The Associated Press issued an extended correction of its coverage of mid-20th century infant and child deaths at Tuam, County Galway. At the same time, Catholic League President Bill Donohue issued a blistering report about coverage of this story, the Magdalene Laundries and the movie “Philomena,” a drama that purports to tell the “true story” of a woman’s search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption from an Irish orphanage.
The story of nearly 800 bodies in unmarked graves at the Tuam orphanage for unwed mothers “caused stark headlines and stirred strong emotions and calls for investigation,” the AP says. “Since then, however, a more sober picture has emerged that exposes how many of those headlines were wrong. The case of the Tuam ‘mother and baby home’ offers a study in how exaggeration can multiply in the news media, embellishing occurrences that should have been gripping enough on their own.”
The story says one London editor “noted several top newspapers in the United States stated that 800 baby skeletons had been found in a septic tank, and that commentators fueled by a “Twitter mob” mentality compared the deaths to Nazi-era genocide.” Further evidence indicates there was no such septic tank, but rather a burial shaft that was common for the period.
Donohue quotes the same London editor in his spirited rebuke of the media coverage. The long-time church defender says,
The evidence that the public has been hosed is overwhelming. Truths, half-truths, and flat-out lies are driving all three stories. That’s a bad stew, the result of which is to whip up anti-Catholic sentiment. This is no accident.
Irish Central has done an extended interview with Donohue.
I tend to agree with Donohue that anti-Catholic bias colors at least some of the coverage. He rightly points out that many of those who claim to be shocked and dismayed about the treatment Irish nuns might or might not have subjected children to in the last century are only too willing to allow abortions to continue today. There’s more than whiff of hypocrisy.