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Fluffing -- And Protecting -- The Great One

Not only does the Media Research Center play stenographer for the pearls of wisdom that pour from the mouth of right-wing radio host Mark Levin, it hides his offensive remarks from its readers.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/14/2014

If there's a right-wing radio host the Media Research Center loves as much as Rush Limbaugh, it's Mark Levin.

MRC chief Brent Bozell slobbered all over Levin in a 2012 column, demanding to know why he wasn't on TV more: "Why doesn't Mark Levin deserve a turn on CBS's '60 Minutes' or NBC's 'Rock Center' or 'Nightline'? Why can't the conservative taxpayers be granted a forum for Levin or 'Charlie Rose' on PBS or on NPR's 'All Things Considered'? In short, why not a slice of Levin in all of the places where leftists like Paul Krugman and Tom Friedman are treated like The Greatest Minds of Our Time?"

L. Brent Bozell and Mark Levin hang out during Levin's visit to MRC headquarters in 2013. (Source: MRC Facebook page)

Levin has returned the favor, supplying a blurb to the MRC website: “Brent Bozell and the Media Research Center have been huge assets to the conservative movement over the last 25 years. The folks at the MRC fight the good fight every day, every week, every year, and I don’t know what we’d do without them.” Levin has also hung out at the MRC headquarters.

The MRC and Levin has moved that relationship to the next level -- the MRC is paying Levin to promote it and its projects on his radio show. According to the MRC's 2012 annual report:

Mark Levin took up the mantle of “Tell the Truth!” 2012 on his popular nationally syndicated radio show, urging his more than 8.5 million listeners to sign the “Tell the Truth!” 2012 petition. A long-time fan of the MRC, Mark brought passion to the campaign with a mix of pre-recorded and live commentaries on MRC’s efforts to expose and neutralize liberal media bias.

The MRC's 2013 annual report noted: "Nationally-syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin played a key role in the MRC’s Stop Censoring the News campaign. He promoted MRC’s brand through live and pre- recorded ads, reaching tens of millions of movement conservatives each week."

In an apparent quid pro quo, the MRC repeats Levin's pearls of wisdom on its websites. But in serving as Levin's stenographer, the MRC typically neglects to inform its readers of its business relationship with Levin.

Levin love notes started popping up in earnest on the MRC's "news" operation,, in November:

  • A Nov. 15 blog post by Craig Bannister touted an appearance by Sen. Ted Cruz on Levin's radio show.
  • A Nov. 18 article by James Beattie promoted an anti-Obama rant by Levin.
  • Beattie faithfully transcribed another Levin rant in a Nov. 19 post.

These were followed in the next couple weeks by a plethora of Levin-centric posts, most by Beattie: ran this image on its front page in November 2013 to promote an MRC bumper sticker giveaway.

At the same time these posts were appearing, CNS was prominently featuring an MRC-Levin promotion on its front page in which one could obtain a "Free Bumper Sticker!" The signup page includes quotes from Levin praising CNS: "The left-wing media in this country are so out-of-control. That’s why I read every day for news that I can trust."

Even after that promo fell off the CNS front page, Beattie continued to play dutiful stenographer for Levin through the rest of December:

In none of these posts is the MRC's business relationship with Levin even mentioned.

In February, the MRC launched a new "Tell the Truth!" campaign (which, if history is a reliable guide, will exempt itself and anyone seeking to tell the truth about conservatives from that demand) starting, yes, Mark Levin. It's promoted by the ad image shown at right -- which has appeared on the CNS front page alongside the above Levin articles -- and it linked to a page that declares at the top, "As Heard On Mark Levin."

On Feb. 28, cranked out three more articles dutifully regurgitating the words of Levin:

Needless to say, none of the three CNS articles mentioned that he's a paid spokesman for the MRC.

Meanwhile, NewsBusters started taking a ride on the MRC's Levin-fluffing train. Managing editor Ken Shepherd used a March 10 post to tout how Levin said that "NBC sportscaster Bob Costas is simply 'a damn fool' who 'has abused [his] role' on the network's airwaves to trash the constitutional right of 'we the people' to keep and bear arms," going on to provide a link to "the complete Levin audio archive." Like his CNS co-workers, Shepherd failed to disclose Levin's business relationship with the MRC.

MRC silent on Levin's offensive remarks

Having established its fealty toward Levin and its willingness to hide their business links from readers, the MRC began moving right into full protection mode for Levin.

An anonymous July 23 NewsBusters post (attributed only to "NB Staff" -- why the secrecy, guys?) touts how, in a Fox News appearance, "talk-radio star and author Mark Levin attacked Jon Stewart for trashing Israel -- and then mocking critics by insisting he should be allowed to have nuance. The post is essentially stenography: it simply transcribed Levin, who did not identify any specific statement that Stewart made supposedly "trashing Israel," and the posts adds no detail to substantiate Levin's attack.

This was joined by a July 23 article by Michael Chapman also transcribing Levin's attack on Stewart and also not providing any specific examples of Stewart's supposedly offensive remarks; Chapman vaguely states only that Stewart has made "acerbic jokes and comments concerning Hamas's ongoing missile attacks against Israel" and "has joked about the situation in Israel and Gaza."

Then, a July 25 CNS article by Susan Jones documented a lawsuit filed against the Environmental Protection Agency by Levin's legal foundation.

Not only do these MRC promotions for Levin fail to disclose the MRC's business relationship with Levin, they completely ignored an offensive attack by Levin on Stewart.

In a rant against Stewart on his radio show the week before those Levin-fluffing posts appeared, Levin bizarrely declared, "I don't trust Jews who change their names."

You know who else obsesses over Jewish entertainers who changed their names (and there have been a lot of them over the years, which means Levin also doesn't trust much of the mainstream of entertainment for, oh, the past century)? The neo-Nazis at Stormfront.

(Yes, we know Levin is Jewish, which makes his weird obsession with Stewart's name all the more disturbing.)

The MRC might want to take a break from its mutual back-scratching with Levin to explain to its readers why Levin and Stormfront share a hobby.

Levin followed that up a couple weeks later with a vicious rant at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its endorsement of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, in which he asserted, "You lie down with whores like this and you become one." That means he was effectively calling Landrieu a whore as well.

You'd think that the MRC would express some sort of offense about this. But it hasn't. Perhaps their business relationship has a clause in which the MRC is to ignore Levin's rants, no matter how offensive.

After all, this is the same organization that reacted to Rush Limbaugh's misogynistic tirade against Sandra Fluke by starting an "I Stand With Rush" fan page and calling Limbaugh's denigration of Fluke as a "slut" and "prostitute" merely a "regrettable blunder."

Perhaps Brent Bozell and the crew really do believe Landrieu is a whore. After all, they had no problem getting behind Limbaugh's claim that Fluke was a slut.

If the MRC didn't found Limbaugh's denigration of Fluke offensive, it certainly will look the other way on Levin's remarks. He's on the payroll, after all.

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