Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center doesn't want to talk about the sexual abuse allegations against Josh Duggar -- witness MRC "news" division CNSNews.com burying its only mention of it as a blog.
And the MRC's Tim Graham is so desperate to not talk about that his post on the subject is actually about pretty much everything but.
In his May 26 NewsBusters post, Graham extremely narrowly focuses on a coule of supposedly offending lines in a Washington Post column on the subject by Alexandra Petri. But after a first-paragraph mention that Josh Duggar "was guilty of sexually abusing other children at age 15" -- not nothing that his victims included his own sisters -- the offense is never brought up again, and the Duggars themselves are mentioned only twice more in passing.
The vast majority of Graham's "open letter" to the Post is dedicated to raging at Petri for noting that the Duggar scandal "is a reminder of how badly the cult of purity lets victims down.” It involves putting a lot of words in Petri's mouth -- apparently, what Petri actually wrote wasn't worth getting upset over. She is "obviously bad at hiding her glee" over thte Duggar scandal, Graham declares without evidence, adding -- also without evidence -- that she "doesn’t believe in sin."
Graham also declares that he can read "between the lines" of what Petri wrote to determine what she actually meant to say: "Religious people have an unhealthy attitude toward sex, and are against educating children about sex. That's wrong." How convenient for Graham to put those straw-man words in Petri's mouth to attack her for them and knock them down as "wrong."
Graham does concede that Petri "is right to suggest that it is wrong to assert that someone who’s lost their virginity is immediately and permanently like a cup of spit or a dirty used bicycle – especially for pure, faithful children who’ve become the victim of sexual abuse." But he leaves out the critical context that this is the message the Duggars themselves publicly spread -- and, again, the fact that among Josh Duggar's victims were his own sisters.
This, by the way, is the only mention of Duggar's victims -- odd for an official of an organization that can't mention Ted Kennedy without bringing up Chappaquiddick or Bill Clinton without bringing up his sexual scandals. If Graham is trying to tamp down discussion of the Duggar scandal, he's also tamping down the fact that there were underage victims of a sexual assault.
Graham then attacks "feminists and libertines" -- and he clearly believes Petri is among them through all of the words he put in her mouth -- who purportedly "have an unhealthy attitude toward sexual commitment, and are against educating children about preserving yourself for a committed relationship. Libertines insist virginity is impossible, unless you’re an indoctrinated robot...like they think of the Duggars."
By the time he attacks things Petri wrote a year ago that have nothing whatsoever to do with the Duggars but everything to do with smearing someone he doesn't agree with, it's clear how desperately Graham is to change the subject -- so much so that he's dragged his own family into it by professing that his wife "has never been a campsite or a used bicycle." Um, yay?
(Again, that metaphor was espoused by the Duggars, not Petri. Graham might want to keep that in mind.)
And then Graham goes to some really weird territory: "Post columnists could call me a loser or a nerd or something worse, but I know I have never exploited another human being like a blow-up doll or sought a quick thrill without an 'emotional stranglehold.'"
Remember: None of this has anything to do with what's happening with the Duggars -- and that's the way Graham wants it.
Graham rather deliberately misses the entire point of Petri's column, which he's careful not to mention:
When all sexuality is a sin, when even holding hands is off limits, there isn’t a clear line between permissible, healthy forms of exploration and acts that are impermissible to anyone, not just the particularly devout. This gospel of shame and purity has the potential to be incredibly harmful because it does away with important lines. (Studies not only suggest that abstinence-only approaches to sex education do nothing to decrease the incidence of sexual behaviors, but also that they can make them riskier and that they deprive kids of the vocabulary they need to discuss when bad things happen.)
Graham even bizarrely complains that Petri quoted someone who he claimed believed "Duggar committed a crime, and definitely not a sin." That raises a question: Does Graham believe Duggar committed a crime? If so, shouldn't he be upset that the incident was not handled as a crime, instead being treated as a "sin" the family decided could be remedied through their own devices and not through, say, professional counseling for both the perpetrator and his victims?
All of Graham's histrionics are in service of distracting theMRC's right-wing audience from the Duggar scandal and the fact that Petri dared to write about it -- nothing else. The fact that his post is only the second original reference to appear on any MRC website (after the CNS blog post) is ample proof of that. But Rush Limbaugh's latest utterance, by golly, is considered "news" at CNS.
It's hard to criticize the media when you know they're right. Graham knows that the media is generally doing a good job on the Duggar story, and he also knows that the MRC can't defend the Duggars too vociferously lest it appear to condone Josh Duggar's behavior. Hence, this effort at misdirection to drown out the Duggar scandal by putting words in the mouth of a columnist he dislikes so he can bash her for -- well, anything, really, to change the subject.
The MRC ought to be above such dishonest tactics. Apparently, it's not.