Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Misinterpreting Catholicism

How media coverage distorts public understanding of the Church

by Philip F. Lawler

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Book Description

Are major media outlets biased against the Catholic Church? That question has been debated for years. By now anyone who has not recognized the problem is not likely to be convinced. But even without any conscious hostility toward the Church, the media can—and do—frequently guide their readers astray. Few secular reporters today are familiar with even the most fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church. When reporters do not understand their own subjects properly, they are prone to error, vulnerable to manipulation, and likely to pass along their own confusion. As the founder and editor of Catholic World News, Philip F. Lawler has been providing daily coverage of Church-related stories since 1996. With 30 years of background in Catholic journalism, he has a keen understanding of how media coverage shapes the public perception of the Church. In this book he dissects secular news coverage, showing how journalists mislead their audiences as a result of bias, ignorance, or both.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • How to keep the media honest in coverage of the Church
  • What the media don't notice
  • Part I: What Journalists Don't Know
  • Time lags in the news cycles
  • Another vivid illustration of the need for reliable sources of Catholic news
  • The religious illiteracy of secular reporting
  • Out of their depth
  • So where's the controversy?
  • Indulgences and the nature of the Church
  • Religious illiteracy
  • Can a sinner become a saint? Yes. Why do you ask?
  • Why you need CWN: illustrated once again
  • Desecration of the Eucharist: a story not worth telling
  • Part II: When Bias Is Blatant
  • Brace yourself for the annual media assault on Christian orthodoxy
  • Debunking the 'gospel conspiracy' theory
  • Advance warning: inaccurate news reports coming soon
  • Of all the Rutten ideas
  • Worst Story of the Month Award: an early nomination
  • The bishops and their(?) lobbyists
  • Part III: When the Media Choose Sides
  • Anti-Catholic Catholics
  • Roman Catholic Womenpriests and their journalistic cheerleaders
  • The Pope's message turned upside-down
  • Extinction, accepted in 'the Jesuit tradition'
  • The argument from (anti-Catholic) authority
  • Part IV: None So Blind
  • Media malpractice
  • Apart from the mass killings, things are so pleasant!
  • The issue that won't go away
  • Does abstinence cause pregnancy? The Times makes the argument
  • Icy Vatican reception damaging to Pelosi
  • The Pope's 'green' message: not standard environmentalism
  • Ars gratia artis
  • A 'scandal' the Vatican should love
  • Part V: A Story Becomes an Obsession
  • Why is John Paul II on trial in the media today?
  • Editorial misfire
  • The trail that doesn't lead to the Vatican
  • The effort to implicate the Pope
  • The Pope and the Murphy case: what the New York Times story didn't tell you
  • Holding the New York Times accountable
  • Journalists abandon standards to attack the Pope
  • Tough competition in the media-bias department
  • Another vicious, inaccurate, and contradictory New York Times attack on Pope Benedict
  • CNN's appalling attack on the Pope
  • Angry voices on both sides
  • Single-issue journalism
  • Part VI: Sniping at the Pope
  • 'Potential frailty'
  • The mounting campaign to silence the Pope
  • Should the Pope clarify his remarks? He already did.
  • The Pope's uncivil critics
  • A not-so-rare mistake
  • Part VII: With Friends Like These
  • Speaking from ignorance at L'Osservatore Romano
  • The Welcome mat for Obama
  • The Vatican newspaper has betrayed the Pope