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Tuesday, April 20, 2010
CMI Mind-Reading Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

Carolyn Plocher follows the MRC Culture & Media Institute tradition of pretending she can read the minds of reporters in an April 19 piece that purports to impute the motives of the Washington Post in publishing a profile of a lawyer suing the Catholic Church over allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

Plocher asserted that the Post "fawn[ed]" over the lawyer, Jeff Anderson, and that the article was "a free 1,400-word advertisement" for him. She went on to complain that "Anything in the article that could possibly be construed as negative about Anderson or his lawsuits against the Church was neatly padded with explanations and self-serving quotes."

Plocher also complained that "The article also sidestepped its duty to question Anderson's lawsuits, or at least give the other side of the story. " But Plocher doesn't tell us what that "other side" could be. It can't be that the abuse didn't occur, since it's pretty clear that it did.

In line with the MRC's treatment of any criticism of the Catholic Church over the child abuse scandal as unfair, Plocher portrayed Anderson's lawsuits as "attacks against the Catholic Church," ignoring the fact that Anderson is only criticizing the church in the context of its demonstrated history of shielding priests who sexually abused children from appropriate punishment.

Plocher also bizarrely portrayed as one of Anderson's "attacks against the Catholic Church" his "first sex abuse case that the Church settled with $1 million dollars – money that the article said was 'in return for silence.'" But the Post article clearly states that it wasn't a settlement: "The church offered $1 million to settle in return for silence. His client persisted and the investigation grew."

Plocher further complained that "Opponents to Anderson's work were only given four sentences – three of which were nothing but one-word epithets strung together and the fourth a partial quote sandwiched between two quotes of Anderson defending himself." Plocher then took it upon herself to amplify one of those criticisms -- the Catholic League's assertion that Anderson is "a radical lawyer who has made millions suing the Church" -- by highlighting the article's noting that Anderson "drives a Lexus," works in an "ornate office ... with Tiffany reproductions," and flies in a "chartered jet." But Plocher didn't highlight Anderson's estimate that most of his lawsuits yield no money for himself or his clients, often due to a statute of limitations.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:27 AM EDT

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