The mainstream media are in love with Pope Francis, but it's not because of his conservative theology. It's because they see him as a potentially liberal pioneer for the Catholic Church. On Saturday’s CBS This Morning, the network ran a story that cheered on the pope in his supposed struggle against more traditional voices within the church.
Vatican correspondent Allen Pizzey drew the battle lines at the top of his report and let his viewers know who is winning the fight: “Well, the Easter celebrations are highlighting a struggle between the new, simple ways of Pope Francis and the conservative old guard of the Catholic Church. So far, Francis is keeping one step ahead of his critics.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Allen Pizzey readily identified Pope Francis as a "conservative" on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, but failed to give an equivalent ideological label to Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who attended his installation Mass in St. Peter's Sqaure. Pizzey spotlighted the apparent "stark contrast" between the new pontiff and the two liberal politicians, whom he described as being "pro-choice and support[ing] same-sex marriage."
CBS wasted little time to play up newly-elected Pope Francis' "conservative" views on issues like abortion, same-sex "marriage", and birth control. On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell underlined how the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was "described as a staunch conservative". Mark Phillips also used the "conservative" label, and pointed out how the Pope's doctrinal stand has "not made him popular with relatively progressive Jesuit brothers."
Charlie Rose also pressed New York City Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan during the morning newscast about "doctrinal changes on ordination of women, on celibacy, on divorce." When Dolan emphasized that "doctrine can't change," Rose interjected, "But how do you respond to the fact that this really is the century of women?"
But the media, so quick to report on a scrap that CBS reporter Allen Pizzey argued “challenges the very foundation of Christian thinking,” weren’t so eager to report on the mounting evidence that the scrap of papyrus was a forgery.
CBS's Allen Pizzey completely whitewashed the struggling European economy on CBS Sunday Morning to bash the Republican presidential candidates' attack on President Obama's economic policies. Pizzey zeroed-in on Germany's lower unemployment rate and cited left-leaning Professor James Walston, who claimed that "the candidates are dealing in caricatures of Europe that are about 90% wrong."
The journalist played clips from Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, who defended the U.S. Constitution and ripped "European socialism." He condescended in reply, "If you're a candidate who wants to move to the White House, why worry about details?" Pizzey also turned to a European woman who insulted the Republican candidates' intelligence: "I just hope that most Americans are just more intelligent than those politicians" [audio clips available here; video below the jump].
On Friday's CBS Early Show, news reader Betty Nguyen continued the media barrage against the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict as she proclaimed: "They are circling the wagons at the Vatican, defending the Pope amid new charges that he helped cover up cases of sexual abuse when he was a cardinal."
In the report that followed, correspondent Allen Pizzey treated the Holy Father like a corrupt politician: "The abuse scandal, highlighted with pictures of the Pope, glared from the front pages of every major newspaper in Italy today. And in a clear sign of just how much trouble Benedict is in, only two of them defended him." Later in the report, a headline appeared on screen that read: "Catholic Abuse Cover-up? New Allegations About Pope's Role."
Pizzey noted how the Pope recently "told a Vatican youth rally...that the word of God would show them how to prevent falling into what he called 'the abyss of drugs, of alcohol, of addiction to sex and to money.'" He then added: "But victims of abuse...say the Pope failed to heed his own advice."
On Friday's CBS Early Show correspondent Allen Pizzey made the over-the-top declaration that allegations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church amounted to "a scandal that's threatening to become a plague of biblical proportions." A headline on-screen declared a "Catholic Crisis."
Pizzey was reporting on Pope Benedict XVI's efforts to address the scandal in a soon-to-be published Papal letter, but noted that such a statement "seems unlikely to assuage the anger of victims in parishes ranging from the U.S. to Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Brazil." Pizzey cited one victim of abuse, Andrew Madden, who argued: "I don't think a pastoral letter is the proper context in which to respond to a report about the cover-up of the rape of children."
Madden has made his opinions of the Catholic Church well-known on Twitter. One of his tweets reads: "Actual photo of the Devil at work in the Vatican," with a link to a picture of Pope. In response to another tweeter complimenting him on a recent television appearance, Madden replied: "do my best, but these really are the scum of the earth, I'd never have said that 6 months ago but I truly believe it today."
It was a year ago this weekend that the Israeli military halted its three-week campaign, Operation Cast Lead, against Hamas militants in Gaza, during which Israel had responded to thousands of rockets and mortars launched from Gaza over several years. During Israel’s military campaign, on a number of major stories, many American television newscasts were more inclined to report accusations made by U.N. or Palestinian officials that the Israeli military had acted improperly than they were to update viewers after the military held investigations and released reports disputing the accusations made against it. At one point, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric went so far as to claim that the Israelis "may have used a banned weapon."
Below is a compilation of NewsBusters postings which document how the morning and evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FNC, and PBS reported a number of major stories from the Gaza War, highlighting examples of the media either engaging in distortion or omitting relevant information that would have cast Israel in a more favorable light, including several times when the broadcast and news networks even ignored reports issued by the Israeli military after it had taken time to investigate and dispute accusations made against its troops which had previously been reported by the media.
After months of investigation, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) released a report addressing accusations from some humanitarian groups that its use of white phosphorus (WP) munitions in the Gaza War was a violation of international law, as the report distinguishes between the use of WP as a weapon and the more common non-weapon purposes such as providing smoke screens to conceal troop movements. The pro-Israel group CAMERA recently quoted from the report in the article, "Did Israel’s Use of White Phosphorus Constitute a War Crime?" by Steven Stotsky, on its Web site. The report not only argued that the military's decision to explode the munition in the air was safer for civilians than it would have been to explode it on the ground, but it also suggested that the use of WP to facilitate troops movements also meant civilian casualties were lower than they otherwise would have been by making attacks on Hamas more accurate.
Last January, evening newscasts and some morning newscasts on the broadcast networks and on CNN and FNC reported on accusations from humanitarian groups – with varying degrees of accuracy – with CBS even referring to WP as a "banned weapon," and a "horrific new weapon, " and contending that the IDF may have committed "war crimes." At one point, CNN similarly incorrectly identified WP as a "banned substance." ABC showed a clip of a wounded Palestinian boy charging that Israelis have "no mercy" even for children. (MSNBC does not have a morning or evening newscast equivalent to NBC’s Today show or the NBC Nightly News, so MSNBC coverage was not examined.) But, according to a Nexis search, none of these news programs showed any interest in updating viewers once the Israeli military had made public its say on the matter.
As previously documented by NewsBusters, the January 22 CBS Evening News ran a report (video here), introduced by anchor Katie Couric, which left the impression that the Israeli military had used a "banned weapon," without informing viewers that there are non-weapon uses for WP, and passed on accusations of "war crimes." Couric: "Hamas just ended a bloody war with Israel in Gaza, and tonight there is growing evidence the Israelis may have used a banned weapon. Some even accuse them of war crimes."
On the January 25 World News Sunday on ABC, as he introduced a report by correspondent Simon McGregor-Wood, anchor Dan Harris played up complaints against "both sides" in the war, and even suggested that the Israeli side may have been worse in its conduct of the war as he highlighted that there was "especially tough criticism" leveled at Israel. Harris: "Both sides are being dogged now by complaints that they violated the rules of war. Israel has come under especially tough criticism for its use of a chemical agent."
Within the first few days of Israel’s campaign in Gaza, the Israeli military struck the Islamic University of Gaza, charging that the school served as a weapons research facility for Hamas. But while CNN, FNC and MSNBC all at some point reported on the school’s links to Hamas, CBS and NBC ignored the terrorist group’s connection in all its reports, while ABC vaguely noted that it was popular with Hamas students while still calling it a "non-military target." CBS, which had initially ignored the strike when it happened in late December, ran a report on the Friday, January 30, CBS Evening News in which correspondent Alan Pizzey, instead of informing viewers of the school’s reported role in terrorism, seemed more concerned that the damage would delay students from graduating, and relayed that "even the Islamic University" was bombed, suggesting it was an unreasonable target. After beginning the story focusing on a college-aged Palestinian man who was collecting explosive material to build bombs for revenge against Israel, Pizzey continued: "It will go in Qassam rockets – payback, the bomb maker says, for the destruction that has been part of his life since birth. Even the Islamic University was pounded by airstrikes, putting students' chances of graduating in jeopardy."
Then came an anti-Israel soundbite from one female student, named Nasser Barakat: "It's clear for us they want to attack everything, single thing in our life and every place in Gaza in order to destroy the whole community – not only the fighters, but the whole community."
By contrast, on December 29, during the 9:00 hour of MSNBC News Live, correspondent Tom Aspell reported: "Starting in the early hours of this morning, [the Israelis] attacked a building belonging to the Islamic University inside the Gaza Strip. The Israelis saying that the Hamas activists had been using it as a laboratory to develop weapons."
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, Katie Couric incorrectly called one of the munitions reportedly used by the Israeli military a "banned weapon," and, after ignoring numerous violations of international law perpetrated by Hamas, relayed charges that Israel may have committed "war crimes." Referring to Israel’s alleged use of white phosphorus in Gaza, Couric introduced the report: "Hamas gave a thumbs-down to President Obama today, saying his Middle East policy is no different from President Bush's. Hamas just ended a bloody war with Israel in Gaza, and tonight there is growing evidence the Israelis may have used a banned weapon. Some even accuse them of war crimes." Video plus an online version of the story can be found here.
But the use of white phosphorus (WP) is not banned outright, though there are restrictions on its use near civilians areas, and the munition has actually been used by the American military in Iraq. After reports that WP was employed in Fallujah, Iraq, including criticism that it was employed too close to civilians, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace defended its use in a November 29, 2005 Pentagon briefing: "White phosphorus is a legitimate tool of the military. It is used for two primary purposes. One is to mark a location for strike by an aircraft ... The other is to be used ... as a screening agent so that you can move your forces without being seen by the enemy. It is not a chemical weapon ... it is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they are being used for marking and for screening."
On Sunday, October 12, CBS wrapped up its "Evening News" with the apparently charming scoop that Sister Cecilia Gaudette, a 106-year-old Catholic nun living in Rome, would cast her first presidential ballot since 1952...for Barack Obama. That’s one more evening-news story than CBS has devoted to Obama’s radical legislative record on abortion.
Try this on for size: ABC, CBS, and NBC together have unloaded more than a thousand stories on Obama’s presidential campaign, and we’re still waiting for the first broadcast network TV story devoted to examining Obama’s abortion record.
CBS’s man in Rome, Allen Pizzey, packaged his story without the slightest interest into inquiring as to why this Catholic nun would vote for a candidate who is clearly the nation’s fervent advocate of abortion. Instead, Pizzey chose to...ooze. "She has a simple, old-fashioned standard for politicians," Pizzey proclaimed, before giving the good nun the opportunity for her on-air national endorsement of Barack Obama: "A good straight man; good private life, honest and politically able to govern, of course."
Sunday's CBS Evening News ended with a feature piece on a 106-year-old nun in Rome who plans to vote for Barack Obama, her first time to cast a presidential ballot since the New Hampshire native voted for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, because Obama is “a good” and “honest” man. From Rome, reporter Allen Pizzey related how her “simple, old-fashioned standard for politicians,” which apparently does not include the Catholic church's opposition to abortion, inspired her to decide to vote for the first time in 56 years. Sister Cecilia Gaudette explained: “As I say, a good straight man; good private life, honest and politically able to govern, of course.” As she put her hand over an Obama button on her clothing, Pizzey cautioned that though she's decided “the Democrat fit the bill,” she's “not about to campaign for him.” (She'll leave that to the news media?)
Earlier, the newscast aired a report on young voters in New Hampshire, leading anchor Russ Mitchell to set up the look at the nun: “Finally this evening, we just heard how the presidential election in New Hampshire could be decided by the youngest voters. Then again, it could also hinge on the vote of one Roman Catholic nun whose 100th birthday is well behind her.”
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez described the Catholic Church’s refusal to allow filming on Church property of a movie prequel to "The DaVinci Code," starring Tom Hanks, this way: "...the battle between Tom Hanks and the Vatican. You know he's in Rome filming the prequel to 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Angels and Demons,' and the Church there is up in arms, they're barring them from filming in churches. They believe the film, like the book, is sacrilegious."
On Wednesday, ABC’s "Good Morning America" featured a story on the controversy in which correspondent Nick Watt declared: "When the might of Rome clashes with a literary behemoth, expect some colorful language. 'An offense against God,' is what a diocese of Rome spokesman just called this book." Watt then later proclaimed: "The Dan Brown express will not be stopped," to which GMA co-host Diane Sawyer replied: "Yes, Nick, I mean that's the irony, isn't it? The more the Church complains, probably the better it is for the business."
Meanwhile, on Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Allen Pizzey explained: "Fans of the book, 'Angels and Demons,' keep streaming into the churches in Rome where the plot unfolds. But the film crew turning it into a movie has been banned from them and any other Church property. The plot is not overly anti-Church, but some of the most graphic scenes are not something with which the Church wants to be associated."