It’s Holy Week for the world’s Christians, leading to the most significant event on the calendar, Easter Sunday. How does the national media cover such a significant week? The Media Research Center took a look at the media coverage from last year’s Holy Week and compared it to coverage of Earth Day. Who did better, Jesus or Gaia?
Media Undermine Christian Holiday: Nearly two thirds of all stories about Easter were negative (22 out of 34).
Easter Used to Attack Catholic Church: Ninety-one percent of the negative Easter stories were about the pedophilia scandal in the Roman Catholic Church.
Love That Mother Nature: 100 percent of Earth Day stories were positive.
I have nothing against Earth Day in and of itself. While the politics of environmentalists are destructive, it’s not necessary to denigrate the efforts of individuals to help improve the environment through private and individual action. The problem with Earth Day is that it’s used as a platform to argue for statist “solutions” to environmental issues that will tend to keep people in poverty and create even more power for a small clique of elites at the top of government and big business.
Those arguments could use a skeptical eye from the media. As MRC reports, though, they got a tongue bath instead:
“And on this Earth Day we told you about the plastic lying around the earth,” Sawyer said on “World News.” “Well what if you could take it and turn it into an answered prayer for some children? One woman did just that. It’s the American heart.” …
“As we said earlier, this is Earth Day, the 40th anniversary, in fact, of what’s considered the birth of the modern environmental movement,” anchor Brian Williams said on “Nightly News.” “On this Earth Day there was this item in the news today, a way to remind us all to take a fresh look at something we look down and see just about every day: cigarette butts. Not only are they the most common form of litter, they are filled with toxins, every one of them that can leach out into the environment and make their way into drinking water supplies and pets, among other things.”
Likewise, I have no trouble with skeptical coverage of religions, although I’d note that some religions rarely get the kind of proctoscopic skepticism given the Catholic Church. However, that should be done with some semblance of balance. The scandals of child abuse have been covered, well, religiously for more than a decade now, and for good reason. As the MRC notes, however, it’s now a favorite framing device for any news coverage of Catholics, no matter how unrelated the topic might be:
ABC’s “World News Saturday” provided the perfect juxtaposition of how the networks disparaged Easter and praised Earth Day in 2010. “This is the holiest weekend in the Christian calendar,” said ABC’s Dan Harris on April 3, 2010. “But Easter is providing no respite whatsoever from what may be the gravest outrage in the modern history of the Catholic Church.” …
NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams showed the same pattern as ABC in its reporting on the Vatican’s scandal. “This, of course, is Good Friday,” Williams said on April 2, 2010. “And in a service at the Vatican today there was an unusual defense of the pope and the growing sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.”
Of course, Easter is the holiest of celebrations for most Christian sects, not just Catholics. There didn’t seem to be much coverage of how Easter plays in the US with those Christians. Seven of the nine positive mentions of the holiday came in anchors wishing people a Happy Easter, but one of the remaining two came from NBC in coverage of Barack Obama:
Another one came from Natalie Morales, a NBC “Nightly News” correspondent who mentioned that “In Washington this Easter Sunday, President Obama and the first family took time out for prayer and reflection before the chief executive gets back into business.”
Naturally. This year, Earth Day falls on Good Friday. It will be interesting to see how the mainstream media covers religious services this year.
Update: I’m pretty sure that the national media won’t be mentioning Reason TV’s look at the Top 5 Environmental Disasters That Didn’t Happen — but it’s definitely worth watching: