On Catholic progress, TV gravitas, and Saddam

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Aug 08, 2002 12:00 AM
Three items. You make your own judgments.... A situation report on predatory priests in the Catholic Church, since June's big do-something do in Dallas. These headlines are all from leading newspapers - chronologically since Dallas.... - "For 3 Who Warned Bishops, Dallas Is Déjà Vu," and the subhead: "Priest, Journalist, and Professor Detailed Threat of Sex Abuse to Church - and Saw Little Response." - "Bishops often Protect Accused Priests," and the out-take: "An investigation by The Dallas Morning News finds that at least 111 church leaders have shielded priests or other church figures." - "Poll: Catholics Object to Policy," and the lead sentence: "An overwhelming majority of Catholics say U.S. bishops still have not gone far enough to protect children from predatory priests." - "For Gay Catholic Priests, New Scrutiny," and the subhead: "Some Worry That Church Could Equate Homosexuality with Sex Abuse." - "One Priest Defends, Another Apologizes for Chat-Room Posts," and the out-take: "The chat room, which described itself as 'a support group for gay religious brothers and clergy of the Roman Catholic Church,' featured nude male pictures." - "Albany Diocese Settled Abuse Case for Almost $1 Million." - "Georgia Priest Held, Charged With Abuse Committed in the 1970s." - "Dallas Bishop Says Gay Chat-Room Priest Banned from Parish Work." - "Insurance a Worry for Catholic Church," and the subhead: "Premiums Skyrocket; Old Policies Unreliable in Sex Abuse Settlements." - "Role of Bishops Is Now a Focus of Grand Juries," and the lead sentence: "Prosecutors across the nation have taken investigations of clerical sexual abuse before more than a dozen grand juries in recent weeks...." How are things going? A situation report on the search for gravitas by certain big-media entities. - CNN's parent, Turner Broadcasting, hired veteran entertainment exec Jamie Kellner as its chairman. Kellner used the word "casting" a lot, to the continued anguish of the network's newsier types. CNN Headline News hired former actress Andrea Thompson as an anchor - whereupon nude pix of her circulated on the Internet, and she departed. CNN hired Paula Zahn from Fox News, promoting her as "sexy." CNN hired Connie Chung to anchor its evening news show, promoting her as a "star." And CNN's top news hombre Eason Jordan recently apologized for CNN giving vastly more coverage to a Palestinian suicide bomber's family than to the parents of one of his victims. - Greta Van Susteren, a former CNN legal analyst now moved to Fox, has made the cover of People mag for her facelift. - MSNBC inaugurated an evening talk show hosted by antiquated daytime leftie Phil Donahue. - NBC news president Neal Shapiro says the network will spend the next two years seasoning Brian Williams so he will have sufficient gravitas when he takes over from Tom Brokaw. The AP's TV writer David Bauder reports that at NBC "the gravitas issue is real." If Williams has a gravitas shortfall, that evidently means he is insufficiently deep, or something. Forbes' quintessential Dan Seligman finds that "Williams is studying gravitas so he can be a deeply serious shallow liberal." Maybe these entities wouldn't be exasperating themselves flailing to nail down mercury-like gravitas if they had as owners not wild lefties but mere moderates. Read past all the verbiage about corporate corruption, and one finds evidence of this agenda regarding Iraq: a developing enterprise to rub out Saddam Hussein - that principal in President Bush's "axis of evil." Bush told European allies in May of the need for removing Saddam. Since then, these major-newspaper headlines, etc. - chronologically.... - "Rumsfeld Says Iraq Has Chemical Arms Ready." - "U.S., British Defense Chiefs Say Iraqi Threat Growing." - "How Bush Decided That Iraq's Hussein Must Be Ousted," and the subhead: "Chilling Warnings in October Sparked Internal Debate on Pre-emptive Strategy; a 'Dirty Bomb' Scare in D.C." - "Bush to Formalize a Defense Policy of Hitting First," and the subhead: "Plans on Iraq Intensify." - "Democrats: Expel Saddam." - Two bizarre (or disinformation) page-one stories from The New York Times: (a) "U.S. Plan for Iraq Is Said to Include Attack on 3 Sides," and the subhead: "Preliminary Document Envisions Tens of Thousands of Troops" (July 5). (b) "U.S. Considers Wary Jordan as Base for an Attack on Iraq" (July 10). - "Call in Congress for Full Airing of Iraq Policy." - President Bush, in his July 9 press conference: Q: "Is it your firm intention to get rid of Saddam Hussein in Iraq?..." Bush: "Yes. It's a stated policy of this government to have a regime change - and it hasn't changed. And we'll use all tools at our disposal to do so...." So Saddamizers, in the form of American bombs, missiles and snipers, etc., soon may be on their way.