Grading coverage of religious liberty

Beginning in late January, I’ve looked at various difficulties the mainstream media has had with handling questions surrounding religious freedom. When the Obama Administration announced in mid-January that it would not broaden an exemption for a new mandate requiring religious employers to pay for insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion drugs, the story — which had been brewing for many months — took off. Generally speaking, fans of the mandate say it is an important step to advancing greater access to contraception. Critics say it violates religious freedom. And political campaigners on all sides see it as an issue ripe for exploitation and grandstanding. These elements have combined in various ways to shape the larger coverage of the mandate.

The first media analysis issue to note was that while U.S. Catholic Bishops were at Defcon 2 or so in their response, media coverage was surprisingly restrained (see, for example, my January 31 post: Catholics outraged, media unimpressed). That restraint was particularly noteworthy in light of the excessive coverage of Susan G. Komen For The Cure’s decision to voluntarily stop donating money to the country’s biggest abortion provider (see, for example, my posts on February 2: Media discover Planned Parenthood is controversial , February 3, 2012: Media genuflect before Church of Planned Parenthood,  February 6: Planned Parenthood and media thank each other and February 7: Kurtz: Of course Komen stories were biased).

As February progressed, I noticed some trends with how religious freedom concerns were being presented. Namely, the media seemed to have some problems with downplaying religious freedom concerns relative to the perspective of the mandate’s supporters. You can see a sample of some of these problems in my posts from February 8: Blind spots breaking out all over, February 10: Frame game: the importance and composition of polling, February 14: Lies, damned lies and 98 percent of Catholic women, February 16: In HHS flap, media prefer politics to religion, February 17: Media ignore women, for women, February 24: Media shirk debate on religious liberty.

I continued looking at problems with the way the media framed the stories in March. You can see, for example, some issues that I raised in March 1: Spoon-feeding partisan talking points, March 5: Debating access to religious liberty, March 13: Why ignoring religious liberty is bad journalism, March 20: Working hard to avoid religious freedom, March 23: Scaring people away from religious freedom. I also highlighted one particular story that covered a religious freedom rally rather well (by which I mean as if it were an actual news story that included real people with legitimate concerns about religious freedom) in March 29′s: What a religious freedom rally looks like.

I took a break from the religious freedom issue (and that’s not to my credit) in April with the exception of April 30: Got News? Sebelius unaware of religious liberty cases.

In that post, I highlighted some rather eye-opening answers to Congressional queries from Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department that issued the mandate regulations. If you were the type of person to think that the religious freedom angle to this story was worth exploring more or better than it has been, as I am, the lack of mainstream media coverage of this testimony was telling.

But Mark Silk of Religion News Service thought my post was bad. I’m not entirely sure on what grounds he thought it was bad. Godbeat pro Bob Smietana says that Silk launched a “head-slap” at me, for what it’s worth.

It didn’t land too hard. I am honestly not entirely sure what his complaint is, particularly since he seems to agree with the post in general. I guess the crux of the complaint is here:

Earlier this week, GetReligionista Mollie Ziegler was on deck with the latest in a series of critiques of coverage of the HHS contraception mandate story.

One of the ways the media have botched this story is by couching it as a debate over contraception as opposed to a debate over religious freedom. While it’s true that certain players in the battle do view it as a debate over contraception–and that is a legitimate and worthwhile avenue for coverage–it’s also true that other players in the battle (who may not even care about contraception or generally approve of it) view this as as a religious liberty debate. That side of the story has suffered from weaker coverage.

Given that over 1,300 stories mentioning “bishops” and “religious liberty” have appeared in the English-language media since January 1 (according to Lexis-Nexis Academic), I wouldn’t say that the press has exactly ignored the story’s religious liberty angle. But that’s not been enough for Ziegler. As she puts it, “It has been a very, very, very frustrating experience for those of us who are expressing concern about the separation of church and state as it relates to the mandates of the massive health care legislation passed in 2010.”

As sure as God made little green apples, there are parties to the debate who are terribly anxious to frame this as a religious liberty story. Whether the media should go along, however, is another question.

Well, where to begin. Let’s take my note that the religious liberty side of the story has suffered from weaker coverage. In response to that, Silk says that since 1,300 stories mentioning “bishops” and “religious liberty” have appeared in the English-language media since January 1, he wouldn’t say the press has exactly ignored that side of the story. See how “weaker coverage” morphs into “ignored”?

Let’s grant that 1,300 stories have appeared (by my count in Nexis, it’s actually just over 2,000.). This includes Catholic newspapers and conservative publications in addition to mainstream newspapers, but the point is that they exist. But guess how many stories Nexis records for articles mentioning “Sandra Fluke” and “contraception” since January 1. If you guessed 2,343, you win the prize.

But even that quantitative analysis doesn’t get at the point of GetReligion’s critiques thus far. For instance, we’ve shown how even if a story does mention those bishops and their religious issues, it certainly isn’t the framing device they have chosen. They tend to frame it as a battle over access to contraception and include, lower down, a mention of the religious freedom concerns. Now, perhaps neither framing device is appropriate, given how divergent the mandate’s fans and opponents are, but the point is that we’re seeing quite a bit of coverage that favors a particular outlook on this story at the expense of another outlook. Since we advocate for a mainstream model of journalism that doesn’t take sides, we’ve been critical of this slanted coverage.

Anyway, Silk is correct that there are countless millions of Americans who are terribly anxious to see some stories framed in terms of religious liberty. (Maybe even without scare quotes a few times.) He asks, though, whether the media should “go along” with readers’ and viewers’ desire to have stories that reflect religious freedom concerns. Here at GetReligion, we’d advocate that stories do something much more journalistic than “go along” with the religious liberty questions. These are huge issues, they will be huge issues when the courts decide the religious liberty questions, and there is much to explore. Those initial concerns and questions about religious liberty should be mentioned, first off. But then they should be scrutinized and evaluated and, in general, reporters should go much deeper investigating this side of the equation. Likewise, just as support for contraceptive mandates has been highlighted (and, to be sure, occasionally cheered on) by the media, this support should also be scrutinized and evaluated. I’m sure most good reporters have guilt files on all the stories that could be explored surrounding this mandate.

The point is that since this is a complicated story with strongly opposed factions, there is opportunity for much more fair and accurate coverage.

Silk goes on to note that many Americans are unhappy with the health care law in general and he quotes Peggy Steinfels at Commonweal suspecting that religious liberty concerns may not be all they’re cracked up to be. Maybe it’s not about religious freedom so much as about anti-Obama prejudice, for instance.

Silk ends by saying:

The bottom line here is that by pushing the contraception mandate story’s religious liberty angle hard, GetReligion is playing the mandate opponents’ game.

As has been discussed frequently here at GetReligion and elsewhere, there is something of a battle for the soul of American mainstream media. Some are openly advocating for less balance and more advocacy by the mainstream press — a European model, if you will. Others, such as those of us here, are arguing for something more modest, if much more difficult. We believe in a press that has a more restrained vision for what it can and should aim for: the presentation of controversial and important issues in a fair and accurate manner. Calling for fair and accurate coverage of multiple sides of a debate is what we do. Does that serve only one side of a debate? It shouldn’t. If it does, that’s not an indictment of what we’re calling for so much as an indictment of what’s been happening in the presentation of the issue to this point. Encouraging reporters to aim for fair and accurate coverage — not just of the side that advocates for the contraceptive mandate but also for the side that expresses alarm about it — is important and certainly not a game.

I’m open to someone arguing that coverage of religious liberty concerns has been handled well. The case hasn’t been made yet. Until then, we’ll continue to advocate for balanced coverage of important topics such as this HHS mandate.

Photo of media critic showing results of a regression analysis of HHS mandate coverage via Shutterstock.

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  • Martha

    Well, that’s you told, Mollie!

    Just a poor innocent pawn in the hands of the opponents of the contraception mandate – or are you so innocent? Maybe you’re one of those anti-reproductive justice campaigners trying to fool hard-working journalists into – how did Mr. Silk put it again? – “As sure as God made little green apples, there are parties to the debate who are terribly anxious to frame this as a religious liberty story. Whether the media should go along, however, is another question.”

    Yes, because Joseph Pulitzer forbid journalists should identify the issues and be clear what they are before writing their stories! And I’m so relieved Mr. Silk identified for me that this wasn’t, after all, a religious liberty issue but rather a campaign by “mandate opponents” who just don’t like contraception, President Obama, and uppity wimmin.

  • R9

    Whatever the claimed goals, in practice Getreligion coverage consistently puts forward arguments that favour the conservative christian side of various issues.

    That could be a result of a consistent problem in the media of course. It could also be down to the biases within GR. Bit of both, I imagine.

  • Jeff

    Mollie,

    “Head-slap” is a euphemistic way of putting the smack-down Mark Silk tried to put on you and what it implies about what he takes you to be — i.e. not something that begins with a “j” but something that begins with a “b.”

    There is no one more misogynistic than a a certain kind of “manly,” muscular-liberal when he’s scorned.

    Good for you, however, in responding like the lady you are to someone who is far from a gentleman.

    Sadly, journalists need to realize that they will no longer be Stuff White People Like if they do their jobs were certain religion-haunted subjects are concerned: (a) Abortion and (b) Homosexuality.

    Those are two thirds of an emerging White People’s Trinity, along with (c) disrespect for the First Amendment right to religious liberty when it conflicts with the politics of the lifestyle left.

    Transgress any of those and you will be “head-slapped” again and again and again.

    In other words, do your job as a journalist and you will be “head-slapped” again and again and again.

  • http://authenticbioethics.blogspot.com AuthenticBioethics

    @R9, if a news outlet favored, say, conservative politics and indeed the major news media all took that slant, would not people biased toward liberal politics feel that the media are unbalanced? And would it be simply “their” bias speaking, or a legitimate plea that their side is not getting adequate attention?

    On another note, my own view of the media coverage of this particular issue is becoming more complex. I still hold that the media in general appear to hold the religious liberty angle in disdain and their coverage shows it. Stories might mention it, but seldom do they try to understand that position or portray it without denigrating it.

    But more than that, I think something else is really missing, and that is the concept of “religious liberty” that is operative in the minds of the supporters of the contraception mandate. If it is not an infringement upon religious liberty, then what is religious liberty and how is it not infringed? Is religious liberty totally interior to the individual, and exterior only in the home or among fellow adherents? Does it not extend also to the workplace, the marketplace, the neighborhood, and the voting booth?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    “Whatever the claimed goals, in practice Getreligion coverage consistently puts forward arguments that favour the conservative christian side of various issues.

    “That could be a result of a consistent problem in the media of course. It could also be down to the biases within GR. Bit of both, I imagine.”


    R9:

    If you can find an example where we have urged reporters not to cover both sides of an issue with accuracy and balance, please let me know. This is the crucial point. We are trying to defend the American model of the press. In debates about religion, it’s crucial for the mainstream press to treat both sides with respect and accuracy.

    If I am a journalistic conservative because I am advocating the American model of the press — the old liberalism — then I guess that makes me a conservative on this issue of journalism philosophy.

  • R9

    If you can find an example where we have urged reporters not to cover both sides of an issue with accuracy and balance, please let me know.

    Totally not what I was saying.

    My point is that the calls for fair coverage usually end up, in the articles themselves, as saying the conservative christian side is not getting fair coverage.

    It’s opponents of gay marriage not getting a fair hearing, traditional catholic teachings being mis-represented etc etc. Liberal types meanwhile get puff pieces. (possibly breathless ones).

    Now this is not necessarily inconsistent with the mission statement you outline. Maybe the press is consistently unfair to such people.

    I just carry a bit of skepticism. Especially when I can hear the noise of axes grinding.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    R9:

    I am totally guilty of grinding axes in favor of the American model of the press.

    On one issue in particular, there is always this series by a very candid journalist, who was pro-abortion-rights in his personal view of things.

    http://www.getreligion.org/2005/08/yes-words-mattered-to-david-shaw/

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    There is no shortage of praise from both posters and commenters for balanced, fair, skilled, intelligent, religion reporting on this GR site. A typical very recent example is the posting regarding Ann Rodger’s excellent, competent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporting on the quest for Orthodox Christian unity here in the U.S.
    As I read her article I kept expecting to read some typical snarky media dig crow-barred into various places in the story.
    But no such appeared, even in places where, I believe, other reporters might have stuck a nasty verbal stiletto so common in some religious news coverage.

  • Martha

    R9, Mark Silk on his blog was pretty straight-forward about the issues: it’s not about religious liberty, it’s about opponents of the contraception mandate who are, I presume, to be understood as opposed to contraception, and moreover, that’s it is a purely Roman Catholic opposition.

    Nothing about support for the USCCB from representatives of other denominations whose denominations may permit contraception themselves but who do see this as not merely enforcing Catholic opposition to artificial contraception but as a matter of religious liberty. Who does he quote in his smack-down of Mollie’s piece? Peggy Steinfels, who feels that this is just about the bishops really wanting to reclaim authority and express anti-Obama prejudice under cover of telling the flock that this is about contraception and sterilisation and telling the outsiders that it is about religious liberty.

    And the conclusion is that by saying the press is ignoring the religious liberty angle in favour of the ‘war on women’ angle, Mollie and “GetReligion” are falling into the very trap those scheming, crafty bishops so cunningly set for the unwary.

    Yeah – nothing for the conservative Catholic and/or Christian to take issue with there!

  • Jeff

    Martha,

    Mollie is motivated entirely by thoughtless and reflexive obeisance to the hierarchy of The Catholic Church — that’s why she’s a Lutheran.

    And The Catholic Church is just out to get Barack Obama — that’s why she supported national health care long before The Democratic Party ever did and why the USCCB supported Obamacare specifically.

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby Ross Jr.

    Re: the head slap. Any chance the GetReligionistas (including the “shifting cast of younger associates”) could get wrestling names for the next GetGetReligion? That would be awesome.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    “Mollie is motivated entirely by thoughtless and reflexive obeisance to the hierarchy of The Catholic Church — that’s why she’s a Lutheran.”

    The totally lol line of the day.

    I too am one of those anti-death penalty, pro-universal health care, public mass transit right wingers. You will know us by the portraits of FDR hanging over our desks.

  • Jerry

    I generally have no argument with the issues raised here nor with the analysis of the issues. On this issue, I’m mostly on Mollie’s side.

    But we’re all biased. To ignore our own biases is to ignore a hole we’re about to step into. The lack of accurate and balanced coverage of the Catholic bishops position is a valid area of concern and comments on it are entirely appropriate. But what about the lack of coverage of the religious folk who find a Biblical justification for birth control? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-carr/the-bible-as-probirth-con_b_1318445.html I’m not saying being OK with contraception, but actually asserting scriptural justification for contraception?

    One way I’m checking GR is to guess who has written the blog posting from the twitter feed headline and to pre-judge what they have to say. For example, from the Pew poll on al qaeda topic, I guessed it was Mollie and that she was going to compare the numbers against similar numbers for Christians.

    When I’m wrong, and I’m wrong a fair amount, it’s an opportunity for me to examine my own biases!

    But, yes, GR is biased because human being are biased. We all select stories we’re interested in and we’re interested in particular aspects of these stories.

    And my unsolicited advice to the GR bloggers is to occasionally look at stories you’re not interested in and ask yourself if they are important stories in spite of your lack of interest. And I’d suggest, using a hackneyed phrase, occasionally thinking “outside the box” to see if there are other frames of reference to use to comment on the stories.

  • Jeff

    tmatt,

    It’s because she is waging “war” on “women” that Mollie is a woman.

    And it’s because you are an Evangelical Republican who hates journalism that you are an Orthodox Democrat who works as a journalist.

    And it’s because both of you are out to suppress points of view with which you disagree that you link to Mark Silk and provide a platform for the likes of R9 — and me!

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    I want a wrestling name, Bobby. I punched my name into a wrestling name generator and here’s what I got:

    For Mollie Ziegler, the name my critics tend to call me, I’m “Ebony Latina.” Which is awesome.

    For Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, I’m “Bonny Assassin.” That’s the clear winner.

    For Mollie Hemingway, I’m “Plain Cheerleader.” What?

    I do like that for being here going on seven years, I’m still part of that “shifting cast of younger associates.”

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby Ross Jr.

    Thanks, Mollie, for the link!

    Sincerely,
    “King Meathead”

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jerry,

    I tend to agree with what you’re saying. And it plays a big part in why I try to be upfront about my views. I mention that I’m libertarian (stop sighing, TMatt!), that I’m confessional Lutheran, etc. I even try to be upfront about what stories I’m a sucker for (e.g., the follow-up or the story about daily life in a congregation or something related to worship instead of politics, etc.).

    I don’t think that revealing such things diminishes my work and I only think it’s fair.

    And it would be foolish for me to fail to acknowledge that my libertarianism coupled with my Lutheranism means that I can see problems in this coverage that might be more difficult for people who are liberal or secular to see. Emphasis on *might*. I know plenty of liberal and secular reporters who would write the same things I have if they were in my position of critiquing the coverage. I think being honest about these things helps one watch out for blind spots. We’ll always have those blind spots, whether as journalists or critics, but it’s a good idea to watch out for them either way.

    I also think it’s important to be open to criticism. I always try to resist the urge to be defensive and to really consider whether the critic has a point or to see what the point is.

    I wasn’t particularly moved by this criticism, as is apparent, but I have been blessed by many critiques here at GetReligion — whether in the comments or in thoughtful posts at external sites.

    That includes your wonderful engagement and criticism, Jerry. It has really made me think about various issues and reconsider the way I approach things.

  • Jeff

    For what it’s worth, Mark Silk’s wrestling “diva” name is “Crazy Sass,” which seems about right for someone whose last name is Silk and who goes around slapping bonnie lasses … I mean Bonnie Assassin.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    Given that over 1,300 stories mentioning “bishops” and “religious liberty” have appeared in the English-language media since January 1 (according to Lexis-Nexis Academic), I wouldn’t say that the press has exactly ignored the story’s religious liberty angle

    That’s a strange statement. Who cares how many times the words were used? It’s how they were used that matters. They could easily have repeated ‘while Bishops insist it is a matter of religious liberty, most legal experts have concluded it’s about a coordinated war on women.’ There, mentioned both of those words, but not in a way that suggests anything about religious liberty issues. Certainly it isn’t good enough to counter the obvious narrative that has been established that this is all about contraception at best, and maybe even a war on women.

  • Martha

    Jeff, so you bought the cover story for public consumption put out by the Vatican Secret Bureau of Albino Assassins that Mollie’s a Lutheran? *does best Mr. Burns impersonation* Exxxxxcellent!
    :-D

  • Jen G.

    “bishops” + “religious liberty” isn’t the best test of whether MSM media coverage has sufficiently covered that side of the issue. More appopriate would be something like “HHS Mandate” + “material cooperation” – which is the actual theological argument underpinning the objection. I don’t see how this discussion can be held without at least a basis for understanding WHY the CC finds paying for contraception objectionable on religious grounds.

  • R9

    I think what got me a whiel back was when Mollie spoke of “an unprecedented attack on religious liberty”. Not “a bill that catholics etc are calling an attack”, the official GR voice for that day was, it objectively is an attack.

    Anyway I’m not claiming all GR coverage is tainted and worthless. I just wonder what it would look like if it was staffed by a more diverse range of religious worldviews.

    Like, find someone who would answer no to at least any 2 out of the tmatt trio.

    Anyway I don’t claim to be the most thoughtful or eloquent commenter. But despite being critical I’m willing to listen. I’m godless but I’m no Dawkinite or guardian reader. And reaching out to the likes of me is probably more important than preaching to the choir.

  • Julia

    FWIW

    I am NOT the “Julia” in the the White House story on-line in spite of actually being 67 years old.

    http://www.barackobama.com/life-of-julia

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    It appears my wrestle mania title is Professor Rock.

  • Bill

    I am NOT the “Julia” in the the White House story on-line in spite of actually being 67 years old.

    No one brought this up before. Hmm…the lady doth protest, methinks.

  • Martha

    I very much want an edition of “GetReligion” where the articles for the day are written by Professor Rock, the Bonny Assassin, and King Meathead.

    There’s just one small, slightly disturbing matter I would like cleared up, though; putting “Terry Mattingly” throught that name generator gave me “Lush Lynn” and using Mark Silk’s “greybeard Terry Mattingly” produced “Blonde Wench”.

    Is there something we should know about the senior member (who apparently either is now or always has been a blonde wench known as Lush Lynn)? :-)

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby Ross Jr.

    King Meathead here with a few random thoughts on the 1,300 LexisNexis number…

    Like Silk, I get 1,300-plus returns since Jan. 1 on “religious liberty” and “bishops.” Like Mollie, I noticed that many of those sources aren’t exactly mainstream news orgs (the Bookworm Room, The Lid, Newsbusters.org and Federal News Service show up on my first screen of results).

    Understanding and agreeing with Mollie’s point that it’s not really about such numbers, I was curious about a few other numbers so I checked keywords by major news orgs since Jan. 1.

    Just for the fun of it:

    - “religious liberty” mentions in Washington Post (73), New York Times (67), USA Today (8), AP (262) and L.A. Times (42). Total mentions in those sources: 452.
    - “contraception” mentions in Washington Post (248), New York Times (388), USA Today (58), AP (1,068) and L.A. Times (136). Total mentions in those sources: 1,898.

    - “contraception” and “Catholic” mentions in Washington Post (115), New York Times (186), USA Today (18), AP (415) and L.A. Times (49). Total mentions in those sources: 783.
    - “contraception” and “Catholic” and “religious liberty” mentions in Washington Post (40), New York Times (39), USA Today (2), AP (109) and L.A. Times (14). Total mentions in those sources: 204.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Martha:

    Well, for starters, the name “Terry” can be male or female (which got me out of one year of the Vietnam era military lottery).

    On the nickname gizmo, it does help to click MALE.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    KING MEATHEAD:

    Separate post, DUDE.

    The big general search is irrelevant. You’re on it. This is about the major publications that define trends.

  • Heather

    Thanks, everyone. Some great, thought-provoking comments throughout. And some really funny stuff, also.
    Way, way OT (just in case that whole WWF thing doesn’t work out):

    blues names

  • MJBubba

    Mark Silk, after quoting Steinfels’ remarks to the effect that the Bishops are probably lying about their motives, then clinches his criticism with:

    And that’s not to mention the possibility that what underlies what some might call the grandstanding (a Ziegler bête noire) on religion liberty has been opposition to that massive health care legislation itself. Which legislation, according to Ziegler, “requires religious employers for the first time in history to fund insurance plans they morally oppose.” Though actually, as Ziegler later seems to acknowledge, religious employers have been mandated to do this for some time by many states–21 one of them, to be exact. So why the big fuss about religious liberty now?

    Regular readers of GetReligion have learned this qualifying info (I am quoting from the Becket Fund since this statement is more succinct): “Of the 28 States that have some mandate, none require contraception coverage in self-insured and ERISA plans, only two States include contraception in plans that have no prescription drug coverage, and only one State specifies sterilization.”
    Religious organizations have been self-insured in large part to avoid the state mandates. So the expansive federalizing of this battle stirred up a “big fuss,” and only the deliberately uninformed ask such dense rhetorical questions.
    The Becket Fund has a good explanation of the religious-liberty side of the debate, for any media types looking to get up to speed (nearly three months into this battle, there really is no excuse): http://www.becketfund.org/faq/
    Their succinct summary, provided again for the benefit of the clueless: “…the issue is not really about access to contraception but rather about who pays for it. The government’s answer is to force religious organizations to pay for services against their deeply held religious beliefs.”

  • MJBubba

    Professor Rock, I think the body of media criticism by GetReligion.org regarding the Healthcare Mandate should be nominated for a Pulitzer, or at least for a RNS award.

  • Julia

    Bill: I just thought that the White House using my moniker for it’s current PR program was funny (seeing as how it’s not a very common name and I’m 67 just like the fake Julia) – and people here know my name.

    Speaking of other silly websites, there is actually a real website where white people make fun of themselves and their “white-breadness” that goes by the name of Stuff White People Like – as mentioned by Jeff. Checking it out might help to explain what Jeff was writing about.

    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/

  • MJBubba

    King Meathead, please take Professor Rock up on his suggestion to run a search analysis; it should be easy to demonstrate that Bonnie Assassin is entirely correct that, even though thousands of entries have been published by the MSM, the religious liberty angle has only received a brushoff or worse, and the narrative of the Obama administration was adopted from the very start and never really examined.

  • Bill

    Bill: I just thought that the White House using my moniker for it’s current PR program was funny (seeing as how it’s not a very common name and I’m 67 just like the fake Julia) – and people here know my name.

    Julia, I must confess my ignorance. I have been trying to avoid reading the details of tabloid political stories. As much as I like a good hockey brawl or soccer riot, such stories only make me more riled and curmudgeonly. I mistakenly associated Obama’s “Julia” with his composite girlfriend.

    Please don’t be offended: I don’t always use scare quotes around your name. It is a lovely, graceful, feminine name that is pleasing to they eye when written, soft on the ear when heard, and when spoken, falls sweetly off the tongue, like gentle rain upon the grateful earth. If you are correct that it is now an uncommon name, it is yet another sign of societal decline.


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