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Friday, December 27, 2019
MRC Ignores Context To Push Pro-Trump 'No Quid Pro Quo' Talking Point
Topic: Media Research Center

As we know, the Media Research Center is not really about its stated purpose of trying to "create a media culture in America where truth and liberty flourish" -- it's all about serving as an adjunct to the Trump presidency and re-election campaign (possibly violating its nonprofit tax status in the process). As a result, the MRC is in no small part pro-Trump and pro-Republican talking points masquerading as "media research."

A good example of this is a Dec. 2 post by Nicholas Fondacaro:

In a recent interview with TIME magazine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he never approached conversations with President Trump “from the position of a quid pro quo.” It was a declaration that poked a major hole in the left’s impeachment narrative, but the liberal broadcast networks would have none of it during their Monday evening newscasts. Two of them downplayed the comments and one just flat out refused to report them.

“Trump's strategy all along: deny he's done anything wrong and trash the process. Today, he argued the president of Ukraine backs him up,” scoffed ABC senior national correspondent Terry Moran on World News Tonight.


There was a similar song and dance on CBS Evening News with chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes. After another soundbite of Trump telling people to check out what Zelensky said, Cordes downplayed the quid pro quo balloon being popped:

Fondacaro pushed this same pro-Trump talking point in another post the same day:

Just as the liberal broadcast networks did Monday evening, CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta batted away an interview Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did with TIME magazine, in which he stated he did not approach his conversation with President Trump “from the position of a quid pro quo.” Despite that fact, Acosta treated the development as some kind of unimportant statement Trump was “seizing on.”

“The President will be spending the week meeting with NATO leaders here in London. But he’s also latching onto comments made this week by the leader of Ukraine saying, that those comments really exonerate him in this impeachment process. But that's not really the case,” Acosta scoffed as he began his report.

For Fondacaro to embrace this pro-Trump narrative, however, he must focus only on that statement and deny the importance of other things Zelensky said in the Time interview. Here's the full statement from which Fondacaro (and Trump) cherry-picked that line:

Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing. … I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.

It seems clear that Zelensky was not denying a quid pro quo was made; rather, he said that he would never have accepted one and was upset that Trump was "blocking" aid to Ukraine.

Fondacaro did note Zelensky's "you can’t go blocking anything for us" statement -- he simply dismissed the fact that it undermined the "quid pro quo" statement. In the first post, Fondacaro huffed that an ABC reporter "interrupted a soundbite of Trump explaining what Zelensky said to contradict the President" in bringing up the "blocking" statement and that a CBS reporter also bringing it up meant that she "downplayed the quid pro quo balloon being popped." In the latter post, Fondacaro noted that "Acosta read from Zelensky’s statement" including the "blocking" remark while failing to acknowledge its importance.

Fondacaro also complained that "the liberal media and left will downplay, deflect, and ignore Zelensky’s comments" -- even though he was ignoring and downplaying critical context showing that Zelensky was not saying what he and Trump wanted him to say.

Ignoring inconvenient facts to forward a partisan political narrative isn't "media research" -- it's the work of a political campaign. Which makes Fondacaro a political activist, not a "news analyst."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:28 PM EST

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