Topic: Media Research Center
As we've documented, the Media Research Center is acting much more like an arm of President Trump's re-election campaign than a fair and balanced provider of "media research" in its coverage of the Trump-Ukraine scandal, rushing to Trump's defense at every opportunity. It's continuing to follow the Trump script by playing the distraction card away from Trump's alleged offenses and attacking Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff for relatively minor missteps.
When Schiff read what he described as "the essence of what the president communicates" during his infamous phone call with the president of Ukraine seeking dirt on Joe Biden in apparent exchange for U.S. aid, Nicholas Fondacaro ranted in a post that screamed "FABRICATED" in all-caps in the headline:
As part of his opening remarks during the highly anticipated House Intelligence Committee hearing with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire Thursday, chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) read from a transcript of President Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine. The only problem was; he was making it up with the goal of dramatizing it into a mafia-style shakedown. And, while the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) were busy pushing the narrative of a White House cover-up, they ignored Schiff’s wild tale.
Luckily, Fox News Channel and The Story with Martha MacCallum gave Schiff’s stunt the air time and criticism it deserved.
Fondacaro failed to mention that Schiff described it as the "essence" of what Trump said, not a verbatim transcript, or that he said afterward his reading was "meant to be at least part in parody" -- let alone the fact that the released transcript itself is not verbatim but, rather, a rough version of what was said. He also didn't mention that Fox News, like the MRC, is an agent for Trump rather than a fair and balanced source.
Tim Graham touted how "Rush Limbaugh and conservative Twitter made a big deal on Thursday out of Rep. Adam Schiff with the president of Ukraine" and complained that NPR "never brought it up" in an interview with Schiff, whining: "Is it appropriate to make up stuff the president says? NPR doesn't seem to care." Like Fondacaro, Graham failed to tell his readers that Schiff didn't intend to do a verbatim reading.
Kristine Marsh huffed that Schiff "lied, fabricating quotations from President Trump and then claimed it was a 'parody' when called out for it," failing to note that Schiff described it beforehand as the "essence" of what was said, not a verbatim transcript.
Scott Whitlock declared that Shiff's reading was "fake," fabricated" and an attempt at "deception" -- again, ignoring the "essence" part -- and cheered Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow's attempt at MRC-esque deflection by attacking Schiff instead of answering questions he was asked during an interview.
Graham returned to whine that Schiff's "completely phony summary of Trump's phone call with the president of Ukraine" was a "false 'parody.'" Clay Waters groused that Schiff "grossly mischaracterized President Trump's phone call with the president of Ukraine, making up quid pro quos where none actually happened" (as if Trump had to explicitly verbalize the quid pro quo instead of merely implying it).
When Schiff claimed that he had no contact with the whistleblower on Trump's Ukraine phone call when it turned out his staff did have contact with him -- again, a minor concern given that the whistleblower's complaints about Trump have been largely corroborated -- the MRC was quick to go into a Trump-approved distraction rage.
Graham crowed that Schiff "Schiff was caught in a lie by The New York Times on Wednesday" when it reported the discrepancy -- never mind that the report disproves the MRC's narrative of the Times as a relentlessly liberal publication. He went on to whine that "PolitiFact has exactly ONE evaluation of Schiff over the last 12 years, from 2017. Naturally, it's a 'True.'"
Mark Finkelstein bashed one commentator for noting an inconvenient truth for conservatives: that "the substance of the whistleblower complaint is more important than the process by which it was made public."
Fondacaro declared that ABC and CBS evening newscasts "suppress[ed]" the "bombshell" news about Schiff, going on to heap praise on his favorite biased "news" outlet: "Meanwhile, on the Fox News Channel’s Special Report, anchor Bret Baier recognized the seriousness of the report and led the program with it." Fondacaro also declared that "This seems to be another win for The Federalist, who noted yesterday that there were serious discrepancies in the timeline of events being put forward by though itching for impeachment," even though 1) the Times first reported this story, not the Federalist, and 2) Fondacaro's linked example of a previous Federalist "win" was the conspiracy theory he promoted about changes in a whistleblower reporting form.
If Schiff did in fact do nothing wrong, then at the very least he should be asked why he felt the need to lie about it to a friendly audience and whether this damages the credibility of his investigation, because it is just one more piece of evidence than he is just another run-of-the-mill political hack, not the great defender of national security his media defenders portray him as.
Finally, Graham clucked that the Washington Post fact-checkers gave Schiff four Pinnochios for his claim, but was less happy it pointed out that "Trump's earned a gazillion Pinnochios."