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Saturday, September 12, 2015
How The MRC Isn't All In on Trump (Just Like Bozell Wants It)
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center feels the same way about Donald Trump as it does about birtherism: not an issue until somebody cites it/him to criticize conservatives.

We got more confirmation of the MRC's Trump non-agenda in an interview chief honcho Brent Bozell did with Rush Limbaugh for the Limbaugh Letter. The MRC posted only the first two pages of it, and it's pretty fluffy -- just as you'd expect Limbaugh to do for someone who started an "I Stand With Rush" website in an attempt to shield him from criticism over his three days of ugly misogyny against Sandra Fluke.

The MRC has posted only the first two pages of the interview, but it includes the telling passage that Bozell is a Ted Cruz supporter -- but, he insists, "not through the Media Research Center, or through my other organization, ForAmerica, but personally."

Well, that's not exactly true (even if he has to say it in order to avoid legal questions about the MRC's nonprofit tax status): the MRC has been pretty quick to run to Cruz's defense, as suggested by the 818 NewsBusters items that mention him as of this writing. Some are pretty picayune, such as the post accusing the New York Times of "flirt[ing] with birtherism" by merely quoting Cruz's father's defense of his eligibility to run for president. And it absolutely loves the fact that Cruz is following the MRC playbook by dismissing tough questions from the media as "liberal."

By contrast, the MRC has not been as interested in embracing Donald Trump's media critiques, even though he's using the same MRC playbook Cruz used to make them. As we've noted, the MRC stayed silent on Trump's dismissal of  questions during the August Republican presidential campaign debate as liberal gotcha questions -- likely because the questions came from Fox News anchors, whom Bozell had previously demanded be put in charge of running Republican presidential debates.

That hands-off attitude was expanded upon by Bozell in his interview with Limbaugh:

Rush: What was your analysis of the public reaction to that debate, aimed at Fox News? Not just Megyn Kelly, but the whole thing as it related to Trump?

Bozell: People love Fox News. People have so much hope in Fox News, and I think people felt really let down by what they saw.

Rush: Is that right?

Bozell: Absolutely. I was there. I will tell you that the mood inside that auditorium was apparently very different from the mood on television. If you were to have taken a poll of the people who were there, in no way did Donald Trump win that debate. You could hear the grumblings in the audience. People were asking why there were so few questions to Cruz, why there were so few questions to Carson, and then question after question after question to Trump. People got very tired of it, Rush.

So Bozell also disliked the way Fox News handled the debate as well, if only (publicly, anyway) for letting Trump divert attention from his beloved Cruz. But, again, none of this criticism made its way to the websites of the MRC. It's as if Bozell is afraid of criticizing Fox News lest he lose his weekly spot on "Hannity."

Similarly, when Trump denounced "gotcha" questions in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, the MRC didn't feel like echoing it. Why? Because Hewitt is a conservative the MRC loves. It cheered how Hewitt claimed how NPR is the "liberal version of my show" and his ridiculous claim that the right-wing-fueled controversy over Hillary Clinton's emails was itself an "indictment" of her (as opposed to, you know, an actual indictment).

The only mention of Trump's MRC-inspired attack on  Hewitt was a few days later it happened, in a Sept. 6 NewsBusters post by Melissa Mullins noting that "liberal journo" Geraldo Rivera had backed up Trump. Mullins didnt mention the fact that Hewitt is a conservative.

Later in the Limbaughinterview, Bozell touted how Fox News chief Roger Ailes is "a master of this medium" by latching on to Trump and even by making Trump a focus of the Fox debate, then threw in some wishful thinking by grumping, "I think Trump may have peaked."

It seems to us that if you're afraid to engage in media criticism for fear of angering one side or the other lest you lose access because of it, you're a terrible media critic. It's never been afraid to play right-wingGod to decree who is and is not a true conservative -- that's what Heathering is all about, after all -- and there's no reason it should stop now, especially when it knows that Trump is an opportunist and not a genuine conservative (to judge from the Twitter feeds of MRC employees we've read who aren't buying his schtick).

The MRC is in a perfect position -- one it created -- to weigh in on Trump's fights with conservative media. But it won't, apparenly choosing to hope that Trump simply goes away.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:45 PM EDT

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