Actually, this technique is nothing new; many people have used it for many years, and even in the modern American era it was introduced on a broad scale by Nixon. But it was Reagan who perfected it, and who managed to convince a previously skeptical segment of the American public, and a pretty vast one at that, that the real problem with the country isn't the malfeasance, corruption and lies of people in power, but rather the "biased" media that reports on same. Reagan and his gang of crooks were absolute masters at persuading people that if they did something wrong, the real blame didn't reside with the people responsible for the wrongdoing, but on the journalists who told the public about it, as if a crime unmentioned is a crime undone.
He pulled it off, with bewildering success, time and time again: when he made his unnerving 'joke' about bombing Russia, he noted that if the press hadn't reported on it, nobody would have made a big deal out of it, leaving unspoken the more relevant claim that the same result would have come from him not doing it in the first place. He often blamed the press for covering the scandal-revealing memoirs of his former cabinet members, as if it were worse to reveal the misdeeds of his administration than to commit them. And his crowning achievement was the utter stonewalling that took place during the Iran-Contra affair: when it became clear that his staff had illegally sold weapons to a terrorist regime and used the money to illegally support a murderous right-wing rebel militia, then covered it all up so as not to reveal they had defied Congress and the law, he said there was "bitter bile in his throat" over the media's role in exposing their odious crimes, and made the stupefying claim that "the whole thing boils down to great irresponsibility on the part of the press."
So it naturally warms my heart that the Vatican has learned those same lessons so very well.
The level of...well, I guess depending on whether you think the Vatican is lying or merely ignorant, you could characterize it as either "insane self-delusion" or "utter contempt" contained in the article is really stunning.
increasingly angry Vatican sought to deflect any criticism in the Western media
At whom is the Vatican angry? At its priests, who betrayed God himself by molesting innocent children? At its own entrenched and arrogant power structure, who value secrecy and the illusion of infallibility so much that they contrived to deny the crimes and protect the criminals? Nope: at the "Western media", for telling the truth the church has denied for decades or even centuries.
On Wednesday, the church singled out The New York Times for criticism in an unusually harsh attack.
Who deserves to be attacked harshly? Priests who take sexual advantage of children? Powerful men who hide their crimes? Nope: the New York Times.
Although there were expectations by some that the pope would address the crisis, Benedict made no reference to the scandal at either ceremony.
Why break the habits of a lifetime?
Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn...reflected on the issue at a Wednesday evening service: "I admit that I often feel a sense of injustice these days. Why is the church being excoriated?"
Because it allowed its priest to sexually abuse children, covered it up, and refused not only to turn the perpetrators over to the law, but refused even to remove them from the priesthood, merely transferring them to new parishes where they would sexually abuse more children. That's why.
In the article posted Wednesday on the Vatican's Web site, Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote: "I am not proud of America's newspaper of record, The New York Times, as a paragon of fairness." A Times spokeswoman defended the articles and said no one has cast doubt on the reported facts.
How proud are you of your priests, then, Levada, as paragons of morality? How proud are you of your cardinals as paragons of rectitude? How proud are you of yourself, for making the story about the media instead of the crimes on which they report, as a paragon of truth?
Venice's Cardinal Angelo Scola expressed solidarity with Benedict in his Holy Thursday homily in the lagoon city, describing him as a victim of "deceitful accusations."
Who's the victim? Scores, maybe hundreds, of child rape victims, some of them deaf, blind, or mentally damaged? Nope: the Pope.
To return to the Reagan theme, when Reagan made the inexplicable decision to visit Bitburg, a German cemetery in which were interred German casualties in WWII -- whom he called "victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps" -- Elie Wiesel attempted to appeal to a sense of shame that he foolishly believed Reagan possessed. "That place, Mr. President, is not your place," he said. "Your place is with the victims of the SS."
Where is your place, Ratzinger?