Pope Francis is kicking off his American tour and attracting attention not just from Catholics, but the liberal news media that love everything the pope does that they agree with.
If history repeats itself journalists will praise the pope for every liberal thing he says during the visit, especially about the economy, capitalism and wealth. The networks have called him “a different kind of pope” and one “breaking the mold” that view has been evident in their news coverage of Pope Francis since he was named pope March 13, 2013.
The media favorably covered his November 2013 “manifesto” that was critical of capitalism, his concerns about income inequality and even his role in opening U.S./Cuba relations, despite enormous human rights concerns in that island nation.
The New York Times hailed Pope Francis for his “blistering criticism” of capitalism, other media heralded the alarmism of his “highly anticipated” climate encyclical and all three broadcast networks gave him credit for helping restore U.S.-Cuba relations. In contrast, journalists have often ignored Pope Francis when he has made conservative statements especially about the unborn.
The media have been very supportive of this pope’s perspective on five key issues: his “Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium) exhortation that complained about economic “inequality” and “trickle-down” views of economic growth, (anti) capitalist views, the threat of climate change, income inequality, and reaching out to communist Cuba.
1. Favorable Reporting of Pope Francis’s ‘Manifesto’
In November 2013, Pope Francis released an apostolic exhortation called Evangelii Gaudium, or The Joy of the Gospel. It focused on evangelism and the proclamation of the gospel, however it also very publicly displayed the new pope’s left-wing views concerning economics.
The pope's message included these economic statements and many others:
“[S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power ...”
“[W]e can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth ...”
After calling for solidarity with the poor, Pope Francis wrote that “[S]olidarity must be lived as the decision to restore to the poor what belongs to them.”
Because his economic sentiments were left-wing, the liberal news media didn’t challenge or question them. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley straightforwardly reported on Nov. 26, 2013, “Today, Pope Francis denounced trickle-down economics as unfair to the poor as he presented the vision for his papacy. In a 224-page document, the pope wrote that money must serve, not rule. He also urged priests to get out of their churches, get their shoes muddy and get involved in the life of their faithful.”
That was all Pelley said. There was no opposing view or challenge of any kind. But NBC Nightly News praised Pope Francis’ “manifesto” even going so far as to call him a “real Catholic superhero.” Their report was positively glowing on Dec. 1, 2013.
Anchor Lester Holt teased the story speaking of the the pope’s appeal bringing people back to the Catholic Church.
In another tease Holt said, “The [advent] season is bringing added excitement to many Catholics this year as they celebrate the new energy and spirit of Pope Francis.”
NBC reporter Claudio Lavanga continued by providing a supportive story that included interviews with four supporters of Pope Francis. Lavanga said, “The pope’s appeal doesn’t only fill up St. Peter’s Square.” He described Evangelii Gaudium as “his bold vision for the future of the church.”
“In the book, he talks about poverty, inequality and capitalism and the prospect of decentralizing power away from the Vatican,” Lavanga said.
There was no other view in the story, even from Catholic defenders of free market principles.
2. Media Comfortable With Pope’s Criticism of Economic Inequality
Promoting complaints about income inequality and wage gaps has become nearly a crusade by the left-wing media. They’ve embraced “rock-star” French, far-left economist Thomas Piketty and called for wage and tax hikes. So the flattering coverage of Pope Francis on the subject was to be expected.
ABC World News anchor David Muir broached the subject on Aug. 31, 2015, in a story about the pope’s upcoming visit to the U.S.
“One of his most popular tweets, ‘Inequality is the root of social evil,’ a message these students here in Rome say he’ll bring to America,” Muir said. He spoke to four students. One of them said “I hope he doesn’t hold back” when discussing income inequality, immigration and race.
Muir also found two couples of “American tourists” in Rome who were “excited about seeing the Pope back in America” because he is “so different.” One of the couples called Pope Francis “the people’s pope.” If Muir found any critics there in Rome, they didn’t make it into the story.
The broadcast networks also hyped the “historic” meeting between Pope Francis and President Obama in March 2014.
Pelley asked Obama, “What did the pope say to you in that meeting that inspired you?” His answer was their conversation about “poverty and inequality.” NBC Nightly News also noted the pair’s “shared interest in eliminating income inequality.”
Multiple outlets downplayed their differences on “social issues that divide them.” That was the typical mindset for much of the reporting. When reporters agreed with the liberal message of the pope, it made news.
3. Touting Pope Francis’s ‘Anti-capitalism’ Messages
From his attack on “trickle-down” economics, to his climate encyclical, Pope Francis has made quite a few anti-capitalist statements, including a recent claim that the European refugee crisis was caused by “bad, unjust” economic systems
Summarizing the pope’s message during a visit to Latin America in July 2015, ABC World News Sunday at least identified his remarks as an “anti-capitalism message.” But that was just an admission from ABC anchor Tom Llamas, not a criticism.
Correspondent David Wright elaborated in that July 12, 2015, report saying, “His message all week sharply critical of a global economy that exploits people and pillages Mother Earth. Pope Francis calling instead for a globalization of hope. That message is a huge hit here in Latin America. But it would seem to cast the U.S. as a villain.” Although Wright noted the pope’s liberal economic message might not be well-received during his US visit that begins Sept. 22, 2015, the story included no one critical of those statements.
Coral Davenport at The New York Times touted the pope’s climate encyclical as “blistering criticism of 21st-century capitalism, expressing skepticism about market forces ...”
The left-wing Atlantic magazine published an article about “The Vatican’s Journey from Anti-Communism to Anti-Capitalism" in November 2013. It concluded that, “In pitting the Church against the free-market, the pope has added significant heft and legitimacy to progressive, pro-government groups on the left.” It wasn’t much different from stories on the broadcast networks.
4. Media Embrace Pope Francis When he Embraces Climate Alarmism
Liberal media outlets including the three broadcast networks raced to cover the Pope’s encyclical about climate change, seizing on a leaked copy before Laudato Si’ was officially released.
After the release, all three networks repeated his complaint that the Earth is becoming an “immense pile of filth” and what they referred to as his call for a “revolution on climate change,” because it fit their climate alarmist agenda.
The Washington Post praised Pope Francis on its June 15 front page, suggesting he could impact environmental policy through his “highly anticipated” encyclical and with his “enormous popularity.”
On TV, CBS Evening News reported that “Pope Francis demanded immediate action to reverse climate change, which he blamed on fossil fuels and big business,” June 18. Then they turned to a Catholic farmer using windmills who was “grateful he and the pope are on the same side” of the climate issue. CBS included very little criticism of the climate alarmist encyclical.
The New York Times also eagerly covered the encyclical from multiple angles. Laurie Goodstein’s front page article, saying that in spite of criticism from “industrialists, politicians” and others “Francis is following in the footsteps of popes and bishops who, for generations, have written documents on pressing social problems by applying religious teaching to events so contemporary that they seem ripped from their eras’ headlines.” The article even favorably cited the Old Testament to promote the pope’s encyclical.
In another Times’ story, Davenport touted it as taking aim at “global capitalism,” and another activist reporter Justin Gillis claimed the encyclical “hews closely to science on climate.”
Following the release of Laudato Si’ The Guardian reported that the Vatican had added pro-Occupy Wall Street activist and anti-capitalism Naomi Klein to their list of people for an upcoming environmental conference about implementation of the encyclical.
However, the encyclical was also criticized, even if the liberal news media ignored those critics. Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute wrote in The National Review that it had a “shallow understanding of global energy use and, in particular, of how energy consumption is soaring among the people he claims to care most about: the poor.” Bryce argued that if climate change is a threat, countries must get “richer’ to be prepared.
Others dispute that climate change is the catastrophic threat the news media claim it is.
“In terms of environmental degradation, Laudato Si’ appears oblivious to the fact that the twentieth century’s worst economically driven pollution occurred as a result of centrally-planned state-industrialization schemes in former Communist nations,” Samuel Gregg wrote at American Spectator. “Anyone who’s visited Eastern Europe or the former USSR and witnessed the often-devastated landscape will quickly attest to the validity of that insight.”
5. Media Credit Pope Francis for Helping ‘Thaw’ Cuba/U.S. Relations
Pope Francis’ role in the restoration of U.S. and Cuba interaction is proof that The Atlantic was right that the Vatican (or at least the pope) no longer viewed communism as the threat against society. American media certainly seem to agree with him.
The pope was involved “behind the scenes” according to Good Morning America in “opening relations with Cuba.” ABC has often fawned over communist Cuba and “charismatic” Fidel Castro. In its Dec. 18, report GMA cheered President Obama’s efforts to “help thaw a Cold War” in addition to crediting the pope.
On July 7, CBS This Morning spent almost five minutes touting cruises to Cuba that would run beginning 2016, now that travel restrictions between the U.S. and the Communist regime had been changed. In May, CBS mentioned the changing relationship between Raul Castro and Obama, and added it was “a deal brokered then blessed by none other than the pope.”
The July 1, 2015, Nightly News made it clear the pope had given Obama and Castro “a push.”