On Friday's CBS This Morning, Mark Phillips all but hinted that Pope Francis had "taken sides" with Russia's Vladimir Putin and against President Obama in the international debate over military strikes in Syria. Phillips proposed that the Pope's letter to Putin "must have been music to the Russian president's ears."
The journalist also turned to a "Vatican historian" who once publicly attacked Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, as a "dictator", and likened him to Islamists. He also labeled the Pope's upcoming prayer and fasting vigil for peace in Syria a "religious street protest." [audio available here; video below the jump]
Monday's CBS This Morning played up the domestic critics of Margaret Thatcher as they covered the breaking news of her death. Mark Phillips, reporting from London, spotlighted how Thatcher was once called "Plunder-woman" by a British union leader, and how she was "contentious here, famous for breaking the back of the very strong labor movement in Britain." Phillips also noted how the former prime minister was "a figure both reviled and revered."
During a retrospective on the "Iron Lady", correspondent Elizabeth Palmer ballyhooed how Thatcher's "trademark helmet hair, cut-glass accent, and bullying style became a staple of British satire".
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?"
During CBS's special coverage of the papal election on Wednesday, correspondent Mark Phillips singled out two dissenters from Catholic tradition in the middle of a crowd of hundreds of thousands in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, mere minutes after the white smoke went out of the Sistine Chapel's chimney, and before Pope Francis emerged onto the balcony over the piazza.
The two activists, who wore pink "ordain women" pins, not only sought to change the Catholic Church's teachings on the all-male priesthood, but spotlighted "LGBT issues [and] reproductive health care" – a thinly-veiled reference to abortion and contraception – as issues that need to be drastically changed inside the Church. [audio available here; video below the jump]
CBS correspondent Mark Phillips took journalistic hype to a new low on Wednesday's CBS This Morning when he compared Princess Kate's pregnancy to that of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago: "This is day three of what's becoming, perhaps, the most talked about pregnancy since Bethlehem." [audio available here; video below the jump]
Phillips delivered this beyond bizarre throwaway line as he began his report outside the hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge is being treated for hyperemesis gravidarum - a severe form of morning sickness. He added, "The news today seems to be better."
As the morning and evening newscasts on CBS have reported on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's upcoming plan to seek statehood recognition from the United Nations on Friday, correspondent Mark Phillips has appeared three times filing reports which have portrayed Palestinians as victims of Israeli extremism and "militant" Jewish settlers, while ignoring Palestinian extremism and refusal to meet for talks in recent years despite overtures from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Phillips recounted clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, and seemed to suggest that the Israeli military had fired tear gas at the wrong group as he noted that Arabs were subjected to the anti-riot measure. Phillips:
Arson, destruction, thievery, beatings and even murder – they’re the inevitable reaction to increased college tuition fees?
To hear the broadcast news networks spin the violence and looting convulsing English cities in August, the riots were clashes between the “haves and the have-nots” (a term used by NBC reporter Martin Fletcher) in British society. According to the networks, an oppressed minority unleashed pent-up rage against a conservative government hell-bent on cutting government spending and creating economic inequality in the process.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips declared how the beatification of Pope John Paul II to sainthood was moving "at break-neck speed" and noted that "Groups protesting the Catholic Church's child abuse scandal are urging the Vatican to slow down the process."
Despite the protests, Phillips remarked that "the current pope, Benedict XVI, seems determined to charge ahead with the canonization of his extremely popular predecessor." Earlier in the report, he suggested John Paul II's road to sainthood was a short cut: "It normally takes centuries for major Church figures to reach sainthood and join the saintly statues on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica. But John Paul II has been fast-tracked."
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric described British efforts to curb government spending: "Britain's new conservative government outlined the sharpest cuts in public spending in six decades....to see if that kind of severe belt-tightening can cure an ailing economy."
Correspondent Mark Phillips warned of the fiscally conservative approach: "It's a high-stakes roll of the economic dice involving massive spending cuts and huge job losses." He rolled a pair of dice onto a Monopoly board as he made that declaration. After detailing some of the planned cuts, Phillips explained: "The projected government job losses – 490,000, about one in ten government workers."
On Thursday, correspondent Richard Roth touted low turnout predictions during the Papal visit: "Some Church officials this morning were already lowering expectations, saying seats were still unsold for several outdoor events."
Phillips described the trip as "A test of whether Pope Benedict can get his message across over the background noise of the Church's child abuse scandal. And that test gets harder as time goes on." He went on to observe "This Pope finds himself with an ironic challenge, he bemoans the weakening role of religion in everyday life, yet it is the Church's very own public struggle with its child-molesting priests that is helping to drive people away."
Ratigan spoke with Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand, an openly gay ex-Catholic, who ranted: "the bottom line is, the Catholic Church for the last couple of decades, has preached hatred, bigotry, discrimination against gay people. But they don't take ownership of their own homosexual problems that exist and have existed for decades. And they need to stop blaming everybody else." An on-screen headline read: "Killing the Messenger; Cardinal Slams NY Times for Vatican Coverage."
Meanwhile, on Thursday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips declared: "The Church, though, has been more direct in its response to the stories being printed and broadcast of child abuse in its institutions. It's attacked the messenger." Phillips later concluded that "The Church is faced with making an argument that is very difficult, that it has changed from the bad old days, at the same time as evidence keeps coming out, showing just how bald those old days were."
ABC, CBS and NBC ran a combined total of 13 sound bites from victims and victim advocates, who claimed the Catholic Church, and Pope Benedict XVI in particular, covered up sexual abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy.
They alleged that Murphy abused 200 boys at a school for the deaf in Milwaukee, WI, throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Only NBC's report included a defender of the church: George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.