Topic: Media Research Center
In March, the Media Research Center hopped on the right-wing anti-immigrant bandwagon in order to exploit allegations that a 14-year-old girl at a Rockville, Md., high school was sexually assaulted by two students who were undocumented immigrants. The MRC's Brittany Hughes even scored a Fox News appearance where she "lambasted ABC, CBS, and NBC for their callous refusal to cover the alleged heinous rape of a female student in a Washington D.C. suburban high school by two men and one of which is here in the country illegally."
But earlier this month, prosecutors decided to drop rape charges against the two students, citing a lack of corroboration and numerous inconsistencies. Prosecutors are, however, pursuing child pornography charges against the two, apparently stemming from images the girl shared with them.
So, does the MRC feel a little sheepish about having promoted a story that was retracted? Not at all.
Curtis Houck was in full distraction mode, complaining that "After remaining silent on the alleged March rape of a teenage girl and illegal immigrant in a D.C. suburb, journalists from ABC and CBS demanded the White House on Friday apologize, 'retract' their comments on the case, and admit they 'unfairly jump[ed] to conclusions' now that prosecutors have dropped the rape charges against the two teenage boys." Houck further whined: "Again, this is coming from the same outlet that, like their fellow cohorts, sought to speculate on what happened with the Trayvon Martin, the Duke lacrosse team, and Michael Brown cases before the facts came to light."
Nicholas Fondacaro was further offended that CNN's Brian Stelter called out Fox News for not promoting the dismissal of charges as obsessively as their original filing:
Stelter never addressed the child pornography charges. He instead railed against [Fox News anchor Chris] Wallace for not talking about why it became an international news story. "The answer is his network. Too much of the coverage of this story omitted the conservative media's role in making it a national story,” he said with a clear disdain for conservative media. There was still no explanation about why the Rockville case shouldn’t be a national story.
"Bill O'Reilly there was outraged at the rest of the news media wasn't shouting like he was. But maybe NBC and ABC and CBS were right to be cautious," he said. But at the time of the original story, there was little evidence that the charges wouldn’t stick, yet the Big Three Network often fail to cover crimes by illegal immigrants.
Of course, the idea that "there was little evidence that the charges wouldn’t stick" applies to stories like the Duke lacrosse case as well -- remember, much of that came from the district attorney, Mike Nifong, until it was discovered he was behaving unethically, and the case was rooted in lacrosse team members hiring a stripper -- but the MRC would never admit that because it runs counter to the MRC's anti-media narrative. Indeed, just last year the MRC's Clay Waters ranted that the Duke lacrosse case was a "racially charged rape hoax" perpetuated by the media -- something the MRC would never call the Rockville case, even though the description arguably also applies.
Jorge Bonilla tried mightily to spin the dismissal of the charges, insisting that it was "due to a quirk in Maryland's rape statute." Huh? Since when is lack of solid evidence, as stated by the prosecutors, a legal "quirk"?
Bonilla went on to lament that in coverage of the case on Univision, "The actual facts of the case took a back seat to the optics of whether 'conservative media' and Trump now look bad for having pointed out the immigration status of these youths." He then cheered, in boldface, that the remaining child pornography charges are "a very serious charge that leads to certain deportation."
Brittany Hughes -- who got her shot on Fox News to exploit the now-retracted story -- has yet to retract her attack on "liberal" media outlets for not covering it to her satisfaction.