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Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Graham Tries to Divert From MRC Funder's Tawdry Divorce
Topic: Media Research Center

An Oct. 22 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham portrays the Washington Post as "a liberal, Clinton-loving newspaper" because it published an article on the tawdry divorce proceedings of "conservative philanthropist" Richard Mellon Scaife. Graham grudgingly admits that Scaife is a "backer of the MRC, truth be told." But he doesn't disclose how much support it gets from Scaife's foundations. In fact, as Media Transparency details, the MRC has received nearly $2 million from Scaife foundations between 1997 and 2005.

Graham also bashes the article's writer, David Segal, as "one of a pack of liberal media elitists who began his career at the 'neoliberal' magazine The Washington Monthly." Graham has attacked Segal numerous times, at one point falsely ascribing the views of people Segal quoted to Segal himself.

Graham complains that the Post article's "joy in Scaife’s misfortune was hardly hidden" and "began and ended with the gimmick that the divorce was so entertaining that you should literally pack a lunch and travel to Pittsburgh to watch it." But he really takes offense at the article's claim that the Scaife-funded American Spectator fishing expedition to "try to unearth prurient and embarrassing details about Bill Clinton's years as governor of Arkansas ... came up virtually empty-handed," responding:

Anyone who goes back and looks into what caused the impeachment of President Clinton begins with the Spectator's 1993 expose on "Troopergate" -- how Clinton used state troopers to acquire sexual conquests -- for that story spurred the sexual harassment lawsuit of Paula Jones. (She was portrayed by the Spectator as a willing bimbo simply named "Paula.") The Jones lawyers found Monica Lewinsky, the President lied about a sexual relationship with her, and the rest is Clinton scandal history, including Clinton admitting his sexual harassment of Jones with a nearly million-dollar financial settlement. That's hardly coming up "empty-handed."

In other words, the Scaife-funded probe found the kind of stuff Graham turns up his nose at when detailed about conservatives like Scaife. Indeed, Graham is careful not to repeat the tawdrier aspects of Scaife's divorce, which include, as Segal wrote, "a dog-snatching, an assault, a night in jail and that divorce court perennial, allegations of adultery."

And by the way, the troopers tended to back off their claims when placed under oath and had other credibility problems.

Also, by claiming that "[m]ost of the details were personal," Graham glosses over the fact that Segal details the money Scaife doles out to various conservative causes. (A sidebar details Scaife's favorite recipients of his largesse, including a whopping $23 million to the Heritage foundation and nearly $18 million to the Free Congress Foundation.) The article also notes that Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review loses $20 a year and has cost Scaife $312 million to date. (One of the bones of contention is whether the Tribune-Review should be considered a business or a hobby, which will affect the size of alimony payments.)

We suspect that Graham and the rest of the NewsBusters crew would not be so sqeamish about such "personal" details if the person in question was, say, George Soros. Or Bill Clinton.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:56 AM EDT

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