NY Times and AP jumped on story of Catholic League's Donohue's criticism of Edwards, but mum on his criticism of McCain

Despite reporting in early 2007 Bill Donohue's criticism of John Edwards' presidential campaign for hiring two bloggers who Donohue said are “anti-Catholic, vulgar, trash-talking bigots,” neither The New York Times nor the Associated Press has reported that Donohue blasted Sen. John McCain for accepting the endorsement of televangelist John Hagee. In a statement, Donohue described Hagee as a “bigot,” and said McCain should “retract his embrace of Hagee.”

On February 6, 2007, the Catholic League's president, Bill Donohue, released a statement blasting former Sen. John Edwards' presidential campaign for hiring two bloggers who Donohue contended were “anti-Catholic, vulgar, trash-talking bigots.” On February 6 and February 7, 2007, respectively, The New York Times and the Associated Press reported on Donohue's criticism, without noting Donohue's own history of controversial and inflammatory remarks. By contrast, neither the Times nor the AP has reported that Donohue immediately criticized McCain for accepting the endorsement of John Hagee, founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, who Donohue said is a “bigot.” Donohue stated: “Senator [Barack] Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot. McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee.” Indeed, the Times has not reported on Hagee's endorsement at all in print. While the AP noted Hagee's endorsement and McCain's embrace of his support in two separate reports, neither article noted Hagee's history of making controversial statements on such topics as homosexuality, Islam, Catholicism, and women. A Media Matters for America search found no AP reports discussing McCain and Hagee since Donohue released his statement.

On February 27, Hagee endorsed McCain at a press conference in which the two appeared together. Following Hagee's endorsement, McCain said, “All I can tell you is I'm very proud to have Pastor Hagee's support.”

As Media Matters has noted, Hagee has asserted that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans,” and suggested the “judgment” occurred, in part, because, according to Hagee, “there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades.” During the same interview with NPR's Terry Gross, Gross asked whether Hagee believed that “all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews.” Hagee replied, “Well, the Quran teaches that. Yes, it teaches that very clearly.”

On February 28, Donohue -- himself a controversial figure -- issued the following statement regarding Hagee's endorsement of McCain:

“There are plenty of staunch evangelical leaders who are pro-Israel, but are not anti-Catholic. John Hagee is not one of them. Indeed, for the past few decades, he has waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church. For example, he likes calling it 'The Great Whore,' an 'apostate church,' the 'anti-Christ,' and a 'false cult system.' To hear the bigot in his own words, click here. Note: he isn't talking about the Buddhists.

“In Hagee's latest book, Jerusalem Countdown, he calls Hitler a Catholic who murdered Jews while the Catholic Church did nothing. 'The sell-out of Catholicism to Hitler began not with the people but with the Vatican itself,' he writes.

”For the record, Hitler persecuted the Catholic Church and was automatically excommunicated in 1931 -- two years before he assumed power -- when he acted as best man at Joseph Goebbel's Protestant wedding. Hitler even bragged about his separation from the Church. As for doing nothing about the Holocaust, Sir Martin Gilbert reminds us that Goebbels denounced Pope Pius XII for his 1942 Christmas message criticizing the Nazis (the New York Times lauded the pope for doing so in an editorial for two years in a row). Much to Hagee's chagrin, Gilbert also says that Pius XII saved three quarters of the Jews in Rome, and that more Jews were saved proportionately in Catholic countries than Protestant countries. Indeed, Israeli diplomat Pinchas Lapide credited the Catholic Church with saving 860,000 Jews. No religion can match that.

“Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot. McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee.”

In a February 27 blog post on The Caucus, Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller reported on Hagee's endorsement:

Mr. McCain, who has been on a steady search for support among conservative and evangelical leaders who have long distrusted him, said he was “very honored'' by Mr. Hagee's endorsement. Asked about Mr. Hagee's extensive writings on Armageddon and about what one questioner said was Mr. Hagee's belief that the anti-Christ will be the head of the European Union, Mr. McCain responded that ”all I can tell you is that I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee's support.''

From a February 28 AP report:

Later Wednesday, McCain picked up support from a prominent religious conservative, televangelist John Hagee of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church. McCain has labored to win support among evangelical conservatives, an important GOP voting bloc with which he has clashed over the years.

“What Senator McCain needs to do, I feel, to bring evangelicals into his camp is to make very clear his strong defense of Israel and that he has a strong, 24-year record of being pro-life,” Hagee said at a news conference with McCain.

Both Obama and Clinton campaigned in Ohio on Wednesday. Obama was heading later in the day for at least three days of campaigning in Texas.

From a February 27 AP report:

A prominent evangelical leader on Wednesday endorsed likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain as he tries to shore up his support among a powerful bloc that has responded tepidly to him so far.

The Rev. John Hagee, a televangelist and pastor of the 17,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, endorsed McCain at a news conference.

“John McCain is a man of principle,” said Hagee, citing McCain's anti-abortion voting record and his support of Israel.

Hagee is a leader among Christian Zionists and has argued vigorously from the pulpit and in writing for Israel's right to settle disputed territories.

His endorsement of McCain follows grumbling among other conservative Christian leaders who have suggested possibly running a third-party candidate because of continuing discontent with McCain. Some hope that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist pastor, might still mount an improbable comeback.

But Hagee, who gave Huckabee his pulpit for a Sunday in December, said Wednesday he believes that if McCain emphasizes his support for Israel and his 24-year record against abortion, reluctant evangelical voters will be coaxed into the McCain camp.

Some conservative Christian leaders have been reluctant to back McCain because he supports relaxing restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research and has previously worked with Democrats on issues like a guest worker program for migrant workers.

In McCain's 2000 bid, he dismissed televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as “agents of intolerance.” That rhetoric from the often blunt senator has been absent in this campaign.

Hagee said if McCain emphasizes his anti-abortion record and his support of Israel, evangelicals will “find enough common ground” to support him.

Huckabee has been campaigning heavily in Texas, hoping that a March 4 win in the delegate-rich state with a heavy faction of social conservatives could revive his campaign.