Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

Nets Zero in on "Ultraconservative" Ratzinger, "God's Rottweiler" --4/19/2005


1. Nets Zero in on "Ultraconservative" Ratzinger, "God's Rottweiler"
Just as Germany's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has emerged in the media as a leading papal candidate, the U.S. media 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. On Sunday, NBC's Jim Maceda referred to "the ultraconservative Ratzinger" and reported that "he was briefly a member of Hitler's youth group in Nazi Germany." On Monday morning, 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 and 'The Enforcer' as well." Echoing Couric, ABC's David Wright said "he's been dubbed 'God's rottweiler,' a staunch conservative..." After her viewers voted Ratzinger the "Person of the Day," CNN's Paula Zahn on Monday night lamented how "he's butted heads with theologians and teachers, silencing dissent, shutting down debate over issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women."

2. CNN Focuses on "Discouraged" Catholic Women Who Want "Revolution"
Picking up where the broadcast networks left off on Sunday night, CNN's Paula Zahn on Monday night devoted a lengthy story to 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, birth control and women as priests. Zahn showed protests, complete with pink smoke "to symbolize what they see as a critical absence of women in the papal election process," as she centered her piece around the views of the Women's Ordination Conference, led by a woman who is supposedly "like many Catholic women in the United States -- devout but discouraged." Zahn ended with a plea from a 12-year-old girl: "I would ask the Cardinals if they could just, like, let the girls be priests or participate more in the church because, like, girls should get the same opportunities as boys."

3. Couric Distorts Poll to Say Most Want "Less Conservative" Church
NBC's Katie Couric asserted on Monday morning that "according to a recent poll, 78 percent of American Catholics would like the Catholic Church to be less conservative," but the only current poll the MRC could locate with such a finding was an early April CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey of Catholics which found 78 percent said the next Pope should "allow Catholics to use birth control." But 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. And, contradicting Couric's thesis, asked directly if the next Pope should be "more conservative than John Paul II, about the same, or more liberal than John Paul II?", 59 percent endorsed the conservative status quo.

4. Reporters Predict DeLay Won't Survive, Will They Help Him Along?
NBC's Norah O'Donnell, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, Time magazine Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy and New York Times columnist David Brooks all predicted on the Chris Matthews Show over the weekend that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will not survive his ethics scandal -- which raises the question of whether the media figures will cover DeLay in a way to help ensure the fulfillment of their predictions. O'Donnell and Bumiller demurred from predicting a specific date, but Duffy pegged DeLay's demise as by "the Fourth of July" and Brooks gave him until "Bastille Day. I give him ten more days from July Fourth."


Nets Zero in on "Ultraconservative" Ratzinger,
"God's Rottweiler"

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Just as Germany's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has emerged in the media as a leading papal candidate, the U.S. media 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. On Sunday, NBC's Jim Maceda referred to "the ultraconservative Ratzinger" and reported that "he was briefly a member of Hitler's youth group in Nazi Germany." On Monday morning, 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 and 'The Enforcer' as well." Echoing Couric, ABC's David Wright said "he's been dubbed 'God's rottweiler,' a staunch conservative..." After her viewers voted Ratzinger the "Person of the Day," CNN's Paula Zahn on Monday night lamented how "he's butted heads with theologians and teachers, silencing dissent, shutting down debate over issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women."

Lengthier renditions of the above quotes:

-- NBC's Jim Maceda, the MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed, concluded a Sunday NBC Nightly News story:
"Seventy-eight year German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger still appears the frontrunner but the ultraconservative Ratzinger, part of John Paul's inner circle, may be hurt by news reports that, as a teenager, he was briefly a member of Hitler's youth group in Nazi Germany. Some Vatican watchers say they already see proof here of another old rule: whoever enters the conclave as the next Pope comes out a cardinal. Jim Maceda, NBC News, the Vatican."

-- ABC's Good Morning America on Monday morning, April 18. The MRC's Jessica Barnes caught this from David Wright in Rome:
"The Italian press has been playing [Cardinal Ratzinger] up as if he were the frontrunner. There's no question he enjoys strong support -- he may be the only Cardinal who has an official fan club on the Web -- but he also has many critics. He's been dubbed 'God's rottweiler,' a staunch conservative under Pope John Paul, the enforcer of orthodoxy. At this morning's mass, Cardinal Ratzinger's homily sounded a bit like a campaign stump speech: 'Having a clear faith,' he said, 'is often labeled today as fundamentalism,' but he said 'faith should not just follow today's fashions or the latest novelties.' During the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Ratzinger paid his respects at the German cemetery in Normandy. As a young boy, he was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth, a requirement of children in Nazi Germany, but the Anti-Defamation League has come to his defense on this issue, saying he has atoned time and time again. On matters of faith, Ratzinger has often sparred with liberals in the Church. On Sunday, Germany's Cardinal Walter Kasper made a subtle jab in his homily, saying the conclave should not seek to clone Pope John Paul II; the Church, he pointed out, is against cloning."

-- CNN's Paula Zahn Now on Monday asked viewers to pick, via the Web, the "Person of the Day" from amongst three Zahn briefly profiled in her first half hour: Cardinal Francis Arinze, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger or Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi.

At 8:46pm EDT Zahn announced the winner and provided a synopsis of his life:
"Coming up, who's the person of the day? Your choices were Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, the best hope from the third world; Germany's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of the most powerful men in the Vatican; and Milan's Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the most likely Italian choice. You get to choose. And here's the man of the hour, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
"Since 1981, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has headed one of the most important apartments in the Vatican. It's called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It's the office that three-and-a-half centuries ago was in charge of the Inquisition. Ratzinger guards the absolutes of the church, whether we're talking about theology or morality. As he argued in his sermon today, there are some truths that do not change, that can't be compromised. Over the years, he's butted heads with theologians and teachers, silencing dissent, shutting down debate over issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women. The cardinal's critics accuse him of helping Pope John Paul II put brakes on some of the reforms undertaken at the Second Vatican Council, to which Ratzinger was an adviser. He was considered a liberal back then, but his thinking changed in the turmoil of the student revolts of the late 1960s. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is now described by church watchers as a conservative's conservative, and, by you, as our person of the day."

CNN Focuses on "Discouraged" Catholic
Women Who Want "Revolution"

CNN's Paula Zahn Picking up where the broadcast networks left off on Sunday night, CNN's Paula Zahn on Monday night devoted a lengthy story to 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, birth control and women as priests. Zahn showed protests, complete with pink smoke "to symbolize what they see as a critical absence of women in the papal election process," as she centered her piece around the views of the Women's Ordination Conference, led by a woman who is supposedly "like many Catholic women in the United States -- devout but discouraged." Zahn ended with a plea from a 12-year-old girl: "I would ask the Cardinals if they could just, like, let the girls be priests or participate more in the church because, like, girls should get the same opportunities as boys."

The April 18 CyberAlert had recounted: The night before the Catholic Cardinals were to begin their conclave to choose a new Pope, the U.S. broadcast network evening newscasts painted the role of women as the most important issue and gave a platform to left-wing church activist Joan Chittister. "The future of the church is now in the hands of 115 men. Some Catholic women find that offensive," ABC's David Wright asserted Sunday night in leading into a Chittister soundbite. Wright proceeded to showcase a woman upset that her unborn daughter cannot become a priest, before concluding: "Men and women may be equal in the eyes of God, but many Catholics say in the eyes of the church, there's still a long way to go." Wright gave a soundbite to a church defender, but not CBS's John Roberts who sandwiched two denunciation from Chittister around touting how "a new CBS News poll finds the majority of Catholics think the next Pope should admit women into the priesthood, let priests marry, and allow birth control." Plus, "52 percent of American Catholics think the church is out of touch." www.mediaresearch.org

Back to Monday night on CNN, Zahn introduced a story that she narrated: "Under Pope John Paul II, abortion, birth control, and women as priests, were not an option. It would take a revolution of the church for that change. And here in the United States, many Catholic women are praying that the white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney will signal just that."

The taped story began, with the closed-captioning corrected against the tape by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, with a woman at a protest outside a church: "I need a taker. I need a taker on the sign."
Second woman: "The exclusion of women is the greatest scandal in the church today."
Zahn: "These may be the sounds of change."
Third woman: "Continue your work of enlightening us, your church, and the men presently serving the church in the role of cardinal."
Zahn: "At least that's what Catholic women are praying for as they take to the streets of Chicago and other U.S. cities to deliver an urgent message to the Vatican."
Fourth woman: "Open the doors to the conclave, brothers."
Zahn: "They're members of the Women's Ordination Conference, and this is their counter conclave, complete with pink smoke [video of device putting out pink smoke] to symbolize what they see as a critical absence of women in the papal election process. A 33-year-old working mother, Laura Singer is like many Catholic women in the United States -- devout but discouraged."
Laura Singer, Women's Ordination Conference Laura Singer, Women's Ordination Conference: "I have a lot of conflicting feelings about the church. I am very angry about the role of women and how we are discriminated against, and I'm constantly in struggle with, 'What am I doing here?'"
Zahn, over video of a bunch of women in a backyard: "Unlike many of her childhood friends who've left the church, Laura is pushing for change from within."
Singer: "I think I have that responsibility to try and change the Catholic Church because it does influence women in so many other areas of life -- around birth control, health issues, education and just around how women are treated in other areas of the world."
Zahn: "This isn't their first public rally. Five years ago, when the Chicago archdiocese spent a million dollars in the campaign to recruit new priests, Laura and her colleagues responded with a provocative billboard of their own. Chicago Cardinal Francis George, a member of the conclave, wasn't swayed."
Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago: "There's no one on the face of the earth that can respond to that request. The church is not free to do it, and so it's not going to happen."
Zahn: "Despite the church's refusal to even discuss the issue, Laura and her friends continue to wage what they call a 'ministry of irritation.'"
Singer: "The analogy is like a piece of sand irritates an oyster and turns into a pearl, making the sand more valuable and the oyster more valuable. We want to be that piece of sand in the oyster, irritating the church to make a positive change."
Zahn: "And although change may be slow, don't tell that to altar girls like Ali Lanti, a 12-year-old parishioner at Laura's church."
Ali Lanti, Catholic altar server: "I would ask the cardinals if they could just, like, let the girls be priests or participate more in the church because, like, girls should get the same opportunities as boys."
Zahn, back on live, concluded over video of the doors closing: "It's a message that Laura and millions of women like her hope will somehow make its way past the sealed doors of the Sistine Chapel."

Zahn then turned to CNN Vatican analyst Delia Gallagher: "I was fascinated by something Cardinal George just had to say in response to this opposition growing in the United States among these women where he said, look, we just can't change it. Is that true?"
Delia Gallagher: "Well, Paula, there's a distinction to be made. One is with regard to women becoming priests, and I think that that is what Cardinal George was referring to. This is a reflection of the church's understanding of priesthood, instituted by Jesus as a male, a celibate institution, and, therefore, I think he was referring to that idea. However, there is another discussion going on, which is the question of authority or a woman's voice being heard at the Vatican or in the hierarchy of the church in general. So that could certainly take place. That would be something that some of the cardinals here have said they are at least open to discussing, this question of, you know, women having a greater role in the church in all aspects. So you have to clarify the issue slightly between women becoming priests, which I do not think is an issue that any of the cardinals can approach at this moment, and women having a greater role in the church, which is a possibility."
Zahn opined: "Well, it's all fascinating, particularly when you hear that the mind-set of American women is strikingly different than women in other parts of world. Delia Gallagher, we'll keep an eye on all of this. Thanks for your perspective tonight."

Couric Distorts Poll to Say Most Want
"Less Conservative" Church

NBC's Katie Couric & Father Thomas Williams NBC's Katie Couric asserted on Monday morning that "according to a recent poll 78 percent of American Catholics would like the Catholic Church to be less conservative," but the only current poll the MRC could locate with such a finding was an early April CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey of Catholics which found 78 percent said the next Pope should "allow Catholics to use birth control." But 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.

The MRC's Tim Graham noticed Couric's manipulation of the poll numbers and pointed out that the more relevant poll question in the same survey asked: "If you had to choose, do you think the College of Cardinals should select as the next Pope someone who is more conservative than John Paul II, about the same, or more liberal than John Paul II?" The results: 34 percent chose "more liberal," 59 percent endorsed the conservative status quo, and four percent picked "more conservative." That hardly matches Couric's line that 78 percent want a less conservative Pope.

The PollingReport.com lists the key results of the April 1-2 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. Scroll down at: www.pollingreport.com

Couric's assertion came during an April 18 Today session with Father Thomas Williams of the University of Rome who appeared from Rome. Her final question, as observed by the MRC's Geoff Dickens:
"And finally according to a recent poll, 78 percent of American Catholics would like the Catholic Church to be less conservative but given the recent comments by Ratzinger, although you say they're kind of a mixed bag, and the fact that all but 32, all but three of the cardinals in the conclave were appointed by Pope John Paul II is there any chance that this next pope will call for greater reforms or sort of a looser interpretation of the doctrine?"

Reporters Predict DeLay Won't Survive,
Will They Help Him Along?

Norah O'Donnell, Michael Duffy & Elisabeth Bumiller NBC's Norah O'Donnell, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, Time magazine Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy and New York Times columnist David Brooks all predicted on the Chris Matthews Show over the weekend that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will not survive his ethics scandal -- which raises the question of whether the media figures will cover DeLay in a way to help ensure the fulfillment of their predictions. O'Donnell and Bumiller demurred from predicting a specific date, but Duffy pegged DeLay's demise as by "the Fourth of July" and Brooks gave him until "Bastille Day. I give him ten more days from July Fourth."

The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught the discussion on the half-hour long Chris Matthews Show carried in most markets on Sunday, April 17, picking up after Matthews noted that, of the 12 regulars who rotate through his show, most think DeLay will survive.

Matthews then wondered: "Norah, do you agree with that? Is he going to make it?"
Norah O'Donnell: "DeLay may have not done anything illegal, that has to be proved, or those around him, Abramoff and Scanlan, others who bilked these American Indian tribes for millions of dollars-"
Matthews: "What about if there's smoke there's fire, that problem?"
O'Donnell: "-but the issue is ethics. And when the American people read about things in excess that have gone on, in many ways, paying your family to do things, golf trips to Hawaii and other places funded by all these different groups, it does happen, but it seems unseemly, and that's what made many lobbyists in Washington uncomfortable, it's also made a lot of lawmakers uncomfortable. They don't like the scrutiny."
Matthews: "Duffy?"
Michael Duffy, Time: "The Fourth of July."
Matthews: "What do you mean?"
Michael Duffy, Time: "The Fourth of July."
Duffy: "I give him to the Fourth."
Matthews: "He's gone by then?"
Duffy: "I give him to the Fourth."
Matthews: "He's gone?"
Duffy: "That may be too long."
Matthews: "You got a dead date on this guy, a due date."
Duffy: "When Speaker Hastert or one of his aides says, 'I think it's time for Tom DeLay to lay things out,' that's code for 'goodbye.' And when, I think it was Tom Tancredo late last week said, 'I think it's time for him to step aside until he clears it up.' That, this isn't something that the White House is saying, 'No, no, no, don't say that.' I think-"
Matthews: "Is this a Washington rite, a ritual of public execution we're watching here?"
Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times: "Yeah. Of course."
Matthews: "Elisabeth?"
Bumiller: "Of course it is. We've seen this for twen-, decades, decades. And we know how it ends. I'm not gonna make any predictions, but I, you know, I would not-"
Duffy: "You align yourself with my view."
David Brooks: "I'd say Bastille Day. I give him ten more days from July Fourth."

-- Brent Baker