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Sunday, August 5, 2018
MRC Makes Excuses for Trump -- Then Denies That's What It's Doing
Topic: Media Research Center

Peter Sifre began a July 18 Media Research Center post by a surprising admission by a pro-Trump organization: "Let’s face it: Trump had a rough press conference in Helsinki on Monday." Sifre then immediately kicked into spin mode, insisting that "this does not excuse hyperbolic responses on the part of the media" and touting how "On Monday’s edition of Hannity, radio star Mark Levin appeared to offer some historical context."

Sifre should have mentioned the MRC's cross-promotional business relationship with Levin somewhere in his post by way of disclosing a relevant conflict of interest, but he didn't.

After noting allegations that Trump, among other things, committed treason in the Putin presser in Helsinki -- which presumably come from individual commentators, which Levin and Sifre are falsely conflating as being made by the entire "liberal media" -- Sfire touted how Levin "then proceeded to give a history lesson of past foreign policy blunders with the Soviet Union" and "later criticized the Obama Administration for its action, or lack thereof regarding Russian aggression and expansion."

As long as we're going to take the whataboutism route, it's worth noting the times that the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, provided a willing platform for hyperbolic "treason" attacks on President Obama and others during the Obama years:

  • It published a 2015 column by right-wing activist J. Matt Barber claimed Obama committed treason with a prisoner exchange to release captive U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, declaring that "Just a few short decades ago this anti-American Marxist would not only have been accused of treason, he would have been tried for it."
  • A 2016 blog post by CNS managing editor Michael W. Chapman cheered how Republican Rep. Trent Franks said that Obama's criticism of Israel for establishing settlements in disputed East Jerusalem will "send Barack Obama's name down the corridor of history as an overt traitor to the state of Israel." Franks didn't explain how someone can be a "traitor" to another country where that person has never resided.
  • A 2012 article uncritically promoted "A new petition posted on the 'We the People' page of the White House website" that "calls for trying Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) in federal court for treason" for proposing a law to stop the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • A 2010 column by Alan Caruba declared that the Obama ad,ministration's plan for a cap-and-trade carbon credit plan was "treason."
  • And just a few days ago, MRC senior fellow Allen West was upset that the media did "not ramble on about treason" regarding Obama's 2012 hot-mic comment to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more "flexibility" after the election -- ironic since a 2012 article quoted Rep. Darrell Issa effectively doing just that, stating that "I judge that in fact he’s going to sell out our national defense after the election."

Hyperbolic claims of treason are not limited to the Obama years, though: A February article by Chapman highlighted how a partisan memo by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes on the FBI's use of FISA warrants "showed 'clear and convincing evidence of treason' and that he is sending a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeking 'prosecution' against the FBI's James Comey and Andrew McCabe and the DOJ's Sally Yates and Rod Rosenstein."

At the end of all this, Sifre declares: "None of this is a reason to make excuses for Trump’s blunders during the press conference in Helsinki. However, Levin correctly pointed out the media’s double standard when it comes to insufficient response to Russian encroachment when a Democrat is in power."

In fact, whataboutism is very much a form of excuse-making. If Trump hadn't screwed up so badly in Helsinki, there would be no need for Levin to come to Fox News to spin things -- and for Sifre to write it up with such detail. The MRC is pro-Trump state media, after all, and it must do such things on behalf of its leader.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 PM EDT

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