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John Gibson Uses The Pope's Death To Make Political Hay

Reported by Ellen - April 4, 2005

We knew this was coming and there will probably be more examples before the Pope is buried. On tonight's Big Story, John Gibson used an interview with Thomas Melady, former US Ambassador to the Vatican to score points for the GOP and against the Democrats. Gbison started off the interview by asking the "Big question: How did the Pope use faith to make a political impact?" But the real question in Gibson's mind was, evidently, how can we use the Pope to make the GOP look good?

Here's how he did it. After a few opening remarks by Melady about the Pope using his "focus" to make a political impact, Gibson brought up the Reagan presidency. Melady said he wasn't there during that time but he obviously knew what he was supposed to talk about because he went right into an anecdote about Ronald Reagan's visit after his presidency. As video of Reagan chatting amicably with the Pope just happened to be playing alongside of Melady on the screen, he said, "The Pope told me it was a great meeting. He appreciated President Reagan's overview of things... They had really a great meeting. I could tell by the Pope's face when they came out of the meeting and how he lingered and talked."

Later, with a smirk on his face, Gibson said, "Before I run out of time, I've got to ask you about the meeting with President Clinton that didn't go so well. And the story is, you could have told President Clinton it was going to happen if he'd listened."

Melady laughed and said that after he had left office, he heard Clinton was going to meet with the Pope and wished he had been able to speak with Clinton before-hand because he thought he could have given Clinton some help with the meeting. "It was not the roughtest time in those eight years of President Clinton and the Pope but if I had gotten to him in that first meeting, I thought I could have been helpful."

That wasn't pointed enough, apparently. Gibson, still smirking, prompted, "And the meeting went south because President Clinton didn't quite understand how seriously the Pope took President Clinton's support of abortion rights?"

Melady: That was a good part of it.... But at that time the door seemed totally closed. ... He felt very strongly about life, life before birth, life at the end.

Again Melady wasn't quite making the point Gibson wanted so Gibson did it for him. "But you said President Clinton didn't see it coming, he didn't realize he was essentially snubbed by the Pope."

No mention of the Pope's opposition to George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq or the death penalty which, while Bush was governor, was applied in Texas more vigorously than in any other state.

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