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Newsweek’s Former Religion Editor and New York Times Op-Ed Contributor Kenneth Woodward

Monday, April 9, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My favorite exchange from my interview with him:

KW: I’m a disciple of…who is it? Don Rickles. Don Rickles was wonderfully…he had no use for PC stuff, and he told ethnic jokes and so on, and got away with it, and relieved a lot of…made people laugh at these things.

HH: Well, you’re not telling jokes about Mormons…

KW: I think, as a matter of fact, you can’t…I don’t tippy-toe. So no, my answer to you says no, I don’t.

HH: Do you…but you’re not telling jokes in this column. You’re raising what you consider to be serious issues.

KW: I’m raising what perceptions are of Mormons.

HH: And now I’ve got to go…

KW: And you know what? It has probably been said true of Catholics in the past, they had their own parochial school system which is divisive, and they keep to themselves, and all that kind of thing.

HH: And was it wrong to say that?

KW: To the extent that it was right, it was okay to say that. I don’t think they were divisive, because they had a larger sense that you could have more than one…that the public school system was run by and for Protestants, which was true in its inception for a long time.

HH: So where’s the dividing line…you’ve been covering religion for a long time, Mr. Woodward.

KW: Yeah, longer than you.

HH: What’s the dividing line between bigotry and journalism?

KW: Oh, Heavens, what a question. What a question.

HH: What is it? I mean, could we indulge any of the protocols of the elder of Zion? Because this is kind of like the protocols of the elder of new Zion.

KW: Well, I think you’re wrong, that’s all.

HH: Yeah, but what’s that…

KW: You’re welcome to think that. That’s fine. I don’t really care, you know…

HH: I understand that, but what would you advise a journalist, a young journalist at Newsweek, is the…

KW: Know what they’re talking about. And I do, so…

HH: But I mean, is there an appropriate level of scrutiny here, or indulgence of stereotypes, which you would consider off limits?

KW: I don’t consider any of those stereotypes. You know, and I actually like stereotypes, because you don’t have them unless…there’s always something true about stereotypes, that’s all.

The Curt Jester has more on Mr. Woodward’s understanding of the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility.

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