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Tuesday, July 10, 2018
After Newspaper Shooting , MRC Plays Down Trump's Anti-Media Rhetoric, Fears Right-Wing Media Criticism Is Threatened
Topic: Media Research Center

The first reaction of the Media Research Center to the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper offices in Maryland was damage control -- for President Trump as well as for the MRC's brand of petty, mocking, politically motivated right-wing media criticism.

Curtis Houck whined that one CNN correspondent "blamed President Trump’s near-daily comments about the news media for the deranged gunman’s actions" (he didn't note that those "comments" involved trashing said media). He went on to huff:

Everyone should be careful with what they say in private and public, but most (or at least enough) people were raised to be responsible for their own actions. 2018 is certainly part of an era where the level of partisanship seems like it couldn’t possibly get any worse, so it would behoove all of us to take a few deep breathes. 

However, recklessly blaming the President for a deranged and sadistic gunman’s actions serves no one besides push a partisan agenda. And such behavior helps no one on a dire day such as this one.

Two days earlier, however, Houck's MRC colleague Nicholas Fondacaro championed Fox News' Tucker Carlson pre-emptively blaming Rep. Maxine Waters for any possible violence resulting from her urging people to publicly confront members of theTrump administration -- despite the fact that Waters did not advocate violence and none had actually occured. Fondacaro hypocritically lamented that "many reasonable people were rightfully fearful that we might be headed for a tragedy" as a result of Waters' comments and insisted it was "out of control hatred" to liken Trump to Richard Nixon.

Despite that hypocrisy, Kristine Marsh complained that "journalists and media outlets irresponsibly sent out provocative tweets directly or indirectly blaming the president for supposedly inspiring the deadly shooting, even as reports revealed the shooter had a personal dispute with the paper, in 2012," and Scott Whitlock groused that "we've seen this attempt at blame play out on multiple media outlets.

Another post by Houck feared that by highlighting Trump's vicious attacks on the media in connection with the Capital Gazette shooting, it would hurt media criticism -- specifically, the MRC's version of it, which tracks closely with Trump's views though with slightly less viciousness. He pretended to read the minds of a couple of people on CNN, insisting that when they referenced "the rise of threats against journalists" they really meant "criticism of the news media." Houck then tried to deflect scrutiny away from his employer with a bit of unusual-for-the-MRC praise of the media:

Journalism is a basic tenet of our representative republic and democracies throughout the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re free from criticism and offering sober, substantive appraisals of media in all its forms. And that’s what we try to do at NewsBusters.

Feel free to laugh at that self-assessment.

Does Houck think his war on Jim Acosta for not parroting the Trump White House line -- which involves derisively mocking him for being worried about his safety because he's not an MRC-approved toady or for even expecting to have his words taken in context -- is sober and substantive? Does he think that his boss, Brent Bozell, was offering a sober, substantive appraisal when he called President Obama a "skinny ghetto crackhead"? Is freaking out every time someone in the media fails to hate the LGBT community the way the MRC does sober and substantive?

Sober and substantive media criticism is appreciated -- but that's not how Houck, NewsBusters and the MRC make their living, and Houck embarrasses himself when he tries to pretend otherwise.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:51 PM EDT

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