Americans often complain about patronizing Europeans, but nobody patronizes Americans like the American media. Today’s Washington Post front page asks: “In an era saturated with entertainment and politics, a key question looms as Pope Benedict XVI leaves… for Washington: Is his style too dense to get Americans’ attention?”
What this question probably means is “Can the media understand what the Pope is saying?” Or at least “Can the media explain what the Pope is saying?”. There is little doubt that papal homilies do not generally provide easy news copy. For obvious reasons, popes tend to be intellectually serious and concerned with matters of eternal importance. Journalists, by contrast, think of religious affairs in the black and white of liberal vs conservative, reactionary vs progressive. They find it hard to process discussions about the destiny, or existence, of human souls because they have been trained to dumb-down to the common denominator. And what really baffles the news networks is that, even though the Pope brings a complicated and profound message, the rubes still want to listen.