Topic: Media Research Center
In a Sept. 20 post, the Media Research Center's Nicholas Fondacaro complains that "Full Frontal" host Samantha Bee "lashed out at NBC" for giving airtime for Donald Trump for years: "She claimed that by letting him on the air, 'NBC tacitly condoned a race-baiting demagogue.' Bee slammed NBC for allowing Trump to appear on their comedy shows, and insisted it was, 'because ratings matter more than brown people.' 'Sure, he's making life palpably dangerous for Muslims and immigrants, but hey! He's good entertainment,' she continued."
If that argument sounds familiar, it should: The MRC was saying the exact same thing just a few months ago.
The MRC's Sam Dorman was similarly lashing out at NBC for letting Trump appear on its airwaves in a post from May:
Donald Trump’s rise as a presidential candidate has prompted many political observers to blame TV outlets for giving him historic amounts of free air time. While it’s true the media have overwhelmingly focused on Trump in their coverage during the current election cycle, there is another media phenomenon at play. NBC has spent more than a decade building his brand as a successful businessman of almost mythic proportion.
The network’s coverage of Trump was overwhelmingly and consistently positive. MRC Business found only 15 stories (out of 335) on Trump’s business failures, and 320 stories promoting him as a businessman, his businesses and his shows. The vast majority of stories were about the network’s show The Apprentice, which featured Trump.
During the period of 2004-2015, NBC had two partnerships with The Donald -- his hit reality TV show and Miss Universe, which also included Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. NBC News’s Today served as a de facto PR machine for The Apprentice and its star. Today anchors interviewed fired contestants, presented Trump as “the ultimate businessman,” and even “fired” NBC interns on a mock Apprentice called The Intern. Today also made Trump into a career savior after his “divine intervention,” as host Matt Lauer put it, allowed a scandal-plagued Miss USA to retain her crown.
NBC’s relationship with Trump was mutually beneficial, and fraught with ethical problems. Even when the network covered The Donald’s business shortcomings, NBC failed to disclose its business partnerships with him. NBC also outright advertised (complete with prices) his and his daughter Ivanka’s businesses, and engaged in activities that jeopardized its credibility as an impartial news organization. For example, NBC donated more than $500,000 to Trump’s foundation, and filmed episodes of Today from Trump venues.
The MRC gave this the full "special report" treatment, complete with an "executive summary" (which Dorman's post repeats) and a high-minded recommendation that NBC "disclose its previous contractual relationships with him and be transparent about its ethical processes and choices in covering him."
How does the MRC's bashing of NBC's buildup of Trump differ from Bee's critique of it? Nowhere that we can see -- other than a certain flip-flop that means it's now official MRC policy not to criticize anything directly related to Trump.