'Junk Journalism'

J$P Extra! Matt Drudge comments on media coverage of John Paul II's passing.

From The Drudge Report radio edition, April 3 2005:

I know a lot of people are sick and tired of this Pope coverage. But why can't you pause for a second, and a second in history time is a few days, and look at the positive side of the human condition? Even though it was presented to us through gritted Christiane Amanpour teeth, and Shepard Smith commentary? I've been burned so many times and I fell for it, when they announced the Pope was dead. I got so caught up in the excitement over there at Fox News, with a woman screaming in the anchor booth "The Pope is dead". I miss Dan Rather. But we all fell in line. I at Drudge threw up a siren based on seeing Shep Smith say it. CNN, not wanting to be in second place any more, rushed it on the air. I feel guilty too. Facts are facts, as Shep Smith says.

In all fairness, we've all made such terrible mistakes throughout our careers, every single one of us. There's not a media person alive who hasn't made such horrible mistakes. So we shouldn't pick on Shep Smith too much. Is there a media person in this audience who has not made a mistake? Please raise your hand. I didn't think so. He was reporting news, it was a fluid situation, and as he said in subsequent interviews, who's going to remember any of that?

Last night I was burning the midnight oil watching Christiane Amanpour over at CNN-UN. They rushed her in from some war zone somewhere. And she was talking in her lofty tones about the Pope, and she got egg all over her face by the time she was finished:

AMANPOUR: He never once did sit down with the press. He never really gave a formal interview. I know so many people would have wanted to talk to him. Do you think that it was extraordinary that he did not?
JIM BITTERMAN: Well I think that's not exactly true, Christiane. In fact he had several interviews early on in his pontificate, one with Italian television, one with I think with the BBC. And he also did on a couple of occasions what you'd call maybe press conferences. We were able to interact with him...

He "never gave an interview"? She came back with a face that would scare off Lucifer. Who's doing her prep work? You could see that she disliked the Pope and his teachings. At least she wasn't pretending. Completely junk journalism. All dressed up and perfumed, but junk. The images of the past 48-72 hours have been worth millions and millions of words, or interviews with Katie Couric, or Barbara Wawa, or Peter Jennings, or any of these other experts. The people who run these networks were not big fans of the Pope. He rode over their heads and over their satellites and down, reaching to people with images and with grace, and with suffering. That doesn't quite work into the way we communicate.

You saw what 60 Minutes did tonight: they chopped up this compelling Jane Fonda interview, with her big confessional, to show us an old Morley Safer stink report how there's going to be a civil war in the American Church unless there's term limits for the Pope and all this other nonsense. 60 Minutes was trying to undermine--they didn't go to one right-wing Catholic priest in their reportage. It's just the same old, same old. And PBS ran an anti-Catholic-Church Frontline tonight just for good measure: oh this is a great divide; the Catholic Church is now threatened. The body isn't even cold yet, and they're already talking about the unrest behind the scenes. And you'll start hearing more and more of that, starting tomorrow. Because they've got to find some way to spice it up. It couldn't have been that he was a decent guy and millions of people loved him. No, it's got to be the storm clouds on the distance.

We're getting back to a little bit normal tonight. ABC is carrying new episodes of Desperate Housewives. And the number one movie this weekend, the weekend the Pope dies, is a movie called Sin City--one of the nastiest movies Hollywood has ever produced. It features a Cardinal as a cannibal. The serial killer in the movie reads the Bible; there's a cross in just about every scene. This is how Americans marked this historic weekend. And they wonder why a Pope will never come from America. We've got issues here. But we're free. We're free to go see our Sin City rot and watch Desperate Housewives. And then watch the Pope coverage and cry and hold our sweaters. The patronizing coverage from Time-Warner on CNN, as they are showing Sin City in the movie theaters: really good work, guys. They have been undermining this Pope with everything they have been doing, nonstop, 24 hours a day. None of it is moral. None of it.


posted: Mon - April 4, 2005 at 12:44 AM       j$p  send