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The Creeping WND-ization of the Media Research Center

With its embrace of far-right voices and rhetoric, the MRC is sounding a lot more like WorldNetDaily these days.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/27/2015

Brent Bozell

The Media Research Center has long tried to portray itself as the class of right-wing activism, pushing its conservative ideology while trying not to echo the more extreme and hateful elements of the right wing -- best demonstrated these days by WorldNetDaily.

But that appears to be changing. The MRC is increasingly making use of more extreme WND-style rhetoric and even publishing writers better known for their WND work.

Conspiracy theories

NewsBusters blogger P.J. Gladnick has turned into quite the conspiracy-monger -- something the MRC has generally avoided until now.

In a March 30 post, Gladnick suggests there's more to Harry Reid's injury than has been reported, and that the media is somehow covering it up:

It has been three months since Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's exercise equipment accident story and he remains blind in his injured eye. So when will Reid sue the exercise equipment company or even mention the brand name? So far nothing solid on this from Reid and the mainstream media continues to remain on incurious mode.

This was particularly noticebable last week when Reid announced that he won't be seeking re-relection. Speculation again heated up on talk radio and in the blogosphere about this accident but from the MSM.....the sounds of silence. Among those taking note of the strange circumstances of Reid's accident were Rush Limbaugh and John Hinderaker of Powerline who wrote two articles on this subject.

Gladnick avoided mentioning the gist of Hinderaker's conspiracy theory -- that Reid was beaten up by mobsters -- but he wants an "MSM reporter" to delve into it.

Of course, Gladnick and Hinderaker ignore the fact that there's absolutely no evidence to back up the conspiracy theory, as Bloomberg's David Weigel detailed, quoting the top political reporter in Nevada, Jon Ralston, who would presumably know a thing or two about Reid and has, in fact, inquired about the nature of Reid's injury:

"Here's what I was able to piece together from people who should know," says Jon Ralston, a Nevada reporter who has covered Reid for years. "Reid is a fitness nut. He had just moved into his new Vegas house, and didn't have a place to do his band routine. So he attached it to something in his bathroom, which was a very dumb thing to do, it turns out. The whole mobster thing is just insane. Not just because there is no evidence, but it makes no sense."

Weigel notes that people like Gladnick and Limbaugh find the conspiracy theory believable "because they assume the media might prefer to cover a ridiculous story than to expose the corruption they're sure Harry Reid is guilty of. The problem: They haven't done as much work to prove that as reporters did to verify what actually happened to Reid—or as much work as reporters have done, over the years, to vet Reid's finances and associations."

In other words, Gladnick is engaging in what could be called Harry Reid Derangement Syndrome.

Ironically, Gladnick actually beat WND to the Reid conspiracy. A full six days after Gladnick's post, WND's Garth Kant belatedly got around to doing his own version of the conspiracy theory in an April 8 article, promoting speculative and unverified claims that Reid's own brother is responsible for the beatdown, which in the process violated the confidentiality of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Kant suggested that the Capitol Police's declining to comment on the incident is some kind of cover-up, proclaiming that "Skeptics have begun to openly doubt the explanation" Reid gave for his injuries. Kant is simply rewriting the work of others and does no original reporting here. He couldn't be bothered to do something as basic as contact Reid himself.

(Since Kant's article, however, a man has come forward admitting he made up the story about Reid's brother to see how far the claim would go within the conservative media without being investigated.)

Gladnick followed up his Reid conspiracy with a April 5 post latching onto some old-school conspiracy theories about President Obama:

Does anybody know what Barack Obama was doing during his college years? We know that he was the president of the Harvard Law Review but do we even know what articles, if any, he wrote for it? Beyond that his college years are almost completely blank as to his grades or activitivies to the extent that his time at Columbia University has been completely erased from memory. No professor nor student from that time even remembers him attending classes at Columbia. Compare that big MSM yawn to the recent mainstream media frenzy which included a 2223 word front page Washington Post story devoted to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's college career which ended before graduation. And now we have something of an MSM Crime Scene Investigation carried out by Politifact Wisconsin about Scott Walker's claim that he recently purchased a sweater at Kohl's department store for only a dollar.

Of course, it's well documented that Obama attended Columbia, and that Columbia considers him a graduate -- after all, he couldn't have gotten into Harvard Law School if he hadn't graduated from Columbia.

But as with many conspiracy theorists, such evidence isn't good enough. In a Twitter exchange ConWebWatch had with Gladnick, he demanded information about "Classes? Grades? Profs?" When ConWebWatch asked Gladnick if he was a birther -- since, after all, believing the conspiracy theory that Obama didn't actually attend Columbia is not that far from believing he wasn't born in the U.S., a cherished conspiracy theory at WND -- he freaked out and refused to answer the question (while also refusing to deny that he was) and started hurled personal insults.

NewsBusters and the MRC used to consider themselves above such conspiracy-mongering. Not anymore, apparently.

Yoga freakout

Usually, it's fringe outlets like WND who spend way too much time freaking out about yoga being some sort of secret sinister religious practice. Apparently, the Media Research Center has decided it wants in on some of that action.

Matthew Balan had to go pretty far afield to get outraged in a March 28 item -- specifically, to a article in the obscure publication Quartz, "an online magazine from the parent company of The Atlantic," that turned a spotlight on "yogaphobic" Christians. Balan complained that the article's author -- a professor at "Indiana University-Perdue [sic] University Indianapolis" -- used a "left-leaning/pro-yoga spin," as if yoga somehow turns people liberal.

After highlighting that the article noted criticism of yoga by Catholic officials, Balan sneered, "In other words, how care the Catholic Church point out how non-Christian religious practice can be dangerous for the spiritual health of believers!"

Balan concluded by asking whether the article's author really thinks "Christians are going to end up persecuting Hindus because of supposed 'yogaphobia.'" The greater risk, arguably, is more uninformed articles like Balan's.

After all, why should WND have all the uninformed rants?

Extreme voices, some plucked from WND

Under editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey, the MRC's "news" division has effectively abandoned any pretense to act like a fair and balanced news operation, preferring to serve as another cog in the MRC's right-wing messaging machine. That means an expansion of right-wing opinions -- some of which it shares with WND.

While both CNS and WND have long carried the syndicated column of David Limbaugh, it's now running more columnists that have been long associated with WND, such as Star Parker and Jesse Lee Peterson. As we've documented, Peterson is a raging Obama-hater who has issues with women; not the historically typical CNS columnist.

On top of that, CNS is injecting more extremist right-wing religious voices into its website. One favorite of CNS managing editor Michael Chapman is Franklin Graham. Of the 69 total articles Chapman wrote for CNS in the first three months of 2015, 25 of them -- more than one-third -- were dedicated to uncritically forwarding the anti-gay, anti-Muslim and anti-Obama views of Graham.

Graham is not the only extremist voice Chapman has promoted; he's also pushed the incendiary views of Rafael Cruz, an evangelist who's the father of 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

Anti-gay rants

While both WND and the MRC have anti-gay agendas, WND's has typically been the more extreme, populated by homophobes such as Scott Lively and Matt Barber.

But it seems the MRC has decided it needed to catch up. In addition to Tim Graham's increasingly frequent transgender freakouts, and the increased gay-related output at CNS seemingly calculated for homophobic readers to spew their hate in comment sections, another recent addition to the CNS columnist lineup who's better known for his work at WND is Matt Barber. Just as WND has, CNS has published Barber's anti-gay screeds and false smears, apparently following in WND's footsteps in not bothering to fact-check his work.

NewsBusters is publishing anti-gay screeds as well. An April 4 post by Ryan Bomberger lashes out at Apple CEO Tim Cook for speaking out on gay rights, ranting that Cook's words make him "want to dump my Apple tech in the trash can where Tim Cook’s 'dangerous' religious freedom propaganda belongs." He then attacked those who liken the gay-rights struggle to civil rights:

Homosexuals never had to ride in the back of the bus. They never had to go to separate and unequal schools. They never had to take literacy tests or pay poll taxes to vote. They weren’t the targets of campaigns of terror by the Democrat-founded KKK. No one ever became black because of emotional, sexual, or psychological trauma. But there are those who have homosexual attractions as a result of such traumatic experiences.

Just ask those minors who’ve been denied counseling for unwanted same-sex attractions. California and New Jersey have made it illegal for children who’ve been sexually abused, and have unwanted same-sex attractions, to receive psychological counseling to “change or reduce unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity.” In those states, it is illegal for any licensed counselor to provide anything other than counseling that affirms homosexuality. Crazy.

What does Bomberger's anti-gay hate-bomb have to do with the MRC's professed mission of monitoring the medias? Nothing that we can see, other than complaining that the media didn't fact-check Cook -- just like the MRC doesn't fact-check Barber or Bomberger or any of its other opinion writers.

It seems that the MRC is giving up on monitoring the media and moving toward cranking out far-right propaganda that puts truth secondary to the message. If that's the goal, there are few better teachers than WND.

But if the MRC wants to be taken seriously as a legitimate conservative voice, perhaps it should try a different approach than emulating an organization that destroyed its credibility in its obsessive, hate-driven quest to destroy Obama by any means necessary, including peddling lies.

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