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Thursday, August 16, 2018
MRC's Double Standard on TV Hosts' Alleged Conflicts of Interest, Part 2
Topic: Media Research Center

In May, we noted how the Media Research Center obsesses over how NBC "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd's wife works as a Democratic strategist -- while it defended Greta Van Susteren when she frequently had Sarah Palin as a guest on her Fox News show without disclosing that her husband worked as an adviser to Palin.

The double standard continues: Tim Graham huffed in an Aug. 2 post about how "Mrs. Todd has donated $13,250 to federal candidates so far in this election cycle, all of them Democrats," denouncing this as an "ongoing conflict of interest in political coverage" for Todd.

Let's look at another relevant comparison. Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has long been a right-wing activist and was particularly active during the anti-Obama Tea Party years. That's a potential conflict of interest that much more serious than Todd's, since issues of justice are at stake instead of journalism (not that anyone at the MRC has uncovered an instance in which any candidate linked to Todd's wife got favorable treatment on TV from Todd).

Needless to say, the MRC rushed to defend the Thomases.

In a 2010 post, Matthew Balan touted how CNN's Jeffrey Toobin "defended Mrs. Thomas' grassroots conservative work , while Graham complained that "Media outlets from CNN to NPR to the Washington Post have picked up on the Los Angeles Times story suggesting there could be conflicts of interest for Virginia Thomas to start her group Liberty Central while she's married to Justice Clarence Thomas," an article Balan also reference.

When then-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann called for Thomas to resign from the Supreme Court of the conflict, Noel Sheppard sarcastically claimed, "isn't it marvelous how a cable news anchor shows such disrespect to the wife of a Supreme Court justice?" (Though it's about the same level that Graham shows for Todd's wife.) Sheppard then huffed that "despite Olbermann's blathering, the only potential conflict here would be if the Supreme Court heard a case involving a donor to Liberty Central. At that point, there are procedures in place to deal with it."

Later in 2010, Kyle Drennen groused that "questions about Thomas's political involvement" were being raised again following reports that Ginni Thomas called Anita Hill (whom the MRC can't stop hating a quarter-century on) demanding an apology, and that "implied that since Virginia Thomas is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas her conservative activism in a conflict of interest." And in 2011, Graham lamented that it was revealed that Clarence Thomas never reported his wife's income from right-wing activist groups on financial disclosure forms and that he had to go back many years and revised the forms, and lamented evenmore that then-Rep. Anthony Weiner insisted that Clarence Thomas "should recuse himself on the constitutionality of ObamaCare" if and when that came to the Supreme Court because of that.

Lest anyone accuse the MRC of not knowing what side its bread is buttered on, MRC chief Brent Bozell sat down for a 2012 interview with Ginni Thomas -- by this time working for the right-wing Daily Caller -- "to discuss a wide variety of issues ranging from media bias to the future of the conservative movement." The MRC version of it does not indicate whether discussions of conflicts of interest took place, but since this was a friendly interview with a friendly media outlet, we're guessing it didn't.

Lately, Ginni Thomas has been spreading fake news on social media. Needless to say, the MRC doesn't want to talk about that, let alone what that might mean for her husband.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:46 AM EDT

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