Commentary

The Journalistic Malpractice of Touting 'Devout' Biden

By Tim Graham | July 22, 2020 | 10:10am EDT
Former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Naivete can be defined as the notion that Joe Biden is going to be covered objectively by the press, "without fear or favor."

After all this rampaging media activism against President Donald Trump, who is now described as lagging by 15 points in the polls, surely, the front-runner in the presidential race will face some tough investigative journalism?

Instead, get a load of a badly disguised press release from the Associated Press headlined "Biden's bid touts faith, courts even religious conservatives." Former President Barack Obama was a great Christian. Hillary Clinton was a great Christian. And now it's whitewash time for Biden.

Reporters Elana Schor and Jack Jenkins insisted, "Joe Biden is a different kind of foe than Trump has faced before: one who makes faith a central part of his persona — often literally wearing it on his sleeve." They played up how Biden carried a rosary that belonged to his late son Beau Biden into a Democratic debate. You know a reporter is doing Biden's bidding when he or she works in sympathetic mentions of Biden's family members' passing for maximum emotional punch.

Biden's deputy political director and religious-outreach guy, John McCarthy, declared that Biden's identity as "a very devout Catholic and person of deep faith" is "baked into the core messaging and core functions of the campaign."

This qualifies as free campaign advertising because no Catholic or conservative critics are allowed to say a word challenging Biden's "devout" Catholicism. An objective reporter would see that, objectively, Biden is at odds with his church on many issues.

There's no mention of Biden's support for abortion on demand, including the idea of forcing devout Christians to fund it with their taxpayer dollars. Or that he's been endorsed by Planned Parenthood, which shamelessly said it is backing him because this is "literally a life and death election."

There's no mention of the Obama-Biden administration dragging Catholic nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor through the courts to force them to cover contraception in employee health plans. A lawsuit against nuns doesn't sound devoutly Catholic.

There's no mention of Biden pressuring Obama into advocating for same-sex marriage, or that Biden presided over a gay wedding in 2016, drawing a rebuke from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

There are a few paragraphs in the AP article — starting with paragraph 22 — in which religious conservatives explain their support for Trump, but there's no space for criticizing the Democrat. This article is journalistic malpractice.

CNN reporter Sarah Mucha offered a similar report. She tweeted, "As a publicly devout man of faith, @JoeBiden is uniquely positioned to make inroads with white evangelicals, a demographic President Trump won easily in 2016."

Her pro-Biden story began with an anecdote about Biden at Brown Chapel AME Church, where he said, "as we say in my church, 'Bless me, Father. I need some help.'" In reality, Catholics begin confession to a priest by saying, "bless me, Father, for I have sinned."

She also turned to John McCarthy, who touted his candidate's "faith and values narrative." But CNN was better than AP because, eventually, Mucha noted Biden is at odds with Catholic teaching on some issues, and let a Catholic critic get a word in edgewise. Austin Ruse said Trump "has done more on the life issues than any president in our history. He more closely adheres to Catholic social teaching than Joe Biden."

It's more than a little bizarre when secular liberal journalists who routinely insist on their beloved separation of church and state turn around and write gushy articles about "devout Catholic and person of deep faith" Joe Biden. That's the tip that all this is just a passing off of Biden's badly disguised campaign pamphlets as "real news."

Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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