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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
More Labeling Complaints: MRC Now Whining That Those Fighting McCarthy As Speaker Are 'Right Wing'
Topic: Media Research Center

On the heels of complaining that the media was accurately describing the new Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu as "right-wing," the Media Research Center complained that Repubicans were being accurately identified the same way, particularly surrounding the election of Kevin McCarthy as House speaker. Clay Waters was already complaining about this well before the election, in a Dec. 14 post:

There was some good old-school New York Times labeling bias on Wednesday’s front page regarding California Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s fight to become House Speaker when the Republican Party takes over control of Congress next month: “McCarthy Fights to Clear Path to Speaker’s Seat.” The front-page text box set the hostile labeling tone: “Trump’s Lobbying Has Not Moved Critics on the Far Right.”

The far left of the Democratic Party, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Maxine Waters and the like, rarely if ever get this treatment. Reporters Catie Edmondson, Maggie Haberman, and Annie Karni teamed up on this festival of hostile ideological labeling of the GOP.


In all, the story contained two “hard-right” labels, three “right-wing” labels, three “far-right” labels, and two “ultraconservative” labels, to go with three plain old “right” labels, including the online headline.

Missing from Waters' post: any dispute over the accuracy of the labels. That makes it hard to take Waters' criticism seriously if all he complain about is that they are purportedly "hostile."

As the election drew closer, Curtis Houck groused in a Jan. 3 post:

Is Chris Licht interested in changing CNN or is he asleep at the wheel? Such was the case on Tuesday, during the coverage of the vote for speaker of the 118th Congress when it felt as though old puppetmaster Jeff Zucker were still in the control room, as so-called journalists smeared Republicans and wondered if voters actually want Congress to do anything about Hunter Biden’s life of corruption.

After State of the Union co-host Dana Bash lamented how Congress has been held hostage for “12, 15 years” by a “small band of extremes” in the GOP, her fellow co-host and The Lead host Jake Tapper tossed to outgoing Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) by similarly bemoaning the “ultra-right-wing, MAGA, by the way, in some analyses, the reason why there wasn't a red wave.”

As before, Houck didn't dispute the accuracy of the labeling; instead, he falsely portrayed CNN as applying it to all Republicans.

Kevin Tober similarly complained, and falsely conflated, the same day:

During Tuesday evening's broadcast of NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt and correspondent Garrett Haake took to the airwaves to gloat over the divisions in the House Republican conference between members who support Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House and members who oppose his bid. As of late Tuesday night, the House of Representatives adjourned for the day after going through three rounds of ballots to elect a Speaker. Each time McCarthy came up short of the 218 votes he needs to be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. Haake decided to label those opposed to McCarthy as "right-wing." Which is a common tactic in the leftist media to paint constitutional conservatives in a negative light. 

Holt kicked off the broadcast huffing: "chaos in the House! For the first time in 100 years, the election for Speaker going to multiple rounds after a group of hard-right Republicans denied Kevin McCarthy the votes he needed on the first ballot."


He then started his nasty labeling of conservatives by referring to them as "a small but stubborn faction of right-wing members voting against party leader Kevin McCarthy."

Ask yourself, has Haake or any member of the leftist media ever referred to the so-called "Squad" as "left-wing" or "leftists?" This kind of labeling only applies to Republicans.

Tober didn't explain why the labeling was inaccurate, let alone "nasty."

Tim Graham spent his Jan. 4 podcast ranting about these "ideological labels" being used by the non-right-wing media in the speakership fight. He too did not dispute the accuracy of those labels -- "it's not wrong to suggest you're a hardliner if you refuse to accept Kevin MacCarthy as speaker; it's not wrong to suggest maybe that you are maybe even you could say hard right" -- but played the usual MRC whataboutism.Graham then attacked Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib with ideological labels ("left-wing kook" and "radicals," respectively) without explanation of why he chose them vis-a-vis the "hard right" labels.

But that whataboutism undermines the arguments of Graham and the MRC. If you can't factually dispute the label, you have no basis to criticize them, and, thus, maybe you should shut up about it.

Ah, but the MRC believes it must always be on offense, no matter how little that offense is based in reality, so these baseless complaints continued. Clay Waters grumbled in a Jan. 5 post:

On the Tuesday edition of Amanpour & Co on PBS, host Christiane Amanpour interviewed former moderate Republican Rep. Will Hurd, who served three terms in office representing a Texas district but didn’t seek reelection in 2020.

Amanpour led off with the fight for Speaker of the House and with unsympathetic labeling of the “hard-line” opponents of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).


Amanpour invited Hurd to comment, and the former Republican turned fiercely against what he called “right-wing” bomb throwers, with no pushback from Amanpour, only eager agreement.

Tober returned to whine the same day:

After three days of a gridlocked House Republican conference unable to unite behind a candidate for speaker, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News continued their partisan labeling of the twenty Republicans who refuse to back the current frontrunner during their evening newscasts. Both CBS & NBC once again referred to the twenty conservatives as “hard-right.” 

On CBS Evening News, anchor Norah O’Donnell opened by gloating about how it “was another day of humiliating defeats for Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.” This is because, according to O’Donnell, “hard-right factions of the GOP are standing firm in voting against McCarthy as Speaker of the House on every ballot.”


Killion got her turn to gloat and smear conservatives with another label: “far-right.”

Rather than dispute the accuracy of the label, Tober repeated his earlier whining: "Why are CBS & NBC so reluctant to label Democrats as "far-left or "hard-left?" The answer is that they agree with the extreme elements of the Democrat Party." Perhaps someone who deliberately gets the name of he Democratic Party wrong has no moral standing on which to criticize how others use labels.

Waters clung to the baseless complaint in a Jan. 9 post:

The New York Times took advantage of the Republican kerfuffle around the days of voting it took to install House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, to wedge in as many scary “far-right” style labels and frantic messaging as it could throughout several days of intense coverage.

Carl Hulse and Emily Cochrane reported “At Heart of Speakership Battle Is Aim to Diminish Government’s Reach” for Thursday’s edition. The online headline: “What the Far-Right Republicans Want: To Remake Congress and the Government.”


It took three reporters to exhaustively document “How Far Right Are the 20 Republicans Who Voted Against McCarthy?” with a hostile labeling pattern throughout (one sees very few or no similar labels of left-wing U.S. politicians characterized as “hard-left lawmakers” or members of an “ultraliberal” faction).

Again, Waters failed to dispute the accuracy of the label, which undermines his compalint that it is "hostile." If the labels are accurate -- and the MRC refuses to prove otherwise -- how can they be "hostile" (aside from to the sensibilities of right-wing partisans like  Waters)?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:32 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2023 8:46 PM EST

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