The Archdiocese of Washington stands accused of rejecting a journalist from BuzzFeed for special press passes to cover Papal events this week in the nation’s Capitol.
BuzzFeed foreign correspondent Lester Feder and his colleagues have been trying since January to get approval to cover the Pope’s events. They were finally told flat out this week that their request had been denied and were told that the decision had been made by the press office of the Archdiocese of Washington. BuzzFeed News believes it is because a spokesman for Cardinal Donald Wuerl does not approve of BuzzFeed’s and specifically Feder’s coverage of LGBT issues.
In a letter sent yesterday to Don Clemmer of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Chieko Noguchi of the Archdiocese of Washington DC, BuzzFeed Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton lays the blame on Archdiocesan spokesperson Noguchi and points to an exchange dating back nearly a year.
Feder had approached Cardinal Wuerl at the Bishops meeting Baltimore last year and asked for a background meeting so he could better understand LGBT issues from the Church’s point of view. Wuerl agreed and asked him to contact his office to schedule a time, at which point, according to the email exchange provided by BuzzFeed to Breitbart News, Feder got the runaround that lasted months.
Stanton explains, “After several messages to the Archdiocese went unreturned, Mr. Feder finally spoke with Ms. Noguchi on March 13. Ms. Noguchi told him that she didn’t want to schedule the meeting because, in her view, his church coverage has focused on LGBT issues and how the church ‘is standing in the way of some kind of rights.’”
In his letter to Noguchi and Clemmer, Stanton describes Feder as a “deeply sourced, award-winning reporter.” Even social conservatives who oppose the gay agenda can attest to this description of Feder and his work.
Covering the LGBT issue Feder has been in contact with social conservatives in the United States and around the world for a few years. He is given nearly uniform praise for his genuine interest in knowing what really makes social conservatives tick. He quotes them accurately and in context. Unlike many reporters, he is seen as more interested in the real story than in portraying a left-wing caricature of right-wingers–more interested in telling the story than in scoring ideological points.
The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association recently named Feder “reporter of the year” for his BuzzFeed story on “The Rise of Europe’s Religious Right,” a story that even social conservatives praised.
In his lede for the winning story, Feder featured Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon, who had spoken via Skype to a Vatican conference on the Catholic response to poverty.
Bannon has this to say about the denial of credentials for BuzzFeed and Feder:
I gave a very controversial talk to a conference at the Vatican on the rise of the Tea Party in America and a similar response that seems to be growing in Europe. Lester Feder was there for BuzzFeed. His reporting was fair and straightforward and he won an award for it. I am appalled that a journalist of that caliber would be banned from any Catholic event.
BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith told Breitbart News: “Lester has reported from inside the Vatican, covered the White House and Congress, and reported in 25 countries. His work, any reader can observe, is groundbreaking, careful and fair. I’m disappointed that the Archdiocese of Washington would retaliate against a journalist whose reporting has shown so much care in writing about some of the most difficult challenges facing the church globally.”
About Breitbart’s defense of Feder, Smith tweeted: “…cats and dogs living together.”
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse