Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center spent a lot of time complaining that February's House hearing inspired by Elon Musk's selectively released "Twitter files" had its preferred narrative of purported pre-Musk Twitter "censorship" of conservatives overshadowed by things like Donald Trump actually trying to use the power of the presidency to atttempt to censor by demanding that Twitter delete a mean tweet from Chrissy Teigen. There were even more examples of that. Tim Graham's Feb. 10 column on the hearing began with a bit of whataboutism:
In the Trump years, CNN oppressively promoted the conspiracy theory of Donald Trump’s “collusion” with the Russian government to get elected in 2016. So they were heartbroken when Robert Mueller’s investigation ended with a negative verdict: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The Mueller investigation's conclusion does not negate that there was plenty of evidence to warrant an investigation in the first place, and maybe Graham should be welcoming the investigation instead of using it to help Trump play victim. Graham then launched into his main grievance:
CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy climbed to the mountaintop of shamelessness in his so-called “Reliable Sources” newsletter on February 8 under the heading “The Collusion Delusion.” Who’s delusional now? House Republicans investigating the role of the Biden campaign and the “intelligence community” in Twitter’s suspension of the New York Post over a Hunter Biden story.
This is not a "news" letter.
Republicans are living in a reality distortion field,” Darcy began. He blustered there was “no real evidence” to support the claim that Twitter bowed to government bureaucrats when they suppressed the Hunter-laptop story and branded it as toxic misinformation. Just forget all the reporting that Twitter executives had weekly meetings with the FBI (which had the laptop in its possession) and engaged in a “tabletop exercise” about “hack-and-leak” operations with the Department of Homeland Security. That’s some thick smoke, if not fire.
Darcy continued: “Republicans were unrelenting in peddling it to the American public. At Wednesday's hearing they showed no regard for misinforming those who turn to them for accurate information, or the fact that they were smearing a private business and its former executives in the process.”
It’s not “smearing” to make the former Twitter chieftains testify. Liberals just don’t like other liberals being on the wrong end of the hardball questions.
As we've pointed out, if the New York Post -- a biased pro-Trump publication -- didn't want its laptop questioned (a story pitched to it by pro-Trump partisans like Rudy Giuliani), it should have immediately provided independent verification of the story that have overcome questions about partisan motivation.
Graham got really angry, though, when Darcy challenged the right-wing "censorship" victrimization narrative:
But probably the most hypocritical passage in this purple prose was about election denial: with this hearing, “Republicans are not so subtly feeding their election-denying base reason to believe that the 2020 election was effectively rigged against Donald Trump.”
Earth to Darcy: what did your network obsess about in the Trump years? We could easily counter with “CNN was not so subtly feeding its election-denying base reason to believe that the 2016 election was effectively rigged against Hillary Clinton.”
Darcy, who believes that Fox News should be de-platformed, then ranted that Fox News recounted “the nonsense coming out of the hearing as if it were a serious affair uncovering considerable wrongdoing. The facts — reality — simply do not matter.”
But it’s Darcy who is pushing the transparently counter-factual narrative that there is no such thing as Big Tech “intentionally and unjustly censoring conservative views,” when the evidence is ubiquitous. MRC Free Speech America’s CensorTrack.org database has reached the milestone of 5,000 verified incidents of conservatives being censored, suspended, and cancelled.
Of course, CensorTrack is not legitimate "media research" -- it's a partisan tool designed to advance a narrative, which means it's not really evidence of anything other than that the MRC can manufacture numbers in service of a narrative. Graham also seems to have forgotten that his employer devised its own conspiracy theory about how the 2020 election was "rigged" against Trump, or that Fox News promoted a false story in 2016 about how Hillary's indictment was imminent (which the MRC also breathlessly hyped without ever telling its readers the truth about it being false). Like the rest of the MRC, Graham is too invested in the narratives and conspiracy theories to ever admit there's actually nothing to them.
Similarly, a Feb. 12 post by Clay Waters complained that a different outlet, this time the New York Times, complained that the right-wing narrative was ignored and the one actual example of censorship that didn't fit the narrative was pointed out:
The New York Times is doing its best to minimize the controversy over Twitter’s squelching of conservative opinion during the Trump-COVID era, as shown by its weird coverage of a House Committee hearing on the social media platform’s biased behavior and pressure from government agencies to push the company to censor conservative speech.
In Thursday’s paper, Luke Broadwater and Kate Conger found “Five Takeaways From the House G.O.P. Hearing With Former Twitter Executives.” But they conveniently skipped over the juicy scene of Republican Rep. Nancy Mace questioning the medical expertise of Twitter executives for limiting the influence of Stanford medical professor Jay Bhattacharya for the sin of questioning COVID lockdowns, instead shaping an anecdote to portray Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez as a heroine.
From the start, it was clear the reporters were only going to talk about the bits that would interest their liberal audience: Less FBI interference, more Chrissy Teigen.
Their first “takeaway” from the hearing was a silly Twitter spat between President Trump and model Chrissy Teigen, headlined: “Mr. Trump tried to get the model Chrissy Teigen censored for insulting him.” Yet Twitter didn’t delete Teigen’s vulgar tweet, which makes the whole anecdote a bit pointless.
Waters wouldn't have called it "pointless" if a Democratic president tried to do the same thing. Instead, he grumbled that "The piece ended with sympathy for former Twitter executive Yoel Roth, who said he had to sell his home while suffering online threats" without mentioning the fact that Elon Musk maliciously incited those threats.