

    At the Globe, the story never gets old


  2. hattie czaplicki says:

    Catholic hatred and media bashing show the utter deperation of reporters looking to climb the ladder with little or no regard for truth. But, when they are confronted, the Frirst Ammendment is dragged out and they cry in their own publications about the injustice of it all. Sit in your own tyranny you belieers of truth. Spend your quick earned cash made on sensational dstroyed lives and reputations of others. Did you know that last year alone 1200 cases of sexual abuse were reported to police in the Hasidic Jewish community in New York? Over 2200 cases of teach/student sexual abuse in the US last year? No action taken because the Teacher's Union got the suit ceiling to $50,000 which no lawyeer would touch because it is so financially insignificant. Guess the Globe is above truth and is little more than a "sesational yellow rag periodical!" The Roman Catholic Church will be here long after the cowardly dirt mongers of the Globe are long gone!