Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bob Cesca on Fox News's Defense of Duggars as "Harrowing Turning Point in Our Discourse" — and Father Jonathan Morris's at Fox News's Defense of Duggars

Yesterday, I pointed you to a thought-provoking article by Andrew O'Hehir which argues that it's through public conversation about stories like those of the Duggars and Caitlyn Jenner that Americans now carry on political debate about the role of religion in American life and how sexual abuse is often tolerated, minimized, covered up within families. O'Hehir thinks that if we pooh-pooh these conversations as low-culture events beneath the notice of serious people, as the beltway media and many centrist journals pretend to do, we remove ourselves from "the substance of our national conversation, the central narrative of American political and cultural life in our time."

Here's Bob Cesca writing today about Fox News's coverage of the Duggar story "marks a harrowing turning point in our discourse" in which Fox has led the way: 

We now live in a nation where the conservative cable news network is spinning in support of a confessed child molester, as well as the people who tried to hide his actions. Fox News Channel has always been an egregious source for misinformation and GOP talking points. We all know this. It’s also been a powerful backstop whenever a Republican candidate commits one of many unforced errors — blurting out a ludicrous rape remark, or worse. However, in the past week, Fox News has crossed the zero-barrier between spinning for the GOP and into the realm of manufacturing phraseology and excuses for a Christian television family caught up in a sexual abuse scandal.

Right in the thick of the pandering and excusing on Fox News: Catholic priest Jonathan Morris, who, as Charles Pierce notes yesterday in his politics column at Esquire, showed up on Fox this past Sunday hotly to defend the right of the Duggars to be in our faces with their Christian model-family hypocrisy at TLC. Because Christian.

You'd think that after the sexual abuse scandal, with which Catholic Church is still dealing, Fox News' official resident clergy, Fr. Jonathan Morris would be a bit circumspect in discussing pedophilia. But, as we saw on this morning's Fox & Friends, Fr. Morris does love those Duggars.

This is a point echoed over and over in the comments threads at both of the sites to which I've just linked — see, e.g., this comment by JS Hedegard at Esquire:*

This sort of critical commentary is, I'm afraid, richly merited when one remembers that Father Morris graduated from the Legionaries of Christ's Regina Apostolorum University, and was formerly a Legionary hiimself. And when one remembers that the Legionaries were founded by Father Marcial Maciel, who spent years sexually abusing seminarians, fathering and supporting several children with Legionary funds, throwing money around the Vatican to bribe top church officials from cracking down on him, indulging his drug habit, etc.

*The graphic should enlarge when you click on it.

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