Painful silences in CBS chat on same-sex marriage rulings

OK, follow me carefully here, because it is especially interesting who passed the following item news along.

I read quite a few Catholic blogs, and follow the headlines at New Advent, but I had never heard of the self-proclaimed conservative Catholic blogger/geek who uses "Da Tech Guy" as his cyber-persona. However, this particular blogger recently offered up an interesting analysis of a not-so-shining moment in the long, distinguished career of reporter/anchor Bob Schieffer at CBS News.

More on the content of that post in a moment.

The key, for me, was that I learned about this post by seeing -- via Twitter -- a post by Deacon Greg Kandra, who runs the excellent "The Deacon's Bench" blog, which is part of the whole Patheos Catholic blogosphere. The good deacon ran his post under this rather GetReligion-esque headline:

Great Moments in Journalism: Wherein Bob Schieffer Learns a Thing or Two About Gay Marriage

Now that's a bit snarky, especially as a comment by a Catholic clergyman.

However, at that point it's crucial to know a little bit about this deacon and his interests in all things journalism. His current online mini-bio hits the basics:

Deacon Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon serving the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. A veteran broadcast journalist, Deacon Greg worked for 26 years as a writer and producer for CBS News in both New York and Washington. He now serves as the Multimedia Editor of Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), overseeing editorial content for its acclaimed magazine, ONE, and its award-winning blog, ONE-TO-ONE. For his work in broadcasting, Deacon Greg has been honored with every major award in the industry, including two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Emmy Awards, the Christopher Award and four awards from the Writers Guild of America.

In other words, Kandra knows a thing or two about CBS News and what goes on in elite broadcast journalism organizations. Also, he made it clear, as he passed along the Schieffer item, that he was not trying to bash the journalist. Still, he thinks this particular broadcast offered sharp insights into the mindset of elites in this level of newsroom.

Now, Bob Schieffer is one of the most seasoned journalists still plying the trade -- the only CBS News Correspondent to have covered the White House, State Department, Pentagon and Congress -- and one of the few broadcasters who can claim deep roots in the world of print. (He was a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram back in the day.) He’s a reporter’s reporter, with uncanny instincts, a Rolodex full of amazing sources, and a real talent for writing and interviewing.

I speak here from personal experience: he’s also a very nice guy.

This brings us back to the actual Da Tech Guy commentary, as passed along by the deacon. This is long, but includes transcribed material in italics from the Sunday broadcast:

There was a moment during Sunday’s victory lap on the News shows for gay marriage and its media allies who support it that was very telling. Bob Schieffer the oldest and fairest (and that’s not saying much) of the Sunday Morning Hosts in the MSM had just finished speaking with Ted Olsen and brought on Tony Perkins of the Family Research Counsel to talk the Gay Marriage Issue.

TONY PERKINS: ... We’re already seeing bakers and florists and photographers forced to participate in same-sex marriages under the threat of law and in some cases even jail. I can’t think of anything that’s more un-American than that. So I think as Americans see that there’s a lot more to same-sex marriage than simply two people who love each other that they’ll have time to reconsider this and– and– and decide whether or not we want to trade fundamental freedoms of speech and religion for the right of two people who love each other, which they can do now. They can live together, but can they redefine marriage in the rest of society with it?

Now to us in Massachusetts and who have been following the ride of the tolerance police, those sentences are nothing extraordinary but Bob Schieffer had no idea what Tony Perkins was talking about.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How is it that bakers and florists are being forced to participate in this? I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here.

Perkins then educates him.

TONY PERKINS: Well, we’re seeing in Washington State, Colorado, and some of the other states that have these anti– anti-discrimination statutes that are being imposed that when a same sex couple comes and says “I want you to take pictures of my wedding or I want you to bake a cake.” And they say, look, my religious convictions will not allow me participate in that, they’re literally being sued by the government, not the individuals, and they’ve even been adjudicated in such places as New Mexico. So we’re going to see a loss of religious freedom. There is no question about it. It’s already happening.

Schieffer seems to be totally caught off guard by this, as evidenced by his hesitation in the following question.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How many -- how many lawsuits have been filed on that? Because I must say this is under my radar. I haven’t -- I haven’t heard this.

Thus, there is this final summary quotation, with the bold words noted by Da Tech Guy:

TONY PERKINS: Well, you know, Bob, that’s a great point. Because the media’s not reporting on this because they realize there’s a lot more behind this than the marriage altar. It’s literally about altering the landscape of America. There are a number of suits. I mean just a few weeks ago in Colorado one was filed. So this is happening. And it’s the reality that people will come to face to face with over time because right now same-sex marriage is limited to twelve jurisdictions. And as more people see that their freedoms, the freedoms of parents to determine what their children are taught, to be able to live your life according to your faith, and all of that’s at risk here.

And the moral of this story? As I tell my journalism students, it's very hard to cover a story when you don't know that it exists. It's even harder to cover a story when the existence of the story clashes, in some way, with your worldview and the dominant worldview of the professionals in the newsroom in which you work.

Right now, there are lots of journalists who simply do not see the potential religious-liberty complications -- even after they are acknowledged by President Barack Obama and some liberal jurists -- of the same-sex marriage revolution. These journalists don't, on a regular basis, run into many people who know the arguments and the facts that are cited by articulate sources on the other side of the issue -- which is a must for balanced, accurate coverage of this debate. Journalists need to listen to people on both sides.

Or, here is how Deacon Kandra put it, right after affirming that Schieffer is a pro's pro and a great guy:

But he really should get out more.


Please respect our Commenting Policy