Are the news media ‘spiking’ a major news story as a sop to Obama’s re-election campaign?

Are the news media so biased in favor of the Obama administration that they are willing to downplay significant news about a fundamental constitutional issue that might reflect poorly on the president and his decisions?

That is the argument made today by L. Brent Bozell III in Investor’s Business Daily.

On Monday, 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations sued the Obama administration over its ObamaCare dictate that even religious organizations must provide free contraceptives and abortifacients for employees through their insurance coverage — even if the organization is self-insured.

Bozell judged it “the largest legal action in American history in defense of religious liberty.” He concluded all the major news organizations, all supplicants to Obama and his creed, “spiked” the story. (To the uninitiated, every newspaper editor used to have on his desk a metal spike about the size of a 20-penny nail, and any news copy turned in on pulp paper that did not make the grade was literally spiked. That spike, along with those X-Acto knives used in paste-up would today violate numerous workplace safety regs.)

Bozell notes that The Washington Post carried a small one-column story “buried” on page A6, while the notoriously brief USA Today printed a 128-word item at the bottom of A2 and The New York Times published what Bozell deemed a “perfunctory 419-word piece on Page A17.”

For the local record, the Review-Journal carried a two-column, less than 500-word AP story (trimmed from the 700 words filed by the wire service on its “4th-lede writethru”) atop page 4A. There was room on the front page for a failed snatch-and-grab casino chip heist and a story on an investigation into whether the underage daughter of the late Whitney Houston was playing slots at a Strip casino.

“The political furor caught the adminis­tration by surprise,” the AP surmised. “In response, Obama offered to soften the rule so that insurers would pay for birth control instead of re­ligious groups. However, the bishops and others have said the accommodation, which is still under discussion, doesn’t go far enough to protect religious freedom.”

As I said at the time, that “softening” is a distinction without a difference. Additionally, the AP story never once mentions the fundamental issue at stake, never once mentioning the First Amendment Exercise Clause or the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The electronic media, according to Bozell, were even worse. He said ABC, NBC and NPR completely ignored the lawsuit, while CBS gave a whole 19 seconds to it.

“This is the worst example of shameless bias by omission I have seen in the quarter-century history of the Media Research Center,” said Bozell, who is president of the center.

It is all about politics and whether Obama can rally his liberal base and get re-elected with the aiding and abetting of the news media.

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14 comments on “Are the news media ‘spiking’ a major news story as a sop to Obama’s re-election campaign?

  1. Nibot Mus says:

    A very apparent failing and timely comment on the highly partisan “major media,” which is not being disseminated.
    Saw a segment on this on the FOX News Cable service in total agreement. It was highly critical of the unprofessional level of bias for Obama. On C-Span today, there was extensive coverage of programs such as at Notre Dame U. where speakers from the Morman, Jewish and Catholic communities spoke of the right “to exercise” one’s personal religious conviction. Seems the pulpits may do what the media will not.
    Sorry about the old R-J though. Would think the past publishing leadership would be embarrassed to make such a telling admission by omission. Sad!

  2. I think the new publisher is Catholic.

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  3. nyp10025 says:

    Why is there a constitutional right to be exempted from a law which applies equally to everyone?

  4. Perhaps that is why Congress voted to clarify by passing a law saying:

    “Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person — “(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and “(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

    If 99 percent of women already have access to birth control, what is the compelling government interest?

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  5. nyp10025 says:

    OK, I’m glad to see you have swiftly dropped your assertion that the dispute concerns what you previously called “a fundamental constitutional issue.” Now you are merely talking about a statute, the grandly-titled “Religious Freedoms Restoration Act”. That is a wise concession on your part, since in Employment Div. v. Smith, the Supreme Court ruled, in an opinion authored by Justice Scalia, that ““the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a ‘valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).’”

    So perhaps the various news organizations were not so wrong in their judgment that the mere filing of a lawsuit whose only plausible grounds are based on a recent statute and not on the First Amendment, did not merit screaming front-page headlines.

  6. nyp10025 says:

    As for whether the government has a “compelling government interest” in assuring that women have adequate access to insurance coverage for reproductive health services, including contraceptives, the Court ruled in Roberts v. Jaycees that the government has a “compelling interest in eradicating discrimination against its female citizens.” Banning insurance plans that exclude reproductive health and force women to spend significantly more than men for out-of-pocket health care expenses has already been held to satisfy this government interest. As the Supreme Court of California, in a decision joined by a majority of Republican appointees, held in 2004:

    “the [law] serves the compelling state interest of eliminating gender discrimination. Women during their reproductive years spent as much as 68 percent more than men in out-of-pocket health care costs, due in part to the cost of prescription contraceptives and the various costs of unintended pregnancies, including health risks, premature deliveries and increased neonatal care.
    Strongly enhancing the state’s interest is the circumstance that any exemption sacrifices the affected women’s interest in receiving equitable treatment with respect to health benefits. We are unaware of any decision in which this court, or the United States Supreme Court, has exempted a religious objector from the operation of a neutral, generally applicable law despite the recognition that the requested exemption would detrimentally affect the rights of third parties. . . . [I]n rejecting a religious employer’s challenge to a law requiring him to pay Social Security and unemployment taxes for his employees, the [Supreme C]ourt wrote that “[g]ranting an exemption from social security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.“

  7. Vernon Clayson says:

    It’s beyond stupid to make contraceptives the focal point on the health care of females, one would think that unprotected sex is paramount in the conditions detrimental to the health of the female gender. It’s a political issue, not particularly a religious or female issue, does anyone seriously believe that thousands, or millions, of females will go to the ballot box in this years elections with the conviction that Obama will make sex safer for them? More than babies can result from sex, will this necessitate government funding of care for sexually transmitted diseases if the contraceptive fails that possibility? This silliness is being discussed while almost 3000 pages of rules, regulations and laws in the so-called Obamacare cover the payment of medical care instead of how to treat the endless variety of illnesses, injuries, and diseases, that affect humans. Reading it makes a person sleepy, what page did Harry Reid go nappy-time while reading it, has Nancy Pelosi read it in its entirety, has Mitch McConnell or John Boehner? Whatever the Supreme Court rules, we are stuck with all or parts of it until it arises in full. Not to worry, nyp10025, Marx lives.

  8. We’ve hashed this one out already, Petey. Scalia was wrong.

  9. Should the government force the Catholic Church make women priests?

  10. nyp10025 says:

    1. I’m happy to leave the argument with your conceding that a strong majority of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Scalia, are wrong in finding that a valid and neutral law of general applicability does not represent an an unconstitutional prohibition on the free exercise of religion. But since we all now agree that the suit by a handful of Catholic Bishops and institutions is contrary to governing Supreme Court precedent, I don’t understand why there is an obligation by newspapers to put the filing of such suit on their front page.
    2. A law which said “the Catholic Church must make women priests” would fail the test set forth by Justice Scalia in Employment Div. v. Smith. A law which passed the test by saying “everyone in America must be made a priest” would make no logical sense. A law which said that there should be no gender discrimination in employment would be senseless unless it made provision for occupations for which a particular gender was a bona fide occupational requirement, such as wet nurse. Or nun We already have plenty of laws, I am pleased to say, which prohibit gender discrimination. All of them are written so as to exempt occupations, such as Catholic priest, that are by their current nature gender-specific
    So Mr. Mitchell’s rhetorical point does not get him anywhere. And it certainly doesn’t get him to page A1.

  11. nyp10025 says:

    Ah, I didn’t mean to say “conceding the Supreme Court was wrong.”! It should have come out “contenting that the Supreme Court was wrong”!

  12. Glad you’re not an editor.

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  13. Contenting or contending?

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