Did the Holy Father get a free ride from the BBC during his visit?

From Damian Thompson:

The Times’s paywall is mysteriously down, so I nipped behind it and found a blog post from my former colleague the Rev George Pitcher, now the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Public Affairs. Writes George:

I confess to having been bemused by the media treatment of the Pope here in October [sic]. If British society is post-Christian you could have fooled me. He enjoyed comprehensive and largely unmediated and uncritical reportage in the British media. The BBC was especially reverential – wall-to-wall coverage, with little or no challenge in the studio from the usual pundits and antagonists.

There may be good reason for that; the Beeb will have been conscious of Roman Catholicism’s minority status in the UK and its responsibilities to religious diversity. More cynically, it was any easy hit – the BBC may feel it can have a go at the Pope in future and point to the free ride it gave him when he visited, should anyone claim undue victimisation. But the point still holds: The Pope’s visit was recorded as an unqualified success.

Is that what Dr Williams thinks, too, George?

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  1. Scott W. says:

    I’m not sure what BBC others were listening to, but about a week before the visit, they brought out several cranks serving up some really hoary anti-Catholic whoppers. When the anticipated nationwide firestorm of protest didn’t occur, the beeb went DEAD SILENT on the issue and opted for upteen stories on the dirty apartments at the Commonwealth games which no one cared about.

  2. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    When I read this on Thompson’s site today, and I read where he refers to the British Broadcasting Company as “The Beeb,” I though he was referring to Beelezebub! I had to re-read it to see that he was referring to the BBC, and not Old Nick. But then I thought, maybe it’s not a coincidence. Perhaps we should start calling it the Beelzebub BC. I thought it made a splendid tie in with Hell’s Bible, aka the NY Times.

    I’m sure the Crazed Ferret reads these posts from time to time. The ball is your court.

  3. Hans says:

    No doubt the usual suspects were out in the streets organizing the massive crowds in opposition.

  4. Melania says:

    I note that one of the commenters on this article said he had met some of the journalists from C4 and they seemed both despondent and shocked by the Pope’s visit. They had apparently believed their own propaganda and so were very surprised by the huge outpouring of affecftion for the Pope.
    Also, one of our local priests had attended most of the major events of the Pope’s visit, including the beatification. He said he saw only one protest crowd and it was very small. The crowds of Catholics who greeted the Pope were huge and enthusiastic. No one anticipated this response. The beatification ceremony was particularly moving. He said that at communion, many many people were overcome with joy, literally weeping for joy. He had never seen anything like that in his life.

  5. akp1 says:

    Interesting to read this – I refused to watch the coverage on the BBC because of their blatent anti Catholic (and anti Christian) reporting in general – I watched the coverage between EWTN and Skynews (who did an excellent job – didn’t really expect that either!). I have heard that the BBC coverage was very good and non of the bias I was trying to avoid, still, glad I found it elsewhere!

  6. MikeM says:

    I don’t think it counts as a “free pass.” The media usually covers big ceremonial events as something separate from the news… as they should. It’s a last sign that there’s some decency left in our media.

    When British Royalty come to the US, there might be some peripheral coverage that’s critical of them, but when they show the actual ceremonies of the meeting with the president, etc., they let the dignity of the event stand.

    Same sort of thing with a Papal visit.

  7. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Having been in Britain before, during and after the papal visit, I can tell you that the BBC coverage, like that of other news channels, was almost unrelentingly negative until the Holy Father’s plane landed. There were days when I thought the media was deliberately trying to whip up nutters towards assassination attempts. On my way to the media tent behind the Palace of Holyrood House (the Holy Father’s first stop), I picked up the commuter paper to read the story of a German cardinal who supposedly said (echoing about a million cranky Brits) that landing at Heathrow was like visiting a Third World country. And then….

    And then the narrative changed completely. For this we can thank the thousands and thousands of Catholic Scots, Irish and Poles who lined the streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow and crammed into Bellahouston Park. And as for the continuing great coverage, we can thank hundreds of thousands of loyal Catholics in England.

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