One can tell something about a journalist or TV anchor not only by what they cover, but what they choose not to cover.
Rachel Maddow is rapidly becoming an icon of the left. She is openly gay and passionate about LGBT and women's issues. No complaints about any of that. With Keith Olbermann gone, she and Ed Schultz are probably the two most effective advocates for the left on TV.
As Rachel pursues truth, justice, and all that is good, few things seem to set her heart aflutter as much as having an opportunity to point out shortcomings and foibles of the Catholic Church. She seems uncharacteristically tongue-tied, however, when it comes to recognizing the work the Church does in areas generally considered important to most liberals … feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and educating the poor. Indeed, President Obama has often spoken about cutting his teeth as a community organizer by working with Catholic parishes on the south side of Chicago.
A poignant example of how Rachel treats bad news and good news involving the Church was on display last week. On the same day, two stories involving the Church in the United States broke.
First, an obscure bishop from Peoria, Illinois gave a bizarre talk in which he compared President Obama's policies in public education to those of Hitler. The good bishop was apparently unaware of the well-established rule that the first person to mention Hitler's name in an argument loses.
Second, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released four letters it had sent to relevant Congressional committees, outlining forcefully, unequivocally, and in detail their objections to the Republican budget known as the Ryan Plan for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. The bishops identified cuts to nutrition programs, housing, and aid to pregnant women and immigrant families, and stated that the proposed budget was morally deficient in that it failed to draw a "circle of protection around programs that serve the least among us."
The letters of the Bishop's Conference to Congress represented the Church speaking, at its highest level in the United States, using language that would be welcome before any liberal or progressive group. The misguided cleric from Peoria was an inconsequential figure saying something stupid and speaking only for himself.
Dr. Maddow (Rhodes Scholar with a Ph.D. from Oxford) is smart enough to know which of these stories is significant. The fact that she led and gave headline coverage to the "Hitler" story is disappointing. The fact that she gave no coverage (like nada, zip, bupkis) to the "feed the poor" story is revealing.
It reveals that even Rachel Maddow (she about whom no ill may be spoken) has an inner Rick Santorum … that nasty little impulse for the cheap shot either by act or omission. Do it enough, and that's who you are.