Critical need by 8/31:   $10,000 to cover a crippling immediate shortfall.   $5,640 to go.   Please help now!
Click here to advertise on


By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Nov 12, 2003

Have you ever noticed that reporters find a lot of "ultraconservatives," but never an "ultraliberal?" That some American politicians are constantly identified in the media as conservatives, but very few are identified as liberals?

You haven't been imagining it. A Wall Street Journal op-ed (available, for now, only to WSJ subscribers) reveals the results of a careful survey of stories in the New York Times and Washington Post, finding that reporters use the term "conservative" more than twice as often as "liberal." And that's not all. When a politician is characterized as a liberal, it's usually a "respected liberal" or a "thoughtful lliberal," whereas a conservative is more likely to be a "partisan conservative" or a "rock-ribbed conservative."

OK, I realize that I'm telling you something that you already know. My point for today is: Doesn't the same reporting bias affect coverage of the Catholic Church?

In the secular media, someone who rejects fundamental Catholic doctrine might be characterized as a liberal, but anyone who defends basic Church teachings is certainly a "conservative," and probably a "doctrinaire conservative" at that. If those are the extremes, then what's the "moderate" Catholic position? Why, cafeteria Catholicism, of course.

The secular media can live happily with Catholics who treat the Catechism like a grocery-store flyer-- this teaching looks attractive; that one doesn't appeal to me. But if you claim that the Church teaches with authority, then you're... ultraconservative.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Spring Challenge Grant
Progress toward our Spring Challenge Grant goal ($15,954 to go):
$35,000.00 $19,046.18
46% 54%
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Nov. 13, 2003 8:00 PM ET USA

    I believe the difference between a conservative and a liberal { whether it is in politics or the church} is that conservatives express their ideas just as they are because they believe in them;Whereas, liberals use verbal enginering to make sure that they can convince everyone that look at things emotionally. They will not take the chance that their ideas can stand on the merits. Just look at church disenters!

  • Posted by: frjimc - Nov. 13, 2003 3:44 PM ET USA

    Along the same lines, ever notice that according to the media, "moderate" only modifies the noun "Republican," never "Democrat"? Or that "rigid" never applies to liberal ideology? Or that .... oh, forget it. It's just so tiring to catalogue the way the left has framed the discussion. And, as a regular peruser of The Globe here in Boston, I get to read the screeching LTEs of the pseudo-intelligentsia complaining that the media is actually controlled by the vast right-wing conspiracy. . . help

  • Posted by: - Nov. 13, 2003 1:27 AM ET USA

    Excellent analysis !

  • Posted by: Sterling - Nov. 12, 2003 11:13 PM ET USA

    Oh, Phil, you such a conservative.

Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on

Recent Catholic Commentary

Every Aspect of the Catholic Thing 22 hours ago
News Posturing: How the dramatis personae use each other 23 hours ago
The intractable practical problems with the Kasper proposal August 28
No, the Pope did not endorse a gay-friendly children's book August 28
Legal pressure does not make sterilization moral August 27

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: welcome with compassion those who have remarried outside the Church CWN - August 5