In journalism as in science, proving a negative is notoriously difficult. Recent attempts to knock down speculation that the Vatican has vetoed several potential nominees for U.S. ambassador to the Holy See make the point in especially clear fashion.
The rumor mill cranked into motion with an April 2 piece from Newsmax quoting Italian journalist Massimo Franco, author of a recent book on U.S./Vatican relations. Franco asserted that several pro-choice Catholics have been floated as Obama’s Vatican representative, only to be rejected by Rome as a way of drawing a line in the sand. (Under international law, a state is free to reject anybody it likes as an ambassador.) The story was then picked up by the Washington Times and other news outlets in the States, as well as by the Italian media, often citing unnamed Vatican sources.
Lending the story sex appeal is the fact that one of the names allegedly drawing a “thanks, but no thanks” has been Caroline Kennedy, the high-profile daughter of John F. Kennedy.