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the man, the motive, the media

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Apr 22, 2010

Jeffrey Anderson is suing the Pope. It's an outlandish case-- not only because the facts don't support Anderson's claim that the Pope protected abusive priests, but also because the Roman Pontiff, as a sovereign head of state, is immune from lawsuits. Still, this isn't the first time that a far-fetched lawsuit has been filed by a lawyer with a penchant for publicity. 

What's unusual about this case, however, is that the lawsuit was filed only after the climate had been prepared, with a series of media attacks on the Pope. And those attacks began in earnest with a questionable New York Times story, for which the most important source was the same Jeffrey Anderson.

In other words, Anderson skillfully used the media to rouse negative publicity about the Pope, then capitalized by filing a lawsuit-- which, sure enough, garnered still more publicity. 

What's truly fascinating is that in the several media accounts of the lawsuit that I read today, not one mentioned that Anderson the plaintiff's lawyer is also Anderson the media source. No reporter or editor evidently felt that it was relevant to let the public know that there is an obvious connection between the headlines and the lawsuit. The media continue playing along with the lawyer's game.   

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: tim.moore1408 - Apr. 23, 2010 5:12 PM ET USA

    Time heals all wounds, and eventually wounds all heels. Somewhere along the line he will get his. Perhaps not publicly; but I am old enough to make the bet, having seen all too much already.

  • Posted by: Ben Dunlap - Apr. 23, 2010 11:28 AM ET USA

    If it does make it to court, let's hope the court requires a professional translation of that thorny little Italian document that constitutes the entirety of the supposed evidence against the Vatican.

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Apr. 22, 2010 8:31 PM ET USA

    WOW! Shameful is hardly the word!

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