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Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Is The MRC Trying to Destroy Weigel?
Topic: Media Research Center

There's a reason why the folks at the Media Research Center were happy to dance on the grave of David Weigel's career at the Washington Post: the MRC was working behind the scenes to help dig the grave.

Politico reports:

Starting last month, Dan Gainor, vice president for business and culture at the Media Research Center, the conservative media watchdog group, went on something of a crusade.

Angered by a joke that David Weigel made about Matt Drudge on his Twitter feed, Gainor contacted conservative groups asking them to stop cooperating with Weigel, who had recently taken his blog about the conservative movement to the Washington Post.

“We encouraged conservatives not to deal with him,” he said. “We contacted other conservative organizations and said, ‘This guy is no friend of the conservative movement. We recommend that you deny him access.’ Some did.”

When MRC asked the Heritage Foundation to disinvite Weigel from its weekly Tuesday blogger briefing, Rob Bluey, the briefing’s organizer, said the meeting was on the record and occasionally attended by liberal journalists, and declined to go along with the group’s request.

Most of the group’s other efforts also failed, but the MRC’s reservations about Weigel — voiced in an early letter to Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli, and given public airing on Post Ombudsman Andy Alexander’s piece on the affair on Friday — have played a major role in shaping the debate over whether the Post made the right move in accepting Weigel’s resignation in the wake of leaked emails in which he disparaged prominent conservative figures.

So the MRC was actively trying to interfere with Weigel's job. Working behind the scenes to blacklist someone it doesn't like goes far beyond the "media research" and criticism the MRC purports to do -- it's political activism. On top of that, as Eric Boehlert notes, it's an attempt to hide conservatives from media scrutiny by trying to keep them only in right-leaning media, where their views will never be challenged unless they commit the sin of not being conservative enough (which the MRC frequently does).

But did the MRC do more? Given the antipathy toward Weigel by Gainor and other MRC employees, one has to wonder if the MRC played a role in making sure Weigel's Jourolist emails were made public -- after all, they play right into the MRC's talking points against Weigel.

Gainor has not denied working to undermine Weigel; in a May 28 NewsBusters post, he repeats Politico's claim that he was on "something of a crusade" against Weigel, but he does not contradict it. So it begs the question of what else Gainor or other MRC employees did.

Perhaps it's time that Gainor and the MRC come clean about their behind-the-scenes tactics.

P.S. Gainor, like most at the MRC, have yet to provide any example (personal, off-the-record views aside) of how Weigel's reporting was inaccurate or even "biased."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:30 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 12:33 PM EDT

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