The year is 1886. Reporters in the bustling newsroom of The New York Times are fervently typing stories of the day. Amidst the clanking of keys and lively conversations, a particular topic gains prominence: ‘The Mormon Question,’ a riveting issue that’s been driving national interest.
Several states away, Utah’s quiet settlements tell a contrasting tale. Influenced by the press-driven moral panic against them and their faith, recently enacted federal laws are starting to take effect. Property held by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is confiscated, its leaders driven into hiding, and its men are imprisoned.
The sensationalistic coverage a continent away caused real harm to Latter-day Saints.
This stereotype of Latter-day Saints as dangerous and sexually deviant continues to linger. One might hope that, over time, this style of sensational journalism would have diminished, and national outlets would have recognized Latter-day Saints as a part of the diverse spectrum of American faith. But this bias bares its head in press coverage even today.
On May 14, 2023, CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired a story highlighting allegations of financial misconduct within the Church, reviving old unsubstantiated allegations, repackaged in a sensational narrative, providing an enticing spectacle for its millions of viewers.
To read more: The “Mormon” Headline: Media’s Lucrative Obsession With Latter-day Saints