If You Repeat a Lie a Thousand Times…

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis has defended Pope Benedict in his column in the archdiocesan weekly newspaper.

In reporting on the column, the Associated Press closed their story with this:

Critics of the church’s handling of abuse cases are citing Benedict’s tenure as head of the Vatican office charged with disciplining clergy. The office halted a mid-1990s investigation into a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys.

Dear Associated Press: the CDF did not stop the investigation. If you’d actually do some journalism you’d know that.

It wouldn’t be that hard. Among the abundance of research & writing that has been done on this, I’ll point to a more recent one, this an article by Jimmy Akin which makes clear what the CDF did and did not do with regard to this case.

That the AP — whose stories get picked up by media outlets far & wide — would continue to make these sorts of bald assertions in the face of so much evidence to the contrary is very, very troubling. If they can botch this story this poorly, how can I trust their reporting on other issues?

5 Responses to If You Repeat a Lie a Thousand Times…

  • The communists succeeded in branding His Holiness Pius XII as a virtual agent of Hitler because of his alleged silence in the face of Nazi atrocities. The facts suggest otherwise, but they have been buried over time, and the mud sticks. Now, secularists (and others, including some in the Church herself) are trying to do the same to His Holiness Benedict XVI with regard to the priest sex scandal. The facts tend to exonerate him, but I fear the mud will stick. It will take a persistent and forceful defense if there is to be any hope for his legacy.

  • So, did you try to contact MPR to address their error?

  • I tried to contact the AP, but there’s no writer in that or other bylines, so I have little idea who to reach. And given that it’s been picked up elsewhere, merely trying to communicate with MPR seemed pointless.

  • You ask,

    “If they [AP] can botch this story this poorly, how can I trust their reporting on other issues?”

    So far as I can see, you can’t.

    All you can do is trace the facts about any given story that AP presents in a broad-brush kind of way, compare those to the facts presented from other sources, find the commonalities, then go seeking criticism from bloggers who specialize in the relevant topics to get a sense of which commonly-reported facts are open to debate or alternative interpretation, and which are thought by the bloggers to be missing.

    Rinse, repeat, for several days.

    Then you ruminate, allowing that picture simmer and stew until you come to some kind of conclusions about what actually happened.

    That’s how one “checks the news” these days. AP is just mono-sourced data. If you want information, even minimalist “satisficing” (let alone detailed knowledge) will require individual collation of data from multiple inputs.

    The darkly amusing thing to ponder is this: Were the MSM always this bad, and we just didn’t have enough sources of alternative opinion to know about it? Or has the failure of intellectual and moral standards brought us gradually to this point from some earlier state of being in which media organs were moderately trustworthy?

  • “Were the MSM always this bad, and we just didn’t have enough sources of alternative opinion to know about it? Or has the failure of intellectual and moral standards brought us gradually to this point from some earlier state of being in which media organs were moderately trustworthy?”

    Bad reporting there has ever been, and the access of the internet to multiple sources displays such reporting in bold relief. However, I doubt if there has been a time before when the ink stained wretches were so ideologically committed in one direction and so uncaring about their professionalism.

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