NEW YORK — The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is upset about the timing of an NBC News “Dateline” expose about a mental institution in Quebec operated by the Catholic Church earlier this century.
The segment, which ran on Dec. 21, reported that some patients who were assigned to the institute were abused by nuns who ran the facility. Catholic League president William Donohue has said that while he doesn’t question the veracity of the story, he questions NBC News’ decision to air the show Christmas week.
“My point is to question the decision-making process that resulted in this story and its timing. Of all the stories that may interest viewers … ‘Dateline’ chose to reach back to the first half of this century to do a piece about a Catholic-run institution in another country that just happened to air during Christmas week,” Donohue said.
NBC has said that it meant no offense by airing the episode during the Christmas season. “There was no intent to criticize the role of the Church at this time of year,” said David McCormick, NBC exec producer for broadcast standards, who responded directly to Donohue.
But, dissatisfied with McCormick’s response, Donohue plans to notify the League’s 350,000 members about the “Dateline” episode and urge them to contact McCormick to express their concerns. The Catholic League, however, is not encouraging a boycott against NBC or “Dateline.”