Professional Howard Kurtz sidekick Lauren Ashburn of Fox News wrote a first-person account published Sunday about the ways in which she has been persecuted in her former newsrooms. It took 13 graphs to reach the crux of her story: management at a former TV station made her remove her cross. Before that, a news director made her fix her overgrown bangs.
Why she let her bangs grow so long remains a mystery. But why it took Ashburn so long to reach the cross?
She entered the story by way of CBS’ investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who recently quit because she was reportedly frustrated by the network’s “liberal bias.” Ashburn writes that liberal bias “is alive and well” in America’s newsrooms.
Apparently so is religious persecution. And therefore, her equating religious persecution to liberal bias. After receiving the order to remove the cross on-air and tucking the religious gift her parents gave her into her purse, Ashburn told herself that objectivity in her line of work was most important.
“I convinced myself that management was right, and I needed to keep my religious views hidden, so I didn’t appear biased,” she wrote. “I got the message: Real reporters don’t wear religious symbols.”
Rather than continuing to practice her faith outside the workplace, she let it slide. For Ashburn, these newsroom mandates logically led to her not wearing the cross outside the TV station either, “taking her farther away from God.” (Yes, readers, she is seriously blaming a station rule for her waning faith.) She didn’t talk about her faith at work or the pro-life pregnancy center where she volunteered.
At this point she figures, what the hell? And goes full-bore confessional.
“A nagging feeling of guilt (another tried and true Catholic tradition) always lurked in the back of my mind. I was ashamed of myself for tossing aside my faith in God, my belief in Jesus Christ as my Savior. It wasn’t lost on me that all around the world Christians die for the right to bear witness in public, and, yet, in our free country, I hid my beliefs in the name of the news gods.”
Ashburn concludes that an appearance of bias — in this case, proof of her Catholicism with her cross — crosses over to political activism. She notes that journalists are largely “forbidden” from attending pro-life or pro-choice rallies outside the office.
She says these kinds of rules make sense for political reporters or those covering those issues, but not for the general media. “Who believes that reporters are completely objective, without bias?” she asks.
These days, Ashburn is proudly wearing her crosses.