In a recent tweetstorm, the Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey expressed major frustration with clueless media coverage of faith news.
“I’m tired of watching the media botch religion coverage, whether news or opinion,” wrote Bailey, a former GetReligion contributor. “If you see your faith poorly covered, you will instantly distrust the rest of that outlet’s coverage.”
But unfortunately, the Old Gray Lady isn’t the only elite media entity that too often botches religion coverage.
Keep in mind that Bailey and the Post’s other highly competent Godbeat pros do a terrific job, but they can’t cover everything.
Thus, the Post’s newsroom demonstrated its bias and ineptness with a story Friday on a 22-second video filmed by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees.
This is one of those stories where there are two distinct sides: those enlightened heroes who support the LGBT agenda 100 percent and those — because they are such hateful, spiteful people — dare to cite centuries-old beliefs concerning marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman.
Presumably, that explains why the Post feels comfortable in portraying Focus on the Family, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based organization familiar to many evangelicals, as a hate group.
Originally, this was the headline on the story:
‘Being Christian is love’: Drew Brees defends appearing in video linked to anti-LGBT religious group
Later, the newspaper tweaked the headline slightly to insert the word “rights” before “religious”:
‘Being Christian is love’: Drew Brees defends appearing in video linked to anti-LGBT rights religious group
A note at the bottom of the story explains:
Clarification: This story’s headline has been updated to more accurately represent Focus on the Family’s views on LGBT rights.
Let’s try to unpack the first two paragraphs of the story:
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees defended himself Thursday amid backlash over his recent appearance in a video publicizing an event organized by a major conservative Christian organization known for its anti-LGBT views.
Brees, who has been outspoken about his faith, pushed back against accusations that he knowingly aligned himself with Focus on the Family when he shot a video for “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” Focus on the Family was founded in 1977 and is described by the Human Rights Campaign as “one of the most well funded anti-LGBTQ organizations in America.” The group has sparked outcry over its apparent support of “conversion therapy,” the discredited practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
You can watch the video above, of course. It has nothing to do with LGBT rights and doesn’t mention Focus on the Family. It’s a promotional statement in favor of children bringing their Bibles to school.
But to the Post, there apparently is enough connection to link Brees to “an anti-LGBT religious group” — er, “anti-LGBT rights religious group.” You know, as opposed to being a pro-family group that supports traditional beliefs on marriage.
Even to the Post’s left-leaning readers, it probably comes as no surprise that the Human Rights Campaign — one of the most well-funded gay-rights organizations in America — has a problem with Focus on the Family. In a perfect world, the Post might seek out a less biased source for its analysis of Focus on the Family.
In terms of journalism, the last sentence of that section is full of holes. For one, why say “apparent support?” Did the group support it or not?
And who exactly discredits it? Scientists? Psychologists? Journalists? Name the discreditors.
That’s not the only squishy context included in the piece. There’s more:
Focus on the Family previously partnered with former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow in 2010 for an antiabortion ad that aired during the Super Bowl.
OK, here is the ad. Tell me when you hear abortion mentioned:
I counted exactly zero mentions of abortion. The ad does end by encouraging viewers to “Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life.”
"Here's the bottom line and what is so frustrating in the culture today: If you respect people but disagree with their opinion, somehow you're hating them,” Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly said in response to the controversy over Brees’ video. “And that is so far from the truth."
Brees issued his own statement on Twitter defending his video:
Here’s my concern: Pieces like the one in the Post do nothing to persuade ordinary readers — particularly conservative evangelicals like the ones who support Focus on the Family — that journalists have no agenda and truly want to provide accurate, impartial reporting.
As long as that’s the case, politicians who want to throw around terms like “fake news” will find receptive audiences. And to anyone who values the critical role of a free press in our nation, that’s a shame.