People may argue about the merits or failings in the 2,000+ page health reform tome that was passed by the Senate in March, but you’d expect them to do so with integrity. Right now, I’m not so sure.
Example: America magazine ran a caustic editorial upbraiding the bishops for opposing the health reform bill. The bishops wanted the bill to have language like the Hyde Amendment, which precludes federal dollars from being used, directly or indirectly, to snuff out innocent life. The House agreed to this, but the Senate did not. After the bill passed, America dismissed the bishops’ criticism as based on “[t]enuous legal arguments,” “debatable, technical questions of law,” and an inconclusive “tissue of hypotheticals.”
Anthony Picarello, the General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, took issue with America in a letter to the editor. America printed a shortened version of it, and it's worth noting what ended up on the cutting room floor. You can read Picarello’s unedited letter here.
For example, the magazine cut out criticism of its sloppy research. America said the bishops’ arguments against the bill were unavailable for people to consider during the debate, but USCCB's analyses were posted, almost in real-time, on its page dedicated to health care reform.
The editors also cut clear proof that their especially harsh words for the bishops have an especially weak basis. They claim “many other legal analysts” disagree with USCCB. Actual number of legal analyses that address all of USCCB's arguments: zero. Actual number of analysts offering any legal reasons at all: two.
America also omitted how those two legal analysts ignore USCCB arguments, rather than take them on. For example, critics emphasize that there are existing regulations that forbid Community Health Centers (CHCs) from using federal funds for abortions. True enough for *existing* funds, but the critics never acknowledge -- least of all try to rebut -- the argument that those regulations can't be applied to the *new* funds. That silence is telling.
Perhaps the cruelest cut of all came when America erroneously identified Picarello as a USCCB media relations staffer, instead of USCCB General Counsel. I tried to comfort him by noting it was like a monsignor being misidentified as a cardinal. Picarello didn’t quite agree, but he did chuckle.