The Associated Press and the New York Times both tried to spin a Catholic archbishop's recent exposé about the Church's sex abuse scandal as an ideological attack on Pope Francis from the right. AP's Nicole Winfield touted how Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano turned to "ultra-conservative media that have been highly critical of Francis' mercy-over-morals papacy." The Times write-up highlighted how "some conservative American bishops swiftly came to Archbishop Viganò’s defense."
Laurie Goodstein spotlighted that "the Vatican abruptly ended its takeover of the main leadership group of American nuns" in a Thursday article for the New York Times. Goodstein played up that the final report of the supposed "takeover" was a "far cry from three years ago, when the Vatican's doctrinal office...issued a report finding that the [nuns] had 'serious doctrinal problems.' It said the sisters were questioning church doctrine on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoting 'radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.'"
CBS, USA Today, and the Associated Press all sang from the same sheet of music on Saturday, as they covered the end of the Catholic bishops' Extraordinary Synod on the Family. On CBS Evening News, Jim Axelrod played up a supposed "deep split over the direction Pope Francis wants to take the Church," after the Church's leaders rejected controversial language about homosexuals and divorced Catholics in an earlier draft report. Axelrod also underlined that the bishops "considered language in [the] document...that would welcome gays."
Nicole Winfield unsurprisingly slanted toward left-wing LGBT groups in her Monday article about the mid-term report of the Catholic bishops' synod on the family currently underway at the Vatican. Winfield played up how "gay rights groups hailed a 'seismic shift' by the Catholic Church toward gays on Monday after bishops said homosexuals had gifts to offer the church," and front-loaded three straight quotes from members of two such groups, along with a sympathizer.
Vox's Max Fisher shamelessly invoked medieval history in a Monday post about Pope Francis. Fisher highlighted the pontiff's support for action against ISIS's "unjust aggression" in Iraq, and hyped that "there is good precedent for this...between 1096 and 1272 AD, popes also endorsed the use of Western military action to destroy Middle Eastern caliphates. Those were known as the crusades; there were nine, which means that this would be number 10."
The former Washington Post journalist immediately set the tone with the title of his post: "News from 1096 AD: Pope endorses military force to destroy Middle Eastern caliphate." Fisher continued in this vein in his lead paragraph:
On Friday, Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press shamelessly construed Pope Francis' denunciation of abortion and euthanasia as an "olive branch of sorts to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic Church". Winfield ballyhooed how the pontiff "issued a strong anti-abortion message and cited Vatican teaching on the need to defend the unborn".
The Bishop of Rome advised a group of Italian gynecologists to "recognize, in the fragile human being, the face of the Lord...Each child that is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ....And each old person, even if infirm or at the end of his days, bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the 'culture of waste' proposes!"
The media is imagining a whole new Pope that it can hug and squeeze and calls its own. In its narrative, Pope Francis is a liberal modernizer, and everything he does sweeps that caveman Pope Benedict under the rug. See AP's Vatican reporter Nicole Winfield at the end of the pope's trip to Brazil: "The Francis Revolution is underway. Not everyone is pleased."
Catholics see the two popes as very similar in doctrine, if not in personality. But Winfield is going looking for traditionalist Catholics who are wailing and gnashing their teeth in defeat, for Francis is supposedly driving out the "poisonously homophobic culture" that surrounded the "dusty, doctrinaire" realm of Benedict. So much for AP's policy discouraging the use of "homophobia" in news stories!
A report today from Nicole Winfield at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, headlines the news that Pope Francis's revision and update of Vatican City laws "criminalizes leaks." Meanwhile, searches on relevant terms at the AP's national web site ("leaks"; "insider threat" "McClatchy"; all not in quotes) return either nothing, or nothing relevant.
AP's apparent decision thus far to ignore McClatchy's latest story on the Obama administration's unprecedented "Insider Threat Program," which requires federal employees to snitch on each other for "suspicious behavior" or face serious discipline and even prosecution, is -- well, readers can pick their own adjectives after reading excerpts from McClatchy's latest item which follow the jump.
Does anyone in the media ever attempt to read and understand the speeches of Pope Benedict? The New York Daily News account of his December 21 speech to the curia (the “Vatican bureaucracy”) is being mangled by the Daily Kos into “Pope gives special holiday hate speech against gays because it's Christmas.” The Mediaite headline (off London’s Daily Mail) is “Merry Christmas? Pope Benedict XVI Denounces Gay Marriage As A ‘Manipulation Of Nature’.”
Someone who reads the original would find the term “gay marriage” is missing, although there is a defense of traditional marriage. He denounced the idea that one's gender is not a fact, but a social construct. The pope was also taking on the notion that in the broader culture, men and women are afraid of making lifelong commitments:
Remember that scrap of papyrus the media were screaming about that claimed that Jesus had a wife? Scholars are lining up to dismiss it as a forgery. The Smithsonian Institute canceled its planned documentary on the subject after scholars expressed doubts about its authenticity.
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.
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."
The media is practically falling over themselves with a report, propagated in part by the flimsy Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press, that Pope Benedict XVI has "justified" the use of condoms. (See this enormous (and misleading) headline at HuffPo, for example.) But is it true? In a word, no. Nowhere in his remarks does the Pope talk about "justifying" anything.
Rev. Joseph Fessio is the editor-in-chief of Ignatius Press, which is publishing the interview book Light of the World, from which the Pope's notable remarks are gleaned. Fr. Fessio is quoted in the New York Times, "It would be wrong to say, 'Pope Approves Condoms.' He's saying it's immoral, but in an individual case the use of a condom could be an awakening to someone that he's got to be more conscious of his actions."
Dr. Janet E. Smith at Catholic World Report has an excellent explanation of the Pope's remarks. She also provides the actual interview exchange from the upcoming book.