When Child Sex Abuse Isn't News

Five years ago, Pope Benedict arrived in London to erupting controversy. Around 10,000 people took to the capital's streets for a rally against the Holy Father's “intolerance,” and as the Guardian reported, against “the child abuse scandal for which so many hold the pontiff personally responsible, for both accelerating it and then covering it up.”

The abuse in question centered for the most part on incidents that were 40 years old or more.

Nevertheless, CBS reporter Mark Phillips described the trip as "A test of whether Pope Benedict can get his message across over the background noise of the Church's child abuse scandal. And that test gets harder as time goes on."

The media were pledging to never let up with the noise-making.

Today the United Kingdom is ablaze with the official discovery that in the northern English town of Rotherham, at least 1,400 children, some as young as 11, were groomed for sexual exploitation and rape (even gang rape) while the authorities looked the other way – from 1997 to 2013. The abusers were Pakistanis.

Some would ask (correctly): Where were the police? We would ask: Where are these child-defending networks now?

"The vast majority of perpetrators have been identified as South Asian and most victims were young white girls, adding to the complexity of the case,” reported The New York Times. “Some officials appeared to believe that social workers pointing to a pattern of sexual exploitation were exaggerating, while others reportedly worried about being accused of racism if they spoke out.”

In America, the same TV networks over the last dozen years have filed hundreds of noise-making stories slamming decades-old allegations of child abuse in the Catholic Church – suddenly they can’t find this story with two hands. There’s been nothing on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. A Nexis search can’t even find any transcripts mentioning the story on CNN or MSNBC, and just one on Fox News. USA Today hasn’t found it, and The Washington Post only placed a story online, not in the paper.

Do they only care to report on England’s royal children? No one else’s matter?

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times discovered the story briefly on August 27, and NPR aired two reports, on August 26 and 27. The New York Times then put it on the front page on September 2. But none of these stories made any mention of Muslims or Islam. These child abusers were not clerics, but their religious heritage was as politically touchy as their ethnicity.

Take the Catholic Church out of it.and child-sex scandals aren’t particularly scandalous in the eyes of the press.

This echoes the British child-sex scandal of 2012, when it was discovered that longtime BBC “Top of the Pops” host Jimmy Savile was convincingly accused of sexually abusing more than 300 women and underage girls, some as young as 12. NBC led the broadcast networks with just four reports, while CBS offered two, PBS had two tiny briefs, and ABC had zilch.

From October 14, 2012, when the story broke in the paper, through December 20, 2012, there were 31 New York Times news stories mentioning the Savile controversy -- only four on the front page. This story was especially embarrassing, since the Times had just hired Savile’s former BBC boss Mark Thompson, who claimed to be completely ignorant about his colleague’s abuses, and about the spiking of a 2011 BBC news report breaking the Savile scandal.

By comparison, in just over two months in 2010, the Times ran 64 news stories aggressively questioning Pope Benedict’s handling of sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, including in Ireland and California. Thirteen of those landed on the front page.

Shocking stories of child sex abuse are apparently much more newsworthy when they can be used to punish and weaken organizations that secular progressives don’t like.