Hard-liner Archbishop Charles Chaput has never been shy about his views on American mass media. He has a long-standing gripe, for instance, with the New York Times, which he blames for twisting his words in a 2004 story about Catholic bishops working against the presidential candidacy of John Kerry.
Chaput, who takes over leadership of the Philadelphia archdiocese next month, made clear last week at an event in Madrid that Catholics should watch out for other media outlets as well.
“We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith — and sometimes they can’t provide it, either because of limited resources or because of their own editorial prejudices.”
So far, so bad: Whacks at media organization this broad, unspecific, and unsupported are like weeds in that they’re everywhere and there’s no easy way to stifle them. But Chaput, the outgoing head of the Denver archdiocese, does a little better as his riff goes on:
“These are secular operations focused on making a profit. They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.”
Check, check and check. Chaput’s description is something that editors at the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN and MSNBC would support, if not frame and post as a mission statement. News organizations should have little sympathy for any entity as powerful as the Catholic Church. And are you really going to pound the media for practicing aggressive skepticism?
Suppose Chaput were a government official. Here’s how his remarks would read:
“We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN or MSNBC for reliable news about politics....These are secular operations focused on making a profit. They have very little sympathy for the U.S. government and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward officials on both sides of the aisle.”