Media Watch

Fox News Reporter Bashes ‘Passion of the Christ’

CATHOLIC LEAGUE, Feb. 13 — Fox News reporter Roger Friedman has joined the media forces that have gathered to attack Mel Gibson's new film The Passion of the Christ, according to one of the film's most public defenders, the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights.

The league cited an article by Friedman suggesting that Gibson has consciously avoided releasing the film to theaters in “neighborhoods that are considered Jewish, upscale or liberal.” Friedman cited this to argue that Gibson had “consciously created a divisive atmosphere for the presentation of his film.”

“Roger Friedman says the movie will be shown in two Chicago theaters; in fact it will be shown in seven,” said Catholic League president William Donohue. “He says it will not be shown in the L.A. neighborhood of Century City; in fact it will be shown at the AMC in Century City. He says it will not be shown in the ‘wealthier and trendier parts’ of Los Angeles; in fact it will be shown in Marina del Rey, Burbank and Santa Monica. He says it will not be shown in New York's Upper West Side; in fact it will be shown at 86th and Broadway. … And so on.

“Taking a course in Geography 101 might cure some of Friedman's problems,” Donahue said, “but it would not be enough. That's because his forced conclusion suggests something else is at work: To say that Gibson is intentionally keeping the film away from Jews and the rich is not only flatly wrong, it smacks of malice. We look for Fox to correct itself.”

Passion Could Lead to More Films in Dead Languages

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb. 14 — The actor who plays Jesus in The Passion of the Christ joked that the film might set a trend in Hollywood toward more films in ancient languages. The movie is shot in Aramaic and Latin.

“Next year, you may see comedies, thrillers, even musicals in Aramaic,” Caviezel quipped.

On a more serious note, Caviezel said he would never have been involved in the project if he had detected any signs of anti-Semitism.

“Anytime something would happen that could appear anti-Semitic, Mel [Gibson] was like, ‘Take it out,’” Caviezel told the Associated Press. “It was never about playing a blame game.”

Most Americans Believe in Moses and Noah

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, Feb. 15 — A solid majority of Americans believe in the literal interpretation of many important Bible narratives, Agence France-Presse reported, including a six-day creation, the story of Noah, and Moses’ miraculous parting of the Red Sea.

Some 64% hold to a literal reading of Moses’ story, 61% of the creation narratives and 60% of Noah's tale. Only three in 10 said these stories were meant to be read largely allegorically.

Citing a survey by ABC News, Agence France-Presse also noted that a large majority of Americans rejected any suggestion that Jews bear collective guilt for the death of Jesus, a question rarely raised in Christian circles, which pollsters included because of the controversy generated over Mel Gibson's latest opus.