First Pope Francis:
The free press, secular and also religious, but professional; because the press, secular or religious, must be professional. It’s important that they are truly professional, that the news isn’t manipulated. For me it’s important, because the denunciation of corruption, of injustice, is good work, because there is corruption. And then the one in charge must do something, make a judgment, a tribunal.
The professional press must tell everything, without falling into the three most common sins: misinformation, to tell one half but not the other; calumny, which is not professional – when there is no professionality, you dirty the other person, with or without truth; and defamation, to take away the good name of the person who right now hasn’t done anything wrong to anyone; maybe it’s something from the past.
These are the three defects that are an attack against the professionality of the press. We need professionality, what’s right: things are like this and this. And on corruption? To see the data well and say it: this, this and this. If there is corruption, they should say it. And if a journalist, if they are truly professional, gets it wrong, he should excuse himself. Things go very well like this.
However, it goes without saying that – in the age of Kellerism (click here for background) – I found it interesting that the first thing the pope mentioned was the tendency for modern journalists to act, when covering many hot-button news topics, as if there is only side of a debate that is worthy of coverage, accurate coverage or coverage that shows respect. This is especially true when covering issues of moral theology linked to sexuality and marriage.
Then again, perhaps Francis simply believes that he has, at some point, been the victim of reporting that actually turns information into misinformation.
So what happened to Mattingly when reporting on the press’ coverage of David Daleiden? At that point he faulted journalists for only regarding Daleiden as a politically motivated actor and overlooking the “documentarian’s” religion:
So, basically, the impact of his Catholic faith (which has quite a bit to say, doctrinally speaking, on the sanctity of human life) on his work received the same amount of space – in terms of word count – as his hybrid car (shocking, one must assume, since he is a social conservative) and less attention than his socks.
Perhaps Daleiden is the wrong kind of Catholic?
But the key: When a reporter asks Daleiden why he does what he does, how does he answer that question? Is the Post accurate in its assumption that his primary motives are political?
Perhaps his motives are personal, the kinds of motives that would be explored in-depth in this kind of profile? That would have meant taking the contents of this phrase – “he described himself as the result of a ‘crisis pregnancy’ ” – MUCH more seriously.
But here’s the catch. Why don’t the pope’s remarks about journalists apply to Daleiden? That is how he identified himself — as a reporter and a Roman Catholic to boot — and yet he seems to be guilty of the very errors that Francis says afflict the press:
1: a misrepresentation intended to harm another’s reputation
2: the act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to harm another’s reputation
I guess we need another Jesuitical casuist to resolve this one.
In the meantime, sometimes the folks who point out the inconsistencies of journalists might take their own into account.