Topic: Media Research Center
On Oct. 30, the Media Research Center's Curtis Houck wrote an unusally straightforward post about how "NBC News finally terminated the contract of political analyst Mark Halperin five days after allegations surfaced thanks to CNN’s Oliver Darcy that Halperin had been alleged to have engaged in disturbing sexual misconduct while serving as ABC News political director."
Curiously, this was the first post about the accusations against Halperin posted at NewsBusters, the MRC's main content site (another MRC site, MRCTV, did note the Halperin story when it first broke). You'd think that with Halperin's ties to the dreaded MSM in the form of his work with NBC and a previous position at ABC, the MRC would be much more eager to join the dogpile, instead of waiting five days. This is the type of thing that brings a lot of harrumphing from Brent Bozell.
The headline on Houck's post called the claims against Halperin "sickening" -- but they apparently weren't so sickening that he was moved to write about them when the story broke.
So why the low-key treatment of Halperin? Perhaps because he was a defender of Donald Trump when allegations of harassment and misogyny appeared about him prior to the 2016 presidential election, as well as of other conservative perpetrators. As the Washington Post reported:
Mark Halperin, co-managing editor of Bloomberg Politics at the time of the article's publication, said the allegations against Trump were not terribly serious.
“If that's the best they got on these issues and Donald Trump, Donald Trump should be celebrating that story,” Halperin said on MSNBC's “Morning Joe,” where he now appears regularly as a senior political analyst for NBC News. “There's some troubling things in the piece, but there's nothing illegal, there's nothing even kind of, like, beyond boorish or politically incorrect, which is built into the Donald Trump brand. So, if that's the best they have in this score, Donald Trump can celebrate this story, politically.”
At other times, Halperin has seemed to take a gentler tone toward prominent men accused of sexual harassment. In July 2016, he landed the first interview with Trump after Fox News cut ties with its longtime chairman, Roger Ailes.
“What do you think about what happened to your friend, Roger Ailes?” Halperin asked on his Showtime program, “The Circus.” Trump's response — “I think it's so sad; he's such a great guy” — was widely covered at the time, but Halperin's framing of the situation is also notable, in retrospect. He presented Ailes's fall as something that “happened to” him, as opposed to something Ailes brought on himself by mistreating women.
When Trump defended Bill O'Reilly against sexual harassment allegations in April, Halperin characterized the president's move as strategically unwise, without passing judgment on the substance of the claims against O'Reilly.
“Doing what he did yesterday, in commenting on Bill O'Reilly — to reporters, in the Oval Office, right before his statement on Syria — is not normal for a president,” Halperin said on “Morning Joe.” “It creates a huge distraction, gets tons of coverage. And yesterday should have been about projecting strength, as he did, on Syria. But it's pure Trump and classic Trump for him to then also be willing to address Bill O'Reilly. There's no reason for him to address it. None.”
Missing in Halperin's take was some acknowledgment that O'Reilly's alleged behavior is unacceptable — and that Trump, if he was going to speak up, ought to have said so.
There are other, non-sexual-harassment examples of Halperin serving as a defender of, and apologist for, Trump in the media. So it's no surprise that the MRC was in no hurry to throw him under the bad-guy bus.
Meanwhile, it was much more Johnny-on-the-spot about other recent sexual harassment accusations.
It quickly pounded on the claims against actor Kevin Spacey with a post just one day after accusations against him were first reported; Corinne Weaver revealed why by making sure to note that "Spacey is an outspoken lefty, consistently slamming the GOP and supporting Democratic candidates."
Similarly, Tim Graham swiftly and gleefully recounted how NPR senior vice president for news Michael Oreskes lost his job over harassment claims. Graham invoked an old obsession in the process, chortling that "This could be seen as a boomerang for NPR, which took so much pride in pushing the unsubstantiated sex-harassment charges of Anita Hill against black conservative Clarence Thomas in 1991 when it looked like he would be comfortably confirmed to the Supreme Court."
But shouldn't Graham be as disbelieving of Oreskes' accusers as he remains of Hill, given that they also apparently lack substantiation? He doesn't explain the double standard. Instead, he hypocritically trashed another Oreskes accuser for failing to speak out sooner:
Jill Abramson, a prominent Times reporter in the Hill-Thomas hearings who also wrote a book on the matter called Strange Justice, which has been a liberal soap-opera TV movie (twice), didn't act against Oreskes at the Times! Abramson might have been looking out for her own ambition, and she became Executive Editor. So much for feminist advocacy[.]
Graham further complained about New York Times coverage of the issue: "The front of the Business Day section was headlined 'Protecting the Disgraced,' with pictures of Bill O'Reilly, Mark Halperin, and Harvey Weinstein." But protecting the disgraced is exactly what the MRC is doing with its delayed coverage of Halperin and Graham and Bozell's far greater outrage that O'Reilly's harassment was divulged over the fact that it happened in the first place.