I expected the worst when I heard ABC and NBC were going to do in-depth examinations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a life long Mormon and journalist, I had gotten used to the media clouding their reporting on the LDS Church.
ABC used good judgement by not showing video of the sacred Mormon garments, NBC did not use that same discretion.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at the accuracy and context with which the reporting was done.
ABC's Dan Harris did a two-part series that was simply factual about the LDS Church. No frills or opinions, just the facts about the Church. He focused on the temples and showed video of the inside of a temple yet to be dedicated in Brigham City, Utah. He accurately portrayed the history of persecution inflicted on members of the Church 150 years ago. It was very well done and kudos to Harris for his reporting.
NBC did a full hour with Brian Williams on Rock Center focusing on the LDS Church. They mentioned some of the controversial aspects of the Church, but for the most part, did it fairly. In a conversation with Abbey Huntsman (who is a former Mormon and daughter of former Republican candidate for President Jon Huntsman) Williams talked about how he would like to be able to walk into a Mormon temple and see what was inside, as he could with any other church, but they failed to mention that Mormon churches are open to anybody who wants to go inside, temples are not. It's a minor point, but the distinction between a church and a temple in the LDS faith should've been made.
NBC's special focused on the service within the faith and how that shapes people's lives. Harry Smith pointed out the welfare services that are second-to-none and how Mormons take care of their own and also serve those outside the Church. You couldn't watch this segment without thinking this would be a great model for the nation.
I thought NBC did a great job explaining how serving an LDS mission shapes the lives of members of the Church. You learn to serve, you learn to love others, you learn to sacrifice, and when you live outside America for 2 years, you learn to love this country and you forever have a unique perspective of the world. I served in Ireland when I was 19 years old and so much of that experience has defined my life. Mitt Romney's experience in France in the late 60's is a large part of who he is. When Romney talks about his concern of America taking on the negative aspects of European socialism, he knows of what he speaks, and he can explain it in French if he needs to.
The media may do hit pieces on the LDS Church between now and November 6th to attack a potential Romney presidency, but for the most part, their coverage this week has been fair and should be applauded.
Follow Ron Futrell on Twitter @RonFutrell