This issue also included the winners and runners-up for the MRC's 2005 DisHonor Awards. For a complete run-down of our fifth annual roasting of the most outrageously biased reporters, please visit our DisHonor Awards home page.
Distressed by "Rottweiler" Pope
"He has taken the name of a healer, but where will this archconservative lead the Catholic Church?"
-Mark Phillips on the April 19 CBS Evening News, teasing his report on the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
"In choosing Joseph Ratzinger, the cardinals picked the most polarizing figure in the Catholic Church. No one was more respected as a student of theology, but no one was more feared as a chief enforcer of Vatican orthodoxy....It was Joseph Ratzinger's job as head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the old office of the Inquisition - that led to him being labeled by some as 'God's Rottweiler.' He attacked dissent, banishing it from the Church's mainstream, sometimes banishing it from the Church altogether....On the hot button issues - contraception, celibacy, women priests - he would not budge....The new Pope Benedict has described homosexuality as a moral evil. He said the sex abuse scandal in the Church has been exaggerated by the media, and in the last U.S. election he said pro-choice candidates on the abortion question should be denied communion - in other words, denied salvation. As a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger took no prisoners. As the Pope, his policies now have the stamp of infallibility."
-Phillips a few minutes later on the same broadcast.
"The man who was seen as far too controversial to head up the Church is now the leader of the world's one billion Catholics. In the Sistine Chapel, the ornate hall where just hours earlier he was elected Pope, Benedict XVI celebrated his first mass....Many Catholics, though, found nothing to celebrate. His election would appear to dash reformers' hopes that the Vatican would strike out in a new direction after the conservative reign of John Paul II."
-CBS's John Roberts on the April 20 Early Show.
"Well, it's hard for me to believe that there wasn't at least some controversy in the decision of Cardinal Ratzinger. It's amazing to me....I think that you can expect a pontificate that is going to be very hard-line indeed on doctrinal issues. He is, for instance, very much opposed to any kind of outreach to homosexuals who are practicing homosexuals. He's very much opposed to gay marriage. One of the things, he's sort of known as 'Cardinal No' for some of his positions that he's taken, very hard-line positions."
-CNN's Jim Bittermann during live coverage about 12:47pm EDT, April 19.
Heading Back to the Dark Ages
"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."
-ABC News producer Christel Kucharz reporting on German reaction to Cardinal Ratzingers election during live coverage on April 19.
"This is an extremely controversial choice. This is a choice of the person who is seen by the world as the most conservative voice of Catholicism, and whether his papacy gives the lie to that or not, we have no way of knowing. But he has been responsible for removing theologians from their positions in American institutions."
-Cokie Roberts during ABC's live coverage, April 19.
Obviously Too Conservative to Win
"German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is also mentioned, but his extreme conservative views and his age might be his undoing when votes are cast in the Sistine Chapel."
-ABC's Charles Gibson on Good Morning America, April 4.
"German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger still appears the front-runner, 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."
-NBC's Jim Maceda on the April 17 Nightly News.
John Paul an Extremist, Too
NBC's Bob Faw: "Embraced by multitudes....John Paul also alienated others. Lifelong Catholic Serra Sippel was so angered by his teachings she quit going to mass....She's outraged even now the Vatican didn't do more to stop sexual abuse by priests. Outraged, too, because the late Pope refused to ordain or even consider ordaining women.... "
Rea Howarth, Catholics Speak Out: "This Pope didn't care to learn from the likes of women."
Faw: "Her left-of-center Catholic group also complains that John Paul, rather than affirming life, actually affirmed death when he refused to permit the use of condoms to fight the spread of AIDS."
Howarth: "That teaching is death dealing."
-NBC Nightly News, April 6.
NBC Mourns Jimmy's Absence
"As President Bush travels to Rome this morning along with the First Lady, Condoleezza Rice and former Presidents Bush and Clinton, the question some people are asking is where's President Carter in all this? Are the Bushes and the Carters the modern day version of the Hatfields and the McCoys?"
-Katie Couric opening the April 6 Today.
"The arrival here tonight of three U.S. presidents has some asking why Jimmy Carter isn't a part of the official American delegation."
-Anchor Brian Williams in Rome for the April 6 NBC Nightly News.
"Were you surprised, Archbishop Foley, that President Carter was not a part of the delegation given the fact that the Pope visited President Carter at the White House?"
-Couric questioning a Vatican official on Today, April 7.
"You have to wonder why the White House couldn't have asked the Vatican to permit one more person in the Basilica? Particularly a Nobel Laureate who actually worked on Third World issues with John Paul II."
-Reporter Andrea Mitchell on NBCs Today, April 6.
"The faithful descend upon Saint Peter's. Crowds crying and choreographed security. President Bush is there; Jimmy Carter is not. Was the ex-President snubbed by the White House?...Is this a big presidential diss?"
-MSNBC's Alison Stewart filling in as anchor of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, April 6.
TV's Faulty Gas Prices Hype
"Gas prices have hit a record for a third week in a row, now averaging $2.22 a gallon for regular according to the government."
-NBC's Ann Curry on the April 5 Today. In fact, adjusted for inflation, gasoline prices would have to climb to $2.97 per gallon to surpass the record high set in 1981.
"World oil prices rose again today, and gasoline hit yet another record high, up six cents in the past week, to a nationwide average $2.28 a gallon. Thats about half a dollar more than we were paying a year ago."
-Bob Schieffer on the April 11 CBS Evening News.
"Gas prices have reached another record high. The average retail price for all three grades has risen nearly 19 cents a gallon in just three weeks."
-Co-host Harry Smith on CBS's Early Show, April 11.
Keith's Screwy "Minority" Report
"Two of the nation's top Republicans are being catty about House Minority Leader Tom DeLay, saying that the man who made his fortune as an exterminator has strayed too far from ethical conduct....Minority Leader DeLay, criticized both by his fellow archconservative, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and the much more moderate Republican, Congressman Chris Shays....Shays says he thinks DeLay should resign as Minority Leader, but he adds he is not calling for him to do so."
-MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Countdown, April 11. DeLay is actually the House Majority Leader.
Bob Was Not Amused
Bob Schieffer: "Last night, speaking to the National Rifle Association, Congressman DeLay said, and I'm quoting here an Associated Press account: 'When a man is in trouble or is in a good fight, you want to have your friends around, preferably armed. So I feel good.' What is your reaction to that, Congressman?"
Rep. David Dreier (R-CA): "Well, my reaction is, first of all, Tom DeLay, like most of the rest of us, are supporters of the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights and believe in the right to keep and bear arms. But I will tell you that, let me just tell you the- "
Schieffer, interrupting: "Well, don't you find that rather inflammatory?"
-Exchange on CBS's Face the Nation, April 17.
Suddenly Sage Gingrich
"House Republican Leader Tom DeLay, who's been under fire on ethical questions...got some criticism today from a new quarter - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who engineered the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. In an exclusive interview with our Gloria Borger, Gingrich said it's time for DeLay to stop blaming a left-wing conspiracy and to lay out his case."
-Bob Schieffer on the April 12 CBS Evening News.
"I Don't Know About God"
"Leading a parade of celebrity witnesses who claimed they were stiffed by a speakers bureau, Andy Rooney began his testimony Monday by questioning the wording of the oath to tell the truth....Rooney, 86, entered the courtroom muttering, and he balked when asked to swear to tell 'nothing but the truth, so help you God.'"
"'I dont know about God, he said.'"
-From an April 11 AP dispatch by Jim Fitzgerald about the fraud trial of Alan Walker, who allegedly stole speaking fees from a number of celebrities, including Rooney.