WaPo buried hit-and-run female Episcopalian “bishop” but highlighted Catholic lesbian Communion denial

From Newsbusters:

WashPost Buries Hit-and-Run Death Caused by Female Episcopalian Bishop; Front-Paged Catholic Lesbian Scandal

Which offense is more serious? [A] Denying a lesbian communion at a Catholic funeral? Or [B] a female Episcopalian bishop hitting and killing a bicyclist? The Washington Post has picked (A).[What a surprise.]In 2012, they splashed across the front page (with a picture) that lesbian activist Barbara Johnson was denied communion at her mother’s funeral. [Remember Fr. Guarnizo?]

On December 30, the Post [The Washington Post, that is…]buried a hit-and-run-bishop story on page B5 with the headline “Bishop put on leave after fatal crash: Episcopal diocese says Heather Cook drove car that killed bicyclist.”

The No. 2 Episcopal bishop in the Diocese of Maryland has been placed on administrative leave after she was involved in a car crash Saturday that killed a bicyclist.

Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook, who is the bishop suffragan, or second bishop for the diocese of Maryland, which is headquartered in Baltimore, left the scene but returned later “to take responsibility for her actions,” her bishop said in a statement.


Court records show that Cook received “probation before judgment” in 2010 for a drinking and driving charge on the Eastern Shore, where she worked before becoming a bishop. She had been charged at the time with possession of marijuana paraphernalia as well. But those charges were dropped, and she successfully completed her probation. [Good candidate for “bishop”.]

On December 31, The Post ran another story on page B6 headlined “Bishop involved in fatal crash had a DUI arrest in 2010, and diocese knew.”

Leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland who this spring made Heather Elizabeth Cook a bishop – the diocese’s first female bishop – knew the ugly details of her 2010 drunk-driving arrest but determined “that this one mistake should not bar her for consideration as a leader,” the diocese said in a statement Tuesday.  [I want you, all you readers, to pause right now.  Pause for a moment.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Now… in the story substitute “Catholic” for “Episcopal” and “real bishop” for “pretend bishop”.  Imagine what the Washington Post would have done had this been a Catholic bishop who did a hit and run.  The national press, every sort of media, would be dancing around the chancery with torches and pig heads on spikes.]

[… lots of unpleasant details… and then…]

The Barbara Johnson [lesbian] communion scandal kept drawing stories on page B-1 or in the A-section, unlike these hit-and-run bishop stories in 2012 (not counting editorials):

March 12: Priest is placed on leave from ministry (Page B-1)
March 15: Priest disputes archdiocese’s account (Page B-1)
March 18: Two unusual Catholics create firestorm (Page A-17, 2499 words) [!]

The Washington Post also creditably stuck to the story of Rabbi Barry Freundel and his improper taping and exploitation of unclothed women in ritual baths. That’s repeatedly been a B-1 story. [QUAERITUR…]So for what reason — other than feminist ideology — is this story being buried in the back?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. bbmoe says:

    So, four years ago, a priest in mid-50’s is arrested for driving so drunk that a sobriety test couldn’t even be performed, who was covered in vomit and reeked of marijuana, but this we’re to believe was a one-off. Right.

    I can’t imagine hitting someone and driving away. I just can’t imagine it if I were sober.

    In any case, we have two competing ideologies here: feminism and bicyclism. Don’t laugh: bicyclists are not to be tangled with, and they aren’t benign do-gooders, either, but they often find themselves on the receiving end of intentional car aggression, so it makes them quick to go after perps. Good for them.

    If I were among the Episcopalian faithful who had been kept in the dark, I’d feel very, very betrayed.

  2. JTH says:

    Prayers to all priests. It would appear persecutions of faithful priests will only grow in number as time passes.

    Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

  3. In fact, we don’t really have to imagine what would happen if this were a Catholic bishop, as it really happened in the Diocese of Phoenix, when the then-bishop hit and killed someone and then left the scene. That bishop resigned, and was later convicted of felony leaving the scene. What did the press do then?

    The one good thing about the whole affair was that Phoenix then got the awesome + Thomas Olmstead as its new bishop.

  4. excalibur says:

    This is why newspapers are dying. Many are in fact dead, just hanging around as zombies until their final dispatch.

  5. Legisperitus says:

    Think back to 2004, when Bishop O’Brien of Phoenix committed a hit-and-run. Substantially more coverage, I’d say.

  6. Maltese says:

    Of course, in the Catholic faith, only a man can be a Bishop, and only a man can marry a woman–thank God!

  7. Supertradmum says:

    When are American Catholics going to wake up to the fact that Anti-Catholicism is not only alive and well, but kicking?

    Remember the four (or five depending on the source) stages of persecution. Vilification is second to the last.

  8. DisturbedMary says:

    How about some 2015 swag. ? A Fr. Z breathalizer with the Words: “Breathe in. Breathe out” for just such emergencies.

  9. ray from mn says:

    “The No. 2 Episcopal bishop in the Diocese of Maryland has been placed on administrative leave ”

    Who came up with the administrative leave scam, better known as “vacation with pay?” Pretty much mandatory for government employees and apparently also for the Episcopal church in Maryland. Some people get a years pay before their case is settled and you better believe when they are found guilty, they don’t have to pay that money back. And if they want, they can take a temp job to supplement their vacation pay.

  10. wiseskier says:

    Please pray for the victim and his family. His wife’s parents are parishioners at my parish and are devastated by the sudden loss. He leaves behind a wife and several young children.

  11. Gail F says:

    So the stories themselves are pretty sound (the lede on the first one is especially hard-hitting) but the editors are sticking them relatively far back. Good to know that the reporters are doing their jobs, at least.

  12. Athelstan says:

    First: Some credit is due to Michelle Boorstein for getting the initial story written, and actually following up a day later with more research showing that the bishop had a history and that this history had been covered up before her election. Michelle didn’t stop with the story on the accident. She did more digging. Terry Mattingly, who does so much excellent coverage of media bias regarding the Catholic Church, notably focuses his attention on praising Boorstein for actually bothering to do the hard digging, rather than explore why the story was relatively buried in B section: http://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2014/12/31/tragedy-in-maryland-an-episcopal-bishop-her-dui-record-a-dead-cyclist-and-the-meaning-of-above-reproach

    Of course, it’s editors who choose what page a story runs on. Why did this story get buried so deep in the paper, when negative stories involving the Catholic Church get so much more visibility – including from the Post itself?

    The only argument I can think of is that the Catholic Church is a lot bigger and more visible than the Episcopal Church is, either in Maryland/DC or elsewhere. But it’s hard to go very far with that to explain all of the difference in treatment: the Episcopal Church has a long and powerful history in this region, and it owns what is arguably the most important religious structure in the region (National Cathedral). The Barbara Johnson story involved an obscure priest denying communion to someone; this story involved a high ranking prelate actually *killing* someone through reckless behavior and fleeing the scene (a felony crime in itself), on top of a history of such behavior, apparently covered up by her church.

    My sense, having worked for a major daily, is that both the Johnson story and this initial accident story of Bishop Cook belonged inside the metro section. But the follow-up story by Boorstein revealing the coverup deserved something considerably more prominent – page B-1, at the very least, if not indeed something high in Section A. And it is very hard to believe that a Catholic auxiliary bishop and his diocese guilty of the same behavior wouldn’t have gotten much more prominent treatment by the Post. The really hard thing to justify is the massive attention lavished on the Barbara Johnson story.

    But I am glad that Boorstein is not letting this story go – I expect more follow-up stories from her now – and that her editors are at least letting her go forward with it. That counts for something.

  13. Pingback: The Persecuted Christians in the Middle East - BigPulpit.com

  14. It’s all about the media’s support of their agenda. Anything that perpetuates

    * * * G-I-R-L * P-O-W-E-R * * *

    must not meet any opposition – even at the expense of justice . . . no . . . opposition.

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