The Brian Williams MSNBC debate in Florida was not only dreadfully boring — I never thought I could ever long for commercials — it was pathetic. Freed of the fear of triggering an avalanche of applause against loaded questions, Williams and his co-moderators couldn't bring themselves to utter one single question asking the Republican candidates to respond to Obama's mistakes. For almost two hours, not one Obama failure was cited. Apparently, his record is spotless.
Instead, the candidates (especially Rick Santorum) were thrown four questions surrounding the 2005 legal battle in Florida over pulling the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, which pushed all the liberal media hot buttons about "far right" religious conservatives throwing their religion around where it didn't belong. This isn't breaking news. But like the ABC debate fixated on contraception, it's evidence that liberal networks are focused on their agenda, not on the voters' concerns.
Let's reverse the conversation. How do these same reporters deal with the outrageous left-wing extreme on social issues? They don't.
Take the order promulgated by Obama's Department of Health and Human Services on Friday to require virtually all employers to offer insurance coverage of sterilization, abortifacients and contraceptives without deductibles or co-pays in their employee plans by Aug. 1. Churches are exempt, but not religiously inspired hospitals, schools and other charities that hire outside their faith tradition.
"The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs," insisted Archbishop (and Cardinal-designate) Timothy Dolan of New York, head of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops. "Historically, this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."
That's putting it mildly. What it means is that the Catholic Church is faced with closing down its hospitals, universities and charities — or committing mortal sin.
Amazingly, the major media found nothing historic about this. ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC all ignored it. NPR covered it on Friday night — with a positive tone. The headline on their website was "Administration Stands Firm On Birth Control Coverage." The Washington Post editorialized that Team Obama had made a mistake, but Brian Williams can't seem to acknowledge that Obama has ever made a mistake, even when Obama boasts of his travels to 57 states.
So at what point do our country's television networks notice that Team Obama has an ideological agenda against faith-based charitable organizations, most especially the Catholic Church? Across the country, Democrats have been pushing Catholic social workers out of government cooperation. In Massachusetts, the District of Columbia and most recently in Illinois, Democrats have insisted on forcing Catholic Charities to quit its long-time assistance in providing adoption and foster-care services because they refused to place children with homosexual couples.
How militant is their bigotry? Consider: The Catholic providers offered to refer them to other agencies (as they had been doing for unmarried couples), but Gov. Pat Quinn's government drew a line in the sand, comparing gays to the black civil rights struggle. "Separate but equal was not a sufficient solution on other civil rights issues in the past either," government spokesman Kendall Marlowe told The New York Times. "The child welfare system that Catholic Charities helped build is now strong enough to survive their departure."
The Conference of Catholic Bishops lost a federal contract to aid survivors of sex trafficking because Obama's HHS bureaucrats objected that contraceptive and abortion referrals would not be provided. Steven Wagner reported for National Review that senior officials at HHS, up to and including persons in the office of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, "overrode career staff to give federal funds to two organizations deemed by the professionals to be unqualified."
Despite this open war on religious liberty, the networks haven't moved a muscle, even after Newt Gingrich denounced their anti-religion bias in a Jan. 7 debate in New Hampshire.
"You don't hear the opposite question asked: Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won't accept gay couples? Which is exactly what the state has done," Gingrich declared. "Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won't give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration?"
As Gingrich argued, the accusation of intolerance flows both ways. But Brian Williams and the other major-media "moderators" would rather shave their blow-dried heads than make Obama look bad at a Republican debate.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.