Can you have a meeting of minds when you don’t agree on what you discussed — and neither do news media?
President Obama and Pope Francis met for the first time on Thursday, nearly all of it behind closed doors. And their post-meeting statements were so different, they were the focus of some media reports — though the reports themselves didn’t always match.
Here’s a close look at the mismatch between media from different U.S. coasts: CNN and the San Francisco Chronicle.
The habitually pro-Barack CNN produced friendly coverage, starting with the traditional exchange of gifts between the heads of state. In the short video clip, above, clicking cameras drowned out nearly everything except “It’s a great honor” and “I’m a great admirer.”
The network also seemed to soft-pedal disagreements in saying the president and the Vatican had “slightly different takes on the tenor of their discussions.” Yet it did show how different the takes were:
“… (I)t was hoped that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved,” the Vatican said in a statement. “In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, there was a discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection. …”
Obama, in a news conference that followed, told reporters that such issues were “not a topic of conversation” with the Pope and instead were discussed with Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
Whoa. The Vatican and the White House disagreed on what they disagreed on? Good time for follow-up questions. Why weren’t there any?
The CNN report also said where the two sides agreed:
According to the Vatican, the two men also discussed the issue of immigration reform and “stated their common commitment to the eradication of human trafficking throughout the world.”
On this point, the President and the Pope were simpatico.
“I was grateful to have the opportunity to speak with him about the responsibilities that we all share to care for the least of these, the poor, the excluded,” Obama told reporters after the meeting.
Ghost alert, BTW: The CNN writer — and whoever edited his work — apparently missed where Obama got the phrase “the least of these.” It’s from Matthew 25, where Jesus talks about the needy: “Whatever you did for the least of these my brothers, you did for me.”
CNN then obediently quoted Obama on his newest campaign, “income inequality”: