And The Award For Most Award Freakouts Goes To...
The Media Research Center gets triggered every time a journalist it despises wins an award for reporting on something in a way it also despised.
By Terry Krepel
For an organization that has its own weird history with awards, the Media Research Center sure has a lot to say about them.
In early July 2017, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens used his column to attack the idea of the MRC bestowing its annual William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence. Stephens declared that while neither Hannity nor the MRC were "particularly noteworthy," giving an award named after Buckley -- who had nourished a brand of conservatism that was "fundamentally literary -- to a conspiracy-monger like Hannity ushers in the "post-literate conservative world."
The month before, when Stephens ushered in his move to the Times from the Wall Street Journal a month before with a column questioning climate change, the MRC touted how Stephens made "liberal snowflakes" upset by it. But it stayed silent about Stephens' diss of the MRC's planned award. A NewsBusters post by Randy Hall praised MSNBC for adding Stephens as a commentator -- but he stayed silent about how Stephens bashed the MRC's award.
But a couple weeks after Stephens' column, CNN's Jake Tapper broke the news that the MRC has decided not to give the award to Hannity, reportedly after Buckley's son, author Christopher Buckley, "expressed great dismay" at the idea and contacted the MRC to express his disapproval. The MRC, meanwhile, was spinning it as a "scheduling conflict," and Hannity had a Twitter meltdown over the revelation, insisting that he was "unable to attend."
This was big news in the conservative world. But you won't read about it on any MRC-operated website.
No reference to the controversy was made at the MRC's three main content websites: NewsBusters, CNSNews.com or MRCTV. The main Twitter feed for the MRC, as well as the NewsBusters feed, also ignored it. The only statement that could be deemed official was a single tweet by MRC chief Brent Bozell, in which he advanced the questionable scheduling-conflict storyline: "MRC awarded Hannity the Buckley award. Hannity subsequently told us he couldn’t make it. We chose not to hand out the award this year."
In other words, the MRC got scooped on its own story and worked to keep the truth from its own readers. To this day, it has never explained the decision further.
Of course, the MRC has always rushed to bury any negative news about itself; its official silence about the revelations that Tim Graham ghost-wrote Bozell's syndicated columns and NewsBusters blogger Tom Blumer's use of white nationalist links in his posts are but two examples.
Let the award freakouts begin
Despite that history with awards, the MRC has no problem being vocal when journalists it doesn't like win awards. Let's review how it has handled those awards so far this year.
In March, Nicholas Fondacaro ranted:
You probably remember CNN’s town hall to promote gun control and gun grabbing in Parkland, Florida last year. It’s hard to forget such a disgraceful display of exploitation, naked partisanship, and vile hatred. Oh, and let’s not overlook the fact that host Jake Tapper was the ring leader enabling the circus.
Fondacaro spent fully half his post rehashing then-National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch's complaints about how she was treated at the town hall -- though it appears that her real complaint was the she ventured out of the right-wing media bubble to find out how real people feel about the horror of mass shootings and the NRA's role in blocking any and every effort to regulate guns.
Fondacaro concluded by indulging in a decades-old attack, huffing that "it’s fitting that the CNN and Tapper received an award bearing Cronkite’s name. Cronkite was a liberal shill masquerading as a straight newsman. This is CNN."
The next day, Kyle Drennen attacked NBC for the offense of having received "not one, but two" Cronkite awards "for its biased reporting on illegal immigration and climate change in the past year." He declared that one reporter was "nasty" for being among the first journalists who reported the story of how the children of immigrants and refugees at the Mexican border were being separated from their parents. That reporter, along with "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, who won for refusing to draw "fake equivalence" to right-wingers who deny climate change and its effects, are "violating fundamental journalistic principles of objectivity and fairness," Drennen declared, going on to sneer: "The collapsing credibility of the liberal media is obvious, but that doesn’t keep them from giving themselves awards for their blatant bias."
The mysterious Jay Maxson -- who gets triggered every time every time a sports figure talks about anything but sports (though he makes an exception for conservatives) -- was so mad that a local sportscaster got a big award that he (or she) scoffed at the idea he was being called a legend, portraying as merely a label:
Labeled a legendary Texas sportscaster, Dale Hansen of WFAA-TV in Dallas has all the right progressive credentials to win this year's Radio Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF) Lifetime Achievement Award. Hansen is lauded as a sportscaster who never stuck to sports, and now he joins Tom Brokaw, Christiane Amanpour, Charlie Rose, Bob Schieffer and others as winners of the award. During his acceptance speech Wednesday, Hansen refuted President Donald Trump's assertion that the press is the enemy of the people.
Maxson went on to complain that "While Hansen has rightfully stood up against racism, many of his other views are clearly from the position of a left-winger. For instance, Hansen supported the coming out of former football player Michael Sam and, as a veteran of the Navy, refused to characterize national anthem protests as disrespectful."
Maxson cited other awards Hansen has received, then tossed out the usual MRC sneer: "Left-tilting media organizations certainly love to honor their own."
In April, Tim Graham and Bozell devoted a column to dumping on the Pulitzer Prizes, invoking that patented sneer -- "The Pulitzer Prizes are just another way the anti-Trump media congratulate themselves as doing the Lord's work (if only they believed in Him)" -- and ranting of the judges that "all are squarely on the left. This is not debatable unless such a challenge comes complete with a laugh track."
The two complained that the New York Times won a Pulitzer for an investigation into Trump's dubious finances, offering this lame retort: "The president's finances especially a businessman-turned-president's finances are a classic topic for journalism. But did the Pulitzer poobahs honor media outlets for investigating the Obamas? The Clintons?" They offered no evidence that the finances of either the Clintons or Obamas needed investigating. Another Pulitzer awarded for exposing the hush money Trump paid to porn stars got turned into more whataboutism: "Digging into Trump paying to shut up alleged paramours apparently demonstrates you're a 'quality newspaper.' That's not true if it's a Clinton 'bimbo eruption.' Then it's 'trash for cash.'"
Also that month, Kristine Marsh caught a case of Acosta Derangement Syndrome that's wafting through the MRC headquarters, having a meltdown over the "obnoxious" Jim Acosta receiving an award for the "unprofessional behavior" of standing up to the journalism-hating occupants of the White House.
Marsh then accused Acosta of "bullying, over-inflated ego, and petty meltdowns," apparently unaware that those words can also be used to describe her and the MRC's nasty, petty war against Acosta for refusing to be a pro-Trump shill (like the MRC is).
Gabriel Hays was severely triggered in May by CNN's Don Lemon receiving an award from GLAAD:
Following the GLAAD Media L.A. awards show in March, the gay entertainment lobby hosted another evening in New York City to ensure that several other of the culture’s most putrid influencers wouldn’t go without their LGBTQ advocacy trophies.
Hays didn't even bother to examine the content of the Lemon segment -- he attacked Lemon simply for reporting on the story because persecuted anti-gay Christians is a key narrative that right-wingers -- and, thus, the MRC -- must perpetuate.
In a July 10 post, Randy Hall dumped on NBC's Lester Holt over an award:
Even though many individuals in the “mainstream media” get annoyed when they’re accused of producing “fake news” and are called “the enemy of the people” by President Trump, their fellow liberals have no problem showering them with praise and honors for their “caring, fact-based journalism.”
As ConWebWatch has documented, the MRC's tally of assigning ideology to debate questions is biased and meaningless because no methodology is shown as to how it is done.
This was followed five days later by a little hyperventilating by Kyle Drennen, under the not-biased-at-all headline "NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Getting Award for Lifetime of Bias":
On Monday, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced that longtime liberal NBC News journalist Andrea Mitchell would be receiving a lifetime achievement award during the News & Documentary Emmys in September.
Drennen then stated that "When Mitchell marked 35 years at the network in 2013, the Media Research Center compiled an extensive look back at some of her most partisan promotions of liberals and nastiest attacks on conservatives." It should go without saying that a few dozen short, out-of-context excerpts of reporting and commentary cherry-picked from a 35-year career is evidence of nothing beyond the MRC pushing its anti-media narrative.
This is how petty the MRC is -- that merely being given an award is just another excuse to unload its partisan, nonjournalistic attacks.