Fr. Richard John Neuhaus recently wrote a piece on historian Eamon Duffy who, according to news reports published by allegedly reliable vendors of religious journalism, had become an atheist and said all sorts of loopy things. Poor Fr. Neuhaus, thinking that media reliably report facts. Turns out Duffy is no such animal but is a believing Catholic who is now contemplating suit against the folks (Frontline on PBS) who somehow managed to attribute somebody else’s rather ridiculous atheist twaddle to him.
(Favorite quote: “[Duffy] said that he had almost begun to believe he had indeed uttered the heresies attributed to him. “Then the tape arrived. Half of me said, ‘Thanks be to God’. The other half said, ‘You bastards, you stupid bastards’.”)
First Things has naturally agreed to correct the record. Hard to blame them very much though. In a journal dedicated to commenting on news and current events, it’s a bit hard to do your job when the news sources who are supposed to know what they are talking about deliver raw falsehood as fact. Reminds me of some comedy show (Saturday Night Live?) which years ago used to offer “corrections” for errors in last week’s reporting like, “Our previous report which said that elementary school teachers are Nazi white supremacists who being indicted for conspiracy to commit cannibalism on kindergartners was in error. What we actually meant say was that was that elementary school teachers are being commended for their work in the recent bake sale fundraiser.”
Oopsie! Can’t expect 100% accuracy, can we?