|Ash Wednesday on Cable News|
|Written by Sherry|
|Wednesday, 25 February 2009 12:01|
While working out on the treadmill at the gym, I like to watch cable news. I like to position myself between two TV's: one carrying CNN and one showing Fox and eyeball the different spins and flip the sound back and forth.
It is fascinating to see how the same raw material gets delivered so differently. This morning, CNN was all Obama and his speech last night all the time (it is day 37 of his Presidency they solemnly tell you). Fox, predictably was focusing on other news - which was genuinely valuable and interesting - but they weren't going to give Obama more air time than necessary.
But it was the Catholic angle that struck me this morning.
CNN's moving headlines made sure that I knew that "holocaust-denying bishop returns to UK". Check.
Then Fox went out of it sway to display its sympathy for religious practice. I almost fell off the treadmill when I saw a male reporter in sober black and with a very large and obvious ash mark on his forehead begin his story. The Fox anchor explained in advance that the reporter was Catholic and had just returned from an Ash Wednesday service.
Initially, it was both stunning and cheering - like witnessing a public display of religion in Seattle or something. Talking about coming out.
I tuned into what the reporter was covering: the fact that the new Secretary of Homeland Security hadn't used the words "terrorism" and "9/11" in her first hearing before the House of Representatives. The anchor and reporter asked "Was the Obama administration back-tracking on the whole "war on terror"?
Then the reporter bearing the ashes did something that took my breathe away. He listed the evidence, including the fact that new administration was pulling back on the practice of torture and other "necessities" in a time of war.
Penance and intrinsic evil. How timely on Ash Wednesday.
I also watched MSNBC briefly. The never-ending story of the single mother of octuplets was featured. And I heard the voice-over asking in urgent tones "What do we do with these people who insist on having huge families? Even if they are married, it doesn't make having 12 children ok."
The public square isn't empty of religion. But it does take such challenging and bizarre forms.