Today came the shocking news that 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI has made the decision to resign at the end of the month, citing advanced age, fatigue, and exhaustion. While MSNBC kept its coverage respectful, CNN showed no such restraint, and immediately used the news as an excuse to launch into a frenzy of Catholic-bashing.
...Soledad O'Brien did the same on the CNN network, immediately using the Pope's resignation as an excuse to delve into the Church's child abuse scandal.
You see, according to CNN, the Pope is retiring because dealing with the child abuse scandal exhausted him:
Much of the questioning about "the why" -- about why the Pope would be stepping down -- would be questions about the impact that the sex scandal, that has enveloped the Catholic church, would be having on the Pope.
O'Brien then spoke to her first outside "expert," left-wing filmmaker Alex Gibney, who directed the HBO film "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God"-- a documentary about the child abuse scandal. O'Brien set Gibney's narrative immediately with this opening question:
There also has to be some pressure and impact from what you really talked about; the sex scandal that has been a huge problem and enveloped much of the Catholic Church over the last decade.
Gibney fed the conspiracy theory by holding Pope Benedict XVI directly responsible for the scandal before going off on a wild tangent of outright Catholic-bashing:
The other part that Benedict has played here is as a man going very hard over dissenters in the church. He's tried very hard to uphold to uphold charity of doctrine. So a lot of people have been drummed out of oppositions, only for questioning things like forced celibacy, or gay marriage, or the role of women.
Anyone who's watched Pope Benedict for any period of time knows that he's become shockingly frail, and at an alarming rate. That fact is something O'Brien never bothered to bring up. Her agenda, quite obviously, no matter how hard she has to stretch, is to tie The Narrative of the Pope's retirement to the child abuse scandal, because that's what she wants to talk about.
A large part of the coverage also involved O'Brien and CNN correspondent Nick Robertson wondering if the next Pope might not be such a "hardliner."
This is the biggest story yet to break on newly-installed CNN Chief Jeff Zucker's watch, and already the new boss is looking an awful lot like the old boss.
The media's just warming up, folks. Get ready for 60 days of Catholic-bashing.
ADDED: Thus far, MSNBC's coverage has been pretty respectful. So CNN is officially worse than MSNBC. The day is young, but CNN at least can claim they were first at something.
ADDED: Thin-skinned O'Brien obviously can't deal with criticism. I tweeted this out:
Of course: @soledad_obrien already asking if "sex scandals" exhausted the Pope.She tweeted back it was her "job to ask questions" ... and then blocked me.
— John Nolte(@NolteNC) February 11, 2013
In her defense, she can dish it out...