The liberal media conspiracy, papal version

By ignoring conservative critics of John Paul II, Hugh Hewitt says the mainstream press has revealed its lefty bias once again.

Published April 8, 2005 3:12PM (EDT)

Watching conservatives attempt their knee-jerk critiques of the "mainstream media," no matter what the story, context or facts, can be amusing at times. After all, who else would attempt to argue with a straight face that, amid all the reverential coverage of Pope Week, the American press has revealed its liberal bias?

Writing for Rupert Murdoch's Daily Standard this week, Hugh Hewitt argues that the press has once again showed its lefty tilt because it has ignored critics of John Paul II who were to the right of him, who thought the famously conservative pope was too liberal, too modern, too Vatican II. Editors and producers, so obsessed with airing out the liberal critique of the church, Hewitt writes, are unaware of the pope's disgruntled right flank because they're so blinded by their own bias. "I can assure you that there are far more Catholics worldwide pushing for the return of the [Latin Mass] than there are for a Vatican endorsement of abortion rights. Not that you'd know it from watching the media," he writes.

Hewitt bites off quite a bit by suggesting to speak for "Catholics worldwide," and we won't pretend to know their wishes. But thanks to modern day polling, we do have an idea about how Americans Catholics feel, and we know specifically what percentage of them would like the next pope to be more conservative than John Paul II. Not surprisingly, it's the mainstream reporters -- not Hewitt -- who have been reading Catholics correctly and wisely staying away from the radical fringe who thought this pope was too liberal. According to this week's CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, exactly four percent of U.S. Catholics hope the next pope moves to the right politically, while 10 times that -- 39 percent -- hope he moves the church to the left.

By Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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