Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center had a mission in covering tensions between Russia and Ukraine and role the U.S. played in trying to avert an invasion or other crisis: Blame Biden, no matter what. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the MRC was doing just that. Nicholas Fondacaro used a Feb. 11 item to revive an old anti-Biden narrative to use against him over Ukraine:
In an apparent attempt to not repeat the bad optics and moral travesty of failing to get Americans out of Afghanistan by an arbitrary/self-imposed deadline, President Biden has decided to simply not try to get Americans out of Ukraine at all if Russia invades. And almost as shocking, the liberal broadcast networks, who were actually tough on Biden’s abandonment a few months ago, didn’t share the same outrage at what’s essentially a morbid promise by the President.
At no point did any of the networks invoke the Afghanistan withdrawal disaster, nor did they air any concern or criticism of the decision to leave Americans in a war zone. They treated it as the Biden administration giving them fair warning and getting out is on them now.
Mark Finkelstein devoted a Feb. 15 post to bashing MSNBC's Jeremy Bash for the sin of saying nice things about how Biden was handling the Ukraine crisis. Then, on Feb. 20, Kevin Tober cheered a right-wing attack on Biden under the ridiculous headline "GOP Guest Wipes the Floor With CNN Libs Over Biden's Russian Weakness":
On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, during a panel discussion on the tensions between Russia and Ukraine CNN contributor and former Bush administration advisor Scott Jennings schooled host Dana Bash and her fellow leftist panelists on Russian sanctions.
At the beginning of the segment, Bash turned to Jennings and lectured him on the GOP’s stance on Russia. “you have a Republican Party which historically, largely, almost entirely has been about pushing back on Russian aggression” Bash observed before turning around and trashing the GOP. “And now you have some pretty loud voices in the GOP, Scott Jennings, from Fox News to Capitol Hill, questioning why the U.S. even cares about this, whether there's even an interest there?”
Jennings set the record straight “I would just point you to January when the Republican Party led by Ted Cruz in the Senate tried to put sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden and the Democrats led a filibuster, a Jim Crow filibuster, their words, not mine, against these sanctions.”
Neither Jennings nor Tober mentioned that forcing those sanctions in January -- Cruz's motivation for which was the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, not Russia's aggression toward Ukraine -- would have broken the U.S. away from working with Europe in acting against Putin and might have even provoked Putin into attacking Ukraine earlier.
A Feb. 21 post by Kyle Drennen complained that ABC was "lobbing softballs" at national security adviser Jake Sullivan "and even suggesting the U.S. should appease Vladimir Putin with 'concessions.'" Drennen didn't mention that his fellow right-wingers were demanding that Biden appease Putin by declaring that Ukraine would not be let into NATO or even by dissolving NATO altogether.
As threats of sanctions by the U.S. and European countries failed to convince Putin to back off and he invaded into Ukraine, the MRC's narrative shifted to portraying Biden as a failure (not that Putin was a madman who would not have been deterred no matter what Biden did, including the NATO appeasement the MRC's fellow right-wingers wanted). A Feb. 22 post by Curtis Houck, for example, complained that "major broadcast network newscasts largely chose Tuesday to absolve President Biden and his team for Putin feeling emboldened to take another step in what he views as reclaiming the old Russian empire." The MRC's attacks continued:
- Andrea Mitchell Can’t Handle It When Told Biden Has ‘Failed’ on Ukraine
- Tapper Calls Out Biden’s Russia Sanctions as Weak, Less Than Deterrent
- ABC Hypes Biden's 'Tough New Sanctions', Ignores GOP Criticism
- Networks Erase Biden’s Reckless Okay of a ‘Minor Incursion’ By Russia
- CNN Admits Biden's Sanctions 'Not Enough' to Stop Putin's Invasion
- NEW NewsBusters Podcast: Pro-Biden Media Rally Around the Ukraine Failure
And when commentators pointed out that Donald Trump's actions and policies toward Russia may have played a role in Putin feeling emboldened to invade Ukraine, the MRC lashed out. Alex Christy complained that "Morning Joe" on MSNBC "bizarrely tried to point a finger of blame at former President Trump instead. Hosts and pundits claimed the only reason Vladimir Putin didn’t further dismember the eastern European nation during Trump's presidency was because the Republican already gave Putin everything he wanted. " Christy sneered in response:
If Putin didn’t feel threatened by Trump and if Trump gave him everything he wanted, then what was stopping him from recognizing the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine or possibly conducting a full scale invasion?
Still, if Ukraine is defenseless, she declared that it's Trump’s fault: “...why didn't Putin do this during the Trump Administration? Because he thought Trump was weakening Ukraine, especially on these grounds. So this, the problem with Ukraine being unfortified goes back several years and—and-- much of the fault lies in the Trump Administration.”
Like Jordan’s explanation, Appleabaum’s theory makes no sense. Trump did more in terms of military support for Ukraine than the Obama Administration did as the latter refused to provide lethal aid. If Ukraine was so defenseless because of him, why wait until he was no longer president?
Christy didn't mention that Trump tried to blackmail Ukraine by threatening to withhold some of those weapons unless it came up with dirt on Joe Biden.
Houck devoted a Feb. 24 post to grumblling that some critics "took the farcical route by suggesting the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was to blame." Houck never offered a coherent response to the idea, instead mocking it as a conspiracy theory and "galaxy brain opinions." When Alex Vindman -- the officer whose military career was destroyed by Trump for telling the truth about what Trump tried to do to Ukraine -- argued that Republicans have "blood on their hands" over the invasion because of how Trump emboldened Putin, Houck simply sneered in response: "Maybe making such an ardent liberal partisan the poster child for civil and military service in 2019 and 2020 wasn’t the best idea."
It's clear that Houck still can't see that clinging to Trump after five years of his lies and inciting an insurrection isn't the best idea either.