For more than a week, many of my friends have been encouraging me to read an article by Ken Woodward that appeared in the most recent Commonweal magazine. I didn’t get to read it until today, but I must admit that what I had heard is true: the article is excellent.
As you may know, Mr. Woodward was the religion editor at Newsweek magazine for many years. His piece, entitled Church of the ‘Times’ examines not only how the paper has covered the sexual abuse crisis confronting the Catholic Church, but also what Mr. Woodward calls the Times’s worldview. Here’s Mr. Woodward:
No question, the Times’s worldview is secularist and secularizing, and as such it rivals the Catholic worldview. But that is not unusual with newspapers. What makes the Times unique—and what any Catholic bishop ought to understand—is that it is not just the nation’s self-appointed newspaper of record. It is, to paraphrase Chesterton, an institution with the soul of a church. And the church it most resembles in size, organization, internal culture, and international reach is the Roman Catholic Church….
…The Times, of course, does not claim to speak infallibly in its judgments on current events. (Neither does the pope.) But to the truly orthodox believers in the Times, its editorials carry the burden of liberal holy writ. As the paper’s first and most acute public editor, Daniel Okrent, once put it, the editorial page is “so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.” Okrent’s now famous column was published in 2004 under the headline “Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?” and I will cite Okrent more than once because he, too, reached repeatedly for religious metaphors to describe the ambient culture of the paper.
If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to take the advice of my friends and read the entire Church of the ‘Times’ for yourself.