April 2, 2005

Gray Lady Plays Pauline Kael At Pope's Death

My friend John "Rocket Man" Hinderaker caught the New York Times exposing its elitist sensibilities in reporting the death of Pope John Paul II. In its initial release on the Pope's passing, the Times reveals that they had a firm grasp on criticism of John Paul, but apparently no one in their newsroom knew anyone who liked one of the greatest Popes of the modern Church:

Even as his own voice faded away, his views on the sanctity of all human life echoed unambiguously among Catholics and Christian evangelicals in the United States on issues from abortion to the end of life.

need some quote from supporter

John Paul II's admirers were as passionate as his detractors, for whom his long illness served as a symbol for what they said was a decrepit, tradition-bound papacy in need of rejuvenation and a bolder connection with modern life.

"The situation in the Catholic church is serious," Hans Kung, the eminent Swiss theologian, who was barred by from teaching in Catholic schools because of his liberal views, wrote last week. "The pope is gravely ill and deserves every compassion. But the Church has to live. ...

In my opinion, he is not the greatest pope but the most contradictory of the 20th century. A pope of many, great gifts, and of many bad decisions!"

Among liberal Catholics, he was criticized for his strong opposition to abortion, homosexuality and contraception, as well as the ordination of women and married men. Though he was never known as a strong administrator of the dense Vatican bureaucracy, he kept a centralizing hand on the selection of bishops around the world and enforced a rigid adherence to many basic church teachings among the clergy and Catholic theologians.

Obvoiusly, this article went into publication prematurely, but the fact that Ian Fisher could not find any celebration of John Paul II's life or work, when the cable channels have had numerous luminaries speaking about almost nothing else for the past 48 hours says volumes about the elitism and isolation of the NYT. Even its updated version only inserts this paragraph where Fisher or his editors meant to provide some balance:

John Paul II's admirers were as passionate as his detractors, for whom his long illness served as a symbol for what they said was a decrepit, tradition-bound papacy in need of rejuvenation and a bolder connection with modern life.

What an appalling effort on behalf of the so-called Paper of Record. Such laziness on the part of a reporter and editors cannot simply be accidental. It reminds one of the cluelessness of Pauline Kael who exclaimed her disbelief about Nixon's landslide re-election: "No one I know voted for him!" If the New York Times can ever be capable of embarassment, this incident should shame them greatly.

UPDATE: Here's a screenshot of the original article that John got before they updated it (click for larger image):


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