Study Finds Catholic Bishops and Laypeople May Live in Different News Bubbles

Bishops attend the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Spring Assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on June 13, 2018. RNS photo by Jack Jenkins

When Catholic bishops want to know what’s going on in the world, they’re likely to tune in to Fox News.

Their parishioners, however, appear to prefer CNN.

Newly revealed data reported by the National Catholic Reporter shows that news-watching habits of Catholic bishops seem to skew significantly more conservative than American Catholics overall, hinting at a potential ideological disconnect between hierarchy and laity in the church.

NCR recently reported on a 2016 survey of U.S. Catholic bishops, detailing everything from geographic distribution to the clerics’ sleeping habits. That survey, which interviewed active and retired bishops and was published earlier this year in the book Catholic Bishops in the United States: Church Leadership in the Third Millennium, revealed some surprising details about the news habits of the American Catholic hierarchy — ones that appear to contrast starkly with Catholics overall.

According to the survey, almost half (47%) of U.S. bishops said they preferred to watch news on the Fox News channel, compared to 33% who listed CNN and only 4% who named MSNBC.

In addition, more than a third (38%) of bishops say they regularly read The New York Times, followed by The Wall Street Journal (24%), USA Today (23%), and The Washington Post (6%). Eighty-eight percent read a local newspaper.

While not a direct comparison, data from Pew Research suggests the bishops’ news habits are out of step with those of American Catholics overall.

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Source: Religion News Service