Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mark Shea vs. the MSM

Shea's Iron Law of Media-Reported Benedictine Growth Catholic Exchange. April 1, 2008

Three years ago, the Mainstream Media (MSM) gathered in a special conclave in Rome to discuss the disastrous election to the Papacy of Ratzinger the Enforcer, God’s Rottweiler, the hardliner, inflexible, rigid, etc. blah, blah. Some of us suggested to our television screens that the Talking Heads might want to wait more than a few seconds before doing the autopsy on the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. But the herd of independent minds that are the MSM had their story and they were sticking to it.

They’ve stuck to it for three years now. The poor dears really don’t have the foggiest clue how to understand Benedict. They huddle together in packs, quoting each other and loading up their computers with macros that spit out the required text without their having to fire a single neuron to write it. That’s why, when you Google the following clich├ęs, you get these kinds of numbers:

    “Benedict XVI” rigid – 52,800
    “Benedict XVI” hardliner – 27,100
    “Benedict XVI” inflexible – 10,300
    “Benedict XVI” dominating – 290,000
    “Benedict XVI” ruthless – 126,000
    “Benedict XVI” enforcer – 28,800
    “Benedict XVI” archaic – 22,400
    “Benedict XVI” medieval – 169,000
    “Benedict XVI” intolerant – 148,000
    “Benedict XVI” backward – 122,000
    “Benedict XVI” “Hitler Youth” – 30,700
    “pope cracks down” – 1,080,000

You get the picture. The MSM has had a template since the day Benedict donned the papal mitre and it has never occurred to most of the people who type or talk about him in the MSM to vary from it. They simply school together like guppies and tell each other (and us) that the rigid, hardline, inflexible, dominating and ruthless enforcer’s archaic, medieval, intolerant and backward thought, words and deeds are what you’d expect from a former Hitler Youth. Apparently, the man has spent every minute of every day cracking down on everything with a pulse over a million times. To hear the MSM tell it, the guy just hates rational thought and freedom.

I think Shea's general assessment of papal coverage by the mainstream press is accurate -- however, his particular demonstration by way of "Google searches" is a bit sketchy, given actual search engine methodology (Steven Skellmeyer at The Fifth Column elaborates).

Nevertheless, having tracked Benedict's coverage in the press for the past, oh, 8 years now I'd agree that Shea's criticism is on the mark.