After the New York Times ran a front-page story that smeared St. Junipero Serra, repeated attempts to have the paper correct the record failed.
On the day that Laura M. Holson’s news story appeared, “Sainthood of Serra Reopens Wounds of Colonialism in California,” Bill Donohue sent her the following email:
You said that “Historians agree” that Fr. Serra had Indians “tortured to death.” I have done research on Serra and written about him, yet I know of no historian who makes such a claim. Please name them. I can name many who never made such a claim.
The following day Donohue contacted the “Corrections” section of the paper, as well as the public editor, sending them the above email. He also said, “Ms. Holson has not responded. Assuming she cannot name historians who have made such a claim, I am requesting that this merit inclusion in the ‘Corrections’ section of the Times.”
One week went by after Donohue’s email to these two parties, and still no response. Moreover, he wrote them again, sending the previous emails: “Please let me know if I can expect a correction to Ms. Holson’s story. If her account is accurate, she should be able to name the historians who say that Fr. Serra tortured Indians. This story is particularly important because Pope Francis just canonized Fr. Serra when he was in DC. Thank you.”
Another day passed, and still no reply. This is yellow journalism at its worst. When Donohue submits paid ads to the Times, he is often asked to identify his sources. Yet it accepts hit jobs like Holson’s. The fact is there is no list of historians who claim Fr. Serra tortured Indians, and the Times knows it. The Catholic League sent this news release to a wide audience.