Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Tim Graham is a terrible media critic. The main tell is that whenever anyone criticizes the conservative media that he works in, he quickly descends into deflection and whataboutism rather than responding to the criticism itself.
Case in point: Graham's March 20 post on "After Truth," the HBO documentary produced by villainous (in the MRC's eyes, anyway) CNN host Brian Stelter that examines largely right-wing conspiracy theories propagated through conservative media:
Anyone who heard Brian Stelter was producing a documentary on "fake news" for HBO titled After Truthcan imagine what they would receive. Anyone watching it finds nothing in it that’s very surprising. Stelter’s employers (current and past) at CNN and The New York Times are the Verifiers of Fact, fighting against a shameless “right-wing” army of misinformation profiteers.
Large chunks of time are devoted to the most notorious “right-wingers,” toxic Alex Jones of InfoWars and the unscrupulous duo of Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, often battling with Oliver Darcy, Stelter's CNN colleague. They are far more interested in being notorious than getting it right. But if all they want is attention – isn’t HBO aiding them in seeking infamy?
I’m with Julio Rosas in noting what Team CNN/NYT didn’t want to discuss: “nothing about the media's role in putting out false narratives like with the Steele Dossier, the Covington Catholic kids, their terrible reporting with Kavanaugh's accusers, and propping up people like Michael Avenatti.” (Who pushed a Kavanaugh accuser, of course.)
The Covington counterpoint is obvious because it emerged from the same social-media swirl they're ranting against, only from the Left.
The Covington story was corrected within a day and is a non-issue everywhere but the MRC can't stop using it as a cudgel to push its agenda (not to mention the Covington kids' money-hungry lawyers suing everyone in sight for alleged defamation).
Note also that Graham, instead of responding to anything stated in the documentary, complained that he didn't follow his agenda. That's classic whataboutism.
Graham tried for whataboutism later in his post: "HBO might want to look in the mirror on spreading hateful conspiracy theories. Trump's going to declare martial law? Doesn't Bill Maher sound like Alex Jones distorting Jade Helm on that one?"
One: Maher is a talk-show host, not a journalist. Two: You really wanna go there on Jade Helm, Tim? Because your employer treated it as a real thing.
In May 2015, Ken Shepherd complained that MSNBC host Chris Matthews opened his "Hardball" show with "a 12-minute segment denouncing "The Politics of Paranoia," referring to some Republican elected officials from Texas who have voiced concerns about a U.S. military training exercise in the Southwestern United States codenamed Jade Helm." A few days later, Tom Johnson appeared to approve of a writer for the liberal journal The Nation stating that the Jade Helm conspiracy theory "validates the paranoia" of right-wingers and drives conservative vorter turnout, so it doesn't even matter if it's true. A couple days after that, Melissa Mullins referenced "Jade Helm 15 – a military training exercise taking place in Texas. There’s been a conspiracy theory, most notably by InfoWars’ Alex Jones, that Jade Helm 15 was actually the beginning stages of initiating martial law in the United States. The conspiracy theory started to spiral and raise suspicion when several politicians began voicing concern."
None of these writers bothered to tell readers there was nothing to the Jade Helm conspiracy theory (which we had pointed out the month before). The MRC tacitly let it stand without comment, apparently in the hope that anything was worth advancing if it hurt President Obama and liberals in general.
That's not the only tacit endorsement of right-wing conspiracy theories ther MRC has done. It passively promoted Obama birther conspiracies (at least until the birther conspiracies came to Brent Bozell's preferred 2016 presidential candidate, Ted Cruz), and effectively signed onto Seth Rich conspiracies by attacking advertisers who dropped their sponsorship of Sean Hannity's Fox News show because he pushed them.
No wonder Graham is so desperate to change the subject -- he and his employer are complicit in the things Stelter's film documents.