The Washington Post noted that House Speaker John Boehner’s commencement speech at the Catholic University of America (CUA) was non-political. But the Post story about the speech was entirely political. The story slammed Boehner’s conservative Catholic views by using a student at the event—one of about 30 liberal “social justice” advocates—to argue that the Republican from Ohio isn’t compassionate enough toward the poor.
Here’s how the Post story by Katherine Shaver began:
“Katy Jamison strode toward her graduation from Catholic University on Saturday wearing the requisite black robe and mortar board—plus a neon green message to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). ‘Where’s the compassion, Mr. Boehner?’ said the 8-by-10-inch sign pinned to her chest.”
Jamison, it turns out, was one of “about 30” involved in this “protest,” out of 1,500 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral graduates. And this is what the Post decided to emphasize. It is a case study of liberal media bias through deliberate distortion. The purpose was to portray Boehner as not only heartless but out of step with the teaching of the Catholic Church. But the ploy failed, based on the paltry numbers of protesters, according to the paper’s own account.
Boehner was selected, CUA said, because he is “A strong supporter of Catholic education in the District of Columbia, particularly the inner-city Consortium of Catholic Academies, [and] he co-chairs an annual dinner to benefit the organization.”
Boehner has long been an advocate of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP) to provide poor or low-income students an opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend a D.C. private school of their parents’ choice. He invited some of the students benefiting from the program to be his guests at the State of the Union. One of the students, Lesly Alvarez, was described as an outstanding eighth-grade student who attends Sacred Heart School, a private Catholic school where 100 percent of eighth-graders graduated on-time during the past three years. “Without the OSP scholarship,” noted a report on WUSA in Washington, D.C., “Alvarez would not be able to attend the private school that charges around $8,100 per child.”
But President Obama, who sends his children to exclusive secular private schools, opposed the Boehner initiative.
Giving poor parents the ability to send their children to a private Catholic school so they can get a better education doesn’t qualify as “social justice” to the students and their faculty advisers putting on the anti-Boehner protest.
The attack was not unexpected; the Post had already run an article in advance of Boehner’s appearance noting that a group of liberal Catholic professors had taken issue with the House Speaker’s desire to cut government spending and debt. Not surprisingly, the Shaver article regurgitated what had already appeared, in order to make it appear that the protest of about 30 students was the dramatic culmination of what the professors had set in motion. In truth, the protest demonstrated that most students wanted no part of this political show.
The show was staged by a group of liberal professors, led by Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, who decided to use the university and manipulate students for the purpose of serving as cannon fodder against the Republican Party as 2012 rolls around.
The Post of course cannot be counted on to point out that Schneck is a board member of the George Soros-funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), a “progressive” front group that is designed to counter the conservative and pro-life tendencies that many Catholics, including John Boehner, embrace. Schneck, who does not include this outside affiliation on his official CUA bio, works closely with White House official Alexia Kelley, former executive director of CACG and a speaker at his recent conference.
The CACG has been described by some observers as inactive, but in fact it continues to organize support for “progressive” Catholic functions at places like CUA.
There was a new development, as far as the Post was concerned. “A letter signed by 83 students and sent to university president John Garvey on Thursday said Boehner was an inappropriate keynote speaker because the fiscal 2012 budget resolution that he had championed severely cut funding for food assistance, programs for low-income children and help for the homeless,” the paper said.
Out of a total enrollment of 3,470 undergraduate and 3,240 graduate students, the liberal-left could muster only 83? This was big news for the Post, desperate to make Boehner look bad.
The number of signers in fact “swelled” to 86 in the final version, which attacked Boehner for opposing illegal immigration and several federal welfare state schemes.
The Post failed to note that the campus student paper took a very different view than those 86, editorializing, “Finally, a speaker allowed to come to the University that we can be proud of.”
Less than two weeks earlier, Schneck and his allies had organized a campus forum in tribute to “social justice” featuring former AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, both of them members of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Sweeney accused university officials of union-busting—a charge that the university dismissed as a gross misrepresentation. Meyerson, a non-Catholic, told the forum that he was a follower of Michael Harrington, the Catholic-turned-atheist. He thought this was a good role model for students on campus to follow.
What the campus socialists tried to do under the nose of CUA President Harvey was to undermine and taint the commencement address by House Speaker Boehner and put this great Catholic University into the Obama-for-President camp. They failed, despite the Post’s feeble attempt to pump some life into this pathetic “protest.”
True to form, Boehner broke down in tears as he described to the CUA students his Catholic upbringing. For Harvey, however, it is not a time for tears but action. The politically “progressive” Obama supporters at CUA who masquerade as professors tried to ruin the university’s commencement ceremony. Harvey—and CUA alumni—may not forget that.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.