William A. Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has made 23 guest appearances on TV news programs in 2004. Donohue uses his appearances primarily to attack gays and progressives. He has referred to the "gay death style," remarked, "God forbid we'd run out of little gay kids," claimed that Senator John Kerry "never found an abortion he couldn't justify," and claimed that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular ... Hollywood likes anal sex."
In 2004, prior to the November 2 presidential election, Donohue appeared on cable news programs 15 times and twice on network news shows. During his two network appearances, on NBC's June 12 Saturday Today and ABC's February 25 Nightline, he discussed Hollywood films' portrayal of Catholics. Since the November 2 presidential election, Donohue has appeared as a guest six times on cable news shows, including four appearances on MSNBC's Scarborough Country. Here are some examples of his comments from his appearances:
- I will stake my reputation on it right now! People will be paralyzed when they see this movie [The Passion of the Christ]. They will be breathless. It will bring people back to the church, and it will be a good thing for Catholics and Jews. And the people who are clamoring this -- this rhetoric, this cacophony against Mel Gibson, boy, are they going to have to pay for it when it's all over! [CNN, Paula Zahn Now, 2/4/04]
- The fact of the matter is the media elite have an aversion to religion. Some of them even have a phobia and some of them are obviously anti-religion. ... They want Tom, Dick, and Harry to get married. They want "under God" out of the pledge of allegiance. They don't want anybody to see The Passion of the Christ. It's all tied together. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 2/24/04]
- After all, 15-year-olds, they go to abortionists. They get their babies killed without parental consent. The new Puritans [those criticizing The Passion of the Christ] don't seem to worry about that. They like gay sex. They like [the film] The Dreamers, a brother and sister who bathe together and stuff like that. The same people in The New York Times who say this movie, I don't think it's not really right for kids, they have no problems when it comes to sodomy. It's smoking they don't like and Catholicism. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 2/25/04]
- Name for me a book publishing company in this country, particularly in New York, which would allow you to publish a book which would tell the truth about the gay death style. There are certain things that the left won't tolerate. They are censorial at heart. Indeed, the signature appetite of the left has always been power. Now, they are running up against the American people. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 2/27/04]
- Well, first they said it [The Passion of the Christ] was anti-Semitic. That didn't work. Then they said it was too violent. That didn't work. Then they said it was S & M. That didn't work. Then they said it was pornography. That didn't work. Now they're saying it's fascistic queer-bashing. That kind of language would ordinarily get somebody taken away in a straitjacket and -- put you in the asylum. I don't know what about -- the queer-bashing is all about. I'm pretty good about picking out who queers are and I didn't see any in the movie. I'm usually pretty good at that. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 3/12/04]
- There's nobody in the United States Senate who has a more radical voting record on abortion than John Kerry. He's never found an abortion that he couldn't justify. ... Well, first of all, the guy [Kerry] is an idiot. He doesn't even know there never was a [Pope] Pius XXIII in the first place. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 4/12/04]
- Well, no. I'm saying if a Catholic votes for Kerry because they support him on abortion rights that is to cooperate in evil. [MSNBC, Hardball, 10/21/04]
- We've already won. Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, okay? And I'm not afraid to say it. ... Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 12/8/04]
- This same guy [Dean Hamer] came up with this idea of the gay gene. I remember when that conversation was going on. Gays were all of a sudden worrying if people would start aborting kids when they found out the DNA suggested the kid might be gay or God forbid, we'd run out of little gay kids, so all of a sudden, they became pro-life. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 12/14/04]
The Catholic League, which Donohue has led since 1993, purports to defend Catholics' right "to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination." The League has protested numerous art exhibits and theater performances around the United States that it perceived to be anti-Catholic. In 1994, the group sponsored bus and subway advertisements discouraging condom use.
During a 2001 appearance on Hardball, Donohue articulated his opposition to stem cell research as follows: "You can't take the egg of the bald eagle and kill it or move it, and yet we're talking about human embryos as if they were a piece of putty, and if that were the case, we might as well serve them as appetizers at a human embryonic cocktail [sic: party] to people." In 2003, Donohue defended a controversial remark made by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) equating homosexuality with bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery, saying: ''To defend the institution of marriage is pro-civil society. This traditional institution cannot be defended if all alternative lifestyles are treated as its equal."
Members of the Catholic League's board of advisers include conservative author and media analyst L. Brent Bozell III; conservative radio host and syndicated columnist Linda Chavez; right-wing pundit and author Dinesh D'Souza; former Republican presidential and senatorial candidate Alan Keyes; and National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne.
Prior to leading the Catholic League, Donohue was a sociology professor at La Roche College, a Catholic college in Pittsburgh. He was also an adjunct scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He has authored several books, including Twilight of Liberty: The Legacy of the ACLU (Transaction, 2001) and On the Front Line of the Culture War: Recent Attacks on the Boy Scouts of America (Claremont Institute, 1996).