Let’s look at the way the print media reacted to Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis after their first six months as pontiff.
We looked at the editorials in 15 of the nation’s largest newspapers to see what they said about the current pope, and his predecessor, after their first six months in office (Pope Francis will celebrate his first six months on September 13).
No one likes to see his religion trashed, and from everything we have learned about [the PBS documentary] "The Life of Muhammad," Muslims have nothing to worry about. The New York Daily News says the film could be subtitled "Islam 101," boasting that "If it helps with greater understanding, it has done its job." A professor who appears in the series praises it for its "balance."
However, a look back at PBS' treatment of the Catholic Church yields few films that could reasonably be dubbed "Catholicism 101," or that could in any way be praised for promoting "greater understanding." In fact, most of the films were flagrantly imbalanced.
In today’s New York Times, there is an analysis of former CNN anchor Campbell Brown’s new group, Parents’ Transparency Project, that was established to root out public school employees guilty of sexual misconduct. This is what it says about the ad: “Her case is helped by stark statistics and will appeal to parents who would not want anyone who had been accused of misconduct, no matter how minor, around children. But by blaming unions, and ignoring concerns that the city might impose unnecessarily harsh punishments on employees, she risks inflaming organized labor, and in turn, the Democratic candidates for mayor.” (My emphasis.)
When it comes to the Catholic Church, the New York Times insists on “zero tolerance,” but not when it comes to the public schools. It wants to go light on “minor” offenses, and is strictly opposed to “unnecessarily harsh punishments.”
There has been a rash of stories about U.S. State Department employees taking drugs and cavorting with prostitutes. In addition, the Ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, was accused of soliciting prostitutes and minor children. While all of these alleged crimes are reprehensible, the Catholic League only has interest in the charge that Gutman “routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children.” (My italics.)
No media outlet was more outraged over minors being molested by priests than the Boston Globe, but it has shown no interest in this story; it has not run a single piece on it. The New York Times ran one story; the Washington Post ran one story, but unlike the Times, it never mentioned “minor children”; the Los Angeles Times, like the Globe, ignored the story altogether.
The 2012 annual report on priestly sexual abuse in the Catholic Church featured an audit done by StoneBridge Business Partners, and the data were gathered by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
The report on sexual abuse, part of an annual audit, is available on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Apparently, almost no one has read it. Not a single secular newspaper in the United States reported on it.
Former Time and Newsweek blogger Andrew Sullivan accuses the pope of being a homosexual. His evidence? The pope’s “handsome male companion [Archbishop Georg Ganswein] will continue to live with him, while working for the other Pope during the day.” Sullivan asks, “Are we supposed to think that’s, well, a normal arrangement?”
Speaking about what is normal is hardly normal for Sullivan. To be specific, in 2001 he solicited anal sex with anonymous men by posting a picture of his torso on the Internet. He explicitly requested to have sex with men who did not wear condoms, begging for orgies. Unfortunately for him, he was outed by his boyfriends after they recognized it was his body.
Christopher Hitchens has been brought back from the dead by Slate, but it won’t do them any good. Yesterday, they republished a hit piece by the atheist from 2010 that was vintage Hitchens: the man was a great polemicist but a third-class scholar. Facts never mattered to him. ("The Pope's entire career has the stench of evil about it.")
Hitchens said the scandal “has only just begun.” Wrong. It began in the mid-60s and ended in the mid-80s. Current reports are almost all about old cases.
Ian Buruma is not exactly a household name, but he is a hero to readers of The New York Review of Books. His fan base will obviously warm to his latest piece in the Beirut newspaper, The Daily Star ["Pope Benedict's dangerous sex appeal"].
Buruma begins by recounting the brutal rape of a young woman by six men on a New Delhi bus last month. His quick segue to Pope Benedict XVI’s speech on gay marriage, which was given a few days before Christmas, was not only awkward, it was a dead give-away: the pope was responsible for the gang rape.
Former BBC chief and current New York Times Company president Mark Thompson has been cleared of wrongdoing in the BBC case involving Jimmy Savile.
It is entirely plausible that Mark Thompson had nothing to do with spiking the BBC “Newsnight” story on BBC child rapist Jimmy Savile. It is entirely implausible to believe that when Thompson told his BBC lawyers last September to write a letter on his behalf that he knew nothing about its contents: the missive threatened The Sunday Times with a lawsuit if it ran a story implicating Thompson in the Savile matter. Indeed, only a fool would contend that he who authorizes his lawyers to write a letter on his behalf wouldn’t know what he was authorizing.
Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, has said that we are “inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” How this unremarkable statement, which never mentions homosexuals, can be labeled anti-gay is astounding. But according to the editorial board of the New York Times, it can be. After quoting Cathy, the Times says, “Antigay remarks like these are offensive.”
It won’t work. According to this logic, almost everyone who ever walked the face of the earth has been an anti-homosexual bigot. Such hyperbole relegates real gay bashing to the trash bin, something to be discarded with alacrity.
Media coverage of both the "Fortnight for Freedom" events sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the competing "Nuns on the Bus" campaign, reveal interesting results.
A total of 141 dioceses, involving tens of thousands of Catholics, participated in the USCCB events; it ended with a crowd of 5,000 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on July 4. Although Bill Moyers wrote that "a bus filled with nuns" participated in the "Nuns on the Bus" campaign, in actual fact a total of two nuns made the entire bus trip; there were never more than six at any one time on the bus. No matter, CNN did eight stories on the nuns, and none on the bishops; MSNBC did six on the nuns, and one on the bishops; and CBS News did two on the nuns and none on the bishops.
The central issue in the fight between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church is the right of the federal government to redefine religious institutions as entities that hire and serve mostly people of their own faith. Secondarily, the fight is over forcing Catholics to pay for abortion-inducing drugs. But one looks in vain for the Church’s critics to even acknowledge this reality. It’s not contraception that is in play—“It’s the First Amendment, Stupid.”
The New York Times says the Obama mandate “specifically exempts houses of worship.” Try telling that to Donald Cardinal Wuerl who runs the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.; it is a self-insured entity and thus must be forced to pay for morally objectionable services. The Times says most American Catholic women do not agree with the Church’s contraception stand, but fails to mention that because of the Obama administration’s disrespect for religious liberty, support for Obama has dropped precipitously among Catholic women.