Recently, the President commented on the mainstream media’s tendency to focus on things that go wrong in government operations to the point of ignoring the things that go right. In short, we are inundated with corporate messaging disguised as news that sells the primary tenet of Tea Party ideology – government is the problem.
The omission of positive facts in the quest to promote gloom and doom leaves us with a message that intentionally distorts reality. We saw that in the media’s coverage of the ACA rollout. While there were undeniable problems, it wasn’t the disaster that conservative pundits made it out to be and it really didn’t merit the weeks of messaging that masqueraded as “news.”
The focus on bad news doesn’t end with audiences having a distorted perception of policies. Reporting on a messenger or newsmaker becomes dependent on the sort of news that person represents. Pope Francis’s message of inclusion and condemnation of greed is welcomed by Catholics who felt alienated by the church, as well as people who subscribe to other faiths or don’t practice religion at all.
To sustain a lifestyle, which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.
However, he is a nightmare for conservatives because his messages on social issues like same sex relationships and economic issues like income disparity is in direct contradiction the political ideology they have, until now, sold as one based on Christian values.
With the exception of Sarah Palin, conservatives did figure out they couldn’t get away with suggesting the Pope’s views on economic inequality and other topics were based on religious values, not politics. They could, as Rush Limbaugh did, merely suggest that either someone not the Pope wrote his message for him or “they” got to him.
Time Magazine named the Pope their Person of the Year, with Ted Cruz as first runner up. Under their criteria the person of the year is “the person who most influenced the news, good or bad.” By this criteria, the Pontiff was the obvious choice.
The Pope’s news value began when he was selected after Pope Benedict resigned. That hadn’t occurred in six centuries. Pope Francis is the first non-European in 1300 years who was selected to lead Catholics throughout the world as their Pope. He was also the first Francis, the first Pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit Pope.
Although others may believe that Ted Cruz is more influential than the Pope, Cruz’s newsworthiness is limited to his influence over a fringe of seditionists and anarchists within the United States. The one story in which Cruz had a global impact was his orchestration of the government shutdown in the name of denying people with pre-existing conditions and low incomes access to health insurance. Since his theatrics cost our economy billions of dollars, it stands to reason there was a ripple effect felt around the world. Beyond that, Ted Cruz’s significance in the news is limited to his latest outrageous comment or stunt in the name of selling himself to rich donors as a potential Republican nominee for 2016.
Time’s decision was also a breath of fresh air in part because a messenger of hope, inclusion and greater social justice prevailed over the corporate bought messenger of doom, exclusion and inhumanity. As importantly, we’re reminded that there is a difference between espousing Christian values, and using Christianity as a prop in the name of validating an ideology built on bigotry, inhumanity and greed.