March 30, 2010

NBC apologized today for an article on MSNBC’s website entitled, “Pope Describes Touching Boys: I Went Too Far.” The article that readers accessed after clicking on it actually had nothing to do with the pope.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue accepted the apology today:

NBC says the attributed quote was erroneous and they have corrected the error. An apology was also extended. The apology is accepted. We hope that whoever was responsible for this outrageous post is questioned about it and that appropriate measures are taken. We look forward to hearing the outcome.


First… say a prayer.

Then, write to the same address of msnbc below to thank them for the correction.



From The Catholic League:

March 30, 2010


Catholic League president Bill Donohue accuses MSNBC of libeling Pope Benedict XVI:

Go to the home page of MSNBC and click on "World News." From there click on "Americas." Next click on the article, "Losing Their Religion? Catholicism in Turmoil." Scroll down and in the "Click for Related Content" section there is an article entitled, "Pope Describes Touching Boys: I Went Too Far." Clicking on this piece takes the reader to an article about a homosexual German priest who had sex with males in the 1980s. It says absolutely nothing about the pope. Yet MSNBC paints Pope Benedict XVI as a child molester in the tease to the article.

A retraction, and a sincere apology, are in order. They should also investigate how this happened and who is responsible.

Contact NBC news president Steve Capus:

It may be that, subsequent to the CL post, this has been "corrected".  [See the screenshot detail on this page, below.]

But is this adequate?  I don’t think so.

They seem to have changed the headline

But I think what they did was malicious.  Look at the other headlines.

Changing the headline was a start, but I think an apology is needed as well.

Even if they think that changing the headline should be the end of it, I suggest that it is not.

Contact NBC news president Steve Capus:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. becket1 says:

    Everyone knows that MSNBC is a liberal news source. What do you expect. Their pro Democrat.

  2. Jason Keener says:

    May our beloved Holy Father not be delivered up to the will of his enemies.

    God save Pope Benedict!

  3. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Email expressing outrage already sent to the address above.

  4. my kidz mom says:

    Now posted on their website: “Editors note: In a headline that appeared within this report earlier on March 30, a statement by a German priest about sexual abuse was incorrectly attributed to Pope Benedict XVI. corrected the error and sincerely apologizes for any unintended confusion or offense it may have caused.”

    Gimme a flippin’ break. The damage is done. Your true colors are exposed, MessNBC.

  5. Dr. Eric says:

    Dear Sir,

    Once again, your news organization knows no shame when it comes to smearing the Catholic Church. I used to watch Morning Joe every single morning, but after the interview that Chris Matthews did with Bishop Tobin and the insolent way he treated the good bishop I stopped watching the show and won’t watch another NBC channel. Now your headline on had read that The Pope was touching boys. It has been corrected, but I DEMAND a full retraction and apology. If not, I will be contacting your sponsors and letting them know that I will stop using their products in protest of this kind of yellow journalism.

    Once again, the mainstream media shows its colors by bringing out these kinds of news stories just in time for Easter. Just to be perfectly clear, until there is a retraction and apology I will not only boycott your networks but I will be contacting your sponsors as well. I’ll start with Sudafed and then move to Verizon, etc…

  6. Oh, the devil just can’t “outdo” himself, the creep!
    He has all kinds of collaborators, whether they acknowledge it or not, and it’s not going to end any time soon.
    Tomorrow is “Spy Wednesday”…the day that Judas sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver.
    It’s happening right in our midst today; the hatred of the Lord, His Church, His Pontiff, our Holy Faith and the betrayal of Truth, Goodness and the Beautiful and as well as the One who gave His life for us are not just an historical account; it’s real.

  7. becket1 says:

    This article seems to be all about the celibacy issue. Good, maybe the Pope should lift the celibacy requirement for parish priests only, like the Orthodox do. But also forbid any girls to be EMHC, or altar girls, since now we should get more priests do to the ban being lifted.

  8. Dr. Eric says:

    “Editors note: In a headline that appeared within this report earlier on March 30, a statement by a German priest about alleged sexual abuse was incorrectly attributed to Pope Benedict XVI. corrected the error and sincerely apologizes for any unintended confusion or offense it has caused.”

    This is not enough, I’m e-mailing sudafed, Jimmy Dean, Verizon, Nutrasystem, etc…

  9. Carolyn says:

    A terrible and unfortunate mistake made by the MSM. Let us hope that it was truly a mistake.

    Emailed Mr. Capus expressing my concern and desire for formal apology.

  10. Dr. Eric says:

    AIG Term Life
    Coldwell Bankers
    Venus Breeze
    Jimmy Dean Sausages
    lawyers Weitz & Luxenburg, NY
    Video Professor
    Natural’s Cat Chow, Purina
    Merneke Car Care Center
    Am. Express
    Travel Companion on CNN
    Crystal Light
    Infiniti Car
    Vonage Phone
    Dyson Vacuum
    Hyundi Car
    U.S. Buildings
    Direct TV
    Colonial Penn Life Insurance
    Stop IRS Debt
    HSBC Direct Financial Inst
    U.S. Airforce
    Progresso Soup
    Cooking Lite
    Steak-umns Burgers
    Mama Lucia Meat Balls
    Sea Bond
    Financial Freedom, reverse mortgage
    eDiets Meal Delivery
    Aqua Velvet
    Mr. Clean
    Bayer Products
    Old Mutual Investment
    Verizon (Both)
    Coldwell Bankers
    Jimmy Dean Sausages
    Natural’s Cat Chow, Purina
    Am. Express
    Crystal Light
    Vontage Phon

  11. Animadversor says:

    No, their apology isn’t enough, but I can easily believe the error was the result of carelessness. Of course, if the error was consonant with the proofreader’s expectations/desires, it would have been easier to miss.

  12. Thanks for posting MSNBC’s SPONSORS. Useful.

  13. EXCHIEF says:

    This was no mistake. Just as the Marxist agenda is being pursued at breakneck speed under the current regime in the USA so too is the agenda against the Catholic Church being pursued fevorishly by the MSM. The two are related. The Catholic Church is the only potential effective force against Marxism. Use the sexual abuse issue as the chink in the armor and then try to rip the Church and its leader to shreds. The Marxist president uses more subtle and devious divide and conquer tactics against the Church in the USA (Pelosi bribing the former Notre Dame president as one example) while the MSM does his dirty work on a larger scale.

    The Marxist and the MSM can destroy the Church by false accusations against the Pope. It is already happening in that marginal Catholics are using these allegations as reasons to avoid confession, to doubt the Pope, and to justify their failure to obey Church teachings.

    Once these combined efforts between the current anti-catholic president and the very anti-catholic media have rendered the Church impotent to oppose them they will move forward towards their 1984 society with even more gusto.

    We all need to pray constantly for our Pope, for our Church, and for the future of our world. If ever in the past 800 years there was a time we need St Michael to lead us in battle this is it. This is but a prelude to the persecution ahead if we do not wake up and oppose these twin evils with all of our might.

  14. The video with Jeffrey Anderson from Mpls on MSNBC is a complete joke.
    He’s a first class idiot…so much distortion, lies and outright calumny.
    He doesn’t have clue about the procedures of canon law; why is he an “expert” just because he’s made mucho denaro from the victims of sexual abuse taking the Church to court?
    One expert, I cannot remember his name, but was quoted in several articles, said that the Catholic Church is now one of the safest places for children.
    Get a life, Jeffrey!
    Oh, and Sally Quinn, a real credible source, is calling this a “Catholic Watergate”…whatever.
    Believe what you want to; you are dead wrong, here, dear.

  15. Magpie says:

    Email sent.

  16. Dr. Eric says:

    I called Jimmy Dean, GEICO, and Progressive. I was nice and the customer service representatives were nice. One of them even told me that the more people who call the more seriously the companies will take our complaints.

  17. TonyC says:

    Can we reasonably expect the leadership of the American Catholic Church to counteract the assault on the Mystical Body of Christ-and when? Not sure that always playing defense ever won a struggle and for sure we are in a struggle for our souls and our faith. We are good at counterpunching but at some point we will need to go on offense. Turning the other cheek did not work out so well in Europe.

  18. Katharine B. says:

    I will be canceling service with Geico and Verizon promptly.. Cause you know they won’t be pulling their ads with just a complaint.

  19. wchoag says:

    ‘Tis time to start thinking and acting like Vendeeans, Carlists, and the Cristeros!

  20. Sandy says:

    I can hardly watch the news these days; my husband must be sick of hearing me yell at the TV! It is so obvious to those with spiritual eyes that this whole campaign is orchestrated by Satan AND those “useful idiots” who help him. Some may not realize what they are doing, others certainly do. Besides speaking up, all we can do is pray hard.

  21. Dr. Eric says:

    Katharine B,

    Please call them and let them know why you are canceling your service.

  22. rakesvines says:

    As noted above, there is a great desire to undermine the authority of the bishops and Pope in the US
    in an attempt to lend credibility to other Catholics who disregard the episcopal guidance and form
    their own interpretation of the faith. This mistake coming from the propaganda arm of the administration
    is just so convenient. The Church must explore all legal options to enforce a punitive measure that will
    prevent such recklessness in the future. This is another way to make Pelosi, Kennedy, Stupak, Keehan and
    CHA to look like reasonable if not faithful to the spirit of Catholicism. I think it would be naive
    for the Church to swallow that apology hook, line and sinker. I move for a court case to be filed
    and damages levied. This is the Vicar of our Incarnate God Who face is being dragged through the mud.
    I think many will contribute to the legal fees that will be incurred when filing such a case.

  23. Scott W. says:

    Uncle Di noted that the media has pulled Hans Kung out of mothballs to help in the call for the Holy Father’s resignation. Faugh.

  24. zapman says:

    wchoag — I think what may be even more useful to think about on this Holy Week would be the martyrs of Compiènge in contrast to the Vendeeans. (Christ’s humble sacrifice in contrast to the sword of Peter.)

  25. Paul M says:

    anything from the USCCB? …once, just once, they might consider being proactive and actually DO something. The Catholic League is great, but my brother will always point out that the bishops (as represented by the USCCB) were silent. :(

  26. Dr. Eric says:

    I called Progresso and Video Professor, I hope that I’m not the only one doing this.

  27. EnoughRope says:

    email sent…

  28. david andrew says:

    I’m employing a slightly different tactic: I’m going to send an email based on Dr. Eric’s, but rather than threaten to stop doing business with those sponsors, I’m going to encourage the sponsors to pull their advertising money from Ms.NBC. The companies themselves aren’t to blame for NBC’s shoddy and libelous journalism, so why punish them? NBC’s ratings are going to tank anyways, so why not encourage the advertisers to push it over the cliff?

  29. rakesvines says:

    email sent. sponsors republished. prayers said. can’t wait to vote on Nov. These !$#%#*%^&* liberals
    & Socialists respect nothing.

  30. MWindsor says:

    The story now has this:

    Editors note: In a headline that appeared within this report earlier on March 30, a statement by a German priest about alleged sexual abuse was incorrectly attributed to Pope Benedict XVI. corrected the error and sincerely apologizes for any unintended confusion or offense it has caused.

  31. david andrew says:

    (My email to Capus:)

    I have become aware of yet another example of your news organization showing that it knows no shame when it comes to smearing the Catholic Church. The headline on that read that The Pope was touching boys has been corrected, however a full retraction and apology is absolutely necessary if not demanded. I am certain that this is not the first email you have received regarding this issue, and I’m equally certain that it won’t be the last. I feel it necessary that I contact your sponsors and encourage them to stop advertising their products and services through MSNBC and thus separate themselves from any connection with MSNBC’s blatant yellow journalistic practices.

    Once again, the mainstream media shows its colors by bringing out these kinds of news stories just in time for Easter. I will await the publication of a retraction and apology. I will be contacting your sponsors in the meantime. I’ll start with Verizon, and then work my way through the list.

  32. MWindsor says:

    The comments to the story on the NBC site are a feeding frenzy. Dear Lord, how are we going to get through this?

  33. ScottW: The NCReporter has an article by Fr. Kueng. Just despicable. And the comments are enough to make you sick. He’s “prophetic”, “wonderful”,…on and on and on.
    “Pulled…out of mothballs” is just right on.
    He’s a dinosaur from the sixties that either needs to be ignored or completely put in his place.
    The piranhas are out big-time because they scent “blood”.
    Nasty. Just nasty.

  34. Fr. Steve says:

    Maybe we should demand that someone be fired or step down for their outright callumny? Just a thought.

  35. Abigail Burke says:

    Email sent.

  36. KarenLH says:

    Paul M. –

    The USCCB did issue a statement supporting the Holy Father. See:

  37. ikseret says:

    The Democrats’ propoganda ministers have done a great job of taking the heat off Obama and the congressmen who recently voted for the widely unpopular abortion-care bill, haven’t they?

  38. KarenLH says:

    While I’d read ABOUT the news coverage, the MSNBC story was the first news story that I’d actually read. I’m so angry that I can’t figure out what to do with myself. Benedict is the one who really turned around the Church’s handling of clergy abuse, and they’re just going after him. If one of my politically liberal relatives were to defend the media right now, I’d be tempted to take his or her head right off.

    I’m furious.

  39. Andy Lucy says:

    The USCCB’s statement was a general statement of support for the Holy Father… not in reply to this calumny issued by MSNBC. At least, so it reads to me.

    Have contacted sponsors, few of whom I patronize due to their support of other issues with which I vehemently disagree, also contacted MSNBC (for all the good that will do) and have offered up prayers for the Holy Father and the Church.

  40. Paul M says:


    Saw that. Rather bureaucratic and perfunctory to me and they reserved the last para for CYA…not impressed. If anyone was awake over there, they would respond as quickly and a bit more force than even the Catholic League. Whether truly an error or not, the headline certainly helped amp-up the rhetoric against the Church – and all during the holiest week of the year. Coincidence?… I think the USCCB needs Fr. Z on retainer to explain the modern communications environment…and quite a few other things too.

  41. deborah-anne says:

    I have not posted for several days. Too sickened, too grieved, too angry. But, after reading this morning’s news, I’ve had enough! It’s time for resolve. It’s time for action.

    And, hey, two weeks ago I mentioned Hitchens, and what-a know! He’s once again spewing venom. This is not just an affront on Pope Benedict and the Church, it is an assault. MSNBC??? Insolent imbeciles! The Alinsky-ites and Hitchen-ites are pushing hard and having a field day. This is what they have been working towards and hoping for. These are the kinds of people who wish to see a complete dismantling of the Catholic Church. I offer prayers to the Pope, the Church and all good priests.

  42. Ef-lover says:

    It appears they removed that particular article ” Priest describes touching boys…” when I clicked it on it took me to a story on the flooding on the Northeast

  43. james says:

    A few quotes from the great Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. –

    “The strategy of Communism is a shifty expediency that defies analysis. However, it has two elements that never really change: massive indoctrination of the people, beginning with the youngest children, and ruthless suppression of any ideas or institutions that threaten totalitarian control by the Communist Party.

    “Our country is a Marxist nation, Dare I say still more? The United States of America is the most powerful Marxist country in the world.”

    And a quote from Lenin –

    “‘Marxism is materialism,’ says V. I. Lenin; ‘as such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion as the materialism of the Encyclopaedists of the eighteenth century or the materialism of Feuerbach.’”

    Marxism is materialism. And in a culture dominated by materialism, given the choice, most Catholics will not boycott companies or financial interests that feed them material possessions.

    The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the ancients and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day rise again. 23 And He said to all: If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; for he that shall lose his life for My sake, shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, and cast away himself?

    Luke 9:23-24 Douay Rheims

    Not the Gospel of Materialism. Nor Communism

    We will be persecuted. There is no doubt. But we have Christ on our
    side. The Church has Christ on It’s side.


  44. catholicmidwest says:

    Lift the celibacy rule, eh?
    1) It won’t help. The biggest child abusers now are married guys with kids.
    2) What would a full-grown woman want with a man fixated on little boys? What would a child-abusing pervert want with a genuine adult woman?? The combination makes no sense. Anybody who seriously suggests this should be whipped with a teflon-coated frypan to within an inch of his life. I’m serious and I’m sick of hearing this nonsense. No woman in her right mind wants an effeminate child-abusing weirdo lurking around the house!

  45. catholicmidwest says:

    To put it succinctly:
    Celibacy DOES NOT CAUSE child abuse. IMMORALITY & IMMATURITY cause child abuse. And in the case of man on boy, HOMOSEXUALITY is a factor in child abuse.

  46. TJerome says:

    MSNBC is basically on life support with very few viewers any more. I doubt they’ll be around much longer, although I agree we should let them know how we feel. MSNBC is probably the looniest, left-wing network in the US, that’s probably why it has so few viewers at this point.

  47. TJerome says:

    Keep in mind there are many “Catholic” collaborators involved in all of this. I think the bishops need to start excommunicating them right and left.

  48. Dr. Eric says:

    I also sent this to Fr. Z.

    Here is a statement from Fr. Brundage who was the ecclesiastical judge in the Fr. Murphy case:

  49. catholicmidwest: Exactly.
    How many single people live celibate lives in chaste fidelity? How many MARRIED people, for one reason or another, must forgo the marital union because of many different factors?
    This is a sex-crazed society that has no concept of self-discipline, respect for another, respect for self, sexual purity…
    As Fr. Groeschel once said (and I’m paraphrasing here)…if sexual activity made people happy, why is it that when I look out into a congregation on Sunday morning, where many of them have been sexually active, they look so sad and glum?
    Sex does not equal human fulfillment.
    Love does.
    And we have to make this known; we have to say it over, and over, and over, I’m afraid.

  50. momoften says:


    Dear (my name omitted)
    An link to a March 30 report about the Catholic Church erroneously attributed a quote about alleged sexual abuse to Pope Benedict XVI. The statement was made by a German priest writing in the Times of London. immediately corrected the error and published an apology and an editor’s note: along with a clarification:

    We sincerely apologize for any unintended confusion or offense the error has caused.

    Steve Capus

    NBC News President

  51. JonM says:

    Fellow Vonage customers,

    The Corporate number is 732 528 2600. You will have to press 0, and then wait for the PBX answering service to ask you to press 0 again.

    Right now (7:20 PM EDT) they are closed.

    Let’s post up the corporate numbers; the call center workers are not our adversaries and are used by corporate as armor.

  52. Cristero says:

    @ wchoag up above: This Cristero is with you.

    If anybody is having trouble getting ahold of a live person, this website is very helpful in getting one through the voicemail maze.

    I am also sending my email, and calling as many ‘sponsors’ as I can. How much better to spend Spy Wednesday, the day the Lord was betrayed?

  53. sejoga says:

    As much as I hate to say it, I hope people continue to complain about this headline fiasco until the MSNBC people themselves get angry at people for still writing about it. Sooner or later Chris Matthews or one of his ilk will say something cruel and stupid about it on air, and we’ll get a live example of the vitriol they have for Catholics and the Pope.

  54. bookworm says:

    MSNBC committed a similar gaffe some years ago during an interview with Niger Innis, a spokesman for the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE). They spelled his first name with two “g”s!

    However they quickly corrected the mistake and apologized, and Innis himself did not make a big deal of it. You can view a good summary at this link:

    So MAYBE the headline was an honest mistake. However there is no doubt that the content of these stories themselves is intentional and libelous.

  55. Traductora says:

    Bookworm, I doubt that this is official MSNBC editorial policy or that Steve Caput even knew anything about it. But whoever wrote this headline was perfectly aware of what he was doing.

    The misspelling of Niger was either a voice recognition or spell-check error, and was genuinely an error. But priest and Pope neither sound the same nor, in fact, could they have been confused in the context of the article. This was intentional on somebody’s part, even if not the result of official policy.

    We need to complain so that this doesn’t happen again.

  56. Face it. Our nation is becoming more Soviet than the Soviets:

    “The press is our chief ideological weapon.”
    -Nikita Kruschchev

    I’ll be standing out front of my office saying prayers and Rosaries for Papa, lamenting the days when freedom of conscience died in America, and waiting for the subpoena from Henry Waxman…

  57. Mitchell NY says:

    It makes me so sad that our Roman Catholic Faith via the Holy Father is attacked like this. I don’t know of any other community that has been so beaten in recent years. Hasn’t the world learned anything about religious persecution. We have all seen the horrors of WW II and the reprehensible, horrific, and sick behavior that man is capable of when it comes to religion and yet many have learned nothing. The world should be outraged. EVERYONE’S religion should be respected and people loved. Period.

  58. Animadversor says:

    As much as I hate to say it, I hope people continue to complain about this headline fiasco until the MSNBC people themselves get angry at people for still writing about it. Sooner or later Chris Matthews or one of his ilk will say something cruel and stupid about it on air, and we’ll get a live example of the vitriol they have for Catholics and the Pope.

    Sejoga, you cannot mean that! Surely you do not mean that you wish to provoke someone to sin? Think it through, please.

    I hope that we will continue to complain about this, but decently and in good order, that we may not give others the impression that we are a pack of wolves, braying for blood.

  59. frjim4321 says:

    Not a big fan of MSNBC (thinks it’s about as extreme as FoxNews but in the other direction), but the “Pope” tagline seemed like an obvious typo from the outset. I really don’t think Mr. Donoghue puts the church in a very good light, and is not really personally entitled to “accept an apology” for a typo from a cable channel. There is not a real story here, this was just a typographical error of “pope” instead of “priest.” Donoghue is kind of a nobody on a surf-over cable channel and does more to embarrass the church than to serve it. That being said, the main stream press has not provided balance to the sexual abuse crisis by making it look like a strictly Catholic priest issues and not acknowledging it as a wide spread social phenomenon. Fr. Jim

  60. MikeM says:

    An apology would have been sufficient if it was really an accident. But, I just don’t buy that it was.

    Fr. Jim, You really believe that it was a typo? MSNBC misreports things all the time… and it always errs towards their ideological bias. I highly doubt it was an innocent mistake.

  61. ALL: I don’t believe it was an accident. I think it was the type of accident they knew they would correct later.

    But they have corrected it.

    Therefore, write a note of thanks.

    Let there be more notes of thanks than of complaint.

  62. Seraphic Spouse says:

    How long before anti-Catholics start marching through Catholic neighbourhoods and lobbing firebombs through our windows? Oh, wait a minute…

    July 12 is less than four months away.

  63. DavidJ says:

    Why win the world would the apology go to the president of the Catholic league rather than, say, an ambassador from the Holy See? That seems weak.

  64. Scott W. says:

    an ambassador from the Holy See?

    I’m guessing the Catholic League asked for one and the Holy See did not.

  65. momravet says:

    Just a comment about the allegedly accidental attribution of the quote to the Holy Father. I was a webmaster for a number of years and there is no way that the story would have been posted on the web without it being reviewed by someone of higher authority than the writer or the webmaster.

  66. sejoga says:

    @ Animadversor:

    My point wasn’t so much about driving people to commit sin so much as it was about getting them to lower their guard. More of a “being on offense, not defense” sort of approach. The sin is already there, they simply hide it like cowards by slyly “erring” when they create headlines and by engaging in mockingly “even-handed” debate on their television programs. I’ve discovered when people in the media get repeated emails about a subject that paints them in a bad light, they’re much more inclined to give genuine reactions without thinking, than by using their usual jesuitical tactics. I was just suggesting that continuing to hold their feet to the fire until they either issue a sincere apology or reveal their true colors might be one way of approaching the situation.

    However, it seems they’ve issued a sincere enough apology to warrant dropping the issue. Although I do imagine that if they continued to be pressed on the subject we’d get a more honest response, that would probably only be counter-productive at this point. Best to forgive and forget.

  67. TJerome says:

    frjim, you’ve got to be kidding about Fox. Fox News attract more political independents than any other network news organization. It is pretty fair and balanced. What do you watch “Fake but Accurate” CBS or CCN, the Communist News Network?

  68. Along the original lines of media-needing-protests:

    Thomas Peters has found another one…and it’s pretty bad, too.

  69. irishgirl says:

    Upstate crunchy-I saw the cartoon. That’s sick!

    Grrr…yeah, wchoag, we should be thinking and acting like the Vendeans!

    Good thing I don’t have TV now-I’d be yelling at it all the time!

Comments are closed.