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Monday, December 19, 2011
Bozell Plays the Buckley Card
Topic: Media Research Center

Having seen its full-throated defense of Herman Cain go for naught -- turns out people didn't like the sexual scandals that were piling up against him, no matter how many times Dan Gainor insisted the victims were just after book deals -- the Media Research Center needed to find someone else to defend.

That lucky recipient turned out to be the surging Newt Gingrich. MRC chief Brent Bozell pounded out a NewsBusters post complaining that the TV networks failed to report that 13 years ago, Gingrich was "completely vindicated" in an IRS investigation of the funding practices of the group he headed at the time, GOPAC. But as we pointed out, this ignores that the House Ethics Committee looked at the same issue and decided to fine, or that the IRS revoked the tax exemption of an organization that worked with GOPAC because its funds were clearly being used for partisan purposes -- then, a few years later, under the Bush administration, reversed itself after lobbying from a GOPAC official.

Bozell then dedicated his Dec. 14 column to defending Gingrich against "the media elite and the Republican ruling class," declaring that Gingrich is "an older man, a wiser man, but a man that has a vision of both American history and the American future — and that's what scares the establishment."

Then, an outlet that is neither the media elite nor the Republican ruling class spoke out. National Review devoted an entire issue of its magazine to inveighing against Gingrich, citing his “impulsiveness, his grandiosity, his weakness for half-baked (and not especially conservative) ideas.”

That, obviously, could not stand as far as Bozell was concerned -- so he played the Buckley card. Bozell's father was married to the sister of William F. Buckley, founder and longtime editor of National Review. Bozell insisted that Buckley would have never said such mean things about Gingrich. From a Dec. 15 article by Michael Chapman at Bozell's

“National Review's endorsement of Romney & Huntsman proves only that this is no longer the magazine of William F. Buckley Jr.  My uncle would be appalled,” said Bozell in postings on Facebook and on Twitter.

In its Dec. 14 “The Editors" page, National Review published an editorial entitled “Winnowing the Field,” which flippantly dismissed many of the strong conservatives running in the race for the GOP presidential nomination and essentially gave its conservative imprimatur--for what it’s worth these days--to Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.


National Review was long the flagship of the conservative movement throughout the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. But when William F. Buckley Jr. retired, the magazine slowly lost its intellectual vigor and conservative acumen. Its latest political tack indicates that NR is philosophically lost at sea.

Bozell is engaging in the same sort of Heathering his MRC minions employ against conservative figures who deviate even slightly from right-wing doctrine. Since the offender this time is a publication instead of a person, Bozell decided to make it personal by invoking his family history, something he rarely does.

This also raises the question: Did Bozell violate the MRC's 501(c)3 tax-exempt status by using his "news" organization, CNS, to get his pro-Gingrich message out? It wasn't until the 11th paragraph of Chapman's press release-esque article that he got around to mentioning that Bozell headed the organization that published his article. Disguising Bozell's attack as a "news" article, albeit one that would not qualify as "news" at a real news organization, may not afford enough of a defense here.

Plus, there's the whole using-company-resources-for-personal-purposes thing going on here. Bozell's virulent reaction suggests that Gingrich is as close a friend as Cain was, which makes one wonder if Bozell is rushing to Gingrich's defense as a personal favor.

Lots of questions, not many answers forthcoming. All we really know is that Bozell is trying to play kingmaker, and we know who he wants to be king.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:29 AM EST

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