David Gibson Shills for the White House During Obamacare Mandate Negotiations

I know that CV blogger Stephen White and George Weigel have already talked about this topic, but I want to focus more directly on the embarrassing lack of journalistic integrity David Gibson and the Religion News Service just displayed. His latest article for them is nothing more than pro-Obama propaganda.

Quite simply: exactly how does David Gibson qualify as a reporter any more? And why exactly should we still take the Religion News Service seriously?

Let’s do a quick run-down of Gibson’s writing track record before I get in to this most recent episode (he’s hardly a first-time offender).

When Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, Gibson argued that pro-lifers had “sold their souls” to support him. During the Obamacare negotiations, he was firmly on the side of those who falsely claimed it would not fund abortions (we all know how that worked out). He has ludicrously claimed that the pro-life movement doesn’t do anything for pregnant mothers (a host of writers at Public Discourse blew that charge away).

And, most recently, a mere few weeks ago, he came out strongly in favor of the President’s false “accommodation” (and against the bishops) on the anti-religious freedom mandate (Dr. Janet Smith exposed his flawed justifications for doing so here).

As I reported two days ago, Cardinal Dolan recently went public with his exasperation over the White House negotiating with the USCCB representatives in bad faith. In that post I went to some length to detail the long history of offenses the White House is guilty of in this whole “negotiating” process.

Now, in walks David Gibson, someone who has been very explicit and public about his personal views on this issue and how he favors the accommodation to report on the dispute. He proceeds to counter Abp. Dolan’s version of events by citing an anonymous source within the administration.

Talk about cowardice.

The White House won’t even come out and claim the bishops or Cardinal Dolan are lying. They instead send unnamed sources to shills like David Gibson to carry their water.

I know this is harsh language, but here’s why it’s justified:

It’s the White House, not the bishops, who have continually negotiated in bad faith throughout this process. The President lied to American Catholics when he promised at Notre Dame that he would respect the rights of conscience and he lied to Cardinal Dolan when he told him the Church would be satisfied with his HHS mandate decision.

After the public outcry, it took enormous pressure on the White House for them to even invite the representatives of the bishops to the negotiating table in the first place. As recently as nine days ago HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made it very clear that the bishops were still being excluded from the negotiating table. Who took their place? “Union Leaders [and their] partners at labor.” No joke.

So now we are supposed to believe, per Gibson, that after days, weeks and months of the White House refusing to invite the bishops to the negotiating table that now, suddenly, the White House is the side that is being reasonable? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the obvious reason why the White House avoided negotiating directly with the bishops for as long as possible — because the White House knew it would not agree with the bishops’ demands.

And, they still don’t. That’s why, having failed to strong-arm the bishops in the private negotiating room, they are now trying to create a false narrative in the public domain about who is guilty of intransigence. And for that, they knew they should turn to their reliable accommodator-in-press, David Gibson, who writes:

Church officials familiar with the negotiations privately noted that some USCCB staff members involved in the talks are veteran culture warriors who worked at places like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and often take a harder line than the bishops themselves….Talks with Catholic officials from other institutions are reportedly proceeding more quickly than discussions with the bishops.

Where to start? “Church officials” –again, anonymous– make an accusation that some of the USCCB staff are “veteran culture warriors” (ooh, talk about bogeyman language). As if the White House officials aren’t themselves “veteran culture warriors” for their liberal ideology!

Again, what a sham. This Gibson piece has everything: he even allows his unnamed sources to impugn the reputation of the USCCB staff because –why? horror of horrors– they work for groups like The Becket Fund!

… yes, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which, I have to say, is an incredible group of upstanding, courageous lawyers who have fought for (and won) court cases on behalf of religious liberty for about every religious denomination you can name (seriously, is this the best accusation they’ve got?!).

But apparently in Gibson’s biased hands, the Becket Fund is some sort of byword. Let me ask: is Gibson prepared to reveal where White House negotiators have previously worked? I’m sure we’d get some juicy associations if we followed that line of questioning. I’d bet some of them have longstanding ties to Planned Parenthood. But that doesn’t make them “veteran culture warriors” because … well, it just doesn’t.

Anyway, the second to last line of Gibson’s article is just as unfairly weighted:

“Talks with Catholic officials from other institutions are reportedly proceeding more quickly than discussions with the bishops.”

Well, no kidding, I wonder why that is? Are Catholics United, NARAL and Planned Parenthood giving the White House a hard time again? I’m sure there’s such a big ideological divide to bridge between all of those groups. It makes you wonder why it’s taking so long for the bishops to join that party.

… in all seriousness, this is a joke. Under the conventions of our broken public discourse, a writer who has a well-known vested position on one side of a hotly contested issue can publish an ostensible news story containing nothing more than false characterizations and unnamed sources impugning the backgrounds of people of integrity for prior associations, all in a completely uneven manner under the guise of reporting.

Please. Catholics –and our public discourse– deserve better. Shame on Gibson.



  • James Mack

    As a Catholic, I do not agree with your rhetoric. So please when you have something to say bad about Obama, say that not all CATHOLICS AGRee with your Statemants.I for one like what Obamas trying to do for this COUNTRY. But I don’t push my veiws on anyone.

    • Timothy J. Corbitt

      That would be Former Catholics For Obama. A Christian who dissagrees with the teachings of the Catholic church is called a Protestant, like Martin Luther.

  • SKay

    Great comment Gregory Popcak.
    The Nationalist Socialist Party used the same tactics with the Lutheran Church leading up to WWII.
    There is a reason athiest Soros has funded groups like Catholics United for the Common Good.

  • Gretchen

    First, I think Thomas’ blog must have wide readership and influence, because those who seem suspiciously like trolls trounce almost immediately. A very transparent tactic.

    Second, it is clear that attempting to negotiate with people in the Obama administration is a mistake. Are the bishops attempting to negotiate on something that should be non-negotiable–religious freedom as delineated in our government’s founding documents?

  • Dale Price

    The best thing that can be said is that it is sloppy, gossipy journalism.

    This line is particularly telling:

    “Church officials familiar with the negotiations privately noted that some USCCB staff members involved in the talks are veteran culture warriors who worked at places like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and often take a harder line than the bishops themselves.”

    No quotes there, which is suggestive of editorializing on Gibson’s part. Given his proclivities, “veteran culture warriors” is almost certainly an editorial interpolation, as is the “harder line” language.

    Not to mention a neat bit of well-poisoning and narrative shaping in what is supposed to be a straight-ahead wire report.

    All for a good cause, I suppose.

  • Linda

    This is not about the author of this article. This is about the misleading of all Catholics by the administration. Come on-wake up . Some of you sound just like Saul Alinsky. Attack someone else and get off topic. The FREEDOM of RELIGION and FREEDOM OF SPEECH is at stake here.

  • jessie

    Thomas is right. Gibson is essentially writing as an activist under the guise of reporting objectivity. The headline is correct and any news service that accepts such a low standard ought to be taken to task. Blogs are blogs and people expect more from news organizations.



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