The Heathering Never Stops
NewsBusters and the Media Research Center continue to attack conservatives who demonstrate even the slightest deviation from right-wing orthodoxy.
By Terry Krepel
If the high school girls of "Heathers" were conservative white males, they'd be writing for the Media Research Center dissing other conservatives for not being slavishly devoted enough to the right-wing agenda.
Well, it hasn't stopped -- NewsBusters is still Heathering conservatives for being insufficiently loyal to conservatism, racking up numerous victims in 2013 alone.
Tim Graham, chief of the Heathers
The Media Research Center's Tim Graham took Heathering to the next level in a May 24 NewsBusters post, actually calling former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele a "backstabber" for daring to criticize far-right Virginia lieutenant governor candidate Rev. E.W. Jackson:
How does Steele sound any different than Rev. Al Sharpton in this quote package? How does Steele reconcile the idea of electing more black Republicans and diversifying the party by dumping on this nominee? At least Jackson was elected.
Needless to say, Graham is careful not to mention the details of Jackson's extreme views, nor does he provide any evidence that Steele ever held those very same views. And lost in Graham's attack on Steele's "personal election record" is the fact that it was under Steele's leadership at the Republican National Committee that the GOP did so well in the 2010 midterm elections, while the Republicans under current RNC chairman Reince Priebus did horrible in the 2012 elections -- and, unlike Steele, kept his job.
In a June 14 NewsBusters post, Graham turned his attention to Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, who committed the offense of not slobbering over the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin:
Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson President George W. Bush’s top speechwriter from 2001 to 2006 was hired by the Post in 2007 because he would be “a different kind of conservative” and "an independent voice." Translation: he would slash other people on the right as dishonest, dishonorable, unpatriotic people. He has not attacked talk-show hosts on MSNBC or other leftists this way.
Not only did Graham solicit a response from Levin -- who predictably whined that "Gerson is a big-government quasi-Republican who twisted what I said" -- Graham then shifts into Heather overdrive:
Dear Mr. Gerson: you are certainly aware that liberals routinely crossed the line and referred to a Bush "regime" after the "tick-tight" 2000 election. It wasn't just a sixties-seventies thing. (Former Postie Daniel Froomkin loved the term "Bush regime" when he worked there.)
And Graham's outrage isn't? He's simply trying to boost his (and his employer's) conservative cred for bashing a fellow conservative who had the temerity to slip of out lockstep with the right-wing agenda. That's not media criticism -- you know, Graham's supposed job -- but being an ideological whip. And we're pretty sure the MRC's nonprofit status isn't supposed to be funding that sort of thing.
Defense by Heathering
Wannabe new-media guru Matthew Sheffield used an Aug. 15 NewsBusters post to mount a weird defense of conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin from former Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton's opinion that she should be fired "because she’s just plain bad." After citing some of Pexton's criticisms, Sheffield wrote:
There are several laugh-lines in the above paragraphs, one of which is Pexton's claim that Rubin "parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike." If Pexton had any actual working knowledge of the conservative blogosphere, he would know that many conservatives dislike Rubin because they believe she is not enough of a team player and does not endorse arguments they see as valid. But that doesn't matter. Liberals accuse her of being a parrot for far-right beliefs so it must be true.
That's right -- Sheffield's "defense" of Rubin is to Heather her by declaring she's "not enough of a team player."
Sheffield then turns his ire in the direction of a different Post blogger:
In truth, if any Post blogger deserves to be fired, it is Ezra Klein for his creation of the infamous Journo-list where politicians and liberal news reporters and opinioneers collaborated on how to shape the news to become more liberal. Nothing that Rubin has actually or allegedly done was ever as outrageous and abusive of reader trust than Journo-list. Klein created it before he worked for the Post but was never fired after it was exposed while he was in the paper's employ.
This from a man who, along with everyone else at the MRC, has been utterly silent about Groundswell, where conservative news reporters and opinioneers collaborated on how to shape the news to become more conservative. What a hypocrite.
Bozell goes a-Heathering
MRC chief Brent Bozell is running with the example set by his subordinates, applying the Heathering process to the entire Republican Party.
After President Obama won re-election last November, Bozell went on a very long temper tantrum, trying to intimidate Republicans into not straying from right-wing dogma by threatening to stop raising money for Republicans. That's a little awkward, given that the MRC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is not supposed to take partisan stands.
Bozell's Jan. 16 column is one big Heather-fest, starting off with his usual whining:
The Republican Party is desperately in need of some good advice. It needs to return to Ronald Reagan conservatism and give America a two-party system, not a tinny echo of Obama. But our liberal media keep desperately inviting fake Republicans to offer advice to the GOP.
Nobody tell Bozell that Reagan supported gun control!
After complaining about Michael Bloomberg -- who was a Republican only for the purpose of running for mayor of New York City and is currently an independent, thus making him a poor example -- Bozell turned his Heathering sights on Colin Powell:
Exhibit B: Colin Powell, who voted for Obama twice, but still insists he's a Reagan Republican. Indeed, since becoming a Republican, all he's done is criticize the GOP. NBC brought him on "Meet the Press" to declare, "If it's just going to represent the far right-wing of the political spectrum, I think the Party is in difficulty. I'm a moderate but I'm still a Republican."
In other words: Powell is not as rigidly dogmatic as Bozell is, therefore he's not a real Republican.
In March, Bozell went after Karl Rove's operation to promote electable Republicans over right-wing extremists, which prompted a tussle over a Rove spokesman who (accurately) called Bozell a "hater."
Bozell followed up by unleashing a fit of Heathering on Rove in the form of a letter signed by him and other right-wing activists to donors to Rove's American Crossroads super PAC, declaring that Rove isn't a real conservative:
Karl Rove and others are attempting to blame conservatives and the tea party. But a simple analysis shows this to be simply untrue. In 2012, the only Senate Republican winners were Jeff Flake, Deb Fischer, and Ted Cruzall of whom enjoyed significant tea party and conservative support. Meanwhile, more moderate candidates like Tommy Thompson, Heather Wilson, Rick Berg, and Denny Rehberg went down to defeat despite significant support from Crossroads.
Heathering hasn't exactly worked on the TV-talking-head level. Why does Bozell think it will work against an entire political party?
A year after Bozell pulled himself and his MRC out of conservative confab CPAC in a huff because Bozell wasn't granted a prominent enough speaking slot -- something MRC's own news organization and blog has yet to tell its readers --Bozell apparently got the speaking slot he demanded for the 2013 CPAC, and he used it to do more party-wide Heathering. Craig Bannister quoted from the speech in a March 16 CNSNews.com blog post:
"So what do we conservatives believe? What is a conservative?
It looks like the war between establishment Republicans and right-wing agitators like Bozell will be continuing for some time.
In a Feb. 26 NewsBusters post, Jeffrey Meyer hammers longtime Heathering target Joe Scarborough, declaring that the MSNBC host can't possibly be a real conservative because his adherence to right-wing talking points isn't sufficiently slavish.
Responding to Scarborough's complaint that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won't be invited to right-wing prom CPAC, Meyer huffed that "Scarborough completely ignored the fact that Christie has done his level best to alienate himself from conservatives."
Meyer saved his largest bit of Heathering for last:
If Scarborough were a true conservative, wouldn't he be doing more to bash President Obama's reckless spending and challenge the president to rise to the occasion to make the sequester work?
Since when is conservatism defined by refusal to stray from talking points? We don't know, but that appears to be what Meyer and his cohorts have decided.
Ken Shepherd huffed in a Sept. 16 NewsBusters post that former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum is a "faux conservative" who "proved his usefulness to the liberal media yet again this afternoon with his calls for more gun control in the wake of the deadly Washington Navy Yard shooting."
The next day, Shepherd followed in Sheffield's footsteps by attacking Rubin, claiming she's "supposed to be the paper's conservative opinion blogger, but who often takes to her blog to slam other conservatives." Shepherd didn't mention that Rubin was one of the most devoted supporters of Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election. Isn't that kind of slavish devotion what NewsBusters and the MRC want in a conservative? Or is it not slavish enough?
The Heathering double standard
Randy Hall feels Kevin Drum's pain in an Aug. 20 NewsBusters post:
As conservatives, we know what happens every time we criticize the policies of the liberal occupant of the White House: We're instantly branded as “racist” and “intolerant” while our views are quickly and summarily dismissed.
Somebody is being criticized for showing insufficient fealty to a political agenda? Where have we seen that before?
Oh, yeah -- at NewsBusters.
Gotta love how a major Heathering website is pointing and laughing at the Heathering of others.