Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

reporting through the looking glass

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Sep 26, 2010

Alta Jacko is the mother of eight children. She is also the Mayor of Chicago.

Time magazine would never publish a story that began that way, because it would not be true, and the editors know it. Alta Jacko is not the Mayor of Chicago. Everyone who follows Chicago politics knows that. There is an established process by which the mayor is chosen: an election. If you don't win that election, you aren't the mayor. Not even if a group of your friends get together and pronounce you the mayor. Not even if they hold a ceremony and swear you in.

Yet Time has published a story that began this way: 

Alta Jacko is the mother of eight children. She is also an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

She's not, of course. Everyone knows the process by which someone is ordained a Catholic priest: ordination by a Catholic bishop. Jacko did not go through that process.

Wait; I spoke too soon. Apparently not everyone knows how the process of ordination works. The reporter assigned by Time to handle this story, and the editors and proofreaders and fact-checkers who vetted it, are evidently in the dark:

The day after Jacko was ordained--on October 10, 2009, at the Ebenezer Lutheran Church by the female Catholic Bishop Joan Houk (a male priest would be excommunicated for ordaining a woman)--

Never mind that Joan Houk isn't a Catholic bishop, any more than Alta Jacko is a Catholic priest. Look carefully at that parenthetical remark. A male priest would be excommunicated for participating in the ceremony; that's true. But he wouldn't be excommunicated for ordaining a woman because a) women cannot be ordained and b) priests--unless they're bishops--cannot ordain anyway.

If you actually are the Mayor of Chicago, you have certain privileges. You can go into the mayor's office, sit at the desk, and issue orders; the staff will obey you. If you're only pretending to be the mayor, they probably won't let you in the building. By the same token, a perceptive reporter might notice that there's something amiss when the ordination of a "Catholic priest" takes place at "Ebenezer Lutheran Church."

Any informed, logical observer knows that Alta Jacko is not a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet Time magazine passed along her claim to the priesthood as if it were an established fact. There are two possible explanations:

  1. Time is staffed by reporters, editors, fact-checkers, and proofreaders who are neither informed nor logical.
  2. Time deliberately published a story that the reporters and editors knew to be untrue.

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