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Holding the New York Times accountable

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 31, 2010

"It doesn't seem right that the Catholic Church is spending Holy Week practicing the unholy art of spin," writes Maureen Dowd, in another of her toxic columns for the New York Times.

Well, Maureen, the Church wouldn't be answering charges this week if irresponsible journalists weren't making unsupported claims, and writing vile columns based on smirks and cheap shots. It's not "spin" when you try to clear the record after newspaper reports have muddied it. "Spin" is when you churn out opinions without basing them on facts. You'd know about that, wouldn't you, Maureen?

My son Joseph, writing for the American Spectator, notes that of the two New York Times assaults on the Pope-- one about the Milwaukee case, the other about the Munich case-- the Milwaukee case has been thoroughly debunked while the Munich case is now hanging by a thread. It's possible-- no longer probable, but still possible-- that there could be some justifiable criticism of the Pope for his handling of that Munich case. So real journalists (as opposed to calumny specialists) might want to continue prying into that story. Go for it, says Joseph:

Again, if the Times is on to something, the pope must be held accountable. But if not, the Times must be held similarly accountable for the damage it's done.

I'd make that deal. When all the facts are out, I'm betting that the Pope will be thoroughly exonerated. Then the Times should have the decency to print a front-page headline: "We Were Wrong." And Maureen Dowd should do the same. But I won't hold my breath waiting. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: pschloss4164 - Apr. 01, 2010 6:15 PM ET USA

    I fear that that Benedict XVI's reputation will go down in history like Pius XII's. Tarnished for absolutely no reason.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Mar. 31, 2010 9:03 PM ET USA

    Cardinal Levada just fired a shot across the bow from the Vatican.