Topic: Media Research Center
Earlier this month, the New Yorker published an article by Jane Mayer about "the Fox News White House," detailing in great depth ties between the channel and Trump White House as well as numerous unflattering claims about Fox News' behavior, wuch as the fact it refused to report on the story that Trump paid off Stormy Daniels to keep silent about their affair before the 2016 election.
Since Fox News is the Media Research Center's favorite media outlet -- as well as the one on which its spokespeople make the vast majority of their talking-head TV appearances -- it had to figure out a way to knock down Mayer's story.
The efforts were rather tepid at first. A March 4 post by Alex Christy complained that MSNBC had Mayer on to talk about her story; at first he sneered, "Well, if critics, who never liked Fox well before Trump became President, say so, it must be true." Christy then whined that the article highlighted Bill Shine's move from the Fox News executive suite to White House commiunications director, adding that "Mayer didn't write an over 11,000 word exposé on George Stephanopoulos, or the fact that the President of CBS was the brother of Obama's deputy national security advisor, or ABC News President Ben Sherwood's sister being an Obama foreign policy staffer, or MSNBC's Al Sharpton having a close relationship with President Obama. Not to mention all of MSNBC's morning and evening opinion shows, Morning Joe included."
Christy also complained that Mayer highlighted how "Fox's hostility toward the Obama Administration grew increasingly extreme," then huffed that it was "left to Fox to play" the aversarial role. He then went the whataboutism route: "Fox has its share of opinion hosts who defend the President, sometimes in over-the-top ways, but what Mayer and Morning Joe missed was that they engage in similar rhetoric. Morning Joe has never passed an opportunity to call Trump a racist or compare the current state of Trump's America to Germany in 1933. If Fox's opinion hosts claim that everything good in the world is because of Trump and everything bad is due to his opponents, MSNBC and Morning Joe have the inverse opinion."
Yet Christy and the MRC have never criticized Fox News for acting the inverse of MSNBC.
Two days later, though, Kyle Drennen was denouncing Mayer's article as an "anti-Fox News hit piece" filled with "anonymous claims." Drennen went straight to whataboutism, responding to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell noting that Fox News killed the Daniels story by huffing: "NBC would certainly know about sitting on damaging accusations against a president. In 1999, the network delayed airing an interview with Bill Clinton rape accuser Juanita Broaddrick until after impeachment of the Democratic president had passed." Drennen then ranted:
The gall it takes for committed liberals like Mitchell and Mayer to sit and pass judgment on alleged bias at another media outlet is stunning. The two of them, and most of their press colleagues, have spent decades carrying water for the Democratic Party and slamming conservatives. Just a look back at the 2008 presidential race and the uniform media adulation for Barack Obamashows how blatantly journalists disregard the “line between politics and news” on a routine basis.
Jeffrey Lord complained in his March 9 column that Mayer's article had the "unsubtle subtext" that "somebody needs to silence Fox News," citing the Democrats' decision not to let Fox News host a Democratic presidential primary debate, which Lord declared was a "quite normal and free press activity."
MRC honchos Brent Bozell and Tim Graham got in on the deflection action as well. In their March 6 column, they admit that the Fox-Trump axis is "a fair subject for analysis" -- then make it clear they can't be bothered to do that analysis by descending into full-tilt whataboutism going all the way back to the 1930s: "Forget the journalists who covered up President Franklin D. Roosevelt's disability, or President John F. Kennedy's debauchery. Never mind the 'news' people who insisted that President Bill Clinton would never sexually harass or rape a woman."
(Of course, it's never been proven that Clinton raped anybody, and Broaddrick's story remains highly suspect because she spent a good 20 years denying any such thing ever happened.)
None of these MRC writers dispute anything in Mayer's article -- they simply complain it was written at all and have nothing but whataboutism to offer in response.