God and Man at the Gray Lady

Back in 2008, Byron York noted that while Rev. Wright’s infamous “God damn America” statement appeared in a few Times op-eds in the spring of 2008, it took until September 24, 2008 for the quote to appear in an actual news article in the paper — and even then, it was only in the context of the paper defending Obama against a GOP attack ad:


Today is a red-letter day for the New York Times. For the first time, the paper has reported in its news section that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright once uttered the phrase “God damn America.” Wright’s comments were widely reported and widely discussed beginning with an ABC News report six months ago. Barack Obama even had to give a much-publicized speech because of those words, and others. But the newspaper of record has never seen fit to publish Wright’s quote in its news pages. Until today.

If my search of the Nexis database is correct, Wright’s quote first appeared in the Times in a column by Bill Kristol on March 17.  It was mentioned again in a column by Maureen Dowd on March 23.  It appeared in an editorial on April 26.  It appeared in a column by the public editor on May 4, and also in an article in the Week in Review section on that same day.

But never in the front section of the paper. Until now. As with the April 26 editorial, today’s mention of “God damn America” is in the context of reporting on attack ads targeting Obama. But still, it’s there, on page one, for the first time.

Flash-forward to 2011. As Drew of Ace’s blog writes, “Bill Keller Of The NY Times Wants His Readers To Know Most Of The GOP Candidates Are Crazy Religious Nuts.” Drew begins by saying, “There’s way too much stupid for a full Fisking, so just a few highlights,” but he does a pretty healthy fisking anyhow:


I don’t know anything about Perry or Bachamnn’s religion but Rick Santorum is a Roman Catholic. That Keller, who says he was raised Catholic, thinks that’s a “fervid subset of evangelical Christianity” tells you far more about Keller’s view of religion than any beliefs a candidate may or may not hold.

I honestly don’t care if Mitt Romney wears Mormon undergarments beneath his Gap skinny jeans, or if he believes that the stories of ancient American prophets were engraved on gold tablets and buried in upstate New York, or that Mormonism’s founding prophet practiced polygamy (which was disavowed by the church in 1890). Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders. I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ.But I do want to know if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as “the reality-based community.” I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.

First, nice way to repeat Andrew “Where’s the Placenta?” Sullivan’s Mormon underwear talking point.

More importantly, Keller is saying Christian candidates who talk about their faith must demonstrate to him (and presumably NY Times readers) that their religious beliefs don’t disqualify them from public service.

Imagine if someone said that that about a personal who was say, oh just to pick a religion at random, a Muslim. I’m sure the NY Times would consider that a legitimate line of inquiry.

Oh wait, someone did and guess what? The NY Times was not amused.

Among a dreary Republican field, Herman Cain stands out for using religious bigotry to gain political traction for his presidential ambitions.Mr. Cain, a former pizza executive, started a few months ago by telling a reporter that he would not be comfortable with a Muslim in his cabinet. During a televised debate last month, he said his discomfort was due to the intention of some Muslims “to kill us.”

Don’t question the Muslims but those crazy Christians? Questions must be asked! Aspersions must be cast! (FTR- I was not a fan of Cain’s stances either)

Speaking of asking questions, there are far more questions being asked about the current GOP field than were ever asked about then Senator Obama. In fact, asking questions about Obama’s beliefs or pointing out that his background isn’t exactly the normal story we expect in a President is something that tends to drive the left (video link) nuts.

It seems the executive editor of the NY Times thinks candidates for President who are proud Christians are somehow “the other” and that it’s not only OK but an important public service to question their beliefs.


Incidentally, if you find any of Keller’s approach a bit unsavory, well, the joke’s on you:

I think the effect of Fox News on American public life has been to create a level of cynicism about the news in general. It has contributed to the sense that they are all just out there with a political agenda, but Fox is just more overt about it. And I think that’s unhealthy.

Nice to know that Keller can never be accused of cynicism himself.

Ace himself quips, careful, Bill, “You may not like how this one turns out.” Click over for his headline.


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