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 poll’s findings that 66 percent of Americans do not want a change in Senate filibuster rules.
The Media Research Center’s 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 ABC’s 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 Pope’s election. ABC’s 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 media’s coverage immediately following Pope Benedict’s April 19 election, which was reactionary.
“A 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,” said Graham.
“In fact, the liberal networks tried hard to lobby the opinions of American Catholics that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was a scary “ultraconservative,” an “extreme conservative,” and even “God’s Rottweiler,’” Graham continued.
Graham tracked the term “God’s Rottweiler”, which was used by several media these last weeks to describe the newly installed Pope.
He discovered the phrase didn’t show up in the Nexis media database until April 4, two days after Pope John Paul died.
“[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,” he said.
“Did reporters do any research into whether this nickname came from inside the Church, as they often implied, or was it created inside a newsroom?” Graham pressed. He adding that The Daily News claimed it was “gleefully” coined by an anti-Ratzinger Italian cardinal.
“The nickname was ‘too good to check,’” he said.
Tim Graham is author of “Pattern of Deception: The Media’s Role in the Clinton Presidency”. He also contributed to “And That’s the Way it Isn’t: A Reference Guide to Media Bias”.