You may recall our New Oxford Note, The Register Steps Into the Ring (Sept. 2002), where we commented on the National Catholic Registers attack on Michael Roses book Goodbye, Good Men in its issue of June 30-July 6, 2002. The author of the attack was David Pearson, the Features Editor of the Register, and the title of the story was Goodbye, Good Journalism? and the spread included a large photo of the cover of Roses book superimposed on a picture of what looked like a raging, smoky conflagration, with burnt edges. The clever photo montage seemed to signal that Pearsons story would send Roses book up in flames.
Now, six months later, the Register returns to the scene of the crime with an editorial titled Goodbye, Bad Blood? (Jan. 5-11). Referring to the original attack on Rose, the editorial says that the Register regrets the storys title and photo montage.
Unfortunately, however, thats as far as the apology goes. The editorial reiterates Pearsons complaints and makes it clear that the Register is not apologizing for what Pearson wrote in the text of his story.
So, what prompted, at this late date, the apology for the title and photo? There are clues aplenty in the editorial: Michael Rose, author of the book Goodbye, Good Men, has been intensifying his drumbeat of criticism for publications that cited major flaws in the book . Rose has turned several people into public opponents of the Register. The very fact that he has written a document purporting to be a point-by-point refutation of the Register [on the Internet] is enough to convince some people that were wrong . Since then, weve been accused of all kinds of things. For one, weve been told that we lack the courage to face the problems in the seminaries that Rose has exposed. In other words, its Roses fault that people have turned against the Register as if Rose picked the fight (he didnt, the Register did), as if Rose has no right to defend himself, and as if the Register didnt shoot itself in the foot when it attempted to blow away Michael Rose, whom many beleaguered Catholics lionize for having had the guts to tackle a taboo subject fraught with several personal dangers to Rose himself.
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