What you can expect over the next few days

What you can expect over the next few days

With the election of Pope Benedict XVI, we can expect the American media to focus on him as ultraconservative and rigid and fundamentalist.

The Media Research Center collected a series of reports in the American broadcast media over the past few days about then-Cardinal Ratzinger:

Just as Germany’s Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has emerged in the media as a leading papal candidate, the U.S. media have decided to do their best to discredit him by applying extreme and pejorative labels to him and portraying him as the enemy of progress. On Sunday, NBC’s Jim Maceda referred to “the ultraconservative Ratzinger” and reported that “he was briefly a member of Hitler’s youth group in Nazi Germany.” On Monday morning, Katie Couric asserted that Ratzinger is “known to be quite conservative. He’s been called ‘God’s rottweiler’ because of his strict adherence to Catholic doctrine and ‘The Enforcer’ as well.” Echoing Couric, ABC’s David Wright said “he’s been dubbed ‘God’s rottweiler,’ a staunch conservative…” After her viewers voted Ratzinger the “Person of the Day,” CNN’s Paula Zahn on Monday night lamented how “he’s butted heads with theologians and teachers, silencing dissent, shutting down debate over issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women.”

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Rush Limbaugh made the prediction, and Sylvia Poggioli fulfilled it not two hours later, and barely five minutes into All Things Considered: she called him “the Panzer Pope.”


  • My guess is that the initial line of attack or at least hostile inquiry will focus on whether Benedict XVI will duplicate John Paul II’s outeach to the Jews and other Christian denominations—as if this is more important than what he will do within Catholicism. Leaving aside Poggioli’s “Panzar Pope” comment, I regret to note that my own coleagues at Chronicle on WCVB-TV referred in the first 5 minutes of tonight’s show to the Pope’s membership in Hitler Youth.  Expect more of this to come, I’m afraid.

  • Tony,

    You might tell them that this is a myth and that they should document their facts before going on the air with them. I’m sad to say that someone within my own organization did the same thing and we didn’t catch it until a reader pointed it out.

  • I don’t know about the “God’s rottweiler” moniker but I did get a kick out of the comment of one wag who said that as the pope is God’s Shepherd on earth and Pope Benedict is German, wouldn’t that rather make him “God’s German Shepherd”…?

    Meaning no disrespect to the Holy Father (God Bless him and long may he live!) and as German shepherds are known to be strong, fearless, exceedingly attached to their masters, faithful in the extreme and ready to defend them to the death – that is not a bad description of this ‘German Shepherd’… 

  • Dom.
    As you may recall, it’s been years since I last had daily involvement with Chronicle.  I’m allowed to do my thing from my home on the Vineyard without having a role in shows developed by other producers.  So, no one checked with me before the airing of the report, developed by someone at the BBC, and fed to Channel 5 through ABC in a process that resembles the game of “Telephone” we all played in elementary school by which rumor of rumors come to take on the authority of facts.  I’ll call the error to the attention of the powers-that-be at Channel 5.  But in my view, the larger problem is that the coverage of Benedict’s papacy should from Day 1 be driven by the question of whether he will follow John Paul II’s approach to engaging with other faiths, rather than how he will lead the Catholic faith. After all, that’s the core of his position, as pontiff to more than a billion people across the globe.  And is it not that role that should take primacy in any honest attempt to understand his papacy?

  • Actually, I didn’t know that about your involvement. I didn’t mean it as a criticism of you, just an expression of frustration how somethings get locked into a template so quickly.