NPR’S DOUBLE STANDARD
Catalyst December Issue 2010
Recently NPR made headlines after it fired Juan Williams after he made an allegedly anti-Muslim comment. But we were quick to point out that nobody had ever been fired by NPR for their anti-Catholic fare.
To be explicit, on Jan. 7, 2008, the Utah NPR station, KCPW, aired a skit lampooning Mike Huckabee that trashed Jesus. On the show, “Fair Game with Faith Salie,” the following was said: “Tired of bland unsatisfying Eucharists? Try this Huckabee family favorite. Deep-Fried Body of Christ—boring holy wafers no more….Mike likes his Christ with whipped cream and sprinkles.” After we complained, we heard from Public Radio International, which produced the show, and they pulled it, issuing an apology. While the show did not originate at NPR, its Utah affiliate did not have to air it. No one was fired.
On July 5, 1997, NPR mocked the Eucharist when host Scott Simon and musical satirist, Tom Lehrer, got together. Lehrer sang “The Vatican Rag.” The following are some of the lyrics: “Try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer”; “Two, four, six, eight, time to Trans-substantiate.”
Moreover, if Williams merited being fired for expressing reservations about people with Muslim garb boarding a plane, then why was it okay for Dahlia Lithwick of NPR (at the time) to express her reservations about having “too many Catholics” on the Supreme Court? On Nov. 1, 2005, she exclaimed, “People are very, very much talking about the fact that Alito would be the fifth Catholic on the Supreme Court if confirmed.” Earlier, on Aug. 2, she expressed concerns about the “very, very strong religious views” of Catholic Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Moreover, on July 23, Nina Totenberg of NPR raised a red flag over high court nominee John Roberts’ wife because she was “an officer of a pro-life organization.” As for Roberts himself, she said, “He’s got adopted children. I mean, he’s a conservative Catholic.”
We found the duplicity is sickening and asked our members to contact Anna Christopher, NPR’s media relations manager.
A few hours after we issued our release, Christopher placed a phone call to Jeff Field, the Catholic League’s director of communications. She called Field to complain about our news release. She accused us of “cherry-picking” instances of NPR’s anti-Catholic programming, adding that our “heated” news release resulted in a large amount of “mean-spirited” e-mails.
We didn’t “cherry-pick” anything: we simply went to our files and cited a few examples of National Public Radio’s intolerance of Catholicism. The news release, as anyone could see, was hardly “heated.” Moreover, we are not responsible for any allegedly “mean-spirited” e-mails she may have received.
Talk about thin-skinned. Why is it that NPR can dish it out, but can’t take it? If it doesn’t want Catholics complaining, then lay off us. And while they’re at it, they might think about leveling the playing field when it comes to employee “misconduct.”