A recent exchange of warm regards between John Gehring at Faith in Public Life and the U.S.C.C.B.’s media office raised some eyebrows. Gehring had penned a June background memo for media aimed at countering some of the inevitably anti-Obama subtext of the U.S.C.C.B.’sFortnight for Freedom (a memo to the press not quite the odd bird depicted by Catholic avengers on the Internet; we get press releases all the time aimed at bending coverage, though I can’t recall having received one from Faith in Public Life before explicitly bannered as “background.”)
The media relations office eventually fired off a response; all well and good, grownups at odds over public policy, having an e-conversation with the good old fourth estate serving as mediator.
The U.S.C.C.B. response took the form of what has become an internet era classic, a fisking, a point-by-point takedown of the opponent’s missive—also not something unheard of. But what “sounded” a tad odd, coming from the bishops and not a wiseacre blogger like me, was the opening salvo that may have had more Glenn Beck than Prince of Peace in it. Mentioning George Soros in any context is red meat for a certain kind of contemporary conservative and his inclusion in the U.S.C.C.B. memo produced the predictable reaction at several Web sites. (Just take a gander at the invective at this site.)
Now Gehring in turn has fired off a response to the response. We may yet see a response to the response to the response, but I’m not sure, being a member of the easily distracted lamestream media, if I won’t have moved on to the another internecine squabble by then.
The story behind this story was the subject of a recent NPR report, which featured Gehring and some of the media's go-to Catholic talking heads. You can tune in to that here.