Editor's Comment: Yesterday I posted Part 1 of a sad story involving EWTN and my friend and colleague, Dexter Duggan. Calumny and slander, when involving slight issues, are venial sins. However, calumny that does significant damage to a person or institution is a mortal sin. Justice requires rectitude.
Dr. Hitchcock damaged, not only Dexter's reputation, but The Wanderer's. EWTN magnified and spread the error - inadvertently ...at first.
At this point, however, the network and the interviewers who helped spread the calumny are complicit in Hitchcock's calumny. That they continue to refuse to do anything to repair the damage is, frankly, shameful. Our Blessed Mother magnified the Lord (the Way, the Truth, and the Life) in her Magnificat. EWTN did the reverse when they magnified Hitchcock's lies about both Dexter and The Wanderer. Message to EWTN: It's never too late to stand for the truth.
Part II...Falsehoods at EWTN -- Confused attorney and "Advancement" manager end up misrepresenting layman's call for accuracy by Dexter Duggan
Why could Hitchcock smear me and The Wanderer but EWTN allowed no rebuttal? Did it have something to do with Hitchcock’s long friendship with EWTN, and the fact that Hitchcock’s late wife, Helen, had been a longtime EWTN board member? Being pals counts more than the truth? Did it have anything to do with the fact that a major competitor of my newspaper, The Wanderer, is the National Catholic Register, which is part of the EWTN organization? The Register has Warsaw as its publisher.
I wrote Warsaw three additional certified letters. He failed to reply. Along the way I learned that EWTN President Doug Keck had done a separate, half-hour enthusiastic interview with Hitchcock on the “Bookmark” program, recommending and trying to sell the book. EWTN’s advance promotion of the “Bookmark” program said this: “Dr. James Hitchcock, master historian and darn good storyteller, enthralls us with the intertwinings of American history and Catholic politics in the past 40 years. Catch Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics on an upcoming EWTN Bookmark; the dialogue between Doug and Dr. Hitchcock will leave you wondering why you heretofore considered the topic dry and dull.”
So, by the time I wrote my fourth letter to Warsaw, on March 20, 2018, which he ignored, I said I was disappointed to learn recently that EWTN had given Hitchcock an additional program to promote and sell his “seriously flawed” book. I told Warsaw that EWTN President Keck “didn’t even hint at his [Hitchcock’s] astounding errors but simply allowed him to describe himself as a regular reader of The Wanderer who carefully marks up what he reads.”
Need it be said that this remark by Hitchcock about his supposedly giving careful attention lends an undeserved credibility to the false claims he makes in his book?
I pointed out to Warsaw that in the book, Hitchcock falsely accused me of mortally sinful behavior by enthusiastically supporting “fanatically pro-abortion” Sen. Barry Goldwater – even though back when Goldwater was in office and Hitchcock and I both were at the National Catholic Register, Hitchcock occasionally lauded me by name for what I wrote.
My first certified letter to Keck was on March 17, 2018, in which I noted that among Hitchcock’s serious errors was his assertion of my mortally sinful action by supporting “fanatically pro-abortion” Goldwater. “I request to come on your program to correct this deeply flawed book” that EWTN was selling, I said.
Three days later, on March 20, 2018, I sent Keck a second certified letter, including a couple of story photocopies from the National Catholic Register of Aug. 30, 1981, disproving Hitchcock’s claims of my promoting pro-abortion politicians. Because EWTN later had acquired ownership of the Register, I said that perhaps Keck would be able to access old copies of the Register and see my pro-life articles from a time when Hitchcock falsely accused me of being on the other side of the issue. I again requested airtime on Keck’s program.
Keck didn’t reply to either of my certified letters about his lauding the book on-air. Is “cowardice” the right word for this?
So, I had mailed a total of eight certified letters to four different people at EWTN concerning two different programs, but I received only one reply, just one, from only Warsaw.
Later I occasionally sent messages by the “Messenger” electronic service to interviewer Pacwa and EWTN Director of Communications Michelle Laque Johnson but I never received a reply.
Does this sound like powerful, arrogant people? Scared people?
Moving forward to 2020: In May 2020 I was shocked to learn that EWTN still seriously was misleading people about this situation. A man I know showed me an email letter he received on May 8, 2020, from Leslie Anne Rabbitt, manager of EWTN’s “Advancement Services,” in which she assured him that Warsaw sent me “a very cordial letter” on “June 8, 2018.”
EWTN seems to have so much trouble understanding even basic facts. Warsaw’s letter was dated Feb. 8, not June 8.
In this “very cordial letter,” Ms. Rabbitt wrote, “Mr. Warsaw explained that the publisher of the book is responsible for the things published. Consequently, Mr. Duggan’s dispute was with the publisher of Dr. Hitchcock’s book and not with EWTN. Additionally, Mr. Warsaw stated that the interviews would not air again.” She dared to add that “EWTN reached out timely to Mr. Duggan and directly addressed his concerns.”
This is the same dodge of responsibility that Warsaw used. And, no, Warsaw did not “directly address” my concerns. EWTN devoted at least 90 minutes of its own airtime allowing Hitchcock to promote his calumnies and hawking his book directly to its audience. I asked for time to set the record straight. EWTN said no, no, if there are errors in the book, contact the publisher. But that was a separate task I already undertook the previous year. Nor did Warsaw tell me that “the interviews,” plural, wouldn’t air again. He referred only to the Pacwa interview, not Keck’s. And one must again ask, if the interviews wouldn’t air again, why? Serious error? If the errors are so serious, why is its misinformed audience not being told of the needed corrections?
I sent Rabbitt a lengthy email on May 16, 2020, reviewing a number of facts in the case, and also contrasting Hitchcock’s slipshod practices with the superior workmanship of a different historian, Prof. Mary Ziegler, who coincidentally had interviewed me on a recorded telephone line for her own, separate book, published by Cambridge University Press, and then let me review page proofs for accuracy. Hitchcock, of course, did none of these things, but simply sprang his unverified howlers in a poorly edited book. Also for Ms. Rabbitt, I included links to the Arizona Daily Independent and Les Femmes articles I mentioned. I concluded my letter to her, “I expect serious redress of EWTN's direct culpability here, not a brush-off. I am not dropping this matter.”
I did not hear from her again. Instead, to my surprise, on May 18, 2020, I received an aggressive, hostile email from an EWTN worker previously unknown to me, lawyer John Manos, who accused me of changing my story. Huh? These EWTN people are loaded down with their own errors.
Manos said he had assisted Rabbitt in preparing her letter to the man I knew, and Manos claimed that I told people that Warsaw never had replied to me. In boldfaced italics, Manos said my “allegation is far worse because it is untrue.” In his very next sentence lawyer Manos referred to “The falsity of your serious allegation” and angrily, if we may infer from his tone in print, he proceeded to demonstrate his utter confusion about the situation. Manos said that now after I have been “rebutted,” I “amend [my] allegation to avoid the false implication.”
“You told donors to EWTN that EWTN did not respond to you. That is false,” poor Manos emphasized in boldface, and added magisterially later, “From this point forward, cease alleging falsely to others that you have not been adequately heard or responded to by EWTN or anyone at EWTN.”
Remember the old legal aphorism about lawyers who pound the table when they don’t have a good case? Manos pounded very loudly.
As I’ve told you, dear reader, I never said Warsaw never replied, but that he wrote only one quite insufficient reply, and never replied further to my valid objections. I have no idea if anyone who read my words was a donor, but obviously Manos was concerned that possible donors wouldn’t like the facts I related to reveal EWTN’s approach.
Like Warsaw and Rabbitt, Manos washed his hands of EWTN owing any duty to let me correct on-air the calumniating book it itself promoted. He concluded, “Mr. Duggan, I am not asking you to drop the matter you have with the author and publisher, but I am asking you to be accurate in the things you say about EWTN and stop making false allegations about it. I am also asking you to stop imputing the duties of the book publisher and author to EWTN.”
I replied to Manos later the same day, with a copy to Rabbitt, and commented that Rabbitt must not have read the Arizona Daily Independent link I sent her. In its fifth paragraph I plainly wrote that Warsaw replied to me, and he said the Pacwa interview wouldn’t be rebroadcast, but wouldn’t grant my repeated requests for interview time to correct. I again sent them that story link. Manos replied on May 19, 2020, to try to attribute other people’s possible hearsay to me. He concluded, “Thank you for the article link and quote, but it does not seem responsive to the situation.”
I wrote Manos on May 20, 2020, providing a different Arizona Daily Independent link where I again wrote that Warsaw replied only once, that my other seven certified letters were unanswered, and “Hitchcock’s deceptions remained on the record” for the EWTN audience. I also pointed out EWTN’s inadequate research and preparation before promoting this book.
I concluded: “As long as I am accurate -- unlike Dr. Hitchcock -- I am completely free to continue informing readers or viewers about his serious inaccuracy, including his having been assisted by EWTN in spreading it. EWTN rightly should feel embarrassed and defensive about its behavior in this situation. Your attempts to make me feel defensive only exacerbate this situation when you should be making it better by showing some Christian contrition.”
I didn’t hear another word from Manos.
The proprietor of Les Femmes, Mary Ann Kreitzer, also wrote to Manos, on May 28, 2020, in her capacity as president of the Catholic Media Coalition, to say she had been following my situation, and I never had said Warsaw never replied to me, but that he replied only once insufficiently. “What I find so head-shaking in your letter,” Kreitzer wrote Manos, “is the accusation that Dexter made a ‘serious allegation’ which is ‘untrue.’ He never did that in any contact with me. I’ve read numerous of his articles and they are all crystal clear about EWTN’s response.”
Kreitzer wrote: “If I, with good will, cooperated in a lie and later found out the truth, I hope to God I would hurry to correct the scandal in which I unknowingly participated. That EWTN did not do that and apparently feels no moral obligation to do it disappoints me. I was a faithful EWTN viewer for years and never missed an episode of Mother Angelica Live. I can’t imagine her EVER being silent about this matter, and I will certainly share my shock with others when EWTN comes up in conversation. I suspect Mother, unlike the current management at EWTN, would have been quick to redress the wrong and perhaps would even have interviewed Dexter personally.”
She wrote that EWTN “participated in promoting a slanderous book filled with mistakes, untruths, and, perhaps, deliberate lies. I have no idea what got into James Hitchcock, a man I previously admired, when he targeted Dexter and The Wanderer. His slipshod work certainly damages his reputation as a reputable historian. EWTN’s reputation as a reputable Catholic source for the truth has also been secondarily damaged by Hitchcock. Meanwhile, many colleges who may have been influenced by EWTN’s promotion of the Hitchcock book to purchase it for their libraries are helping to advance the slander…
“Everyone at EWTN should be ashamed over their failure to help restore Dexter Duggan’s good name,” Kreitzer wrote. “I suspect if a similar situation happened to you, Mr. Manos, or any of your colleagues at EWTN, you would be quick to seek redress.”
Having been aggressive in his original erroneous attacks on me, EWTN lawyer Manos did not reply to Kreitzer at all.
Please remember all this when EWTN poses publicly as the message-bearer of Catholic holiness. And maybe asks for your money.
--Nov. 9, 2020