Media analyst 'stunned' by lack of coverage on religious lawsuits

By Hillary Senour

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Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis for the Media Research Center.

A media analyst says his organization has been “stunned” by major networks giving minimal or no coverage to the unprecedented religious liberty lawsuits filed against the U.S. government.

“To just ignore it entirely suggest that they have no interest in covering the subject of religious liberty in the United States,” said Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the press watchdog group Media Research Center.

On May 21, when 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations announced lawsuits challenging the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, it received little to no coverage from CBS, ABC and NBC in their respective evening news broadcasts.

CBS Evening News was the only major network to address the story that evening, airing 19 seconds of coverage.

Although he was shocked by the lack of media attention given to the lawsuits, Graham noted that in contrast, he was “not surprised” at all by the deluge of coverage on last month's “Vatileaks” case.

“It's curious that the networks would cover one with so much aggression and ignore the other one with so much ardor,” he told EWTN News on June 5.

In the five days following the news of a Papal Household employee leaking confidential letters to the press, some networks ran 13 segments on the story, a few of which even used clips from the controversial film “Angels and Demons.”

“That is the kind of stories that the networks love,” Graham said, “They love stories where they can portray the Catholic Church as out of touch and controlling.”

Graham, who has worked for the watchdog group since 1989, says this kind of bias is evidence of a greater push by secular media outlets to discredit the Catholic Church.

“I would say the media is an aggressive evangelist of secularism...they really want to separate the Church from society.”

In his years with the organization, Graham said that blatantly negative coverage of Church affairs “waxes and wanes,” but that he's noticed aggressive attacks in recent years.

Last month, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi released a new book entitled “Sua Santita” (His Holiness), which contained a series of leaked letters addressed personally to Pope Benedict XVI. The author claimed to have more than one source of information from inside the Vatican.

On May 26, Paolo Gabriele, butler to Benedict XVI and the late Pope John Paul II, was charged with “aggravated theft” after confidential Vatican documents were found in his apartment.

So far, only Gabriele has been arrested as a suspect in the leaks but Vatican police are continuing investigations into other possible sources.

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