It started off with a really touching tweet about House Democrats praying for Rep. Steve Scalise and other Republicans injured in the vicious terrorist attack during a baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.
— Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen (@RepKihuen) June 14, 2017
It’s good to see. Democrats praying for Republicans, reminding the world that despite their ideological differences, they’re all Americans.
However, a reader with the website Get Religion took issue with how one mainstream news source covered the event.
But in an email to GetReligion, a reader quibbled with how one leading news organization — NPR — chose to characterize the heartwarming scene.
From NPR’s story:
Members of the Democratic Party’s team were practicing elsewhere Wednesday morning; after the attack, they tweeted a photo of themselves taking a moment to think of their colleagues.
Can you spot the word that sparked the reader’s concern? Let’s hear from him:
The coverage from NPR includes the tweet itself but uses an unusual description in the reporting text to describe the photo. … Know of any other time where “think” gets substituted for “pray” in reporting? Would the substitution have been used had the roles been reversed?
Good question. It does strike me as strange wording.
I mean, why not simply say that the Democrats “tweeted a photo of themselves taking a moment to pray for their colleagues?”
It’s a fair question. After all, Rep. Kihuen made it very clear that this wasn’t just a moment of silence, but House Democrats praying for their colleagues. There’s really not much ambiguity regarding what’s taking place.
Then why would NPR, which is funded in part by taxpayer dollars, choose to claim they were “taking a moment to think” about their Republican counterparts?
It sounds like NPR may have betrayed their own biases a bit more clearly than they might have intended.
After all, prayer has distinctly religious connotations. Atheists, for example, don’t “pray.” It’s an act of faith, communicating with God on a personal level. It can’t be construed as “thinking” in any way…unless you are trying to imply that there is no God and all you’re really doing is thinking as if you were communicating with some divine presence.
Is NPR showing that they, as an entity, are officially atheistic? Probably not intentionally, and probably not as a matter of policy, but there are clear tones in their portrayal of Kihuen’s tweet that may make one wonder.