Go behind the scenes to discover the daily grind of what it takes to produce the pre-eminent [my emphasis] Catholic investigative series.
But the adjective "pre-eminent" is correct in other ways. CM is preeminent in passing off gossip, hearsay, innuendo, and bias as "investigation." Yes, they have revealed some real corruption that needed to be exposed, but in many cases they have relied on immature, narcissistic "whistleblowers" whose testimony is questionable at best. I'm not saying their whistleblowers are liars, but events can often be interpreted in different ways. Christine often leads her whistleblowers by the nose to get the video coverage that most incriminates the target of the moment. How hard does she look for dissenting voices once she latches onto a "scandal?" A nano-second?
So Susan and I will be going "behind the spotlight" to address CM's modus operandi for developing their exposés some of which are as phony as three dollar bills.
I’d give you my full name and you could interrogate me as much as you want but I would first want to sign some kind of agreement and I’d want you to retract a few things if you discovered that nothing was seriously wrong here....While CM is Catholic media, you are still media and I know how this thing works. I don’t lack courage but I’m not an idiot.
Smart man! And, needless to say, CM did not take up his challenge.
Here's one last video by a novice who entered the Carmel in April 2020 and spent about 18 months with the monks. His time there overlapped CM's "whistleblower," Augustine. He entered two weeks after Augustine, who left less than two weeks later. Let me repeat that CM's other source was there for two weeks as well. Wow!
At the end of Behind the Spotlight, CM goes back where they started spending the last segment reiterating their attack on the monks in Wyoming. One of the most enlightening parts of the segment is their statistical analyst discussing how much viewer time they garnered with their hit piece. Christine is thrilled! "Twitter was exploding" with criticism of CM, she says, but most, she says, "are SSPX who have never watched any of this; they're just going on rumors."
Now how do you know that, Christine? You're not only a crackerjack investigator but you are omniscient as well knowing the minds and motivations of your critics?
This statement itself is an assumption made to dismiss any criticism as a kneejerk response from a bunch of rad-trad (their disparaging term) know-nothings. In her back and forth with Voris, Christine makes broad statements implying that everything was confirmed. "Even the bishop confirmed it." Exactly what did the bishop confirm, Christine? We aren't told.
The fact is that the bishop of Cheyenne, Bishop Steven Biegler, supports the monks who are all in good standing. Interestingly, Bishop Biegler is one of the few bishops ever praised by SNAP (Survivors Network of those abused by Priests) for his vigilance in holding sex abusers in the Church accountable.
Bishop Biegler's most recent visit to the Carmelite monks was in May. Is it reasonable to believe that a bishop, active in defending victims against priestly sex abuse, would continue to support the Wyoming monks if they are the evil cult of perversion portrayed by CM? That hardly seems likely.
|Bishop Steven Biegler visiting the Wyoming Carmelites in May 2022. |
Can we expect a CM Spotlight casting Bishop Biegler as a pedo-enabler?
With regard to Christine's statement about their SSPX critics, I'm one of them. I openly acknowledge that I attend an SSPX chapel as well as my local diocesan parish. However, I do, in fact, watch CM's episodes, often multiple times, before I respond. I consider watching CM reparation for my sins, because their videos often disgust me with their propaganda techniques like using heart-wrenching stock photos, mood music, and video clips to manipulate the viewer's emotions.
I'm relatively new to the SSPX family, however. My affiliation began in 2020 when our diocese shut down our churches and the only option was the SSPX offering fairground Masses. They were in full compliance with the Virginia governor's mandate, so our bishop could have done the same thing. But like most in the U.S. he did not. When, months later, the diocese reopened our churches again for Mass, my husband and I felt such great gratitude toward the sacrificial priests traveling five hours round trip to minister to us that we could not in good conscience just walk away. So we are among the "trads" despised by CM who, they say, are not the real lovers of tradition. Who are? Why CM of course.
The final ten minutes or so of Behind the Spotlight reveals, in my opinion, the real purpose of their hit pieces -- analytics. How many clicks and views do these episodes get? How much money do they bring in? (They don't address that.) But it's obvious that scandal-mongering gets a lot more attention than positive, faith-filled programming.
Voris says to Christine enthusiastically, "These things [the scandal Spotlights] always go off the charts!" Wow! Go get 'em!
In fact, we're told that the Spotlight attacking the Wyoming monks was one of the most viewed of all according to the analytics. You can almost see Christine salivating over the results which showed over 100,000 views plus other social media interactions. Many viewers watched the entire episode. How many ended up contributing or signing up as premium subscribers?
"That's fantastic!" says Christine to the analyst. "Those are the results we're looking for!" she gloats. Later while face-timing Augustine, the whistleblower, she says, "We had a really big reaction to the Spotlight, Counterfeit Carmel." And then she asks how he's doing. That's what it's all about: clicks and views and raking in the dough.
It made me shake my head.
Christine sent both Susan and me an email with comments about the Behind the Spotlight piece saying how great she is. Now why would she do that? It seems like the behavior of a grade school kid saying, "See, see, see how great and important I am?"
Until I blocked her, Christine tagged me on almost all her Facebook posts.
Really, Christine? What's that all about?
And then, of course, there was the threat of a lawsuit against us which fizzled out. It was a clear attempt to shut us up. It's hard to shut up a pro-life rescuer who's been to jail and has been threatened with lawsuits before for speaking the truth. But bullying often works and one thing CM does really well is bully people.
Why they ever bothered with us, though, is baffling.
Susan and I, unlike the pre-eminent and above reproach staff at CM, are nobodies.
I'm a mom and grandma whose life's work has been my family and the little ones in the womb waiting to be born. I love the faith and Holy Mother Church. My blog and website grew out of the dissent group, Call to Action, infiltrating the Diocese of Arlington almost thirty years ago. Several friends and I started Les Femmes to get them out of our parishes, which we did, and to suppress scandal in our diocese.
We committed our work to the Blessed Mother, our editor-in-chief, and 12-star general. We get an infinitesimal fraction of the viewership and clicks garnered by CM. And we have virtually no money. If our bank account has enough to publish one or two more issues of the print newsletter and pay for the website domain, I'm content. That was my agreement with the Blessed Mother 27 years ago. As long as you provide enough money for us to pay the printing and postage for the newsletter, I'll keep sending it to all the priests in the diocese. She's kept us afloat for 27 years.
As for clicks and views, which are so important to CM, consider this. Who gets the most? I suspect it's the porn industry.
But, honestly, there's more than one way to do porn -- say with a bi-sexually oriented video game like the one Simon Rafe produced. (Where's the Spotlight on that, Christine?) There's also a kind of scandal porn where everything is approached in a salacious, biased, and exaggerated way, always putting the worst construction on everything. CM deserves a Pulitzer for that!
There's little evidence that CM and their whistleblowers follow the admonition of St. Francis de Sales to put the best construction on the actions of others and the worst on their own. Is it at least possible that Augustine, for example, out of his own immaturity and past baggage, was misguided and mistaken in his interpretation of events at the monastery? He whines about having to work so much and feels misled because there's not enough prayer time. Obviously, other novices having longer affiliation with the monks disagree with Augustine's opinion. But Christine accepted everything he said uncritically. No hardball questions for her whistleblower. If it fits her desired narrative, she pounces on it.
If you want to read our series on Church Militant see the sidebar. There's plenty to cast doubt on the motives and honesty of CM! Susan and I have documented a number of their lies despite having no staff and no money. And I'm talking about outright lies that were easy to check. Frankly, I don't trust liars, especially liars who are puffed up with pride and narcissism. And I trust the very least liars who set a double standard holding themselves to different rules of accountability than others. That makes them not only liars, but hypocrites as well.
Stay tuned for more.