In exceptionally blunt language, Pope Francis is media that spread fake news, comparing it to people who have a morbid fascination with excrement.
In an extensive interview with the Belgian Catholic journal Tertio, the Pope said that media outlets that distort the news and spread slander risk falling into “coprophilia,” the psychological pathology characterized by an abnormal fascination with feces.
Francis added that “people tend toward the disease of coprophagia [the corresponding desire to consume feces]” and so media that feed this desire “can do great harm.”
The mission of the media is to “build opinion and do immense good,” Francis said, but it can be tempted to abandon this mission, falling into scandal-mongering.
Without specifically mentioning the 2005 video of Donald Trump released during the recent U.S. presidential campaign, Pope Francis made an allusion to a very similar hypothetical case where media bring out people’s past indiscretions.
The temptation occurs, Francis said, when a person “perhaps in his past life, or ten years ago, had a problem with the law, or a problem in his family life,” but he has already paid for it, “in which case, to bring this to light today is serious, and can harm or even annul a person,” he said.
The Pope also criticized the media’s tendency to present only half a story while ignoring the rest, which he qualified as “disinformation, that is, to tell only part of the truth of a situation and not the other.”
This disinformation, Francis said, prevents people making a “serious judgment” and therefore is “probably the greatest harm they can do, because it sways views in one direction, leaving out the other part of the truth.”
He also criticized use of the media to slander political rivals.
“The communications media have their own temptations. They can be tempted to slander, and then use slander to smear people, above all in the world of politics,” he said, adding that this can turn into a form of “defamation.”
“Nobody has a right to do this. It is a sin and it is harmful,” he said.
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