CBS Spins Pope and Obama as So Similar: Both Are ‘International Celebrities’

Pope Francis and Barack Obama have a lot in common, at least according to CBS This Morning on Wednesday. Reporter Major Garrett skipped over disagreements like abortion and the health care mandate and instead connected: “Pope Francis arrives defined at least in part by his humility, also as an instrument of change within the church and an international celebrity.... President Obama knows a thing or two about change and celebrity.” 

Garrett continued to link the two, insisting they met on Tuesday “far away from the poor corners of Buenos Aires where Francis first ministered or the streets of Chicago's south side where Barack Obama first organized.” 

In a clip, liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne saw the two as two community organizers: “Barack Obama got one of his first paychecks when the Roman Catholic church when he was an organizer in Chicago. Both the Pope and the President understand community organizing since they have that in common.” 

Again, at no time in the segment did anyone on CBS mention abortion, gay marriage or the ObamaCare mandate to cover contraceptives and abortifacients. Certainly, the Pope and Obama don’t agree on any of that. 

On NBC’s Today, Maria Shriver offered her aspirations for the Pope’s visit: “I hope he will continue with his talk about less judgment on people of different sexual genders.” 

On Good Morning America, Terry Moran lectured that Francis “begins his American journey knowing full well the controversy he's creating with his progressive agenda on climate change and inequality.” 

A transcript of the September 23 CBS This Morning segment is below: 

7:08

NORAH O’DONNELL: Major Garrett is on the north lawn of the White House with why these world leaders may have a lot in common. Major, good morning. 

MAJOR GARRETT: Good morning. Pope Francis arrives defined at least, in part, by his humility also an instrument of change within the church and an international celebrity of a kind that popes in the past simply haven't been. President Obama knows a thing or two about change and celebrity and it's actually these topics that the two have discussed in private, the burdens of dealing with celebrity and change. But the two world leaders share something else.

BARACK OBAMA: Your Holiness, it is so nice to see you. 

GARRETT: The President and Pope Francis met Tuesday at an air base synonymous with American prestige and power, far away from the poor corners of Buenos Aires where Francis first ministered or the streets of Chicago’s south side where Barack Obama first organized. One unifying thread for these likely journeys? The Catholic Church. 

E.J. DIONNE (The Washington Post): Barack Obama got one of his first paychecks when the Roman Catholic church when he was an organizer in Chicago. Both the Pope and the President understand community organizing since they have that in common. 

GARRETT: Pope Francis has shifted Vatican emphasis from policing social issues to caring for the poor and the planet and a issue the President has embraced and found politically useful to applaud. 

BARACK OBAMA: I’m touched by his call to relieve suffering and to show mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable. As Pope Francis made clear in his encyclical this summer, taking a stand against climate change is a moral obligation. 

GARRETT: In the Pope, the President also found a powerful ally for normalizing relations with Cuba, harnessing the popularity and secret advocacy of the Vatican.

DIONNE: All presidents have liked to quote the Pope and say they are on the pope's side. And so president Obama is in a long political tradition, and he happens to have a pope in Francis who agrees with him on some central issues. 

GARRETT: The White House is, of course, weary of charges of politicizing the Pope's visit. But they also know that is unavoidable. So the President will not be shy about embracing the Pope on issues in which they agree, income inequality, immigration, Norah, and climate change. 


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