Media Run to NYT's Defense, Accuse Vatican of 'Killing the Messenger'

On Thursday's Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan went after the Vatican for criticizing the slanted New York Times reporting on the priest sex abuse scandal: "Blame the messenger. The Vatican blasting the New York Times for telling the truth about Church - the Church and its harboring of sex abusers. It's the paper's fault."

Ratigan spoke with Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand, an openly gay ex-Catholic, who ranted: "the bottom line is, the Catholic Church for the last couple of decades, has preached hatred, bigotry, discrimination against gay people. But they don't take ownership of their own homosexual problems that exist and have existed for decades. And they need to stop blaming everybody else." An on-screen headline read: "Killing the Messenger; Cardinal Slams NY Times for Vatican Coverage."

Meanwhile, on Thursday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips declared: "The Church, though, has been more direct in its response to the stories being printed and broadcast of child abuse in its institutions. It's attacked the messenger." Phillips later concluded that "The Church is faced with making an argument that is very difficult, that it has changed from the bad old days, at the same time as evidence keeps coming out, showing just how bald those old days were."

In a March 27 New York Times op/ed, left-wing columnist Maureen Down attacked the Church: "Yup, we need a Nope. A nun who is pope. The Catholic Church can never recover as long as its Holy Shepherd is seen as a black sheep in the ever-darkening sex abuse scandal." She later added: "the completely paternalistic and autocratic culture of Il Papa led to an insular, exclusionary system that failed to police itself, and that became a corrosive shelter for secrets and shame." Not exactly a neutral "message."

TimesWatch Director Clay Waters detailed the Vatican's criticism of the New York Times: "Levada made a plea for fairness for Pope Benedict under the headline "The New York Times and Pope Benedict XVI: how it looks to an American in the Vatican," accusing Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein "of anachronistic conflation" and of "rushing to a guilty verdict" against the Pope."

Cardinal Levada specifically cited Dowd and Times reporters for their bias: "I do not have time to deal with the Times's subsequent almost daily articles by Rachel Donadio and others, much less with Maureen Dowd's silly parroting of Goodstein's "disturbing report"....I ask the Times to reconsider its attack mode about Pope Benedict XVI and give the world a more balanced view of a leader it can and should count on."

Neither Ratigan nor Phillips featured a longer excerpt of Cardinal Levada's statement. In addition, neither the CBS nor the MSNBC report featured a representative of the Church to address the issue.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.