YELLOW JOURNALISM: WASH POST / NYT

Catalyst January/February Issue 2010

On November 24, John Kelly of the Washington Post distorted what Bill Donohue said in 2008 about the American Humanist Association (AHA). On December 2, Ian Urbina of the New York Times compounded the problem by plagiarizing from Kelly.

Kelly wrote a piece about the AHA’s new holiday ads promoting atheism. In referencing a previous ad campaign, he said it received “a bunch of publicity.” Then he wrote the following: “The head of the Catholic League linked secular humanists in with such figures as Jeffrey Dahmer and Hitler.”

Here is what Urbina wrote in his piece on the same subject: “The head of the Catholic League linked secular humanists to figures like Hitler and the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.”

In November 2008, Donohue debated Jesse Galef of the AHA on the Fox News Channel. After Galef spoke, host Heather Nauret said the following: “All right. You know, Bill, they have their First Amendment rights. They’ve got to say what they want.” Here is how Donohue replied: “Right. That’s right. They shouldn’t be profoundly ignorant, though. Sociology 101 says that morality has always been grounded in religion. They are trying to say ‘No, it is grounded in individuals.’ Well, Jeffrey Dahmer had a conscience, too, Heather. And you know what? He destroyed his victims and then ate them. We saw what happened with militant secularism in the 20th century. Over 150 million dead because of this man’s philosophy—Pol Pot, Hitler, Mao and Stalin.”

To say, as Kelly and Urbina did, that Donohue made his comment about the AHA’s


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Written by Bill