Media Uses Assault Weapons of Ignorance on Benedict

(image courtesy of

Kathryn Lopez gives us a bit of George Weigel on MSNBC.

George Weigel keeps his eye on the prize here. This is a good model of communicating in uncertain times, subtly and clearly communicating Gospel truth with fraternal love.

Television interviews are deathtraps to the presentment of sophisticated ideas; they’re places unfriendly to nuance or depth, because every story, every thought, must be condensed — truncated to fit the spaces between the profit-making ads. This is precisely why most televised news or analysis — particularly cable news, unless it’s all breaking stuff — is as penetrating as a prop knife. The fast, shallow coverage almost renders the medium pointless, and gives great assist to forces interested in perpetuating a state of general distraction and disorientation.

Still, this clip Kathryn gives us particularly frustrated me. Since Monday, when the news of Benedict’s resignation broke, Weigel has tried to rebut, in a succinct and clear manner, the utter nonsense coming from the mouths of his NBC/MSNBC questioners, but when an anchor sprays ignorant talking points about like rounds from an AK-47 before one is even introduced, it’s difficult to locate the wounds to truth and heal them in 90 seconds. In this case, the anchor prefaces his exchange with Weigel by reiterating the tired complaints about bad old “conservative theologian” Benedict who — apparently — is the only thing standing in the way of the church embracing gay marriage, female ordination and even stem cell research.

Seriously, it’s like every single sentence the anchor offers is a fast bullet meant to shred the truth, distort reality and sway perceptions. Pew! Pew! Pew! And one fact after another falls before the fast-action delivery of media distortion and ignorance; truth lies broken and bloodied on the floor.

You don’t like that image, I know; nor do I. But it is quite apt. Unfortunately, there are no visuals of the grievous carnage done to truth, and so people do not realize an assault has occurred. They don’t sense the threat to the whole nation, when facts and understanding can be casually flayed at before our eyes.

Weigel does a good job of gently informing his host that no one is forced to be a Catholic, that the Catholic church is not a democratic republic whereby the Pope/President can issue an “executive action” decreeing that “yeah, everything we’ve thought through and taught for 2,000 years is nonsense in the face our enlightened progressive age…”. Time constraints, however, preclude his addressing the (to me) most obnoxious lie — because it’s one that utterly betrays MSNBC’s incuriosity and their unwillingness to do the barest research — the “pope hates stem cell research” lie.

Yes, the old “church hates science” narrative, promulgated by people who do not know, or care to know, that the scientific method originated with her, as did the idea of a university. It takes precisely a minute to google “Pope Benedict Stem Cell Research” do you know the first news story one finds?

At a recent conference on stem cells endorsed by and held at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI announced the Catholic Church’s support for adult stem cell research.

The next headline found: Vatican to Fund Adult Stem Cell Research.

Yeah. Because the Catholic church supports scientific research, and always has, but because she in all issues she strives for balance and reason, she is not indiscriminate. Scientific research that assaults the dignity of humanity, and exploits human embryonic cells, crosses all kinds of lines and raises the possibility for myriad bioethical problems and presumptions, and so a line is made; a boundary is defined. To a world that rejects barriers, except to “incorrect” speech and, increasingly, a too-defined religious conscience, this is unacceptable, of course.

I wish Weigel had had the time to ask his anchor-host why he even brought up the stem cell issue, since he clearly had no understanding at all of what the church teaches on the subject. I’d have loved him to point out that not only does the church support and fund adult stem cell research (the press hates qualifiers; it limits their control), and I would have loved it even more if Weigel had pointed out how suspect the introduction of that particular talking point was, since adult stem cell research has consistently yielded effective therapies while embryonic stem cell research has brought nothing good, and has very quietly been pushed aside, with no more screams for public funding and little interest shown by venture capitalists.

Sadly, television barely allows the placement of a tourniquet to a bleeding-out vein of truth; very little bandaging can happen before gasbags stop talking to go to commercial. The only thing people remember are the accusations, not the abbreviated, barely-allowed corrections.

Which is just how some like it, I guess.

A taste of the distortive hate and ignorance that will shape our future trials.

Why they especially hate Benedict

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • leelu

    In the dark mists of time long ago, I got myself a Bachelor’s in TV and Film production. The big “take-away” from the TV part was that the audience is being sold to the advertisers, not the other way around. Follow the $$ – who pays for “free” TV? Why are Superbowl ad rates so high??

    And given the state of our current public “education” system, of course news has to be reduced to sound bites w/ pictures of burning cabins -it’s short attention span theater. We’re educating and indoctrinating a generation of, as Gagdad Bob calls them, “whining losers”.

  • Mike

    It’s seen as a mark of sophistication and refinement to be a mindless anti-Catholic. It’s really weird how so many people spend so much time hating something they continuously remind us doesn’t even exist. It’s amazing they don’t see the irony. The power of hate to blind us, isn’t it incredible?

  • Joanne K McPortland

    The news of the pope’s renunciation has acted like a light turned on at midnight in a not-very-clean kitchen. The cockroaches are pouring out of the woodwork. If there was any remaining doubt that the world not only doesn’t get us, but actively despises us, this week dispelled it thoroughly. But the light is on. And it finds us prayerful and resolved.

  • Elizabeth K.

    I can’t help it–that piece from the NY Times was so stupid it actually made me laugh. As my daughter says, haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate. The article falls into the latter camp, I think, not even really rising to the level that can provoke outrage. The media is incredibly stupid, and I feel bad that they’re so stupid. I will be adding them to my prayers this Lent, because they’re all going to really fall apart when an actual Catholic becomes the next Pope, the papacy goes on, and 2,000 years of teaching forges ahead.

  • Dan Sealana


    I started seeing TV news in a very different way after reading Dr. Drew Pinsky’s book “The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America.” One of his major premises is that celebrities don’t become narcissists. Instead, narcissists become celebrities. Narcissists are hurt individuals who battle intense insecurity.

    The vanity and aggressive self-promotion that often drives those who become successful in media makes TV news a hotbed for narcissism. So why would a TV news narcissist question his own perceptions about the pope? After all, since he, the oh-so-talent one, has these perceptions, how can they possibly be incorrect? The narcissist TV news celebrity does not feel the need to gather information from multiple sources and discern. His gut reaction is only possible correct view.

  • Manny

    Joanne’s statement above is right on. They don’t get us, and if I may add to it they by ignorance or malice – I can’t 100% percent say which – take the view of the worst possible perception. Instead of charitably reducing a view to giving the benefit of the doubt – like they repeatedly do for Obama or Planned Parenthood – they go with the worst case possibility for the Catholic Church. Is it bias or is it malice? I’m beginning to be not so charitable in my view and say it’s outright malice.

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  • B. Durbin

    leelu—my degree is also in broadcast studies, and I came away with exactly the same concept. Honestly, I think that some of those classes on media sales and how commercials are built should be universally mandatory.

  • Skay

    I would not expect anything else from MSNBC.

  • Victor

    (((Is it bias or is it malice? I’m beginning to be not so charitable in my view and say it’s outright malice.)))

    Manny! I had come to the same conclusion until I had a dream about a week or so ago in regard to my big toe that I hurt because of my so called buy polar :) Anyway in this dream, I was in a hospital and a doctor was next to my bed and while he was talking to me a nurse was at the foot of my bed. Long story short, after this person convinced me that only my big toe was going to be checked out, I agreed. The rest of this dream only lasted less than about a minute or so. Like “I” said, after this doctor got my permission to check my toe, he did not go to the foot of my bed butt where the nurse was standing, instead this doctor just streached over on me to reach my big toe. Rightly so I thought “IT” was kind of funny but “IT” was really happening to me and I tried to pull myself UP to see what was going on and as “I” managed to lift myself UP just enough to see at the end of the bed that they were literally making pigs of themselves and “I” could see the blood and hear the noice which made me feel so scared that I woke UP and thanked GOD that “IT” was just a dream.

    I hear ya Anchoress

    Long story short! GOD (Good Old Dad) created an invisible line between souls, spirits and the likes so that human beings can be protected and longer story shorter, if humans convince LOVE that HE and/or She doesn’t really exist then go figure!

    I hear ya sinner vic! Tell U>S (usual sinners) more Victor!

    Sorry sinner vic! Even if me, myself and i told ya and wrote a little about “IT” here

    “IT” wouldn’t be allowed cause “IT” would be laughed at and those who could not muster to laugh at “IT”, “IT” might drive them insane. :)

    I hear ya Victor! With the price of transportation NOW, not too many would be able to laugh at “IT” if ya get my drift? :)

    Go Figure folks :(


  • leelu

    B.Durbin… three little words: “Cost per thousand”.

    Deep Throat said it best, “Follow the money!”

    Dan S. I hadn’t thought about “celebrities” in the way you describe them. (I generally try not to think of them at all.) But the theory you mention makes a lot of sense.

  • Anglican Peggy

    By now the term stem-cell research has become so corrupted by the media’s refusal to differentiate betweem the adult and embryonic forms, that even when you call people on it, they can’t even comprehend that there is a difference. I brought it up in a class of mine that there have been no successful embryonic stem cell treatments and that all recent advances had come from adult stem cells and the professor did everything short of plugging her ears in reaction. It is gospel truth to some that stem-cell research means embryonic cells only (as in not acknowleding that there are such things as adult stem cells) and since the Church is opposed to the use of embryos in research, therefore it is opposed to all stem cell research. NOONE will ever admit that the Church is right about this. Hell will have to freeze over first.

    I have tried to find an article on the web, any article by a MSM outlet that even addresses the difference. All I can ever find are stories about studies that are actually done with adult cells. But in everyone the word “adult” is buried, the word “Stem Cell” is in the title without qualifier and somewhere mention is made that the Church opposes stem-cell research. I wonder if anyone can penetrate this haze of confusion.