Bad journalism

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 28, 2003

The New York Times again lets its editorials work their way onto the news pages. As reported on Fox News and, a Times article by Elisabeth Bumiller purports to find dissatisfaction with Bush's performance by conservative religious people.

At the same time, some religious supporters of Mr. Bush say they feel betrayed by promises he made as a candidate and now, they maintain, has broken as president.

And who is the only Bush "supporter" they quote?

"After three years, he's failed the test," said one prominent early supporter, the Rev. Jim Wallis, leader of Call to Renewal, a network of churches that fights poverty.

Well, it turns out that Wallis is in fact a Democrat and is a Bush supporter only in the same sense that Howard Dean is a Bush "supporter."

Critics of Call to Renewal said the letter's signatories are far-left political ideologues. They say the letter does not represent the feelings of all church leaders and their congregants.

“These are liberal religious leaders from the get-go. Looking over the list, I would say it would not be a stretch to say only 10 percent of them voted for Bush, and even that 10 percent wouldn’t admit that to their friends,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“I’m sure he’s cognizant of their concerns, but the president knows where these people are coming from,” Land added.

Lou Giovino, a spokesman for the Catholic League, said it's notable that Call to Renewal emerged during the tax cut debates, a severely partisan issue on Capitol Hill. Wallis was often seen railing against the Republicans alongside Democratic leaders at the height of the fight.

Will there be a correction from the Times? Don't bet on it. A correction can't fix this article -- only a retraction can.


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August 2003



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