On Tuesday evening, ABC and CBS furthered the mainstream media's largely inaccurate reporting on Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks on the morality of condom use. While the pontiff stated that condoms are "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection," World News anchor Diane Sawyer stated that "the Pope shifts his rules on condom use." Evening News anchor Katie Couric labeled Benedict XVI's comment a "historic statement," and trumpeted how supposedly, "Pope Benedict says, for the first time, that condoms are okay to protect against HIV and other diseases."
Sawyer included her misleading "Pope shifts his rules on condom use" phrase as she teased the lead stories at the beginning of World News. Sixteen minutes into the half hour program, the ABC anchor introduced correspondent Dan Harris's report, who began by giving a false impression of Benedict's remarks during an interview published in book form given by German journalist Peter Seewald. An on-screen graphic proclaimed, "A Change in Policy:"
On Monday's Newsroom, CNN's Kyra Phillips gave a false impression of Pope Benedict XVI's recent comments about condoms. While the Pope stated that condom use "can be a first step...on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed," Phillips stated that the pontiff "says condoms are okay sometimes." Refreshingly, Monday's Today show on NBC accurately covered Benedict's remarks.
The anchor previewed CNN correspondent Atika Schubert's report on the pontiff's comments 10 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour with her inaccurate description: "Well, the Catholic Church and condoms: two things that have never really gone together until now. The Pope, quoted in a new book, says condoms are okay sometimes. Now, that's a talker!" After a commercial break, Phillips continued with another misleading statement:
PHILLIPS: Pope Benedict is bending a bit when it comes to condoms. A new book actually quotes him as saying that they are okay to use in certain circumstances, like to prevent disease, not birth control. It's the first time the Church has ever talked about exceptions to the condom rule....Here's a part of what the Pope says in the book. See if your eyebrows raise a little bit. It says- quote, 'There could be single cases that can be justified. For instance, when a prostitute uses a condom.' Say what? (laughs) Doesn't it kind of sound like the Pope is justifying prostitution, too? Surely not, but what a bizarre analogy.