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Tuesday, July 14, 2020
MRC Acts As Trump Campaign Surrogates In Attacking Coverage of Trump's Tulsa Rally
Topic: Media Research Center

As a de facto operation of President Trump's re-election campaign, the Media Research Center does not tolerate any criticism of Trump in the media, even when it's for things that warrant criticism -- such as his decision to hold a campaign rally at an indoor arena in Tulsa, Okla., in the middle of a pandemic.

In a Jnue 18 post, Bill D'Agostino played whataboutism:

The news media are up in arms about President Trump’s planned rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, arguing it would be “ extraordinarily dangerous” to hold a large gathering in the midst of a pandemic. However, some of us are old enough to remember when the same outlets were celebrating the Black Lives Matter protests, arguing that they were necessary and worth the risk.

As others have noted, the Black Lives Matter protests are outdoors, where there's less risk of transmission that in the tightly packed indoor arena Trump was hoping for. Further, the BLM protests tend to be loosely organized at best and calling it off for health reasons could be difficult, whereas one person -- Trump -- had the say-so over whether the Tulsa rally took place.

The MRC, however, is so invested in that bogus talking point that Kristine Marsh spent a post whining about "the media’s obsessive harping about the rally being 'unsafe'" and Scott Whitlock declared that CBS anchor Tony Dokoupil was "smug" and "sanctimonious" about pointing out the difference: "Dokoupil replied with this nonsensical retort: 'Protests are outdoor events and they're not organized by something like a major political party or the President of the United States.' Well, as long as protests aren’t officially organized or supported by the President, COVID threats can be ignored?"

Ryan Foley tried to play gotcha with the MRC's least favorite CNN reporter in a June 20 post:

Delivering a report from the White House on Friday’s edition of The Situation Room, CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta scolded White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany for saying that she would not be wearing a mask at President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ironically, as Acosta criticized McEnany, who described the decision to wear a mask as a “personal choice,” the CNN reporter apparently made the same “personal choice,” as he was not wearing a mask.

Foley seems not to have noticed the difference between standing in front of a camera in Washington, D.C., and being a large political rally in a state where coronavirus cases are on the rise.

As for the rally itself, the MRC did its pro-Trump duty and managed to be outraged both by non-Fox channels not giving Trump a free campaign ad by failing to air the rally live in its entirety, and by the same channels pointing out that rally attendance was very low:

  • Scott Whitlock complained that an "unhinged" CNN "didn't plan to show the event. Instead, reporters spent two hours gloating over a lower crowd size and questioning Trump’s fitness to serve."
  • Nicholas Fondacaro whined that ABC was "mocking" how the rally wasn't full and "acted more as an opposition press that was gleefully pouncing on an embarrassing moment." (Isn't gleefully pouncing on embarrassing moments one big reason why the MRC exists?)
  • Whitlock cranked out a so-called "study" headlined: "During Live Coverage, CNN, MSNBC Censor 97 Percent of Trump’s Rally." Randy Hall, meanwhile, spun: "While many outlets in the 'mainstream media' slammed the Donald Trump rally held Saturday evening in Tulsa, Okla., as attracting fewer people than usual for President Trump’s events, the Fox News Channel set a record of 7.7 million viewers that night."
  • Duncan Schroeder groused that CNN "taunted President Trump for appearing “defeated” in a video of him after his rally," further mind-reading, "Clearly CNN wanted to make sure viewers associated Trump with "defeat" by repeatedly using the phrasing."

The MRC even found a way to blame China for the low rally attendance after it was revealed that users on TikTok, a social media short-video platform owned by a Chinese company, apparently organized to flood the Trump campaign with requests for tickets to the rally that they had no intention of attending. Fondacaro huffed:

It wasn’t long ago that CNN media reporter Brian Stelter was decrying social media platforms like Facebook who weren’t going full bore against President Trump. But during Sunday’s so-called “ Reliable Sources,” Stelter found a social media platform he loved: the China-owned video platform TikTok. According to Stelter, one TikTok user’s plan to “sabotage” or “prank” the Trump campaign by bombarding their website with fake requests to attend Saturday’s rally was something to marvel.

Alexander Hall similarly whined: "The news media have spent four years screaming about allegations that Russians hacked the 2016 election. Fast forward to 2020 and people are now using the Chinese app TikTok to sabotage President Donald Trump’s election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma."

Brad Wilmouth, meanwhile, took offense to comparisons of Trump's speech -- coming 99 years after a horrific race riot in Tulsa in which dozens of blacks were killed, as well as having to be rescheduled to avoid conflicting with Juneteenth observances -- with Ronald Reagan's speech in Mississippi during his 1980 campaign that allegedly was "an effort to appeal to Southern white racism." As he has before, Wilmouth defended Reagan's speech, insisting the county fair he spoke at (the same county were three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964) "was the best place to get exposure to voters from all over Mississippi at a time when the state was more politically competitive" and insisted that "Reagan's use of the term "states' rights" was not a phrase he only uttered near Southern whites when, in fact, he had a documented history of sometimes using the expression in other venues that would have reached plenty of non-Southerners as well."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:19 PM EDT

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