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ABC's Harris Sees 'Controversial' 'Hardliner' Pope with 'Tin Ear' --4/15/2008


1. ABC's Harris Sees 'Controversial' 'Hardliner' Pope with 'Tin Ear'
On World News Sunday, ABC anchor Dan Harris filed a report on Pope Benedict's upcoming trip to America, labeling the Catholic leader as "sometimes controversial," and calling him a "hard-liner" for "strenuously condemning divorce, homosexuality, and abortion." Harris also suggested that he has a "tin ear" because of a 2006 speech in which he used a quotation of a historical figure calling Islam "evil" that sparked riots by Muslim extremists around the world, without mentioning that the Pope later clarified that it was not his personal view that Islam is evil. After contrasting Pope Benedict's style with that of his predecessor, Harris continued: "Joseph Ratzinger, the so-called 'Professor Pope,' grew up in Nazi Germany, a studious boy who was unwillingly drafted into the army. At the Vatican, he developed a reputation as a brilliant theologian, and also a hard-liner, strenuously condemning divorce, homosexuality, and abortion. As Pope John Paul's lieutenant, he earned nicknames like 'Cardinal No,' and 'God's Rottweiler.'"

2. CBS Labels Pope 'Hardliner'; Interviews Left-Wing Priest
At the beginning of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "Coming to America. Pope Benedict XVI arrives on American soil tomorrow. How will Americans receive his hardline and soft style?" In the later segment, correspondent Allen Pizzey continued the "hardline" theme: "Since becoming Pope Benedict XVI three years ago, the man who used to be the Vatican's chief hardliner has undergone an image makeover...when Americans see him next week, they may get a pleasant surprise." Pizzey went on to describe the Pope's "makeover": "Benedict has made what one ambassador to the Holy See called a smooth transition from scholar to universal pastor. It may not quite fit the miracle category, but it is nonetheless an extraordinary transition for a man who was once known as God's Rottweiler. As Pope he has not gone out of his way to appease the more liberal wings of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but Benedict's chief image maker is unfazed."

3. CBS's Smith: 'Americans Maybe Little Unsure or Fearful' of Pope
In interview with Chicago's Cardinal Francis George about the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith was concerned about the reaction of the American people to the new pontiff: "Explain the difference between the private man and the public Pope that some Americans are maybe even a little unsure or fearful of."

4. Maher: 'Pope Used to Be a Nazi;' Compares Church to Mormon Cult
Bill Maher, true to form on his Real Time program on HBO on Friday night, went on a tirade against Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church, only days before the Pope's visit to the U.S. He stated that the Pope "used to be a Nazi" and compared him to a cult leader. He then went on to call the Church a "child-abusing religious cult" and "the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia," charging: "And that's the Church's attitude: 'We're here, we're queer, get used to it,' which is fine, far be it from me to criticize religion." Following a profanity-tinged one-liner concerning the raid on the Texas compound of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Maher quipped: "In fact, whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God's infallible wingman here on Earth, lock away the kids. Which is why I'd like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult. Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats. That's right, the Pope is coming to America this week and ladies, he's single!" At the "funny hat" line, Maher displayed a picture of Pope Benedict wearing a wide-brimmed hat called a saturno.

5. CNN's Toobin and Cafferty: Obama's 'Bitter' Line 'Accurate'
CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, during a discussion on Friday's The Situation Room, defended Barack Obama's comments, that small-town voters are often "bitter" and they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them," and blasted Hillary Clinton for her criticism of the comments. "I think that is so ridiculous....I mean that is not at all what Barack Obama said....I mean Hillary Clinton is clearly distorting what Obama said. And, by the way, what Obama said is factually accurate." Jack Cafferty, a regular contributor to The Situation Room, agreed with Toobin, and went further: "Look, Jeff's right. They call it the 'Rust Belt' for a reason....The people are frustrated. The people have no economic opportunity. What happens to folks like that in the Middle East, you ask? Well, take a look. They go to places like al Qaeda training camps. I mean there's nothing new here."

6. Rodgers on Taxes: 'Patriotic Duty' So 'Pay Up and Be Grateful!'
It's deadline day today for filing your federal income taxes -- and Walter Rodgers, a former ABC News and CNN correspondent is thrilled, proclaiming in a recent Christian Science Monitor op-ed: "I'm happy to pay my fair share to the government. It's part of my patriotic duty -- and it's a heckuva bargain." Rodgers proceeded to scold "chest thumpers who paper their cars with chauvinistic bumper stickers and grumble about supporting the government of the country they profess to love" as they dare to complain about taxes: "There seems to be an inconsistency about people who insist on wearing flag pins in their lapels, but who grumble about paying taxes. My friends grouse about government as though they had minimal financial or moral obligation to support it. Are they not part of 'We the people'?" Rodgers insisted that "reluctance to pay one's fair share flouts 'the better angels of our nature'" and "genuine patriots," he contended, "don't complain about their patriotic obligations." He concluded: "Pay up and be grateful!"

7. Contest: 'Top Ten Signs Katie Couric Doesn't Care Anymore'
The topic for this week's "Top Ten Contest" on the Late Show Web site: "Top Ten Signs Katie Couric Doesn't Care Anymore."


ABC's Harris Sees 'Controversial' 'Hardliner'
Pope with 'Tin Ear'

On World News Sunday, ABC anchor Dan Harris filed a report on Pope Benedict's upcoming trip to America, labeling the Catholic leader as "sometimes controversial," and calling him a "hard-liner" for "strenuously condemning divorce, homosexuality, and abortion." Harris also suggested that he has a "tin ear" because of a 2006 speech in which he used a quotation of a historical figure calling Islam "evil" that sparked riots by Muslim extremists around the world, without mentioning that the Pope later clarified that it was not his personal view that Islam is evil.

Before a commercial break, Harris plugged the story: "And coming up here on World News this Sunday, who is Pope Benedict? The sometimes controversial Pope comes to America this week."

After contrasting Pope Benedict's style with that of his predecessor, Harris continued: "Joseph Ratzinger, the so-called 'Professor Pope,' grew up in Nazi Germany, a studious boy who was unwillingly drafted into the army. At the Vatican, he developed a reputation as a brilliant theologian, and also a hard-liner, strenuously condemning divorce, homosexuality, and abortion. As Pope John Paul's lieutenant, he earned nicknames like 'Cardinal No,' and 'God's Rottweiler.'"

ABC then ran a clip of religion expert David Gibson which seemed to suggest that being a "sweet man" is contradictory with adhering to conservative religious convictions: "He's a grandfatherly-looking fellow dressed in white with the great white hair. He's a very sweet man in person. But he's the same Joseph Ratzinger. He has very strong principles."

Harris then brought up the Pope's 2006 speech in which he quoted a historical figure who called Islam "evil," and asked Gibson, to his agreement, if the Pope has a "tin ear." Harris: "Benedict has also created controversy, like in this speech, where he included a quote calling Islam evil. Afterwards, there were riots in the Muslim world. Do you think, at times, he has something of a tin ear?"

While Harris noted that the Pope is "more conservative than many American Catholics," on the same day's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Anne Thompson detailed a Pew Research Center poll similarly showing a substantial number of American Catholics to be more liberal on several issues, but she also noted that 60 percent of Catholics support the death penalty. And in noting support by many American Catholics of embryonic stem cell research, Thompson failed to clarify the difference between adult stem cell research, which is supported by most religious leaders, and embryonic stem cell research, as the NBC correspondent merely conveyed that "55 percent [of American Catholics] say stem cell research is important."

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The CBS Evening News was preempted by the Masters Golf Tournament on both Saturday and Sunday.

Below is a complete transcript of the stories from ABC's World News Sunday and the NBC Nightly News for Sunday, April 13:

# From ABC's World News Sunday:

DAN HARRIS: And coming up here on World News this Sunday, who is Pope Benedict? The sometimes controversial Pope comes to America this week. ...

HARRIS: Coming up this Tuesday, Pope Benedict arrives for his first U.S. visit as Pope -- a six-day trip to Washington, D.C., and New York. The Catholic Church considers the Pope to be the representative of Jesus Christ on Earth, but Americans, including many American Catholics, don't know much about him.
POPE BENEDICT XVI: Dear friends in the United States, I'm very much looking forward to being with you.
HARRIS: As you can see from this recent Vatican video, Pope Benedict XVI is an understated man. His predecessor was not. John Paul II was a sort of religious rock star who fought communism and barn-stormed the world, visiting the U.S. seven times. Benedict, who turns 81 on Wednesday, does have some personal flare -- these fancy red shoes, rumored falsely to be made by Prada, and a liking for cats. There's even a children's book about him and his neighbor's kitty. But while John Paul loved being surrounded by people -- here, Polish break dancers -- Benedict is more likely to be found alone, playing classical piano.
MSGR THOMAS BOHLIN, OPUS DEI: He's a very gentle soul. Whereas John Paul was a great figure, a great figure on the stage like an actor who dominated the world, in Benedict, you can find somebody who is a deep thinker.
HARRIS: Joseph Ratzinger, the so-called "Professor Pope," grew up in Nazi Germany, a studious boy who was unwillingly drafted into the army. At the Vatican, he developed a reputation as a brilliant theologian, and also a hard-liner, strenuously condemning divorce, homosexuality, and abortion. As Pope John Paul's lieutenant, he earned nicknames like "Cardinal No," and "God's Rottweiler."
DAVID GIBSON, AUTHOR OF THE RULE OF BENEDICT: There's a temptation to see him as a different person now. He's a grandfatherly-looking fellow dressed in white with the great white hair. He's a very sweet man in person. But he's the same Joseph Ratzinger. He has very strong principles.
HARRIS: Benedict has also created controversy, like in this speech, where he included a quote calling Islam evil. Afterwards, there were riots in the Muslim world. Do you think, at times, he has something of a tin ear?
GIBSON: Yes. He just doesn't really think about often the consequences, especially now that he's Pope, of things that he says to people.
HARRIS: While this Pope is more conservative than many American Catholics, he is not expected to come here to scold. As he said from his window above St. Peter's Square today, his main message is that Jesus is the way to hope and love.
POPE BENEDICT XVI: I ask you all to pray for the success of my visit.
HARRIS: And Pope Benedict will visit the White House and Ground Zero and hold two open-air masses. He's also expected to address the priest sex abuse scandal.


# From the NBC Nightly News:

LESTER HOLT: Another big story we're watching in the days ahead is the Pope's historic first visit to the U.S. Today Pope Benedict asked the faithful in St. Peter's Square to pray for the success of his trip. As we hear from NBC's Anne Thompson, he'll find an American church facing serious challenges.

ANNE THOMPSON: What is typical at St. Matthew's Cathedral in the nation's capital, a full congregation for Sunday mass, is increasingly unusual for many Catholic churches. The ranks of the priests who lead them are shrinking, along with weekly churchgoers, about 41 percent of Catholics. Yet Pope Benedict comes to a church more vibrant here than in his native Europe, where, in some places, the percentage of Catholics attending mass sinks to single digits.
CARDINAL JOHN FOLEY, VATICAN OFFICIAL: The Holy Father sees in the United States a place where religion is strong -- not only the Catholic Church but other religious expression. And that for him is a source of hope.
THOMPSON: His American flock is marked by a strong streak of independence, as many Catholics here disagree with the church's teachings on several issues '€" 60 percent of Catholics support the death penalty; 55 percent say stem cell research is important; 51 percent think abortion should be legal in all or most cases; and 42 percent favor gay marriage, a higher percentage than the rest of the country. It is a church with changing demographics. Much of its energy now comes from new immigrants -- Asians and especially Hispanics.
GEORGE WEIGEL, NBC NEWS VATICAN EXPERT: The Catholic Church has been the most successful immigrant assimilator in our history.
THOMPSON: But it is a church still scarred by the priest sex abuse scandals earlier this decade, paying out $2 billion in settlements; impacting schools, parishes and charities -- an issue Pope Benedict is expected to address.
FATHER THOMAS REESE, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: It's had a devastating impact on the church, but hopefully, we have learned, and frankly, hopefully, the church can become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
THOMPSON: Eager to move forward, the American Catholic Church welcomes the Pope, anxious to learn about him, and for him to understand the culture that both connects and distances it from Rome. Anne Thompson, NBC News, New York.

CBS Labels Pope 'Hardliner'; Interviews
Left-Wing Priest

At the beginning of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "Coming to America. Pope Benedict XVI arrives on American soil tomorrow. How will Americans receive his hardline and soft style?" In the later segment, correspondent Allen Pizzey continued the "hardline" theme: "Since becoming Pope Benedict XVI three years ago, the man who used to be the Vatican's chief hardliner has undergone an image makeover...when Americans see him next week, they may get a pleasant surprise."

Pizzey went on to describe the Pope's "makeover": "Benedict has made what one ambassador to the Holy See called a smooth transition from scholar to universal pastor. It may not quite fit the miracle category, but it is nonetheless an extraordinary transition for a man who was once known as God's Rottweiler. As Pope he has not gone out of his way to appease the more liberal wings of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but Benedict's chief image maker is unfazed."

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Following Pizzey's report, co-host Julie Chen interviewed left-wing priest, Father Thomas Reese, who was editor of the Catholic magazine America, until the Vatican pressured him to resign for allowing numerous liberal opinion pieces criticizing the Church to be published.

Chen asked Reese about the Pope's opposition to the Iraq war: "He has openly talked about how he is against the war in Iraq. Do you see this topic coming up when he visits President Bush at the White House?" Reese replied: "Well, the Pope could certainly turn to President Bush and say, 'I told you so,' because he, like Pope John Paul II, opposed the invasion of Iraq. They recognized that it would be a humanitarian disaster, and they proved to be smarter than the CIA, the Defense Department and the White House. So he will certainly talk about Iraq and the need for some kind of political and diplomatic solution to the war there and to an end to the fighting."

Chen followed up by wondering: "Do you think it's going to make a difference?" To which Reese responded: "Well, you know, the Pope is not a miracle worker...He can simply preach issues of justice and peace and reconciliation...But he can move the discussion forward."

Here is the full transcript of the April 14 segment:

JULIE CHEN: Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Washington tomorrow for his first visit to America since his election as head of the Roman Catholic Church. CBS News Correspondent Allen Pizzey has a preview.
ALLEN PIZZEY: Since becoming Pope Benedict XVI three years ago, the man who used to be the Vatican's chief hard-liner has undergone an image makeover. And like the tens of thousands who flock to his weekly audiences, when Americans see him next week, they may get a pleasant surprise. One senior Vatican official said Benedict's six-day visit to Washington and to New York will be like a pilgrimage to the soul of the American people.
ANDREA CELLI: Knowing the Holy Father, knowing what he wants to do with this visit, he will not get involved in politics.
PIZZEY: Given that he is landing in the middle of an election year, will meet President Bush, make a major speech on human rights at the United Nations and pray at Ground Zero, that will be no mean feat. But those who know the Pope best say he is more than up to the challenge. Benedict has made what one ambassador to the Holy See called a smooth transition from scholar to universal pastor. It may not quite fit the miracle category, but it is nonetheless an extraordinary transition for a man who was once known as God's Rottweiler. As Pope he has not gone out of his way to appease the more liberal wings of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but Benedict's chief image maker is unfazed.
ANDREA CELLI: I hope that the American people will discover the gentleness of this man.
PIZZEY: Almost everyone who meets Benedict comments on his shyness, the trait that precludes him from the pop star status of his predecessor, John Paul II, who even today does better business than Benedict.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We sell more of John Paul, much more. Because the people loved John Paul.
PIZZEY: Benedict?
MAN: Benedict needs more time.
PIZZEY: Benedict will celebrate his 81st birthday in Washington and has plans well beyond this American pilgrimage. Later this year he will host a debate on evolution and intelligent design and preside over the first summit of a Catholic/Muslim forum. Issues that strike a deep chord among Americans of all faiths. Allen Pizzey, CBS News, Rome.

CHEN: Joining us now from Washington is Father Thomas Reese, Senior Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. He is also a former Editor of the Catholic weekly magazine America. Father Reese, good morning.
THOMAS REESE: Good morning.
CHEN: What event do you think during the Pope's six-day visit here is the one to watch?
REESE: I think his speech at the United Nations is going to be the most important speech that he'll be giving during this visit. He's coming to the United Nations to speak to the entire world, to talk about international relations and how they should be guided not simply by military power and economic might but should be really guided by ethical principles and moral values. So he's going to be talking about peace and justice and reconciliation.
CHEN: He has openly talked about how he is against the war in Iraq. Do you see this topic coming up when he visits President Bush at the White House?
REESE: Well, the Pope could certainly turn to President Bush and say, 'I told you so,' because he, like Pope John Paul II, opposed the invasion of Iraq. They recognized that it would be a humanitarian disaster, and they proved to be smarter than the CIA, the Defense Department and the White House. So he will certainly talk about Iraq and the need for some kind of political and diplomatic solution to the war there and to an end to the fighting.
CHEN: Do you think it's going to make a difference?
REESE: Well, you know, the Pope is not a miracle worker. He can simply preach issues of justice and peace and reconciliation. Will everybody love each other and will there be world peace after he goes home to Rome? Of course not. But he can move the discussion forward.
CHEN: I'm curious to know what does the Pope think of American Catholics and the way American Catholics practice their faith?
REESE: Well, I think he has great admiration for American Catholics and for America in general because of it's depth of religious faith that we have in our country. Both Catholics and Protestants attend church much more regularly in the United States than in Europe.
CHEN: Father, we are out of time. I am so sorry to cut you off, but thank you for joining us.
REESE: You're welcome.

CBS's Smith: 'Americans Maybe Little
Unsure or Fearful' of Pope

In interview with Chicago's Cardinal Francis George about the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith was concerned about the reaction of the American people to the new pontiff: "Explain the difference between the private man and the public Pope that some Americans are maybe even a little unsure or fearful of." Monday's Early Show identified the Pope as a "hardliner" numerous times (see item #2 above).

Smith went on to ask about the priest pedophilia scandals and if the Pope's mission was meant to "heal" those scandals: "The Pope was talking to reporters about priest abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States, and he said, quote, 'we are deeply ashamed and we'll do whatever is possible so that this does not happen in the future.' Is this -- this trip to the United States, would you say that this -- part of the mission of this church is some healing?"

Finally, Smith concluded the interview by asking Cardinal George about the Pope's opposition to the Iraq war: "He is going to be addressing the United Nations, he's going to be speaking to the President of the United States in private chambers. Among the messages of the Catholic Church is an anti-war message. Will he deliver that to President Bush?" The Cardinal responded by explaining: "He is eager, however, that whatever happens next is good for the Iraqi people, that they can live in peace and that we don't leave a very violent Iraq behind. So I'm sure the conversation won't just be anti-war or pro war, it'll be what do we do next?"

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

On Monday's Early Show co-host Julie Chen asked a similar anti-war question of left-wing priest, Father Thomas Reese, who's response was not as well-reasoned as Cardinal George's: "Well, the Pope could certainly turn to President Bush and say, 'I told you so,' because he, like Pope John Paul II, opposed the invasion of Iraq. They recognized that it would be a humanitarian disaster, and they proved to be smarter than the CIA, the Defense Department and the White House."

Here is the full transcript of the Tuesday, April 15 segment:

HARRY SMITH: Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Washington later today for his first visit to the United States since becoming Pope. CBS News Correspondent Jeff Glor is live at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington with more. Good morning, Jeff.

JEFF GLOR: Harry, good morning to you. The Pope's plane, Shepherd One, is in the air right now over the Atlantic. It will be landing here at Andrews Air Force Base at 4:00 eastern time when the Pope will be greeted by President Bush. He was elected three years ago Saturday, but for many Americans, it could just as well be three days. Benedict has not broken through.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't know much about the current Pope.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I don't know anything about his background.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: I know he's new.
GLOR: While America may not know him, the reverse is not true. The man who was born Joseph Ratzinger visited the U.S. five times before becoming Pope.
FR. THOMAS WILLIAMS: I think the fact that he'll be meeting on American soil on with the president on his birthday and that he'll be celebrating his anniversary with us is a good sign of closeness to the American people.
POPE BENEDICT XVI: Brothers and sisters, friends in the United States, I'm very much looking forward to being with you.
GLOR: Just don't be surprised if he doesn't get the same rock star adulation as his predecessor John Paul. The truth is, Benedict doesn't want it.
JOHN ALLEN: This is a Pope who thinks in centuries. He's not worried about tomorrow's headlines.
GLOR: Part of his long-term plan, both here and abroad, is to expand the Church's outreach to other religions.
RABBI JOSEPH POTASNIK: His predecessor was rather unique. Went to Israel, prayed at the wall, put a note into the wall. Recognized Israel.
GLOR: For Benedict, the focus is on Muslims, so far with mixed results.
ALLEN: The differences he wants to talk about have to do with the need for Islam to reject terrorism and violence and the need for Islamic governments to respect religious freedom.
IMAM SHAMSI ALI: I was really happy and very glad and joyful to hear that the Pope wants to, once again, have dialogue with the Muslim community.
GLOR: The airport greeting this afternoon will be a bit unusual. It's actually the first time an American president has greeted a foreign leader here at Andrews. The two will also spend time together tomorrow at the White House, when Benedict turns 81. Harry.

SMITH: Jeff Glor in Washington this morning, thanks so much. One of the top American church officials who will escort the Pope while he's in the United States, is Cardinal Francis George, the Archbishop of Chicago. He joins us from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Cardinal George, good morning.
FRANCIS GEORGE: Good morning, Harry.
SMITH: It's good to see you again. You have an advantage because you actually know this Pope. In a way that so many in the rest of the United States do not. Explain the difference between the private man and the public Pope that some Americans are maybe even a little unsure or fearful of.
GEORGE: Well, the Pope is the Pope. It's the office that counts, as he would say. But as a person, he's a man who has a long history of study. He's a professor, and even as Bishop in the Curia, he was concerned with papers as much as people. But with people, he's very kind and he listens extremely well. And since he's become Pope, he seems able to connect with the crowds as well. Although it's always a bit of a task for him.
SMITH: Cardinal George, this interesting this wire service -- this wire service story this morning from the -- aboard the Papal plane. The Pope was talking to reporters about priest abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States, and he said, quote, "we are deeply ashamed and we'll do whatever is possible so that this does not happen in the future." Is this -- this trip to the United States, would you say that this -- part of the mission of this church is some healing?
GEORGE: Well, I would hope it would be that and I'm sure he does, too. The Pope is a center of unity and in order to have unity, you have to have healing, particularly in this case. He is someone who has read all these cases, because they had to go over to be reviewed in his congregation in Rome. And so he's very deeply affected by it and ashamed of it as he said, as we all are.
SMITH: He is going to be addressing the United Nations, he's going to be speaking to the President of the United States in private chambers. Among the messages of the Catholic Church is an anti-war message. Will he deliver that to President Bush?
GEORGE: I'm not sure how the conversation will shape up, but he's already spoken with the president about his understanding of the war. He is eager, however, that whatever happens next is good for the Iraqi people, that they can live in peace and that we don't leave a very violent Iraq behind. So I'm sure the conversation won't just be anti-war or pro war, it'll be what do we do next?
SMITH: Well, there's so much excitement on behalf of Catholics around the country and Cardinal George, we thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today.
GEORGE: Thank you, Harry.
SMITH: Alright, take care.

Maher: 'Pope Used to Be a Nazi;' Compares
Church to Mormon Cult

Bill Maher, true to form on his Real Time program on HBO on Friday night, went on a tirade against Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church, only days before the Pope's visit to the U.S. He stated that the Pope "used to be a Nazi" and compared him to a cult leader. He then went on to call the Church a "child-abusing religious cult" and "the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia," charging: "And that's the Church's attitude: 'We're here, we're queer, get used to it,' which is fine, far be it from me to criticize religion."

Following a profanity-tinged one-liner concerning the raid on the Texas compound of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Maher quipped: "In fact, whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God's infallible wingman here on Earth, lock away the kids. Which is why I'd like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult. Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats. That's right, the Pope is coming to America this week and ladies, he's single!" At the "funny hat" line, Maher displayed a picture of Pope Benedict wearing a wide-brimmed hat called a saturno.

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Monday afternoon, with videdo, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Maher's smear to the contrary, Pope Benedict didn't "used to be a Nazi." In fact, as the New York Times itself reported after the Pope's election in 2005, Pope Benedict's father was anti-Nazi, and "Joseph Ratzinger [the Pope's birth name] huddled with his father and older brother around a radio and listened to Allied radio broadcasts," an act that if they were caught doing, they would have been sent to a concentration camp. The New York Times article, "New Pope Defied Nazis As Teen During WWII," can be seen at: bc.edu

Maher then devoted the rest of his anti-Catholic rant to the clergy sex abuse scandal angle: "Now I know what you're thinking: 'Bill, you shouldn't be saying that the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy Texas cult.' For one thing, altar boys can't even get pregnant. But really, what tripped up the little cult on the prairie was that they only abused hundreds of kids, not thousands, all over the world. Cults get raided, religions get parades. How does the Catholic Church get away with all of their buggery? Volume, volume, volume!
"If you have a few hundred followers, and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If have a billion, they call you 'Pope.' It's like, if you can't pay your mortgage, you're a deadbeat. But if you can't pay a million mortgages, you're BearStearns and we bail you out. And that is who the Catholic Church is: the BearStearns of organized pedophilia -- too big, too fat. When the current pope was in his previous Vatican job as John Paul's Dick Cheney, he wrote a letter instructing every Catholic bishop to keep the sex abuse of minors secret until the Statute of Limitations ran out. And that's the Church's attitude: 'We're here, we're queer, get used to it,' which is fine, far be it from me to criticize religion. But just remember one thing: if the Pope was -- instead of a religious figure -- merely the CEO of a nationwide chain of day care centers, where thousands of employees had been caught molesting kids and then covering it up, he'd be arrested faster than you can say 'who wants to touch Mr. Wiggle?'"

Maher grossly misrepresented the contents of the 2001 letter then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to the bishops. He did not tell them to "keep the sex abuse of minors of State of Limitations ran out." The letter clarified that the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had jurisdiction according to the Church's law (canon law) to try clerics concerning abuses of the sacraments, and also, as the letter put it, a "delict against morals, namely: the delict committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue [thou shall not commit adultery] with a minor below the age of 18 years."

Maher has a long record of mocking religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular. A few months earlier in January 2008, Maher mocked Catholics' belief concerning the Eucharist and called Jesus a "2,000 year-old space god." In May 2007, he compared the sacrament to gay oral sex. And in April 2007, he joked about President Bush attending the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and how "you could tell this was a Catholic prayer breakfast because [Maher laughs] it was in the morning and he said 'I'm dying for a little joe' and they brought him an altar boy."

NewsBusters.org past coverage of Maher: newsbusters.org

CNN's Toobina and Cafferty: Obama's 'Bitter'
Line 'Accurate'

CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, during a discussion on Friday's The Situation Room, defended Barack Obama's comments, that small-town voters are often "bitter" and they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them," and blasted Hillary Clinton for her criticism of the comments. "I think that is so ridiculous....I mean that is not at all what Barack Obama said....I mean Hillary Clinton is clearly distorting what Obama said. And, by the way, what Obama said is factually accurate." Jack Cafferty, a regular contributor to The Situation Room, agreed with Toobin, and went further: "Look, Jeff's right. They call it the 'Rust Belt' for a reason....The people are frustrated. The people have no economic opportunity. What happens to folks like that in the Middle East, you ask? Well, take a look. They go to places like al Qaeda training camps. I mean there's nothing new here."

[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Toobin and Cafferty appeared with host Wolf Blitzer and CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger during the segment, which started 39 minutes into the 6 pm hour of Friday's "The Situation Room. After Blitzer played a sound bite of Obama's comments, he asked Borger for her take on the issue. She tried to explain away them away. "I think the people are angry. And maybe -- and maybe Obama's terminology was inartful, but I think he's expressing a sentiment of mad as hell voters not going to take it anymore that we've seen throughout this election. And that's why, perhaps, voters are saying over and over again that they want a change."

Blitzer then played some of Clinton's reaction and criticism to Obama's comments. It was after this that Toobin and Cafferty came to Obama's defense. Borger then explained that "in this case, the Hillary Clinton campaign and the John McCain campaign have the same goal -- and that is to portray Obama as this sort of effete elitist who doesn't understand the real working class people or independent voters. And so they're both on the same side on this one and it's obvious why."

The full transcript of the segment from the Friday, April 11 The Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER: There's new controversy right now involving something that Barack Obama said over the weekend on the campaign trail -- the audio of that only now emerging. Let's get back to the best political team on television. I'm going to play it for you guys. I'm going to play it for our viewers and then we'll discuss. Listen to this.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: '...they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration. And each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.'
BLITZER: All right. Gloria, he's already being hammered by Hillary Clinton and John McCain, for that matter, for supposedly being an elitist and speaking ill of the people of Pennsylvania by suggesting that the economic problems there are causing them to become bitter and buying guns and becoming xenophobic and all of that. What do you think? Is this a real issue out there?
BORGER: Well, Hillary Clinton said today, you know, I don't see bitter people out there, I see struggling people or whatever it is. But she said that people aren't bitter. I think the people are angry. And maybe -- and maybe Obama's terminology was inartful, but I think he's expressing a sentiment of mad as hell voters not going to take it anymore that we've seen throughout this election. And that's why, perhaps, voters are saying over and over again that they want a change.
CAFFERTY: Yes.
BORGER: So I think Hillary Clinton is trying to make him into the elite candidate but he's talking about people being angry.
BLITZER: All right, and Hillary Clinton responded to the Obama comments this way, Jeff. Let me play her little sound bite.

HILLARY CLINTON: It's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience. As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves.
(APPLAUSE)
H. CLINTON: They're working hard every day for a better future for themselves and their children. Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them.
BLITZER: All right. Jeff, what do you think?
TOOBIN: I think that is so ridiculous.
CAFFERTY: I agree.
TOOBIN: I mean that is not at all what Barack Obama said.
BORGER: Right.
TOOBIN: I mean I just think this is an example of how a campaign between the two of them can be purely destructive and not elevate either candidate. I mean Hillary Clinton is clearly distorting what Obama said. And, by the way, what Obama said is factually accurate.
CAFFERTY: Right.
TOOBIN: It's been true throughout history that people who have economic problems lash out against various others. I just think it is embarrassing for the Clinton campaign just to hang on to this as if it's some sort of gaffe by Obama.
BLITZER: It's not just the Clinton campaign, Jack. It's also the McCain campaign. They issued a statement saying, 'It's a remarkable statement and extremely revealing. It shows an elitism and condescension toward hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking. It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans.'
(LAUGHTER)
CAFFERTY: Oh, really? And this is from John McCain? Amazing.
BORGER: Yes.
BLITZER: No this is from Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser for John McCain.
CAFFERTY: Look, Jeff's right. They call it the 'Rust Belt' for a reason. The great jobs and the economic prosperity left that part of the country two or three decades ago. The people are frustrated. The people have no economic opportunity. What happens to folks like that in the Middle East, you ask? Well, take a look. They go to places like al Qaeda training camps. I mean there's nothing new here. And what Barack Obama was suggesting is not that the people of Pennsylvania are to blame for any of it. It's that the jerks in Washington, D.C., as represented by the 10 years of the Bushes and the Clintons and the McCains, who have lied to and misled these people for all of this time, while they shipped the jobs overseas and signed phony trade deals like NAFTA, are to blame for the deteriorating economic conditions among America's middle class. I mean I'm a college dropout and I can read the damn thing and figure it out.
BORGER: You know, in this case, the Hillary Clinton campaign and the John McCain campaign have the same goal -- and that is to portray Obama as this sort of effete elitist who doesn't understand the real working class people or independent voters. And so they're both on the same side on this one and it's obvious why.
BLITZER: You know-
TOOBIN: I think-.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeff. Do you want to make a little point?
TOOBIN: Well, I just think it's remarkable that Barack Obama, this guy who grew up in a single family household with no money, who lived in Indonesia, who, you know, was -- came from very modest upbringings, somehow he's the elitist? That's really a pretty extraordinary sort of contortion of his background. I mean-
BORGER: It's that Harvard/Yale thing, yes.
CAFFERTY: One hundred and nine million dollars in the last eight years, did he?
BORGER: Right.
CAFFERTY: No.
BLITZER: Yes. He made a few million on that book, but that's another story.

Rodgers on Taxes: 'Patriotic Duty' So
'Pay Up and Be Grateful!'

It's deadline day today for filing your federal income taxes -- and Walter Rodgers, a former ABC News and CNN correspondent is thrilled, proclaiming in a recent Christian Science Monitor op-ed: "I'm happy to pay my fair share to the government. It's part of my patriotic duty -- and it's a heckuva bargain." Rodgers proceeded to scold "chest thumpers who paper their cars with chauvinistic bumper stickers and grumble about supporting the government of the country they profess to love" as they dare to complain about taxes:
"There seems to be an inconsistency about people who insist on wearing flag pins in their lapels, but who grumble about paying taxes. My friends grouse about government as though they had minimal financial or moral obligation to support it. Are they not part of 'We the people'?"

Rodgers insisted that "reluctance to pay one's fair share flouts 'the better angels of our nature'" and "genuine patriots," he contended, "don't complain about their patriotic obligations." He concluded: "Pay up and be grateful!"

Rodgers has long believed Americans don't pay very much in taxes. Back on August 6, 1993, in a report for Good Morning America on the Clinton budget deal which raised income taxes, Rodgers acknowledged a downside to higher rates before pointing out how Americans pay less than most others: "There will be a ripple effect throughout the economy because of higher gas taxes and increased costs to small businesses. But on balance Americans will still be paying lower taxes than most of the rest of the world."

Of course, many Americans oppose higher taxes because they do not want this country to become more like socialistic European nations and see every tax hike as a step toward that reality.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The MRC's Clay Waters alerted me to the Rodgers op-ed that Waters saw excerpted in The Week magazine. The Rodgers op-ed, "Taxes -- my patriotic duty. Quit grumbling. Pay up and be grateful!" ran in the April 2 Christian Science Monitor, but is certainly timely today. An excerpt:

It's early April, which means these are the few days of the year when Americans of almost every political stripe unite in a perennial ritual: complaining about taxes.

Count me out. I'm happy to pay my fair share to the government. It's part of my patriotic duty -- and it's a heckuva bargain.

"Taxes are what we pay for living in a civilized society." Those words are written in stone, so they must be true. They're there to read for anyone who bothers to look up as they stroll past those New Deal-era government buildings on Constitution Avenue in the nation's capital.

They are the words of former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Now there was a man! A patriotic taxpayer, not one of those chest thumpers who paper their cars with chauvinistic bumper stickers and grumble about supporting the government of the country they profess to love....

Federal income taxes are a terrific bargain in America. I like to tell my tax-grumbling friends about my last year in Israel, when the Knesset passed a new tax code that would've seized 70 percent of my income. When I lived in Berlin, my tax rate was 50 percent, and when I left England three years ago I was paying a 40 percent rate to support a gilded monarchy and a national healthcare system that did not function very well....

There seems to be an inconsistency about people who insist on wearing flag pins in their lapels, but who grumble about paying taxes. My friends grouse about government as though they had minimal financial or moral obligation to support it. Are they not part of "We the people"?

I never calculated how much I paid in taxes over a working lifetime, but I began when I was picking blueberries in Maine in 1954, so it must have been a lot '€" an awful lot. I am rather proud of my contribution to the US Treasury over a half century. My Social Security taxes have helped soften the blow of old age for many of the World War II and Korean War veterans. I hope my federal income taxes made the lives of woefully underpaid schoolteachers just a little more comfortable, helping with their Medicare or Medicaid bills....

And oh, by the way, the words carved in stone on that federal building are at 1111 Constitution Avenue. It's the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service. Pay up and be grateful!

END of Excerpt

For the entire op-ed: www.csmonitor.com

Contest: 'Top Ten Signs Katie Couric
Doesn't Care Anymore'

The topic for this week's "Top Ten Contest" on the Late Show Web site: "Top Ten Signs Katie Couric Doesn't Care Anymore."

To submit your suggested lines, and win a Late Show T-shirt if one of your entries is selected amongst the ten winning ones that will be posted on Saturday: www.cbs.com

-- Brent Baker