Topic: Media Research Center
As we've noted, the shooting of journalists at the Capital Gazette newspapers office in Maryland has put the Media Research Center in a defensive position by trying to draw a line between the MRC's -- and President Trump's -- occasionally vicious anti-media rhetoric and the idea that such rhetoric might inspire violence.
The MRC's Tim Graham did this in a June 30 post, complaining: "One nasty, if hardly unexpected result of the horrific mass shooting at the Annapolis Capital-Gazette newspaper is the attempt to smear it onto "anti-press sentiment." Liberals protest that they're not really accusing conservatives of shooting reporters, but they are, as usual, part of a 'climate' of hatred." Graham attacked Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan for making that argument. Graham huffed in response:
The biggest Fake News that people like Sullivan are pushing is that the press equals democracy, and criticism of the media elite is anti-democracy.
Sullivan would not agree that Black Lives Matters smears on the police can be "connected" to cop shootings. Or that just because James Hodgkinson (the failed softball-field mass murderer of Republicans) liked Rachel Maddow on his Facebook page Maddow can somehow be "connected" to shooting congressmen. So this is a reckless tactic at a highly emotional time.
Funny -- if Maddow can't be blamed for Hodgkinson's actions, why did Graham highlight that connection at the time? It's as if he was trying to create a link or something. Graham also doesn't list the anti-police "smears" made by Black Lives Matter that he thinks are linked to violence -- perhaps because Black Lives Matter's agenda isn't as radical as he thinks.
Amnd it's weird how Graham apparently thinks all journalists who don't reflexively spout right-wing, pro-Trump talking points are somehow "elite" and must be attacked and mocked at every opportunity.
Graham then tried the "I know you are, but what am I?" approach:
If contempt for the press is "dangerous," then why can't Sullivan and [CNN's Brian] Stelter see that the rabid fear and loathing of President Trump might be "dangerous"? Why can't they imagine being on the wrong end of "If you attack the elected president, then you attack democracy"?
This from the organization that defended Rush Limbaugh for declaring that he hoped President Obama failed at his job -- and whose president likened Obama to a "skinny ghetto crackhead." We don't recall the MRC ever being concerned that such overheated right-wing anti-Obama rhetoric having violent consequences.
Finally, Graham pushes the idea that the MRC's and Trump's anti-media rhetoric is somehow meaningful criticism:
CNN reporters have been fulminating against Trump's use of terms like "Fake News" and "enemy of the people" and Trump's "war on the press," suggesting they encourage violence. Stelter quoted Dan Shelley, director of the Radio Television Digital News Association: "Watch your backs, but don’t back down..."
No journalist in America should fear violent reprisals for reporting the news. But calling the media "fake" is not a threat. It's just as much a part of democracy or free-speech as the left-wing diatribes they uncork in the national media, and then call themselves "news" people.
Calling the media "fake" not for reporting something that's fake but for reporting something that doesn't conform to a certain political agenda demeans media criticism -- and exposes the MRC as nothing but a partisan shill. But then, Graham has always been a terrible media critic because he puts right-wing ideology before journalism.