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Tuesday, May 16, 2023
MRC Slowly Rushes To Clarence Thomas' Defense
Topic: Media Research Center

Last year, the Media Research Center tried to defend Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, against questions about her aggressive efforts to overturn the 2020 election (some of which involved cases her husband ruled on) -- at least until the evidence of her activism became so voluminous that it stopped trying to defend her.

But when it was revealed by ProPublica that Clarence Thomas had accepted decades of luxury vacations from  right-wing billionaire Harlan Crow and refused to note them in his required financial disclosures, the MRC's first instinct was to lay low. Its first reaction to it was not a regular post but, rather, a column by Jeffrey Lord on April 8 -- two days after the story broke -- trying to play whataboutism by suggesting that scrutiny of Thomas was worse than the threats that Trump fanboys unleashed on Juan Merchan. the judge overseeing Donald Trump's criminal indictment, as well as the judge's family:

Now the liberal investigative journalists at ProPublica are painting Justice Thomas as unethical for going on trips with conservative billionaire Harlan Crow. This has been a big issue for liberal Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Conn.), and the federal judiciary is now requiring more disclosure.

Conservatives could point out that ProPublica's larger donors look like a roll call of leftist foundations, the same kind that love NPR (the original gangsters of anti-Thomas journalism). The list includes the Emerson Collective (run by Laurene Powell Jobs, who owns The Atlantic and has donated to Mother Jones), as well as the Joyce Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.

So as the Easter break begins, the land swarmed in chocolate, decorated eggs and bunnies, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on just what the liberal media itself has brought down on the heads of Trump judge Merchan.

Perhaps the most succinct way to summarize this newest imbroglio would be “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

Lord seems not to understand that buying a judge is not the same as funding journalism the facts of which even Lord didn't dispute), and critiizing a judge for accepting (and hiding) luxury vacations is not the same thing as threatening a judge and his family for doing his job.

|Tim Graham whined about the story in his April 10 podcast:

Meanwhile, the liberal journalists at ProPublica prepared a report that allowed the Left to cry for the impeachment of Justice Clarence Thomas. On the April 7 NBC Nightly News, anchorman Lester Holt tipped at the top: "Clarence Thomas speaking out, saying he did nothing wrong by accepting and not disclosing luxury trips over two decades paid for by a Republican megadonor." Legal reporter Laura Jarrett worked in all the adjectives -- lavish, swanky, luxury, superyacht. Maximum embarrassment was the goal.

It wasn't until April 11 -- five days after the ProPublica story appeared -- that kneejerk reflex finally kicked in and the MRC started defending Thomas in earnest. Clay Waters complained that the story was the "news hook" for a commentator to discuss "alleged conservative judicial activism" while ignoring "decades of actual liberal judicial activism." A post by Alex Christy later that day groused that Crow's penchant for collecting Nazi memorabilia got attention from Stephen Colbert, insisting it wasn't a big deal because it's old news and, besides, he has non-Nazi stuff too:

Reacting to Thomas’s defense that there is nothing corrupt or improper with his relationship with Crow because the two are friends, Colbert shot back “He's your close personal friend that you know everything about, so I guess it would be really embarrassing to learn that Harlan Crow has a collection of Adolf Hitler artifacts and Nazi memorabilia, including two paintings by Hitler.”

While collecting artifacts from your fallen enemies is not for everyone, it is not unheard of and news of Crow’s collection isn’t new. A 2013 report on the matter also revealed that Crow has artifacts from SS Athenia, the first British ship sunk by the Germans in World War II and that his mother was aboard at the time of its sinking. Crow also has plenty of artifacts that have nothing do with Nazis or communism.

Joseph Vazquez tried to insist that a guy who takes luxury vacations with a right-wing billionaire is somehow not "some kind of elitist," but that anyone worth more than Thomas who criticized him somehow is one:

Insufferable New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman apparently didn’t think his strategy through before he tried to caricature Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as some kind of elitist.

Krugman’s latest drivel celebrated the George Soros-funded ProPublica’s so-called “remarkable” attack piece against Thomas for his allegedly luxurious relationship with billionaire Harlan Crow. The ProPublica piece tried to artificially generate a phony scandal over things related to Thomas’ “lavish” trips on Crow’s yacht and private jet. Krugman used the report to pontificate about inequality: “It turns out that over the years Thomas, who has portrayed himself as a man of modest tastes who likes to hang out in Walmart parking lots, has taken many lavish — and previously undisclosed — vacations at Crow’s expense,” Krugman sneered. “[This] got me thinking about big yachts and what they tell us about the state of society.” “Inequality Ahoy,” Krugman bellowed in his headline.

Krugman must have forgotten that he is a millionaire. In fact, he’s worth $5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth (CNW), which is $4 million more than Thomas who has an estimated net worth of $1 million. In addition, CNW estimated that between The Times, speaking engagement, media commentator and teaching salaries, Krugman “routinely earns $300,000 – $500,000 per year.” Thomas, by contrast, only earns an annual salary of $220,000 as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. The average U.S. annual salary, according to, is only $55,640. Hey Krugman, “Inequality Ahoy!”

But millionaire Krugman — suffering from an extreme lack of self-awareness — spewed nonsense at Thomas for daring to take yacht trips, and at Crow for buying one. “Indeed, yachts are a highly visible indicator of inequality, the concentration of income and wealth in the hands of the few,” he lectured. Krugman also seemed to forget that Thomas’ life story is literally a rags-to-riches tale.


The only person in denial here is Krugman, who enjoys a lucrative Marxist career bashing the bourgeoisies while he enjoys the benefits of being one himself. 

Vazquez seems a little jealous that Krugman is doing better than he is.

Christy returned to complain in an April 18 post that people were still talking about Crow's Nazi stash, this time during an interview "Daily Show" guest host Jordan Klepper did with frequent MRC target Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which also featured Christy trying to play whataboutism with AOC on ethics issues:

While AOC has her own disclosure problems to worry about, Klepper was not about to ask about those, “Can you empathize, though? Beyoncé came through here, wanted to take you on a sweet vacation? Wouldn’t you say yes and let her show you her Nazi memorabilia?”

Again ignoring her own sketchy gift-accepting history, AOC responded, “You got to tell someone about it! But hey—hey-- don't put Bey's name on that like that.”

Klepper continued to try insist Crow, whose mother was almost killed by Nazis, is a Nazi, “I'm not saying she has Na— I’m saying if she invested in Nazi memorabilia to show that she hates Nazi memorabilia. She’d want to show it off.”

Despite the fact that it has been the left that has desperately trying to make the Thomas-Crow-Nazi conspiracy theory a real thing and that she and Klepper proceeded to ramble on about Nazi linens, AOC replied, “This is the distraction of that whole issue.”

Jorge Bonilla also played the AOC whataboutism card in an April 19 post:

The nation’s Spanish-language media appear to have made some (D)istinctions as to which ethics stories they choose to cover. Allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were covered extensively, but an actual ethics scandal surrounding Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew nary a mention. 

Recall that a 2020 MRC Latino study found that allegations of sexual improprieties against then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh drew a staggering 38 times more coverage than did similar allegations against Joe Biden on Spanish-language media. We find ourselves similarly situated three years later.

That "actual ethics scandal" regarding AOC, by the way, involves whether or not a dress she wore to the Met Gala was considered a gift -- hardly on the same level as decades of luxury vacations lavished on Thomas by a right-wing billionaire.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:34 PM EDT

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