The Times goes easy on Bush’s support for the death penalty

Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush

Michael Paulson underplays Jeb Bush’s enthusiasm for the death penalty in a front-page New York Times story on Bush’s Catholicism. Paulson dwells on Bush’s opposition to abortion rights and to the comfort his adopted faith has brought him. For instance:

“It gives me a serenity, and allows me to think clearer,” Mr. Bush said as he exited the tile-roof church here on a recent Sunday, exchanging greetings and, with the ease of a longtime politician, acquiescing to the occasional photo. “It’s made me a better person.”

Paulson’s sole excursion into capital punishment comes in the sixth paragraph, and it is hedged with a “but”:

He differed from his church, significantly and openly, over capital punishment; the state executed 21 prisoners on his watch, the most under any Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. But he has won praise from Catholic officials for his welcoming tone toward immigrants and his relatively centrist positions on education — two issues in which he is at odds with the right wing of his party.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the presidential campaign gears up. For years, leaders of the Catholic Church have excoriated pro-choice politicians while going easy on those who are pro-life but who also favor the death penalty. (Yes, I realize how strange that sounds.) Pope Francis is surely as pro-life as his predecessors. But he may also prove to be more expansive in his definition of what it means to be pro-life, which could create problems for Bush. For instance, last fall Francis called for the abolition of capital punishment and of life imprisonment as well, according to the Catholic News Service.

As for Paulson, an excellent religion reporter who is also a Boston Globe alumnus, I wish he had found space for more than 33 words in a 2,200-word article to explain exactly how far from the Catholic Church’s teachings Bush has deviated.

Photo (cc) by Gage Skidmore and published under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved. Some rights reserved.

Michael Paulson leaves Globe for Times

Michael Paulson

If you are a weekend Romenesko reader, then you already know that Boston Globe city editor Michael Paulson is leaving for the New York Times, where he’ll edit stories about local politics and religion for metro editor Carolyn Ryan — herself a former Globe reporter and editor. (Both are alumni of the Patriot Ledger in Quincy as well.)

It still seems strange to refer to Paulson as the Globe’s city editor because, before that, he was a very good religion reporter — among the best working for a general-interest publication, in my opinion. He shared in the Globe’s Pulitzer-winning coverage of the sexual-abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, but he also excelled at covering religion-as-religion.

You can read the memo from Globe metro editor Jen Peter at Romenesko. Below is another memo, from Ryan at the Times:

Folks

I am very happy to tell you that Michael Paulson, city editor at The Boston Globe, will be joining us as Political Editor in Metro.

Michael has a dazzling array of journalistic gifts: he is imaginative, endlessly energetic, insightful and intelligent.

He was an outstanding reporter, who covered local politics, city hall, Washington, and religion — and helped lead the Globe’s coverage of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

But Michael is also a natural editor, of expansive curiosity, sly humor and engaging manner. On the Globe’s metro desk, he has overseen a range of subjects, including transportation, the mayoral election and higher education.

Patrick Healy, a colleague of Michael’s at the Globe, described him as “a rare breed — both tenacious and thoughtful, competitive and determined.”

Michael began his reporting career at the age of 21 amid the cranberry bogs and jaywalking wild turkeys of Halifax, Massachusetts, covering a town of 6,000 people and one traffic light for The Patriot Ledger. He then went to the San Antonio Light in Texas, where he covered politics, and from there moved to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, serving as city hall reporter, state house bureau chief, and, ultimately, as the paper’s correspondent in Washington, D.C.

He joined the Globe in 2000 to cover religion, and wrote with nuance and depth about the intersection of faith, culture and politics. He spent several weeks in France researching Mitt Romney’s experience there as a Mormon missionary and traveled to Dearborn to write about Muslims and Arab Christians in the 2008 election. He also captured the complicated role of the Catholic Church during the same-sex marriage debate in Massachusetts. Michael will oversee our religion coverage, in addition to New York politics.

Michael has many ties to New York. His paternal grandparents were born and raised in Brooklyn; the Paulsons moved to Boston in the 1930s when his grandfather, a hosiery salesman, got a job there.

Michael already has a fair number of fans here at the Times.

Diego Ribadeneira, another Globe alumnus, praised Michael’s “wonderful combination of keen intellect, intense curiosity and reassuring temperament.”

He inspires confidence, respect, and affection among his colleagues. I am thrilled we will be partners again.

Michael will join us in April. He can be reached at xxx.Please join me in welcoming him.

Carolyn

 

Media round-up: Losing our religion

A few local media tidbits for your perusal:

• The Boston Globe’s Michael Paulson, who may be the country’s best religion reporter working at a mainstream news organization, is taking a new position at the paper. According to the Boston Phoenix’s Adam Reilly, Paulson has been named city editor, reporting to new metro editor Jen Peter. I share Reilly’s hope that this doesn’t mean the Globe has reduced its commitment to serious coverage of religion.

• Local political junkies rejoice: Peter Lucas is back on the beat. A longtime reporter for the Phoenix and the Boston Herald, Lucas disappeared into the state bureaucracy for several decades. He has now re-emerged, and will write a twice-weekly column for the Lowell Sun, according to Jon Keller. I once had the privilege of hearing Lucas’ hilarious retelling of the “White Will Run” incident Keller describes that nearly brought a premature end to Lucas’ reporting career. I look forward to reading his Sun column.

• Sharp-eyed Universal Hubster Adam Gaffin flags a tidbit from Boston Radio Watch hinting that Greater Boston may be getting yet another talk station — WXKS (AM 1430), owned by Clear Channel. Given its weak signal, it presumably would not pose much of a threat to WRKO (AM 680), WTKK (96.9 FM) or WWZN (AM 1510) — the last a liberal station that itself is no great shakes when it comes to having a listenable signal.