Did you happen to see the recent headlines about Pope Benedict that falsely implied that he said the traditional Christmas story was not true?
The major media (CNN, The New York Daily News, etc.) published headlines like this:
“Killjoy pope crushes Christmas nativity traditions”
"Pope sets out to debunk Christmas myths"
Of course, I was shocked and dismayed that the Pope had apparently lost his mind and had caved in to atheism.
But there was something about such shocking news that didn’t quite ring true for me. So I did a bit of investigating (on the internet) to find out what the truth really was.
The brief story in the local Deseret News by Matthew Brown, “Vatican comes to the defense of pope’s book on Christmas,” was almost too brief. It merely noted the current media flap, but left out the important point that the Pope had been misquoted and misunderstood! The five people who sent in comments to the Deseret News obviously thought that the Pope was probably guilty as accused: the Benedict Arnold of Christmas.
However, on the website, firstthings.com, Kevin M. Clarke, set the record straight, showing that the media reports were sloppy journalism at the very least. His parting words:
As should be painfully evident, there is a big difference between what the media says that the Pope says and what the Pope himself actually says. Each time the waves settle from their slipshod coverage, the media should find that it has displaced a bit more of the public trust, trust that they will deliver the truth about Vatican news. They forfeited my trust a while ago. If anyone were to ask me, “How should I read news about the Vatican from the secular press?” I would say, “It can be useful for information, but must be read with a fundamental principle of uniformly applied suspicion and doubt. In other words, read it in the same way in which they would have us read the Bible.”
In reality, we probably should regard any and all of the media’s news stories with “Uniformly applied suspicion and doubt,” not just stories about religion. But especially about religion!
Sad, but true.
Even Matthew Brown of the Deseret News did not work very hard to set the record straight on Pope Benedict. He missed an opportunity to defend someone misrepresented by the mainstream media. Shame on him.