CBS Follows ABC to Airing Ugly Accusations Against Pope, Provides Just One Quote In His Defense

Monday night's CBS Evening News followed CNN and ABC to the ugly decades-old accusations against Pope Francis from his time in Argentina. CBS featured the same critic of Pope Francis that ABC did on Sunday. CNN, meanwhile, was the only one of the three networks to seriously question the accusations.

"There are still questions, though, about the Pope's relationship with Argentina's former government, a military dictatorship that kidnapped and killed thousands in the '70s and '80s," reported fill-in anchor Bob Schieffer. CBS centered the story around Francis' accuser, with only one quote in his defense.

CBS interviewed the same accuser that ABC featured in its one-sided report, Estela de la Cuadra, an Argentinian women with several family members who were victims of the junta, the old Argentinian dictatorship.

"De la Cuadra believes the future pope could have done more to speak out against the dictatorship, but others insist during the regime's seven years in power Bergoglio did what he was able to," CBS correspondent Elaine Quijano reported before she quoted Francis' biographer Francesca Ambrogetti.

"His inauguration is tomorrow. How do you feel about him becoming pope?" Quijano teed up de la Cuadra, who spat "It's not my pope. It's not my religious authority. I think he's leaving behind many open wounds. He owes us an answer because he had all the power. He owes us that."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on the CBS Evening News on March 18 at 6:39 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Old rivals came together at the Vatican today when Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez visited Pope Francis. They have differed sharply on several issues in the past, including his opposition to same-sex marriage and contraception. This meeting, apparently, went well. Fernandez gave Francis a present, he gave her a kiss. There are still questions, though, about the Pope's relationship with Argentina's former government, a military dictatorship that kidnapped and killed thousands in the '70s and '80s. Elaine Quijano has that story in Buenos Aires.

(Video Clip)

ELAINE QUIJANO: (voice over) Estela de la Cuadra's family members started disappearing in 1976, just as Argentina's military dictatorship began its brutal reign over the country. Seven relatives, including her husband Gustavo and her pregnant sister Elena, were kidnapped. De la Cuadra's father tried appealing to the head of the Jesuit priests Jorge Bergoglio.

(On camera) In 1977, your father met with Bergoglio. What did your father want Bergoglio to do?

ESTELA DE LA CUADRA: (in Spanish) (unintelligible)

QUIJANO: (voice over) She told us "papa asked him for help."

(On camera) What did Bergoglio do?

DE LA CUADRA: (in spanish) (unintelligible)

QUIJANO: (voice over) "Bergoglio did write this short note," she said, "so my father could see one of the military authorities."

(On camera) Did Bergoglio do anything else?

DE LA CUADRA: (in Spanish) (unintelligible)

QUIJANO: (voice over) "No, as far as we know, no," she said. De la Cuadra believes the future pope could have done more to speak out against the dictatorship, but others insist during the regime's seven years in power Bergoglio did what he was able to, including helping some citizens who were about to be arrested. Francesca Ambrogetti is co-author of "The Jesuit," a biography of Bergoglio.

FRANCESCA AMBROGETTI, co-author, "The Jesuit": (in Spanish) (unintelligible)

QUIJANO: "There was much proof that he helped people who needed help," she said. "For instance, people who wanted to get out of the country to get out." But that's little comfort to Estela de la Cuadra.

(On camera) His inauguration is tomorrow. How do you feel about him becoming pope?

DE LA CUADRA: (in Spanish) (Unintelligible)

QUIJANO: (voice over) "It's not my pope," she said. "It's not my religious authority. I think he's leaving behind many open wounds. He owes us an answer because he had all the power. He owes us that."

(On camera) In recent years, then-Cardinal Bergoglio led the Argentine Catholic church's effort to apologize for its failure to speak out more forcefully against human rights abuses. Bob?
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014