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Did Times Report Invent a Quote for Catholic Leader?

Holy Jayson Blair! Catholic League president William Donohue charges Times reporter Paul Vitello with inventing a quote: "I never said anything remotely like this."

Friday's New York Times published an article on William Donohue, "the perennially indignant president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights." Reporter Paul Vitello implied the presence of paranoia: "Mr. Donohue surveys the world - and more often than not finds it rife with anti-Catholic bias." He's a man who "can grate on enemies and friends alike with his immense ability to be offended on behalf of his church." Imagine these sentences applied to other ethnic or religious groups: the NAACP, GLAAD, or the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai Brith. But Donohue is crying foul in a press release, that the reporter didn't just misquote him, but invented a quote for him:


I have asked for a correction regarding a comment that is attributed to me, but which I never made. Regarding the movie "Angels & Demons," reporter Paul Vitello writes as follows: "They even have a scene where rats eat a bunch of cardinals," he [Donohue] said. "Can you imagine any other religion where this would not be viewed as rank religious bias?"


Not only did I never say anything even remotely like this, it cheapens my complaint. My central concern is the way Dan Brown's book, and the movie upon which it is based, portrays the Catholic Church: The Catholic Church is not anti-reason and anti-science. I don't care a fig about films showing rats eating cardinals.


Vitello is also quick to associate Donahue with the "right wing," something the Times would not echo by placing the NAACP, GLAAD, or the ADL on the left:


He has been called the professional wrestler of the Catholic right wing, but he prefers describing himself as "the Marine forward unit of the church," the squad leader who ventures out, spots the enemy, and calls in artillery. In his glossary, "enemy" means the anti-Catholic bias that persists, despite the success of individual Catholics, in every sector of American life.


The liberals (or "liberal-leaning" folks) are brought in to question Donohue's efficacy:


"I consider him a friend, but there are times when he goes over the top," said the Rev. James Martin, culture editor of America, a liberal-leaning Jesuit magazine. "Blowing a gasket on TV works. It's good TV. In terms of how this serves the larger Catholic agenda, that is another question."


Vitello also failed to show any nuance in characterizing Donohue's view of the Notre Dame commencement controversy. Donohue was slow to comment and staked a middle ground, suggesting that Obama could be welcomed to speak on campus, but not honored at a ceremony. Vitello's description of his take as "vociferous" without further elaboration was sloppy:


On Sunday, the University of Notre Dame is set to give an honorary degree to President Obama, a supporter of abortion rights, and Mr. Donohue has been vociferous in his criticism. "Not so much against Mr. Obama, but Father Jenkins for inviting him," he said, referring to the university president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins. "Here is a Catholic priest, bestowing an honor on someone who supports selective infanticide."


Vitello also failed to add any nuance or analysis of whether Obama is truly a politician who supported infanticide: in the Illinois state senate, he worked to insure that failed "born alive" abortions could be brought to their naturally violent conclusion, even if the baby had survived.


Vitello mangled the case of anti-Catholic gay activist Harry Knox of the so-called Human Rights Campaign, calling him a "new White House aide" when he's merely been picked to serve on an advisory commission on Obama's attempt at a faith-based initiative.


Disclosure: Media Research Center president Brent Bozell serves on the board of the Catholic League and joined Donohue in calling for Harry Knox to be dismissed for anti-Catholic bigotry.