Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

KOAT-ABC Albuquerque on a really, really slow news day

In Ed Wood’s classic gafflick “Plan Nine from Outer Space” (1959), stewardess Edie declines co-pilot Danny’s invitation to “ball it up in Albuquerque” by quipping that Albuquerque “is strictly a nine o’clock town.” Maybe KOAT Albuquerque reporter Royale Dá thinks so too.

Bereft of any news actually worth reporting one day, Dá spent on-air time interviewing one of the tens of thousands of Catholics who are divorced and remarried outside the Church about, well, being one of tens of thousands of Catholics divorced and remarried outside the Church. Poor soil, one might think, from which to grow a real news story.

Undeterred, Dá allowed her subject to, among other things, mangle for viewers the canon law on legitmacy of children (a status utterly unimpacted by nullity proceedings), snipe at “the Church” for “accepting” his money (as if the archbishop of Sante Fe gets a memo everytime some nice guy drops a buck in the collection plate), and generally to play the hero for his refusing “to say the word” that would assure him of his annulment and make peace with the Church. Now folks, this is 10 years in tribunals and 10 more teaching canon law talking here, and I’m here to say, if there’s a 'magic word' that will get a Catholic his or her annulment, I’ve never heard it.

What Dá really works, though, is vintage MSM “victim advocacy” journalism. A reporter finds some lonely little guy beset by the giant corporation (or the government, or social standards, or whatever), and offers him as the gallant defender of his own rights and those of others simularly situated. Just assume the “victim” is always accurate in what he says and balanced in how he says it. Because Dá’s subject is critcial of the Catholic Church, though, we get to assume that he is both knowledgeable and fair in his remarks, and Dá never suggests otherwise. It's like she read Chesterton's famous remark that "When it comes to beating the Catholic Church, any stick will do", and thought that GKC approved of the practice!

There are, to be sure, plenty of Catholics out there living lives publicly at odds with Church teaching and yet willing to complain to MSM media types about how the Church’s rules for the Church’s members make them “feel unwanted”. Ergo, reporters like Dá will have ample fodder for slow news days far, far into the future.

Nice work, if you can get it.