Media Bias Surrounds Ratzinger’s Selection as Pope

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 20, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Media Bias Surrounds Ratzinger’s Selection as Pope

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 20
, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Before, during and after the selection of German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the next leader of the Catholic Church, media outlets went out of their way to paint him as an out of touch conservative whose stance on pro-life issues like abortion would turn off Catholics.

A Media Research Center report says most U.S. media outlets "have decided to do their best to discredit him by applying extreme and pejorative labels to him and portraying him as the enemy of progress."

NBC’s Jim Maceda referred to "the ultraconservative Ratzinger" and Katie Couric asserted that Ratzinger is "known to be quite conservative. He’s been called ‘God’s rottweiler’ because of his strict adherence to Catholic doctrine."

Echoing Couric, ABC’s David Wright said "he’s been dubbed ‘God’s rottweiler,’ a staunch conservative."

Meanwhile, even though her viewers voted Ratzinger the "Person of the Day," CNN’s Paula Zahn lamented how "he’s butted heads with theologians and teachers, silencing dissent, shutting down debate over [controversial] issues."

Though polls show Catholics strongly back the church’s pro-life position on abortion, MRC reports that Zahn devoted a lengthy show to describe how "many Catholic women are praying that the white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney will signal" a "revolution" which will change policy on abortion. nat1270.html

MRC noted that NBC’s Katie Couric asserted that "according to a recent poll, 78 percent of American Catholics would like the Catholic Church to be less conservative."

However, MRC says "Couric cherry-picked the number she liked since the poll also determined that when asked if the next Pope should ‘make church doctrine on abortion less strict,’ only 37 percent said he should compared to 59 percent who responded that he should not.

Couric instead used a number from the poll concerning birth control, while ignoring Catholic’s support for church doctrine on abortion and other contentious issues.

Overall, the Media Research Center said CBS News was the most egregious in applying negative labels to the new pope.

The media watchdog cited Mark Phillips asking: "He has taken the name of a healer, but where will this arch-conservative lead the Catholic Church?"

CBS anchor Bob Schieffer tagged Ratzinger as "very conservative" before John Roberts described him as "a doctrinal conservative" and "an unswerving hardliner." Phillips then declared that "the cardinals picked the most polarizing figure in the Catholic Church."

Despite the polling results on Catholics, MRC reports Schieffer insisting that "a lot of American Catholics were looking for a Pope who might liberalize some of the rules of the Catholic church."

Other unflattering quotes MRC compiled included ABC’s Cokie Roberts complaining Ratzinger was an "extremely controversial choice," and an ABC News producer in Germany said "there’s widespread doubt here that he will be able to overcome his reputation as the intimidating enforcer, punishing liberal thinkers and keeping the Church in the Middle Ages."

CNN anchor Jim Bittermann, criticized Ratzinger’s "strict fundamentalist" and "hardline" views, calling him "a really astounding choice."

Related web sites:
Media Research Center –