Buzzfeed denied credentials for papal visit, calls it “retaliation” for previous LGBT and Church coverage

Of what seems to be hundreds of news organizations following the Pope’s every move this week during his three-city visit to the United States, Buzzfeed won’t be one of them. While the site’s news arm was issued a general credential for the Pope’s visit — in their words, “a glorified hall pass that provides access to a media filing center but no ability to actually cover the pope’s events” — they have been denied credentials for all specific events by the Washington Archdiocese. Buzzfeed believes the denial is “retaliation” for previous coverage of the Church and LGBT issues.

In a letter sent to the Washington Archdiocese, Buzzfeed’s Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton outlines the steps Buzzfeed took to secure credentials for the papal visit, and why he believes Chieko Noguchi, a spokesperson for the Church, likely played a role in denying them access. From the letter:

In November of 2014, Mr. [Lester] Feder asked Cardinal Wuerl if they could meet for a background coffee to discuss issues Lester was reporting on that affected the church. The Cardinal agreed, and asked him to contact his press office.

After several messages to the Archdiocese went unreturned, Mr. Feder finally spoke with Ms. Noguchi on March 13. Ms. Noguchi told him that she didn’t want to schedule the meeting because, in her view, his church coverage has focused on LGBT issues and how the church “is standing in the way of some kind of rights.”

I am disturbed that this appears to be retaliation by Ms. Noguchi for coverage that she does not approve of, a decision that seems hardly in the spirit of the pope’s call to “try also to be a church that finds new roads.”

Pope Francis’s visit has created a media frenzy in large part due to his seemingly leftward shift on many of the social issues that have created tension between American Catholics and their Church in recent decades. But, as I’ve written before, much of this shift is in priorities and rhetoric, not actual doctrine — and even that has been resisted every step of the way by many others within the Church, who still seem to feel that your goodness as a Catholic is measured by how many LGBT people you condemn to Hell.

To be clear, denying press passes to news organizations that have a track record of tough coverage is nothing new. Donald Trump recently denied credentials the Des Moines Register — which is borderline sacred in the Iowa caucuses — along with the Huffington Post over their previous coverage of him. Who you let cover you at your events is, at the end of the day, your prerogative.

But if the Catholic Church wants Pope Francis to leave the United States as much the reformer as when he came, they may want to think twice about how easy it just was for me to compare them to Donald Trump.

(h/t Politico)


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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6 Responses to “Buzzfeed denied credentials for papal visit, calls it “retaliation” for previous LGBT and Church coverage”

  1. newbroom says:

    an excerpt from The Nation / Wen Stephenson: he presides over a conservative theological tradition whose teachings on
    gender, sexuality, marriage, contraception, and abortion are, to many
    of us, and women in particular, not only wrong but oppressive. For these
    and other reasons, his ability to single-handedly reshape climate
    politics, especially in this country, is limited, to say the least…

  2. Indigo says:

    Somebody was never an altar boy, obviously. The Vatican Court follows the patterns of Castiglione and Macchiavelli, regardless of who sits on the throne. It is a complete 16th century Italian Renaissance court in action. Serious representation and credentials are offered only to those who follow protocol closely. The wonder is that no one at Buzzfeed has defenstrated, not one hint of poison has been noted in the water cooler. On the promising side, the generous “hall pass” is a clear signal that good behavior in the future will be rewarded later. Any student of international politics knows how to work that.

    Meanwhile, let’s all sing!

    Yankee Doodle went to Rome,
    a-sitting on a kegger,
    put a ballpoint in his cap,
    and called it macaroni.

  3. Masrry Thomas says:

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  4. nicho says:

    So 10 million visits globally from unique IP addresses, many of them who click through from aggregator sites and don’t visit Buzzfeed deliberately. I’ve never deliberately gone to Buzzfeed, but I’ve ended up on the site from time to time following a clickbait link. I stand by my statement.

    Go to a mall in Peoria, stop 100 people at random, ask them if they’ve ever been to Buzzfeed. If you find one affirmative, you’ll be lucky.

  5. nicho says:

    Since 99.999 percent of Americans have no idea what Buzzfeed is, I don’t think this will hurt him at all.

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