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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemus Papam Hard-Linus: NYT Attacks the New Pope

Well, that was fast.

Within a couple of hours of Joseph Ratzinger being named the successor to John Paul II, The New York Times is already attacking the new Pontiff through its "news" coverage. The NYT homepage just posted two articles covering today's events, and both have their own special approach to criticizing the newly crowned Pope Benedict XVI:

Cardinals Choose a Close Aide to John Paul II to Lead Church

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who served as John Paul II's hard-line defender of church doctrine, was elected on the second day of the conclave.

In St. Peter's Square, Optimism and Concern

As the new pontiff emerged on the balcony, many cheered wildly while others were openly and greatly distressed.

Notice how the summary for the lead article uses the word "hard-line" to describe Benedict's theology. Hard-line? What is that term supposed to mean? The man was a cardinal who has spent his entire adult life in the service of the Catholic church -- of course he's devout in following the tenets of his faith. Would the Times consider him a more "reasonable" adherent of the faith if he shared the convictions of a man like, say, Teddy Kennedy?

Unfortunately this biased summary on their homepage is just one small example of what evidently passes for journalism at the Times. Here's a very telling passage from the lead article:

He has been described as a conservative, intellectual clone of the late pontiff, and, as the dean of the College of Cardinals, he was widely respected for his uncompromising - if ultraconservative - principles and his ability to be critical.

As cardinal, he had shut the door on any discussion on several issues, including the ordination of women, celibacy of priests and homosexuality, defending his positions by invoking theological truth. In the name of orthodoxy, he is in favor of a smaller church, but one that is more ideologically pure.

Intellectual clone. Uncompromising. Ultraconservative. Shut[s] the door on any discussion. Ideologically pure... You don't have to read between the lines to get the sense that the Times writers and editors really don't like Ratzinger.

Of course, the editorial slant to this lead news article almost qualifies as restrained compared to the silly feature that follows it. The primary voice of concern that the Times quotes in that article is a "retired bank worker" who happened to be standing in St. Peter's Square when the new Pope was announced. Quoth the Times: "'I am very, very upset because I was hoping for a more open pope, one who was more open to the problems of the world,' said Paolo Tasselli."

Evidently "all the news that's fit to print" includes the deep thoughts of retired Italian bank workers named Paolo. Talk about thorough reporting! (Are you taking notes, Jayson Blair?)

Time will tell if Pope Benedict will measure up to his predecessor as a theologian and world leader, but being critcized so soundly by the Times "news" coverage on day one of his reign is at least one indication that this new Pope could turn out to be a worthy successor to John Paul II.

Eric M. Jackson is the president of World Ahead Publishing and author of the award-winning book, The PayPal Wars: Battles with eBay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth, which is on sale now.


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