Dan Gainor, The MRC's Apparatchik
The Media Research Center's T. Boone Pickens Fellow is nothing if not a loyal spouter of right-wing talking points -- so loyal, in fact, he can keep a straight face while spouting off about how the Muppets are brainwashing your children.
By Terry Krepel
Not only is Dan Gainor the vice president for business and culture at the Media Research Center -- meaning he's in charge of both the MRC's Business & Media Institute and the Culture & Media Institute -- he's also the MRC's T. Boone Pickens Fellow, a position funded by the Texas oilman and MRC benefactor (whose money appears to have influenced the MRC's shilling for the oil industry).
That's a lot of hats for Gainor to be wearing. In addition, he's one of the MRC's go-to people for TV and radio appearances, typically in friendly venues like Fox News.
Gainor is nothing if not a loyal MRC soldier, and that means peddling whatever the corporate line is, no matter how silly or false. And Gainor does that a lot.
Gainor vs. the Muppets
Last November, Gainor's MRC subordinate Iris Somberg went on a tirade against the new Muppets movie, complaining that the movie's villain is an oilman named Tex Richman. Gainor ran with it a couple days later in an appearance on the now-canceled Fox Business show "Follow the Money," where he and host Eric Bolling commiserated about about how the Muppets are "brainwashing" your children. "The only thing green up on that screen should be Kermit the Frog," Gainor ranted, further complaining that movies don't show "what oil means for most people, which is fuel to light a hospital or heat your home or maybe fuel an ambulance to get to the hospital if you need that." That clip went viral, making Bolling and Gainor laughingstocks for obsessing over the Muppets' supposed left-wing agenda.
Then, Gainor followed it up with a return appearance on Bolling's show complaining about the "ridiculous and humorous overreaction ... all because we dared basically to reveal the man behind the curtain." Gainor further huffed that Media Matters, which first posted the Gainor-Bolling clip, is "one of these Soros-funded media outlets, so when they do something, the left picks up on it."
How much of a fiasco was this? Even WorldNetDaily thought it was stupid. A Dec. 8 WND article by Bob Unruh featured right-wing movie critic Ted Baehr running to the defense of the Muppets: "The problem is not that Tex is rich; the problem is that he's deceitful, arrogant, and evil. There is a difference between being a successful businessman in a free market and being morally bankrupt." Baehr added: "At the end of the day, any suggestion that this year's 'Muppets Movie,' pushes a liberal or communist agenda is just plain 'Waka Waka Waka.'"
Gainor vs. Soros
In May 2011, Gainor began penning article on Soros' alleged links to various media figures and organizations. But Gainor's attacks suffered from a selective reading of the facts.
In one installment, Gainor bashed ProPublica for taking money from Soros' Open Society Foundations, but he undermines his own attack by conceding that "ProPublica stories are thoroughly researched by top-notch staffers who used to work at some of the biggest news outlets in the nation." If the stories are well-researched (so much so that they win Pulitzers), what's the beef? Complaining that "the topics are almost laughably left-wing" doesn't exactly cut it. Plus, as Media Matters pointed out, the same six-degrees-of-separation logic Gainor uses to attack supposedly liberal journalists and organizations can also be used to tie Soros to Fox News. Gainor probably doesn't want to do that.
Gainor gave it another shot in a May 18 column, grumbling that "Since 2003, Soros has spent more than $48 million funding media properties, including the infrastructure of news -- journalism schools, investigative journalism and even industry organizations." Unmentioned by Gainor: That figure is dwarfed by what conservative moneybags spend to prop up their media properties.
For instance, the New York Post is a perennial money-loser, having lost $70 million in 2009 alone. Yet it remains in business because its losses are absorbed by its owner, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The Washington Times has never made money, receives an annual subsidy from Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church of at least $40 million, and according to the Columbia Journalism Review, Moon has spent approximately $2 billion to prop it up over its nearly 30 years of existence. And the Washington Examiner, owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, is a presumed money pit as well, given the unhealthy market for newspapers, its mostly-free distribution model, and the big bucks it is presumably paying the big-name conservatives Anschutz lured to write for it.
Soros' $48 million over eight years to multiple organizations is in league with what one right-wing billionaire spends to keep one conservative newspaper in business for one year. That pretty much demolishes Gainor's point.
Still, this is a rant, not real research (just like the rest of the MRC), so Gainor feels compelled to say things like this:
Imagine if conservative media punching bags David and Charles Koch had this many connections to journalists. Even if the Kochs could find journalists willing to support conservative media (doubtful), they would be skewered by the left.
Imagine if Gainor had disclosed that his employer has received funding from Koch-connected foundations.
Gainor also went on a tear about the Center for Public Integrity, which claims is "possibly even more left-wing" than the Huffington Post. But who was running CPI at the time Gainor wrote this? John Solomon, the former editor of, yes, Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times. That's hardly the kind of hire that would be made by an organization that is "possibly even more left-wing" than the Huffington Post. Further, as ConWebWatch detailed, CPI funded much of the reporting for the faulty multi-part series on Gore that WorldNetDaily published before the 2000 election that drew a defamation lawsuit from one of the series' subjects and, ultimately, a retraction and undisclosed out-of-court settlement.
Gainor followed up with a Dec. 15 article complaining that "In just 10 years, Soros has given more than $550 million to liberal organizations in the United States." That's ironic coming from a man whose title includes the name of a billionaire.
Gainor clearly wants his Soros-bashing to be taken seriously, but this kind of shoddy reporting pretty much ensures that it won't be outside of the right-wing echo chamber.
Gainor vs. Obama
Gainor ventured into some serious Obama-hating territory in a Nov. 4, 2010, column. In the midst of a post-election tirade about the "liberal media," he wrote:
So-called journalists went digging into [Christine] O’Donnell’s high school spelling but ignored what her opponent did in college. This was the identical strategy news outlets used in the 2008 presidential race where The New York Times savaged John McCain’s wife Cindy for her legal drug use and never did a similar investigation into Obama’s own confessed drug activity.
Perhaps that's because Obama's "confessed drug activity" took place as a teenager and there is no evidence it ever ventured into a full-blown addiction. Cindy McCain, meanwhile, was a fully grown adult when she ventured into what Gainor whitewashes as "legal drug use" -- in fact, it was an addiction to painkillers so severe that she was was caught stealing drugs from her nonprofit organization to feed her addiction. And the New York Times hardly "savaged" McCain over this; rather, the Times mentioning it in just two paragraphs of a 41-paragraph profile of her.
The last person to obsess over Obama's "confessed drug activity" was rabid Obama-hater Jerome Corsi, who laughably claimed that Obama "has yet to answer" questions about whether he stopped using drugs.
Gainor also railed against how election discourse has fallen "somewhere deep into the gutter where bloggers offer $100,000 for a non-existent Glenn Beck sex tape." Gainor didn't mention that this was universally criticized, and that even the NewsBusters link he provided notes that the solicitation has been deleted and the author apologized.
And needless to say, Gainor casts a blind eye to bad election behavior by conservatives, such as then-New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino threatening a reporter.
Gainor followed that up a month later with an entire column complaining about Obama's "prickly, juvenile behavior." What does this have to do with "media research"? We have no idea. It certainly has nothing to do with self-aware commentary.
Remember how CNSNews.com has been obsessed with every little word President Obama says or doesn't say? Gainor took that obsession to a whole new level, going on a word-counting tirade in an Aug. 5, 2011, column:
No matter what the news of the day has been, Obama's favorite topic has been himself. In his first 41 speeches back in 2009, Obama talked about himself nearly 1,200 times - 1,198 to be exact. Scarily enough, the condition seems to have gotten more acute.
Yes, Gainor counted -- or, more likely, made some poor MRC intern count -- every time the word "I" appeared in Obama's speeches.
On top of that, Gainor appears to be going birther: "But that's our president as he turns 50, or Hawaii 5-O, if documents are to be believed." Gainor seems to be suggesting that they can't. It looks like birther-obsessed WorldNetDaily may have found itself a new columnist.
Dan Gainor, attack dog
ConWebWatch has detailed how Gainor repeatedly disparaged women who made allegations of sexual harassment against former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. He baselessly smeared the accusers as gold-diggers who only wanted a "book deal," sneering at one point, "Free Five Guys lunch (DC area only w me) to person who can guess exact amount of book deal advance for Cain accuser."
Gainor did his best to smear Occupy Wall Street protesters in an Oct. 4 column:
It would be easy to dismiss the Occupy Wall Street protests as another disorganized and pungent liberal whinefest ... because that’s basically true. The demonstrations, taking place in New York and now other cities and other nations, have a classic lefty feel and scent. But there’s more to this, if you dig deep enough. These protests do reflect the genuine economic fears that many Americans feel.
Gainor dedicated a June 2010 column to "self-immolating Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel" over alleged "anti-conservative efforts," complaining that "D.C.’s in-crowd, both left and right, has closed ranks around him as one of their own" and are "letting their friendships cloud their judgment."
You'd think that with all this glee about Weigel losing his Washington Post job, Gainor would take a victory lap and proclaim to his readers how he, according to Politico, worked behind the scenes to interfere with Weigel's job by trying to convince conservatives not to speak to him. “We encouraged conservatives not to deal with him,” Gainor told Politico. “We contacted other conservative organizations and said, ‘This guy is no friend of the conservative movement. We recommend that you deny him access.’ Some did.”
But strangely, Gainor did not mention his own handiwork -- perhaps because it could lead to questions about what else he did to undermine Weigel, his depiction of Weigel as "self-immolating" notwithstanding.
Gainor is such an apparatchik that he advocates violence against his ideological opposites. Gainor tweeted in July 2010: "I'll give $100 to first Rep. who punches smary [sic] idiot Alan Grayson in nose. He's a caricature of a congressman." He later claimed it was a "humorous offer," though he'd "love to see the video."
Dan Gainor, thought police
In the MRC's long tradition of Heathering anyone who falls short in their mindless repetition of right-wing talking points, Gainor devoted a December 2010 column to bashing MSNBC's Joe Scarborough for committing the offense of criticizing Sarah Palin:
Each day Scarborough tries to skewer as much as he can of the right and still pretend to be conservative. Scarborough, a former Florida Republican congressman, has become a vocal voice for what he calls 'Switzerland' in the cable world - somehow a neutral outlet to both sides. He's delusional. Scarborough has more RINO (Republican In Name Only) in him than the National Zoo. (Conservatives should also recall during the Cold War that the real Switzerland was no more friendly to the U.S. than Scarborough is to the right.)
Gainor, it seems, has decided that any criticism of Palin is uncivil and, therefore, forbidden.
Gainor hearts "pink slime"
The oil industry is not the only business for which Gainor will shill -- he's also perfectly happy doing PR work for the meatpacking industry. Which seems to explain Gainor's March 23 column defending "pink slime" -- a meat byproduct used as a filler in ground beef. His column is headlined "ABC Takes a Pro- E-Coli Position in Hit Job on Meat Industry." That's right -- according to Gainor, if you don't like "pink slime," you're a lover of deadly bacteria. Gainor serves up this benign description of the byproduct:
The meat, often called lean finely textured beef, is made up of beef that is just harder to get at, so the meat isn’t lost. It’s treated to get rid of the fat and included with the rest of the ground beef. The USDA declares it healthy, but it is less expensive. As an added bonus, it is treated tiny amounts of ammonium hydroxide to make it safer to eat. But network broadcasts and activist videos act as if this treatment is somehow bad.
You know what else contains ammonium hydroxide? Household cleaning products and furniture stain. Gainor doesn't mention that. Nor does he mention that, while the USDA considers the byproduct as generally safe, the scientist who coined the "pink slime" term points out that it apparently has never been specifically approved for use in ground beef.
Gainor went on to attack the media in general: "Major media have attacked a long list of industries in recent years coal, oil, guns, Wall Street, banks and more. Each time, they savage an industry, they do it for ratings, never caring what damage they do to a company, shareholders or employees who might soon be looking for work." This from an employee of an organization that manufactures controversies over museum art it doesn't like.
Gainor even complains that an ABC commentator has advised viewers to limit their intake of red meat to six ounces a week over two servings: "When’s the last time someone dealt you just six ounces of red meat in a week or in one sitting. The ABC food police think they know better than you what you should eat and how much." Dietary advice is "liberal bias" too?
Gainor followed this with a March 27 column complaining that ABC's "strategy" to attack "pink slime" has "put at least 600 jobs in jeopardy as the targeted company suspended operations in three separate plants."
"Few companies can survive an extensive media assault even when it’s on a safe and legal product we’ve all been eating for two decades," Gainor declared. He's still trying to make this stuff appealing:
The meat, often called lean finely textured beef, is made up of beef that is just harder to get at. It requires special processing so the meat isn’t lost. It’s treated to get rid of the fat and included with the rest of the ground beef. The USDA declares it healthy, but it is less expensive. As an added bonus, it is treated tiny amounts of ammonium hydroxide to make it safer to eat.
Most people wouldn't call the addition of something normally found in household cleaners and furniture stain an "added bonus." Instead, Gainor laments that "None of the broadcast stories mentioned that the company takes the extra step of adding ammonium hydroxide in an effort to prevent deadly E. coli bacteria."
Gainor followed this up with a March 28 appearance on Fox News, in which he complained that "pink slime" is an "activist-driven name" that's "wildly unfair." (There was no discussion of the fact that the product is pink and slimy, thus making "pink slime" merely a descriptive term.) In full shill mode, he described the company that makes the product as "award-winning," and is producing not only "leaner beef" but "safe beef."
Gainor headlined his April 2 column "ABC’s Avila Slimes Mother Whose Son Died from E Coli." And how did ABC reporter Jim Avila purportedly "slime" this woman? By telling the truth.
Gainor has been been attacking ABC for reporting on the use of "pink slime" -- beef scraps treated with ammonia -- used as filler in meat products, while trying to put the best possible face on the use of this stuff. What has Gainor's panties in a bunch this time is that Avila shifted his focus to Nancy Donley, founder of a group called STOP Foodborne Illness, whom Gainor depicts as "a mother whose 6-year-old son died from E coli." Donley's group came to the defense of BPI, the company that makes "pink slime."
What did Avila do that so offended Gainor? He pointed out that Donley's organization is funded in part by BPI. That's it. Yet, Gainor insisted on portraying Donley as the victim:
Donley said she is "very grateful" for the support from BPI and other companies.
Gainor apparently swallowed this explanation, despite his history of sliming certain organizations for taking money from Soros. What's the difference between that -- for which Gainor established no quid pro quo -- and Donley's group being funded by a company she's now defending? None, really, except the apparent quid pro quo is much more obvious with Donley's group. Gainor's double standard couldn't be more blatant.
Gainor is just upset that an inconvenient fact was reported, and he obviously doesn't care how stupid and hypocritical he looks in the process.
Getting it wrong
Dan Gainor wrote in a Sept. 15 BMI post:
The Washington Post might be a day late and $38 billion short, but it's being honest about Barack Obama's failed green jobs program. According to the Post, the "$38.6 billion loan guarantee program" has created just "3,545 new, permanent jobs" "after giving out almost half the allocated amount."
Only, not so much. As former White House economist Jared Bernstein detailed, the government didn't actually spend $38.6 billion on the loan guarantee program -- that assumes that all the loans will go bad, an extremely unlikely occurrence. The actual cost of bad loans that will result in the government covering for them will likely end up being under $5 billion, which Bernstein points out "gets you into a much more reasonable neighborhood re bang-for-buck." Oops.
The headline on Gainor's Oct. 7 NewsBusters post read, "Is Occupy Wall St. Getting Big Name Lefty Media Help?" He claimed that a woman "who worked for decades handling lefty PR at Fenton Communications" is helping protesters how to deal with the media, asserting that if this woman "aiding the so-called grassroots movement of Occupy Wall Street, then it’s just the latest example that the professional, hardcore left is taking over where the amateurs began." Funny, We don't recall Gainor engaging in such hand-wringing when the so-called grassroots movement of the tea party got big-name righty media help in the form of Fox News relentlessly promoting tea party events. The tea party also got righty media help in the form of the MRC.
So to Gainor, a single liberal PR rep's alleged work for a liberal cause is much more worthy of mention than wall-to-wall coverage on a major cable network of a conservative cause.
Gainor proudly announced in an Oct. 12 NewsBusters post: "The big news here is that two separate news unions, including the newspaper guild [sic], the recognized union for many print and online journalists, and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) are fully behind the radical message of Occupy Wall Street."
Only, not so much. The link he provided to prove this does not list the Newspaper Guild (which Gainor seems to have decided is not a proper union and, thus, insists on not capitalizing it) among the organizations who "stand in solidarity" with Occupy Wall Street. Rather, he claims: "The newspaper guild [sic] is part of the Communications Workers of America, listed prominently among 16 union supporters of Occupy Wall Street." That's not the same thing.
The other group Gainor is freaking out about, the Writers Guild of America, East, isn't really for journalists. As Gainor himself notes later in his post, the Writers Guild is a “labor union of thousands of professionals who are the primary creators of what is seen or heard on television and film in the U.S.,” and that includes “everything from big budget movies to independent films, late night comedy/variety shows to daytime serials, broadcast and radio news, web series, documentaries, and animation.”
In other words, the Writers Guild is largely stacked with people who write scripts for entertainment shows, not news reporters. It's not a "news union," as Gainor claimed.
Dan Gainor, hypocrite
In another September 2010 column headlined "Left Hates Science and Children," Gainor portrays questions about vaccines as a partisan issue, suggesting that only liberals such as Robert Kennedy Jr. and Jenny McCarthy are promoting the discredited theory that vaccines cause autism. (Gainor never actually proves that McCarthy is liberal; he lumps her in because she's a "Hollywood celeb" who is a "former Playboy model and TV personality.")
But Gainor ignored one of the biggest promoters of anti-vaccine scaremongering: the most-definitely-not-liberal WorldNetDaily. WND has repeatedly pushed the vaccine-autism link and touting the anti-vaccine American Physicians and Surgeons (also not a liberal group). WND has since promoted fringe figures fearmongering about the anti-HPV vaccine Gardasil.
If only Gainor was as concerned about what his fellow right-wingers are saying as he is about isolated liberals -- especially when they're saying the same exact thing.
A Jan. 5 column by Gainor denounced the campaign by "the vomitous Dan Savage" to criticize Rick Santorum by redefining "santorum" as a term associated with gay sex. Gainor ranted that this was "the lowest form of hate speech," "so vile you don’t want to read it or see it or hear it" and whined about "Savage’s monstrous activities."
Gainor made no mention, however, of the vile activities of his own boss, Brent Bozell, who just a couple of weeks earlier called President Obama a "skinny ghetto crackhead." Apparently, that wasn't "vile" to Gainor at all.