Walter Robinson is an investigative journalist, an editor-at-large at The Boston Globe, and is the Donald W. Reynolds Visiting Professor of Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
During our conversation, Robby talks about his career in journalism, the Catholic Church's historic power in America and in Boston, how and why his "Spotlight" team began to investigate the Catholic Church, the details of the internal documents showing the Church's culture of secrecy and its consistency in moving abusive priests to new parishes, and how a small team of journalists, in just a few months, shed light on the systemic abuse of power by one of the most influential institutions in the world.
To me, Robby and his team best represent why free speech and a free press are crucial to a free society: they ask difficult questions, question taboos, have the power of facing disturbing facts, are relentless in determining what's true, and act as a protector to a civilization's need for honest, accurate information. And while the Church's history of abuse is utterly tragic for the crimes and the trauma it has caused, the courageous work by people like Robby have undoubtedly saved countless children from such a fate.
(02:24) A path to journalism
(12:24) The power and state of the Catholic Church during the late 80's and 90's
(24:06) The Boston Globe's "Spotlight" team
(30:36) The Catholic Church's reputation before the Spotlight team’s investigation
(38:25) What was revealed in the church’s internal documents
(43:22) The Church’s consistent strategy of protecting abusive priests
(49:24) Nearly every bishop in every diocese knew about abuse and participated in a cover up
(55:53) The role of the Church's celibacy vow in incentivizing abuse
(01:02:02) What explains the abusive behavior of Catholic Church priests?
(01:05:32) Women's second-class status and the role of a free press
(01:10:21) The need for a full confession from the Church
(01:18:14) The role of investigative journalism today and why it matters
(01:23:09) The importance of investigative journalists to think outside the box
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