In recent weeks we've looked at some of the stories the mainstream press has done, using the theme provided by a progressive, George Soros-funded public relations firm called Faith in Public Life. That theme, of course, is that Catholic bishops, by working to reclaim certain religious freedoms, are being "too political" and, worse. You see, President Barack Obama's HHS administration issued the mandate limiting the freedom of various religious groups to follow their own doctrines in public life so by fighting it, they are being "too partisan." And various pundits and reporters embraced this idea, ignoring the wide variety of groups fighting the mandate and ignoring the bishops' stances that are more closely aligned with the Democratic Party (and ignoring the fact that some of the issues that worry the bishops predate the Obama administration). You can check out previous GetReligion posts on all of this: "Savvy PR firms drive coverage of HHS mandate," "As Fortnight of Freedom begins, media responds," and "Archbishop Lori and his enemies."
A few days ago, we also looked at a story that was quite opposite of the treatment those fighting for what various media outlets scare quote as "religious liberty." In "Cheering on those nuns on the bus," the Washington Post gave a big sloppy wet kiss to a super political bus tour designed to fight a Republican House-passed budget bill that is unlikely to even be voted on in the Senate, much less be made into law.
In the comments to the piece, reader Kevin Jones said, "Faith in Public Life, the same media strategy group running cover for the Obama administration in the HHS mandate controversy, is also running the PR campaign for the Nuns on the Bus tour."
Wait, the claim above is that FPL is running the PR campaign for the partisan bus tour while running the PR campaign based on the idea that fighting for religious liberty is “too political”?
Really? I am sorry, but I have a hard time believing that’s true. Any links for substantiation?
I have a very difficult time believing that reporters could regurgitate both PR campaigns if they were being run simultaneously. I have a hard enough time believing they’re going for the “too political” one I know they are doing.
GetReligion readers pounced. Thomas Szyszkiewicz gave some substantiation to the charge and added:
Mollie, I hope you’re joking. If not, your incredulity at the possibility of FPL “running the PR campaign for the partisan bus tour while running the PR campaign based on the idea that fighting for religious liberty is ‘too political’” is rather incredible. ...
But really, Mollie, your incredulity is almost unbelievable. “I have a very difficult time believing that reporters could regurgitate both PR campaigns if they were being run simultaneously.” Really? That reporters would be committed to slamming the bishops as “too political” while at the same time cheering on a group of nuns whose efforts are clearly a partisan effort on behalf of the Democrats and getting their information on both from the same source — this is difficult for you to believe? If you’re not joking, your apparent naivete on this matter is, um — well, I don’t know how else to say it — stunning.
Reader Elizabeth D. further confirmed that FPL was behind the public relations tour. Even my colleagues at GetReligion piled on. Sarah said "I could have told you that." And tmatt, knowing that I am in Mexico, comforted me by saying, "Hey. You're sorta on vacation. You lost it in the sun."
What else to say? The criticisms from the readers, while harsh, were spot on. I’m too credulous.
What's noteworthy, perhaps, is that I'm actually not that credulous -- typically. And I couldn't have a more cynical attitude toward public relations firms -- no matter what cause they're advocating. But I do have to admit that running the public relations campaign deriding a religious liberty fight as too political while simultaneously running the public relations campaign for a political bus tour led by activist nuns fighting, quite literally, a Republican budget that faces no chance of passing ... well, that is impressive.
It's certainly not impressive that the same media outlets would have no problem embracing both public relations campaign in their stories, however.
Again, though, I apologize for not picking up on this part of the story and doubting the keen readers who made the claims about this public relations firm.
PHOTO: Screenshot from Faith in Public Life's Facebook page.