NBC Hypes 'Scathing' U.N. Report Against Catholic Church

On Tuesday’s Nightly News, NBC hyped a “scathing” United Nations report that ripped the Catholic church for covering up sexual abuse crimes. The report also pressed the church to change its teaching on birth control, abortion, and homosexuality.

“Tonight, a scathing report by a United Nations human rights group has slammed the Vatican and the hierarchy of the Catholic church,” reported fill-in anchor Ann Curry. NBC featured critical statements from both the U.N. and the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

The way NBC’s Mike Taibbi finished the report, the U.N. looked like it scored a knock-down against the church: “But finally and fully holding priests accountable for the abuse of children, the Vatican was told today, is not an issue of belief, but of criminality.”

And Taibbi touted the U.N.’s “unsparing” indictment:

“[T]oday's U.N. report was unsparing, saying the church imposed a code of silence over decades of priestly sexual abuse, moved abusers from parish to parish to cover up such crimes, and that its policies have led to the continuation of the abuse.”

However, as Hot Air pointed out, the networks have ignored the U.N.’s complete hypocrisy on sexual abuse given the history of “rape and sexual-abuse rampages” in past U.N. military missions.

ABC also mentioned the U.N. report on Tuesday in its story on the real-life Philomena: “This all came today in the wake of a scathing U.N. report criticizing the Catholic Church for its – for the child abuse scandals; and also, criticizing the Pope for his attitudes on homosexuality.” 

Below is a transcript of the report, which aired on NBC Nightly News on February 5 at 7:12 p.m. EST:

ANN CURRY: Tonight, a scathing report by a United Nations human rights group has slammed the Vatican and the hierarchy of the Catholic church. It accuses the church of allowing decades of sexual abuse of children by priests and continuing to protect the perpetrators through what it called a code of silence. NBC's Mike Taibbi has our report. 

(Video Clip)

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC News: Pope Francis, greeting the faithful in St. Peter's Square today, had already been taking steps to deal with what he called the shame of the church. But today's U.N. report was unsparing, saying the church imposed a code of silence over decades of priestly sexual abuse, moved abusers from parish to parish to cover up such crimes, and that its policies have led to the continuation of the abuse. 

KIRSTEN SANDBERG, U.N. committee on rights of the child chairperson: The Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children's best interests. 

TAIBBI: "Distorted and unfair," the Vatican responded, saying the U.N. "Failed to consider measures the church has introduced to protect children." The report also requested the release of all Vatican records on abuse claims by thousands of children, so more perpetrators can be held accountable. Victims like Barbara Doris, assaulted as a child for years by a local priest, are encouraged. 

BARBARA DORIS, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests: This isn't a moral failing. This isn't a mistake. This is crimes against children. And they need to be investigated by law enforcement. 

TAIBBI: Will the U.N. report trigger further action by this hope? 

THOMAS REESE, S.J., National Catholic Reporter senior analyst: The pope is on board in implementing the policies that Pope Benedict put into place that every priest who's been involved in abuse is thrown out. 

(End Video Clip)

TAIBBI: (on camera) But the U.N. report went beyond priestly sexual abuse. It also criticized the Vatican for its positions on contraception, abortion, and homosexuality. 

(Voice over) The Vatican called that criticism "an attempt to interfere with Catholic church teaching and with the exercise of religious freedom." But finally and fully holding priests accountable for the abuse of children, the Vatican was told today, is not an issue of belief, but of criminality. Mike Taibbi, NBC news, London. 

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