What CNN, Fox News, MSNBC Can Learn From Pope Francis’ Rousing Speech

“Look at all the media he gets for doing a healing presence — there’s way more opportunity for healing than the fear-mongering that goes on in the press,” Sister Simone Campbell tells TheWrap

Catholics across the U.S. rejoiced on Wednesday as Pope Francis waved his hands at adoring worshipers throughout Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, politicians — and political media — listened to the Argentine-born pontiff as he gave a rousing speech in front of a joint session of Congress.

And for media that have earned an increasing share of Americans’ scorn, all outlets can learn from the religious icon’s call for unity and a closing of the social and economic divide.

“Look at all the media he gets for doing a healing presence — there’s way more opportunity for healing than the fear-mongering that goes on in the press,” Sister Simone Campbell, who attended the pope’s congressional speech on Thursday, told TheWrap.

Campbell spearheaded the infamous “Nuns on a Bus” tour in 2012 that traveled to nine states in opposition of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which Campbell viewed as a document against the poor and needy. Pope Francis seemed in lock step with Sister Simone on Thursday, calling for an end to economic slavery.



“I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty,” he said. Campbell took such comments as the pope’s call for Americans to aspire to dreams and vision instead of polarized divisions.

She also thinks the pope’s comments might prompt some media executives and politicians to recall why they chose their professional paths in the first place.

“The combination of the quest for money and the hunger for notoriety in order to get re-elected — it’s that dual struggle that is fueling this name-calling that’s supposed to pass for dialogue,” she said.

Fr. Jonathan Morris, a Fox News religious analyst, thinks everyone — including media executives and journalists–should take a cue from Pope Francis.

“Every single person has social responsibility,” Morris told TheWrap. “The Pope’s message was speak the truth and look out for the common good and if we either don’t speak the truth or purposely divide for selfish purposes [economic or social] we’re breaking with our social responsibility.”

Francis

Politics should be a noble profession, Morris said, and no politician or journalist should let their personal ambitions exacerbate division and polarization in the U.S..

But journalism veteran and University of Maryland professor Mark Feldstein poured some cold, but sensible, water on the notion that the media will take anything away from Pope Francis’ calls for unity aside from some entertaining primetime segments on Thursday night.

“The only learning lessons TV executives seek are about how to increase their ratings and profits — not how to uplift the moral or spiritual tone of their programming,” he told TheWrap.

Feldstein thought the Pope was spot-on in his calls for action against poverty, environmental degradation and climate change. “It’s a terrible indictment of our news media that Pope Francis understands this better than the executives who control our communications outlets,” he said, adding that in decades, the media will be faulted in textbooks about climate change.
“When this era’s history of journalism is written by future generations, the news media will be remembered for having fiddled while the planet literally burned.”
But Feldstein isn’t ready to call for the media guillotine quite yet.
“Of course, it’s not just the fault of the news executives, who answer to shareholders seeking maximum profit on their corporate investments,” he said. “Any TV boss who focused on poverty and climate change wouldn’t last long in the job because ratings would tank and profits and stock prices would follow suit.”
“The ugly truth is that the blame belongs to all of us who prefer to be distracted by celebrity gossip and sensational trivia rather than issues of substance that really matter to the future of mankind,” he concluded. “The fault is not in our media — which merely panders to what we want — it is in ourselves.”
Imagine if Pope Francis could rally the troops to fix that.