Network Newscast Blackout of Mandate on Catholics Continues, But Sunday Talk Shows Take It Up

The broadcast network evening and morning newscast blackout, of the Obama administration plan to force health insurance offered by Catholic charities and hospitals to cover sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception without a co-pay, continued over the weekend, yet the ABC and NBC Sunday morning talk shows took up the topic.

Meanwhile, the media double standard in ignoring the ObamaCare imposition on religious institutions while jumping to defend Planned Parenthood when Komen pulled funding, is being noticed by media observers ranging from from Fox News to even a New York Times columnist.

Guest Newt Gingrich raised, on both CBS's Face the Nation and NBC's Meet the Press, the Obama administration's 'war on religion,' prompting semi-conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks to address the subject, and the media's lack of concern, at the start of the NBC show's roundtable segment:

One of the things that's happened over the past two weeks is, Gingrich talked about it, this issue with the Catholic hospitals and the Catholic service providers. It's not been a big story in the media and I think it's because we're too secular, but it's out in pulpits. In Catholic and Protestant pulpits across America it's a huge issue, the idea, the perception that the President is assaulting religious freedom....

Over on ABC's This Week, ex-Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos saw trouble for Obama – but he's never bothered mentioning it on Good Morning America, which he co-hosts.

After playing a clip of House Speaker John Boehner declaring 'This mandate violates our Constitution. I think it violates the rights of these religious organizations and I would hope that the administration would back up and take another look at this,' Stephanopoulos warned: 'Even some of the President's prominent Catholic liberal supporters said he went too far here.'

Left-wing online media modul Arianna Huffington, of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, came to Obama's defense:

Well, actually what the White House has said is that they have a year in which to work with Catholic institutions to find ways in which they can provide contraception for their employees, many of whom are not Catholic, and they have a year in which to work that out. Charities are not going to be affected. We are talking about Catholic hospitals that employ a lot of non-Catholics.

As the MRC's Matthew Balan documented in a Friday Media Reality Check, 'Media Go to Bat for Abortion Giant, Ignore Catholics vs. Obama Controversy,' the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening newscasts have imposed a near-total blackout of the insurance coverage mandate: 'It took CBS ten days to air one news brief about the controversy on CBS This Morning on January 30. Neither ABC nor NBC have aired anything on their morning and evening newscasts over the past two weeks, and CBS hasn't done anything since giving that one brief.'

None offered any attention on Saturday or Sunday outside of their Sunday morning talk shows.

On FNC's Fox News Watch on Saturday, Jim Pinkerton noticed the disparity with Planned Parenthood v Komen:

Matthew Balan, of the Media Research Center, made the great point, look, while the mainstream media were stone silent on this issue, the mainstream media that is, they were all over the Susan Komen-Planned Parenthood story. They're sort of similar news holes in terms of, you know, in terms of sexual-religious issues, and yet the media completely pummeled the Komen foundation – front page story, lead of everything – and ignored this. Kind of interesting why, because on the one hand they were rooting for Planned Parenthood; on the other hand they were rooting against the Catholic Church. Nothing new there, but quite stark in its contrast.'

Also on Saturday, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, took the media to task on abortion. In 'The Media's Abortion Blinders,' Douthat asserted:

Conservative complaints about media bias are sometimes overdrawn. But on the abortion issue, the press's prejudices are often absolute, its biases blatant and its blinders impenetrable. In many newsrooms and television studios across the country, Planned Parenthood is regarded as the equivalent of, well, the Komen foundation: an apolitical, high-minded and humanitarian institution whose work no rational person — and certainly no self-respecting woman — could possibly question or oppose.

For evidence, check this from the MRC's TimesWatch: 'NYT Sides With 'Health Provider' Planned Parenthood in 'Partisan' Komen Funding Cut-Off.'

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.