Whenever I hear a lecture from The Washington Post about the importance of free debate, I think about Dawn Eden. Eden is a friend and a Catholic author who has just published an important new book, “My Peace I Give You: Healing the Wounds of Sexual Abuse with the Help of the Saints.” She recently held two book signings in Washington, D.C. — book signings that were not covered by The Washington Post.
This is important, because on May 17, The Post published an editorial slamming the Archdiocese of Washington. The archdiocese has criticized Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution and the oldest Catholic college in the United States, for having Kathleen Sebelius as a commencement speaker at the school’s Public Policy Institute. Sebelius is the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She is behind the Obama administration mandate that orders insurers to cover contraception and abortifacient drugs despite the moral objections of the institutions that have to provide the insurance. (“If you like your current plan,” Obama claimed during the administration’s more Weimar days, “then you can keep it!”).
“Georgetown gets it right,” The Post announced in an anonymous editorial. According to the editorial’s writers, “It is the essence of a university to be a place where students can hear from an array of thinkers — and doers.” The editorial makes this observation after noting, “We understand, although we do not share, the church’s continuing disagreement about the contraception mandate.” In what way does The Post understand the disagreement? The writers never say. I guess it just feels right to have Sebelius speak at Georgetown; there’s no need to engage the actual facts of the debate.
What does this have to do with Dawn Eden? Eden is an example of a person with the kind of talents, passions and opinions that The Post would never allow onto the editorial page. She is a living sign of the hypocrisy of The Washington Post, which calls for debate even as it ignores and censors opinions it doesn’t like.
I have known Dawn for several years, and her story is the kind that a newspaper editor not suffering from liberal bias would devote a front-page “Style” piece to. Eden was raised Jewish in New York. She became a journalist, covering popular music, and won an award for a headline she wrote for The New York Post. From 1990 through the 2000s, she wrote the liner notes to over 80 records.
Then something funny happened. In 2006 Dawn became an orthodox Catholic. She launched a popular blog, The Dawn Patrol, and wrote a bestselling book, “The Thrill of the Chaste: How to Find Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On.” She then came to Washington, D.C., where she studied at the Dominican House of Studies and earned her M.A. in Theology.
Dawn would be the perfect person to write an editorial for The Washington Post defending the Catholic Church’s position on the HHS mandate. In fact, the paper should give her the front page of the Sunday “Outlook” section. Or give that tiresome hack E.J. Dionne a week off and run a column by Dawn instead. But even beyond that, Dawn’s story is the kind of narrative that an editor in a previous age of less liberal censoriousness would recognize as a no-brainer. An award-winning New York rock and roll journalist converts to Catholicism and comes to Washington to study with the Dominicans. It even has sex.
But of course, The Washington Post will do no such thing. Because The Post does not believe in the “open-minded debate” that it praises Georgetown University for. Dawn’s first book signing for the release of “My Peace I Give You” was at the Catholic Information Center, which is literally one block from the headquarters of The Washington Post. One of their star reporters couldn’t be bothered to walk 90 feet.
I wish I could say I was surprised — or that I feel bad that The Post is hemorrhaging readers. But about ten years ago I wrote an editorial for the paper about saving the Howard Theater, a historically black spot in D.C. that was falling apart. In the piece I used the phrase “cultural collapse” to describe what happened to the black community in D.C. in the 1960s and ’70s. The next day the phrase in the paper had been changed to “social upheaval.” The Post can’t even allow free speech in an editorial it has agreed to publish in its own paper.
But it’s even worse than that. The Post’s writers and editors are not only dishonest — they are cowards. Reporters at the paper seem to appear at their jobs fully formed, without any background or history. I recently wrote about Manuel Roig-Franzia, a writer for The Post who specializes in Marxist and anti-Catholic stories. He is about to publish a book about Marco Rubio.
I don’t care that much that Roig-Franzia is an anti-Catholic left-winger; I only wish that he and The Post would be honest about who he is and how he got that way. A few weeks ago I called and emailed Roig-Franzia with some basic questions: Where did he grow up? Where did he go to school? Is he Catholic? What are his political leanings? What did he study in school? What was his dissertation about?
Roig-Franzia never called or emailed back. Like the anonymous editorialist who got on a soapbox to defend Georgetown University and free and open debate, Roig-Franzia is a coward. As is Jason Horowitz, the “reporter” who penned the hit piece on Mitt Romney’s high school years. Try finding out about Jason Horowitz’s past. You’ll find a cipher.
When you read an editorial in The Daily Caller, it says who the person is. Judging by the description, you can get a good idea of what their politics are. You can use that information to judge how well they present their case and how fairly they are treating the other side. I dare say you could even contact most of them — us — and we’d be happy to tell you about ourselves.
For the cowards at The Washington Post and in the media, you don’t even have to sign your name.
Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.