April 03, 2005

NYT Caught In Caricature Of Self

The Times accidentally put up a premature version of an article on the Pope dying, in which they decide to mark his death with a brief roundup of opinions on his papacy. What was incomplete is that they already had some Eurotrash guy speaking ill of the Pope on the day he died ("A pope of many, great gifts, and of many bad decisions!") but they didn't bother to have somebody, even the Pope himself or one of his many written works, in the pro-Pope position. All they had was this:

    need some quote from supporter
Hinderaker at Powerline has a screen shot of the NYT article here, before the changed it.

So they decided to turn the Pope's day and hour of death into a time to discuss his achievements - in both a positive and negative context - including some guy to trash the Pope's record, but they couldn't bother finding anybody to agree with the Pope. This is the sort of thing that ought to come, say, a few days or a week after the Pope died, at least. It could have been done in the context of 'in picking a new Pope, a look back at the previous ones' sort of thing. Instead they decided to turn his death into a time to discuss the pros and cons of his views.

I think they already knew they wanted to make a few political points at his death and they just realized they needed to hear both sides for a little balance. But notice how they follow the "need some quote from supporter" line:

    John Paul II's admirers were as passionate as his detractors, for whom his long illness served as a symbol for what they said was a decrepit, tradition-bound papacy in need of rejuvenation and a bolder connection with modern life.
The paragraph right after their goof-up line calls the papacy decrepit, among other things, and they say the Pope is a symbol for that. Umm. Did they just call the Pope decrepit? Yes, I'm pretty sure they did.

I'm all for discussion of religion, of religious leaders and of churches. I'm not a Catholic, so I don't have a personal religious involvement here. But come on, Pope John Paul II, whatever you can say about other Catholics, was an idealistic, reform-driven man who used his religious power and his national heritage to help end the Cold War. From everything I've heard he was a nice guy who genuinely liked to help people.

Maybe we can wait a few days before we start trashing his record and his name. Maybe we can wait a long time before the biggest newspaper in the US calls the Pope decrepit.

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