There is very interesting article here, I tend to be saying my prayers during the BBC's Sunday Programme, on the occassions when I have listened to it is evident that Ed Stourton and the programme has its own particular vision of Catholicism that is odds with mine, but more importantly with that of the Successor of St Peter. Ed Stourton and his programme seem to want to redefine Catholicism according to their own particular views.
Why should public money, licence payer money be used to subsidise the Tablet?
Edward Stourton is indeed a trustee of The Tablet, along with the likes of Lord Chris Patten, Baroness Shirley Williams and Baroness Helena Kennedy (as fine a collection of the liberal 'great and the good' as you could hope to gather together on a board). The Tablet is a liberal Catholic magazine, broadly centre-left politically, liable to be critical of conservative trends within the Church - and of Pope Benedict XVI's Vatican in particular. I'm painting in fairly broad strokes but not, I think, inaccurately, by comparing it to the Guardiannewspaper. Its rival is The Catholic Herald, rather more conservative, somewhat more right-leaning politically, less regularly critical of the Vatican, more akin to the Daily Telegraph. A read of Damian Thompson's blog, with its occasional digs at 'Tabletistas' (think 'Sandinistas' and 'Guardianistas'), shows that there's a fair gulf of attitude between them.
Here's the first evidence of bias. I think it is quite revealing that, throughout the 22 months of my survey (Jan 2011-now), Sunday has not featured Damian Thompson, former editor ofThe Catholic Herald, or Luke Coppen, its present editor. Nor has it interviewed any of the other regulars at The Catholic Herald. Indeed, and this might strike you as remarkable, I have not heard a single mention of The Catholic Herald on the programme throughout that time - and I have listened very closely to every episode.What though of The Tablet? How has it fared on the show whose main presenter is one of its trustees? Have their been any guests from The Tablet appearing on Sunday?
Its editor, Catherine Pepinster, has appeared on three editions during the time-frame of my survey (25/3/2012, 15/1/2012, 28/8/2011). You may know her from her frequent appearances on Today's Thought For The Day. [She is the second most regular of the Catholic speakers on TFTD, behind fellow Tabletista Clifford Longley]. Fans (like me) of thePlatitude Of The Day website will know that she is the holder of the prestigious Platitude Of The Year award 2011.
Even more conspicuous has been Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent of The Tablet. Robert is immediately recognisable by the ironic tone he uses to dish the dirt on the Vatican. He has appeared on six edition of the programme during my survey period (16/9/2012, 9/9/2012, 3/6/2012, 12/2/2012, 5/2/2012, 1/5/2011). As I shall expand upon later, the irony-tinted Mr. Mickens was treated as if he were a friendly BBC colleague on the occasions Ed Stourton chatted with him (supporting Damian Thompson's characterisation of Sunday as quoted above).
On these occasions, whichever presenter was hosting Sunday [usually Edward] made sure to mention The Tablet. Sometimes this was not the case. To introduce my next Tabletista, here's the former editor of The Catholic Herald again (see earlier link):
"Stourton was chatting with one of the Sunday programme's favourite Catholic commentators, Dr Tina Beattie, a straight-from-central-casting 1970s feminist (and director of the Tablet, according to the website of Roehampton University)."
Tina Beattie is, indeed, a regular Tablet columnist. She's been invited on four times over the period in question (14/10/2012, 9/9/2012, 1/5/2011, 30/1/2011).
And on it goes...The man who, as editor, steered The Tablet leftwards, John Wilkins, has also been invited onto Sunday over this period. He was there for two of the big Sundayspecials - those (alongside Tina Beattie) for the 50th anniversary of Vatican II (14/10/2012) and (also alongside Tina Beattie and Robert Mickens) for the beatification of Pope John Paul II (1/5/2011).
The article goes on...