Topic: Media Research Center
In early October, Washington Post writer Philip Bump documented how coverage of crime increased on Fox News, creating the perception of a rampant crime wave that didn't mesh with reality -- and, thus, helped to elevate crime as a issue with Fox News' conservarive viewers. Unsurprisingly, the Media Research Center bought into that narrative as well -- their goal is to help conservatives get elected, after all -- and they got huffy any time someone pointed out the flawed narrative and the manipulation behind it. An Oct. 31 post by Brad Wilmouth labored to spin away an uncomfortable crime-related truth, that crime rates are higher in red states than blue states:
On Tuesday, MSNBC hosts Nicolle Wallace and Chris Jansing both picked up on misleading statistics trying to link high crime levels to Republicans. Without informing viewers that even Republican-leaning states have crime-ridden cities run by Democrats, both anchors recited a list of the top 10 states by crime rate in which most of the states are run by Republicans statewide.
Speaking with gun control activist Fred Guttenberg on Deadline: White House, Wallace brought up the topic: "When you look at Republicans running on crime, the most deadly places to live in America -- the places where gun crime is the worst, where you have the greatest risk of dying, are all states run by Republicans. So I just don't understand how we communicate that in the two weeks left to go before the midterms."
Guttenberg accused Republicans of promoting a "big lie" on the crime issue, and blamed them for more shootings:
Over at HotAir.com, Buck Sexton recently responded to a similar argument against Republicans made by liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, with Sexton noting that the crime-ridden areas in Republican states tend to be run by Democrats, and citing a Washington Post op-ed by Marc Thiessen..
Wilmouth didn't disclose that both Sexton and Thiessen are right-wing commentators, which makes the argument more partisan than factual.
Kevin Tober used a Nov. 1 post to try and shout down CNN's Jake Tapper for telling the trth about crime:
On Tuesday's CNN Tonight host Jake Tapper gave an in-kind contribution to the Democrat Party [sic] by kicking off his low-rated program insisting that crime is not skyrocketing across the country. Despite all available reputable evidence crime is indeed up. Tapper can't admit that because that would upset his friends in the Democrat Party.
"The notion that violent crime is on the rise has left millions of Americans scared," Tapper moaned. Adding that the GOP is trying to "harness the power of that fear" for political gain.
Going into sanctimonious lecture mode, Tapper asked "is life in America actually more dangerous than it used to be?"
The question was rhetorical of course since he then claimed that "after years of decline, national rates of violent crime did rise during the COVID-19 pandemic."
He ended his fact-free monologue by lecturing Americans that their personal experiences aren't based on reality. "Your personal experiences might not be reflected in data. If you don't feel safe, if you or someone you care about has been accosted or assaulted, that's your experience. Fear is primal. It's a crucial emotion."
Tapper is basically saying: Who do you believe? Me or your neighbors who informed you that your house was broken into when you were at work?
Of course, Tapper is wrong. Crime rates continue to surge even according to the flawed crime report from the FBI that Tapper quoted from.
The question, of course, is not whether crime has increased; it's whether that increase matches the hype Fox News and the MRC have been spouting.
Clay Waters got mad at the New York Times in a Nov. 4 post for pointing out the Fox News-GOP hype on crime with ... COVID whataboutism:
The front page of Friday’s New York Times admitted voters were worried about crime, which may bode well for Republicans in Tuesday’s elections – but the reporters also did their best to chip away at that argument in “Fear of Crime Looms Large for Voters, to Republicans’ Advantage.”
After anecdotes from three crime-concerned voters from across the country, reporters Julie Bosman, Jack Healy, and Campbell Robertson consistently worked to deflate the Republican arguments, as if the American people were suffering false consciousness and just imagining a crime wave around them.
The report even suggested crime wasn’t really affecting most people, just those in certain cities, or their “friends and neighbors”:
Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was also found guilty of baselessly scaring voters: “Ms. Lake often accuses Democratic-run cities like Phoenix or Tucson of failing to support the police and of coddling criminals. But her attacks are less about data than about stoking voters’ feelings of unease”.
The real irony, though? It's that this came from the paper that has been trying to scare readers with COVID hysteria for almost three years.
Nicholas Fondacaro went on a tired in a Nov. 5 post when NBC's Lester Holt pointed out the difference between GOP hype and reality:
With Election Day just four days away, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester “Fairness Is Overrated” Holt was desperate to keep Democrats afloat. So desperate that his last option on Friday was to tell Americans not to trust their lying eyes and ears and that the nationwide crime wave didn’t actually exist. He openly scoffed at Republican campaign messages and suggested fears of crime were not “fueled” by “reality” but rather “by videos,” as if they weren’t real. And he leans on a “civil rights attorney” he failed to disclose was a liberal activist.
As is Holt’s way, he opened the segment with one of his holier-than-thou lectures. “As candidates fine-tune their closing messages ahead of Tuesday's vote, an issue finding traction for many campaigns is voter worries about crime. But as we found, the state of crime in America is not always what it appears to be,” he began.
At the top of the video report he filed, Holt lamented that “fear is on the ballot. Crime now the centerpiece of campaigns across the country.” He then played a soundbite of New York Congressman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin campaigning to crack down on crime. But Holt openly scoffed, saying, “[Fear] fueled, some argue, not by reality but by videos of rampant lawlessness … and some unsettling headlines.”>
Is Holt saying the viral videos showing swarms of people looting stores, people getting pushed onto subway tracks, carjackings, and drive-bys are all fake? Does he think they’re staged? Zeldin was nearly assassinated at a campaign event and his family was almost shot in their home. He knows first-hand that crime is a problem in New York.
Fondacaro made no effort to prove Holt wrong. Instead, he lashed out at an interviewee who said "Any candidate who tells you that bail reform is causing crime is lying to you," trying to smear her as "a far-left-wing group that advocates for destructive bail reform policies" without proving any of that to be true either. Then again, name-calling is what passes for "media research" at the MRC these days.
The Post's Bump recently pointed out how references to crime on Fox News dropped substantially after the midterms -- further proving that it was only a narrative. The MRC hasn't said a thing about that.