This piece is a response to an article written by journalist and Catholic Michael Voris on the website churchmilitant.com, so it would be well to read his writing first. The link to his article lies below:
I’m not sure how to take your article, Mr. Voris. I get the basic question: Why isn’t Raymond Arroyo reporting on the Catholic establishment’s partiality in the presidential election? Is it a sign that Arroyo is beholden to them and can’t or won’t?
As a veteran journalist, however, you should be aware of the tensions involved in reporting, the personal dimension journalists have and their right to act within it, and the process and techniques of developing a story.
Besides, your own story is unsourced. Were you there? Did you see and hear the things of which you wrote? You made no mention of that.
Is it possible that Mr. Arroyo is working on just such a story about a cabal of clattering clerics who were out to derail the Donald Trump train? Is it possible he does not have enough evidence yet that he can use? In another vein, don’t journalists agree to embargo information or to listen to sources off the record some of the time as they build their stories?
Journalists assume different roles within the profession. Some are field reporters; others, anchors. Some write features, entertainment, sports, business, tech, general assignment, etc., and some assume the role of investigative journalist. Working at EWTN (itself a bit rogue and not friendly to some of the new, dissolute theology of the church), Mr. Arroyo has become a jack-of-all-trades for the network in news and probably mixes in a fair amount of tact with his reportorial frankness.
Mr. Arroyo’s situation does not differ from that of any other journalist in the business. There is a balance to be found and maintained between what the journalist as professional deems worthy of pursuit and what his editors or the ownership of the organ for which he works deems worthy of pursuit.
Perhaps in a perfect world, these pursuits would be congruent; in today’s factious and truculent times, they loom nigh impossible.
So you’re right, Mr. Voris. It’s tough to report on your bosses, and Mr. Arroyo would not be anywhere near the first journalist to encounter that wall (hhhmmm… think about that, Francis). I have not watched Mr. Arroyo enough (though I did watch his Trump interview and the wonderful “bigly” or “big league” finish) to grade him on how well he has done. I did watch some of his coverage of the process by which Pope Francis was elected, etc., and thought he did well to identify different factions within the church and how they were jostling for position and controlling the flow of information.
This is what I would contend, Mr. Voris: You have a much deeper problem in journalism and in the church than you have in your elementary rebuke of Mr. Arroyo.
At one time, the facts may have reigned supreme. Today, message reigns supreme, and people, including journalists, cannot get out of the way of facts fast enough so they can write and speak their stories. The message is no longer tailored to the facts; the facts are tailored to the message, and when those facts are inconvenient, they are simply tossed into the rubbish and replaced with labels, vague ideas like “dangerous”, divisive”, and “xenophobic”.
In that light, Mr. Arroyo may not have fared as badly as you suggest.
That the Catholic hierarchy stood against Mr. Trump does not surprise me much. It seems a number of bishops and priests, not to mention Francis himself, have long derogated Mr. Trump and the policies he has been supporting, all the while turning a blind eye to faux Catholic Nancy Pelosi and anti-Catholic Hillary Clinton, the proponents and enablers of Molochian policies like baby-killing and draconian policies like sucking the financial life and self-esteem out of American middle class workers they’ve dumped on the unemployment line.
The church has a long and rich spiritual, scriptural, intellectual, and pragmatic tradition. That tradition has been and is being sabotaged by the currently accepted biblical criticism. This criticism, known as “historical criticism”, promotes the idea that each of the New Testament writers cooked up fictitious stories or details to get a message across. It is the message, taken as a vital spiritual truth that only can be ascertained and gleaned and communicated by the Magisterium, that is eternal and truthful, not the facts, er, fictions, used to convey it!
In fact, the vital spiritual truth in the message allows one to alter both the facts and the accepted understanding of the facts and to create new ones!
Thus, eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ isn’t eating and drinking his body and blood so God communicates the power of his grace to believers visibly and tangibly through his son’s unjust torture and execution; it is a community meal of love and warmth and mutuality, blah blah, in which we accept our humanity and the humanity of Jesus.
That same warped principle weaves its way through today’s news reporting and rhetoric in all their ramifications. I don’t know how many news people stated as fact that Mr. Trump said on the Access Hollywood recording that he groped women “against their will.” During the presidential debate he moderated, CNN’s Anderson Cooper claimed that Mr. Trump said he was sexually assaulting women, then asked him if he ever had. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly also used the phrase “against their will” on one of her shows and suggested Mr. Trump was a “sexual predator”, if he had practiced what he talked about on the recording.
On the recording, Mr. Trump states exactly and explicitly that women “let” him grope them because he was a star. “Let” means permission granted, allowed. That’s NOT against their will.
And Megyn Kelly’s use of the legal term “sexual predator” during an exchange with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, later despicably echoed by shill and outgoing Senator Harry Reid, was completely inaccurate and incorrect and unethical. She used the false label as a ploy to grab ratings and create the illusion of toughness. She claimed that if Mr. Trump was a sexual predator, then it was a huge story that should be covered. She then added that she did not know that he was a sexual predator. So she brought up the term, not to cover it because it was a fact, but because it was a conditional, which if it were a fact, would justify coverage. She was covering possibility so she could repeat the term.
It’s nothing more than salacious sensationalism, a message the embittered Kelly wanted to get out (likewise with Clinton surrogate Cooper on the network that gave Clinton debate questions in advance) to harm Mr. Trump and affect the outcome of the election.
Feel free to surf the archives to check for posts about faulty reporting where the message took precedence over the facts. It continues in this post-election frame.
Mr. Voris, please scrutinize the “message” state of affairs in both journalism and the church. Mr. Arroyo is hardly the problem. Some of those bishops and priests might be. What happens to the Catholic Church – what happens to believers – when someone’s message gets propped up by the ultimate justification: the notion of infallibility?
“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”