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Sunday, March 24, 2019
MRC Still Spinning Away Devastating Article On Fox News
Topic: Media Research Center

We've detailed how the Media Research Center has been trying to deflect from Jane Mayer's devastating New Yorker article about Fox News and its uncomfortably close ties to the Trump administration by whining that it was written in the first place (not by challenging any of the reporting) and by playing whataboutism by claiming Fox is not different than "liberal media" who allegedly courted Democratic presidents. That spin never really stopped.

Curtis Houck was upset (note the "Ugh" in his headline) that  the Democratic National Committee cited the story -- particularly its allegation that then-Fox News chief Roger Ailes fed questions to Trump prior to a candidate debate on the channel -- as a reason to deny Fox hosting any Democratic presidential candidate debate.Houck ranted that the story was a "rabidly anti-Fox hit job" and complained that CNN's Brian Stelter accurately opointed out that Fox News has regularly "dehumanized" Democrats. Houck complained that "chose not to offer a real defense for any of the straight-news anchors like Bret Baier, Bill Hemmer, Martha MacCallum, Chris Wallace, or even Shepherd Smith" -- despite the fact that the MRC regularly attacks Smith for not being a rifght-wing, pro-Trump shill -- then went into whataboutism mode: "Earth to Brian: Have you seen your own show and what you say about conservatives and Republicans who aren’t bleeding-heart anti-Trumpers or CNN supporters?"

Tim Graham followed by highlighting a Politico piece critical of the DNC's decision, headlined "If You're Afraid of Shep Smith, You Probably Shouldn't Be President." But Graham showed how much he disregards the "news" side of Fox News by including in his item an unflattering photo of Smith primping before he goes on camera. Graham then went into whataboutism mode:

It's entirely understandable that politicians and political parties would want to protect their brands from a hostile journalistic interrogation. It's their right. That's why GOP voters have wanted to prevent partisan hacks like George Stephanopoulos or Brian Williams from moderating their debates. But liberals never seem to admit that Republicans have a tremendous competitive disadvantage here. They have two handfuls of hostile liberal networks that they cannot seriously avoid, while Democrats can easily avoid the outlying "media arm" of the GOP. 

If Graham had bothered to demonstrate how those other networks behave exactly like Fox News under a Democratic president, he might have a point.

Randy Hall then highlighted a column by former Fox News talking head Erick Erickson in deflection mode, insisting that people are critical of Fox beause their ratings are good and downplaying the channel's obvious bias.

The MRC then touted the channel's own danage-control actions (while not identifying them as such). Nicholas Fondacaro featured Fox host Tucker Carlson's "scathing takedown of CNN for justifying the Democratic National Committee’s ban on allowing Fox News to host a Democratic debate,"then joining conservative-leaning media critic Joe Concha in a fit of whataboutism on how "CNN wasn’t the most trustworthy when it came to holding debates" claiming that thisshowed "why [Carlson's] colleagues were the bigger people." Fondacaro highlighted how Carlson said "We defend speech, even when it's unpopular, even when the person speaking has attacked us personally" -- a claim that was to be disproven just a few days later when Carslon attacked Media Matters for uncovering Carlson's vile rants on a shock jock's radio show several years ago. (Ironically, Fondacaro cheered Carlson's "unloading" and declared Media Matters to be a "a radical left-wing political organization." Does that mean we can call the MRC a "radical right-wing political organization"?)

Ryan Foley wrote up more damage control in a form of an interview between two Fox News employee, Bret Baier and Howard Kurtz, in which they plugged the channel's news division (of which they are ostensibly a part) and complained that the New Yorker article "a 'fig leaf' that the Democratic National Committee used as an excuse to prevent Fox News from hosting a debate." Foley -- and, we presume, Baier and Kurtz, since it doesn't appear in either of the clips Foley includes in his post -- failed to mention that reports that Ailes leaked debate questions to Trump, which were a key reason why the DNC dropped Fox as a debate host.

Foley also approvingly quoted Baier claiming that other media outlets suffer from"Fox Derangement Syndrome" -- as if the MRC itself wasn't a major carrier and victim of CNN Derangement Syndrome.

Again, by the way, no MRC writer has ever disputed the accuracy of anything in the New Yorker article.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:54 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, March 24, 2019 9:11 PM EDT

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