Before appropriated by Marty, it was (and is still yet) an expression used by journalists to describe their perceived role -- “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
The origin of the quote goes back to the complaint of a fictional Irish bartender in Observations by Mr. Dooley (Finley Peter Dunne, New York, NY: R. H. Russell, 1902, p. 240). He observed:
“Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward.”The newspapers appropriated a complaint against them to serve themselves, and then Martin Marty appropriated it for the Lord’s service!