WSJ cartoon against Bp. Morlino with a workshop on the WSJ’s lack of professionalism

Again and again we see liberals and the MSM (virtually all liberal) cherry-pick a quote of Pope Francis and then run with it as if, by itself, it actually means something profoundly in harmony with their liberal agenda.

I saw this on the blog of Syte Reitz.  She vivisects the choice by the editors of the Wisconsin State Journal to post an editorial cartoon which aims to pit Bishop Robert Morlino (of Madison) against Pope Francis.

Context: on 1 August Bp. Morlino observed his 10th anniversary of being appointed as Bishop of Madison and there were articles in the paper about him.

The piece by Reitz serves as a good defense of a good bishop.  It also serves as a workshop for how the lib media operates.

Here is the first part.  I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing there.  Her blog entry formatting is a little confusing, but you will catch on after a bit (hint: she isn’t posting separate entries on each point).

Wisconsin State Journal Flunks Journalism Again!
What’s Wrong With Gay Marriage?

Two days after getting some praise for their balanced article on Bishop Morlino, the Wisconsin State Journal was back to its old games, misrepresenting the Bishop yet again.
They managed to shoot themselves in the foot quite handsomely this time.

Here’s a cartoon they published, quoting both Pope Francis and Bishop Morlino out of context, in an attempt to make it seem that Bishop Morlino is in disagreement with the Pope:


How Does This Cartoon Shoot WSJ in the Foot?

How does WSJ shoot itself in the foot with this cartoon?Slide1
Let me count the ways:

  1. It’s unprofessional to nest your references so deep that the original source being quoted can hardly be found.
  2. It’s unprofessional to compare apples and oranges.
  3. It’s unprofessional to quote your sources out of context.
  4. It’s unprofessional to ignore the Bigger Story
  5. It’s unprofessional to contradict yourself.
  6. It’s unprofessional for a journalist to spin the news.  (And it’s triply embarrassing when you spin it badly and get caught.)
[In the whole entry at her blog she goes through each point.  I’ll give you just a couple of them.]

This unprofessional behavior would be more suited to the grapevine whispering game, in which messages become unrecognizably altered as they are whispered from person to person in a chain, than to a professional journalist.

  •  It’s unprofessional to nest your references so deep that nobody can find the original source being quoted.

So, in his efforts to malign and misrepresent Bishop Morlino, Phil Hands had to dig far and deep, and ended up quoting out of context from a homily given by Bishop Morlino in 2006.
In fact, Phil Hands quoted Doug Erickson’s artilce, who quoted a 2006 Bill Wineke article, who quoted Bishop Morlino’s homily from the 2006 Madison Catholic Herald, out of context.

  • It’s unprofessional to compare apples and oranges.

apple-vs-orangePhil Hands was comparing Pope Francis’ comments about a Catholic homosexual who is following Church teaching on chastity, with Bishop Morlino’s comments on the the legal repercussions of governmental redefinition of marriage.  Those repercussions have already violated the religious freedom rights of Catholics and have already closed Catholic adoption agencies.  More on the legal details in the Appendix below.  But suffice it to say that comparing discussion of chaste Catholic homosexuals with discussion of the legal implications of redefining marriage is not a very professional move on the part of Phil Hands.

  • It’s unprofessional to quote your sources out of context.

Pope Francis’ statement in context:

In these situations, it’s important to distinguish between a gay person and a gay lobby, because having a lobby is never good. If a gay person is a person of good will who seeks God, who am I to judge? The Catechism of the Church explains this very beautifully. It outlines that gays should not be marginalized. The problem is not having this [homosexual] orientation. No, we must be brothers and sisters. The problem is lobbying for this orientation, or lobbies of greed, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me. And thank you so much for this question. Thank you very much!

Slide1Bishop Morlino’s statment in context:

I’m spending time on this today because we’ve got a battle. We’ve got a battle at the federal level in June and we’ve got a battle at the state level in November. And I’m serious about it, I can’t imagine what happens if marriage goes down the tubes. If marriage goes down the tubes, life will become one big custody suit. And who will decide who raises children and how they get raised? The State, more and more and more. Marriage goes down the tubes, the State will be deciding who gets custody and how the kids get taught. And when the State does that, rather than the natural parents, that’s the end of democracy.

In context, both Pope Francis’ comments and Bishop Morlino’s comments mean something quite different than what Phil Hands tried to imply in his cartoon.

It’s unprofessional to ignore the Bigger Story


Read the whole thing.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. CatholicCaliGirl says:

    Pope Francis was just repeating what the church has been saying for ages on homosexual people. The media only heard what he said and jumped on it, taking what they liked and leaving the rest. Ugh…

  2. Peggy R says:

    I thought WSJ was Wall St Journal. Glad to hear it’s not.

    This post is also a test. A short comment was not accepted on another thread the other day. My log in’s been slow. It seems better today.

  3. robtbrown says:

    Unless I’m wrong, there was a time when cartoonists were funny and clever, and journalists could actually write and think a bit. Those days are long gone. Now we are bored by semi literate ideologues with minds frozen by Marxist critique.

    That’s why once devoted newspaper readers like yours truly aren’t shedding tears over the terminally ill newspaper industry.

  4. mamajen says:

    I’ve seen so many people running with that “Who am I to judge?” quote, implying that Pope Francis is A-OK with gay priests, gay marriage, etc. It’s really frustrating. The Church’s teaching is a lot more “tolerant” than most people tend to believe, but now they’re taking it to the wrong extreme.

  5. Elizabeth D says:

    Good work Syte. In this cartoon, Pope Francis is mocked as not being forthright about the moral truth, and Bishop Morlino attacked for not being “pastoral” by studiously avoiding suggesting homosexuality is problematic.

  6. Del says:

    The Wisconsin State Journal and the rest of the liberal elite are so quick to forget: Cardinal Bergoglio spoke out bravely in Argentina against redefining natural marriage.

    Pope Francis knows that when once a culture believes that a legislature can alter reality, then democracy cannot survive much longer.

    We have already let our government define that a child in the womb is not a human person. And with assisted suicide, we have let our government allow that some other lives are not worth living. And now, we face an array of relationships that must be treated as if they have the dignity of natural marriage.

    Since our faith is based on reality, and our culture no longer believes in reality — it is not a surprise that the Elitist Totalitarian Dictators are stripping away our democratic religious freedoms.

  7. AA Cunningham says:

    “and the MSM (virtually all liberal)” Father Z

    That’s why the fourth estate shouldn’t be referred to as the MSM(sic). Liberals aren’t mainstream, they’re leftists. A more accurate acronym is DLEMM – Dominant Liberal Establishment Mass Media. We don’t give the Pelosi’s and Biden’s of the world a pass when they claim to be faithful Catholics. Let’s not give the DLEMM a pass by perpetuating the myth that they are mainstream.

    “I thought WSJ was Wall St Journal. Glad to hear it’s not. ” Peggy R

    It should be noted that the editorial staff/pages at the Wall Street Journal are largely conservative; Paul Gigot is the current editorial page editor. The news staff/pages are by and large left center. Al Hunt, aka Mr. Judy Woodruff, was at one time the news editor at the Wall Street Journal and worked at the paper for 35 years. No one should ever mistakenly think he is/was a conservative.

  8. David Zampino says:

    I live in Wisconsin, and I thought “WSJ” meant “Wall Street Journal” as well. I’m glad to know that I am mistaken!

  9. Lori Pieper says:

    I’d never heard of this lady or her blog before this, but I like her style!

  10. StJude says:

    Its gay agenda 24/7 now…. … it isnt going to stop.

  11. NBW says:

    I thought the object of an editorial cartoon was to be witty, make a point, and to make the reader chuckle.
    The drawing of Bishop Morlino looks like Harry Carey. Very distracting. The artist needs to work on wit along with the drawing skills.

  12. Peter in Canberra says:

    I have a different view. I don’t like it that Bp Morlino is copping it or that the Pope’s words are being used in this way.
    But, apropos of Fr Z’s other thread about whether Pope Francis has a plan in relation to his [numerous] public statements, the cartoonist can hardly be blamed [?!?] – this is in fact close to how many many people in the world view this, including Catholics (and me) – the Pope was NOT helpful by his comments about “who am I to judge”. Whether that is what he intended is another matter.
    Maybe cartoonists are more satirical and biting in Australia but I wasn’t that surprised – I have seen much worse.

  13. allan500 says:

    Yes, the cartoon used two statements out of context, but the real problem is with the Bishop of Rome. Francis is replete with odd actions and statements that leave everybody puzzled. The more charitable assume it is part of his style! A pope whose style is to be misunderstood?

  14. Gretchen says:

    It is imperative to point out the media’s underlying agenda (and not just regarding the Catholic religion), and to show what must be done to expose it. Unfortunately, it requires more effort to get at the truth than to just believe the lies, false logic and obfuscation.

    As to what to call the media now that they are known more for their agenda than their reporting abilities, that is a good question. I like the appellation Enemedia.

  15. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “It’s unprofessional…”

    Ah! But who ever considered liberals professional? ;^)

    Just askin’.


  16. Late for heaven says:

    Mamajen, you say that it is frustrating to hear so many people run with the “Who am I to judge” quote. And so it is. Yet it is also a great introduction to an important distinction. So many people have been taught to see gay issues as a matter of mere human laws and values. In fact, not even the Pope has the power to judge souls. It is not man’s law and judgement we fear but God’s. So in charity to our neighbor we are obliged to teach the Gospel in the hope that he may obtain forgiveness and mercy.

    May God have mercy on us all.

  17. yatzer says:

    “Who am I to judge?” in my world implies “Who really cares?”. Perhaps it is different in Rome or Argentina.

  18. Nancy D. says:

    As the mother of a daughter with a same-sex sexual attraction that developed as the result of the perfect storm, that included a date rape during her freshman year of college, I have watched my daughter grow and develop and know she is suffering with a severe emotional problem. I Love my daughter, as I Love all my children, and it is because I Love her that I desire that she learn to develop healthy and Holy relationships and friendships that are grounded in authentic Love. At this moment in Time, due to the state of The Catholic Church, my family has not been able to hear the truth about the disordered nature of the homosexual inclination, and it is tearing my family apart. I can only imagine the number of families who are being destroyed as the result of the
    false ecumenism that has allowed the truth about our Catholic Faith to appear as one way among many other ways. The purpose of ecumenism is conversion to The Catholic Church, The Body of Christ, through The Way, The Truth, and The Light (Life) of Love, our Savior, Jesus The Christ; there is no other.
    Salvational Love is personal and relation. The God of our Salvation, The True God, desires that we overcome our disordered inclinations, whatever they may be, so that we are not led into temptation, but delivered from evil, through God’s Grace and Mercy. The Sacrifice of The Cross, Is The Sacrifice of The Most Holy Trinity, ” For God so Loved us, that He sent His only Son, that whosoever believe in Him, will not perish, but have eternal Life.”
    God does not discriminate against those who have a same-sex sexual attraction, He desires that men and women with a same-sex sexual attraction, like all sinners, become transformed. The question is, why were the teachings about sexual morality that had been handed down through the ages, most recently through Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI, ignored by so many inside His Church? How was dissent allowed to grow and flourish in Christ’s Church? No doubt, a group of persons, large enough to lead a multitude astray, have conspired to undermine The Doctrine of Faith. “Who am I to judge”, is the battle cry of those who do not desire to call a sin a sin.

  19. Cricket says:

    Odd disconnect for the WI State Journal. Phil Hands consistently mocks the Catholic Church in his cartoon-ery. But the official WSJ religion reporter, Doug Erickson (who has won several national awards for his excellent reportage), bends over backwards to be fair when writing about local Catholic leaders. I know Doug personally. He is a good man, intelligent & kind. He seems to have gained the trust of Catholic hierarchy in the Madison diocese, too. Perhaps Mr. Erickson needs to have a sit-down with this Hands guy…

  20. Supertradmum says:

    Nancy D, a perfect storm does not cause ssa. Nor does birth. Please pray for your daughter to return to the Faith, and then the ssa can be dealt with as part of her call to suffer and also to be healed. My blog today may be helpful to her, especially a comment made by reader.

  21. Nancy D. says:

    What’s wrong with “same-sex marriage”? Once you declare that in order to be married, it is no longer necessary for a couple to exist in relationship as husband and wife, thus changing the essence of the restrictive nature of marriage, making it permissible for any relationship to be declared marriage if one so desires, you in essence, invalidate the validity of a valid marriage.

  22. Nancy D. says:

    Supertradmum, I witnessed my daughter’s growth and development, and she was developing normally until the perfect storm occurred. After her “date rape”, the young man accused her of being “gay”. My daughter did not confide in us for several years, and we thought she was suffering with depression. Her friends convinced her that her suffering was due to the fact that she was probably “gay”, not the fact that she was violated by a young man she knew and trusted. She sought counseling at her Jesuit University, and at no time did they suggest that she tell us about her struggles, nor did they suggest that she may be suffering due to trauma. God does not desire anyone to suffer, so why would I find your post helpful? We suffer because we are not yet in Heaven, where “every tear will be wiped away”.

  23. Seamus says:

    Put me down as another one who thought this was about the Wall Street Journal.

  24. Giuseppe says:

    If I were writing an editorial cartoon using “Who am I to judge?” as a punch line, I’d could see any of the following

    1) Priest (with guitar playing nun in background) asking Pope: “Your Holiness, is it better to have 2 concelebrants or 4 concelebrants”. Pope (at altar, surrounded by 8 priests in orans) “Who am I to judge?”

    2) Reporter to Pope: “Your Holiness, should the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate continue to say the traditional Latin mass?” Pope: “Who am I to judge” (in corner, Father Lombardi* with smoke coming out of his ears). *or a similarly suitable spokesman

    3) Youngster, wearing a WDTPRS t-shirt, to Pope: “Your Holiness, is it better to say the Leonine prayers after the Latin Mass” Pope: (looking at his watch and a little fidgety) “Um….um…..who am I to judge?”

    4) 2 snooty, overly refined priests, to Pope: “Your Holiness, is it better for us to be seen at the opera or the ballet?” Pope: (bending over to bless a cripple) “Who am I to judge?”

    5) Pope Benedict (kneeling in prayer, beatific expression on face as he looks toward a crucifix) to Francis: “I still get grief over resigning as Pope.” Francis (surrounded by annoying reporters, and headlines “Bank Scandal”, “Butler Scandal”, “Gay Mafia”, “Poverty Rises” or other inflammatory headlines, also kneeling in prayer, looking exasperated, trying to also look up at a crucifix in prayer) to Benedict (with empathy): “Who am I to judge?”

    6) Simon Cowell, at American Idol judging table, to Pope on stage “Come on, baby. You can do it. The world needs you.” Pope Francis (shrugged shoulder, arms extended in an “I don’t know” position): “Who am I to judge?”

    (OK, I just wasted my lunch hour.)

  25. Johnno says:

    This could all be cleared up by Pope Francis preaching strongly against homosexuality in 1 homily-like press release to remind the faithful and all bishops about Church Teaching which will put a definitive end to this and make all these reporters look incredibly stupid.

    Or, heck, how about using that Twitter account to clear up his confusion in one sentence? That would get attention. Isn’t Vatican II supposed to be about clarity and explaining teh faith to the world through modern means?

    Sadly, I won’t be holding my breath.

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