.- A poll by ABC and The Washington Post demonstrated that 81 percent of U.S. Catholics approve of the selection of Pope Benedict XVI, but both media outlets downplayed these results, observed media analyst Tim Graham.
Instead, they chose to headline another one of the pollâs findings that 66 percent of Americans do not want a change in Senate filibuster rules.
The Media Research Centerâs director of media analysis noted that the Post put its filibuster story on page one Tuesday, and placed the pro-Pope poll on page A-11.
He also observed that ABCâs World News Tonight highlighted the filibuster poll Monday, but did not mention the papal poll. Instead, anchor Charles Gibson turned to a brief report on his thoughts about the Popeâs election. ABCâs Good Morning America noted the pro-Pope number in passing Monday.
Graham suggests that the poor reporting on the poll is linked to media bias and the mediaâs coverage immediately following Pope Benedictâs April 19 election, which was reactionary.
âA persistent network storyline before, during, and after the conclave was how a broad majority of American Catholics were going to be distraught by another conservative Pope,â said Graham.
âIn fact, the liberal networks tried hard to lobby the opinions of American Catholics that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was a scary âultraconservative,â an âextreme conservative,â and even âGodâs Rottweiler,ââ Graham continued.
Graham tracked the term âGodâs Rottweilerâ, which was used by several media these last weeks to describe the newly installed Pope.
He discovered the phrase didnât show up in the Nexis media database until April 4, two days after Pope John Paul died.
â[The term] began in an Australian newspaper, then was regurgitated by Agence France-Presse April 10, and made the New York Daily News April 15. It caught on like wildfire with a media who wanted the Pope to sound like a German movie villain,â he said.
âDid reporters do any research into whether this nickname came from inside the Church, as they often implied, or was it created inside a newsroom?â Graham pressed. He adding that The Daily News claimed it was âgleefullyâ coined by an anti-Ratzinger Italian cardinal.
âThe nickname was âtoo good to check,ââ he said.
Tim Graham is author of âPattern of Deception: The Mediaâs Role in the Clinton Presidencyâ. He also contributed to âAnd Thatâs the Way it Isnât: A Reference Guide to Media Biasâ.