Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center played a lot of whataboutism in the wake of Fox News deciding to pay $787 million to Dominion rather than go to trial, and Tim Graham spent his April 19 podcast rehashing what his minions put out earlier that day -- namely, lots of whataboutism and lots of complaining that some were disappointed that Fox News didn't have to apologize to spreading lies about Dominion.It was a bit of an echo of a February podcast in which he similarly played whataboutism as lawsuit filings reveal just how deliberately Fox News lied to its viewers.
Graham's podcast guest was Dan Schneider of MRC's Free Speech America division -- you know, the one that insists that misinformation cannot be defined objectively in such a way that social media can try to counter it without being accused of "censorship." Graham did admit that "it's certainly a bad day for Fox's reputation, it's kind of a bad year for Fox's reputation." Schneider. who claims to be a lawyer, went on attack against "the left" by weirdly arguing: "If you ask any of those people what Fox did, they're not going to tell you -- it's just that Fox lied. How? What was the actual accuation? They don't know, they just want punishment of this media outlet they hate." In fact, the exact evidence has been well documented. Still, Schneider tried to minimize Fox News' actions, which even Graham felt the need to push back on, only to play whataboutism instead -- and then to admit some uncomfortable truths after all this time:
SCHNEIDER: What did Fox do that was so horrible, so horrible that was worth 7.8 or ... Lou Dobbs tweeted out that his guest, Sidney Powell, said that she has no doubt that Dominion was able to manipulate the vote. All he did was quote that he will have a guest who says this. And that was really worth $787 million.
GRAHAM: I think most of this was them putting on guests who said things they couldn't prove. That is certainly true. Now, I would say this -- Jim Geraghty has a piece at National Review to respond to this in a sense is that, yes, Lou Dobbs on December 10, 2020, tweeted, not on air, "Cyber Pearl Harbor! Sidney Powell reveals groundbreaking new evidence indicating our presidential election came under massive cyberattack orchestrated with the help of Dominion, Smartmatic and foreign adversaries." So to me, yes, "Cyber Pearl Harbor," I mean, you could see where you'd say, well, now you're overdoing it. But wthe whole problem with all of this is, this is all the same stuff they said about Russia in 2016.
SCHNEIDER: Right. So, I don't want to sound like I am flacking for Fox, because Fox basically did the same thing that harmed Donald Trump's own re-election bid, they started reaching out to people like Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis and people who have law degrees but have never actually -- well, Sidney actually did -- was a federal prosecutor for a time, but if you ever hear her legal analysis, it is thin to say the least -- ridiculous, yes. Jenna Ellis, never -- as far as I know she's never actually practiced law, sand he spouts things that cannot be supported. But Fox and then Trump surrounded themselves with people who got them in trouble.
GRAHAM: Yes. And -- I mean -- this was the line that really made sense to me from Jim Geraghty. He said if you choose to believe the 2020 presiential election was stolen, you must believe Fox News agreed to pay $787 million to Domnion in a settlement rather than present any of that evidence.
Not only did Graham nor anyone else at the MRC raise these concerns about Powell, Ellis and the election fraud claims emanating from both the Trump campaign and Fox News -- to the contrary, it uncritically embraced those falsehoods -- it manufactured its own conspiracy theories about the election to claim it was stolen from Donald Trump. We've also documented how the MRC tried to insert Powell into its victimhood narrative after she was suspended from social media for spreading election misinformation, so it's a bit rich for Graham and Schneider to finally get around to disavowing her.
Graham went on to dismiss all of that truth-admitting, arguing that Fox News didn't suffer much "reputational damage" from the settlement because "poeple who think Fox News doesn't do news thought that before, have been thinking that for decades," while "conservatives see this as the latest attempt by the liberal media to undermine Fox News, so there's going to be a rally-around-Rupert effect." He then added: "This won't damage Fox's reuptation -- or let's put it this way: It won't damage people's reliance on Fox to try and balance out what the liberal media does."
In other words, Graham is saying that pushing the correct narratives is more important to conservatives than telling people the truth. And people wonder why anyone should trust Fox News or any other right-wing media outlet, or why the MRC whines so much when NewsGuard points out how untrustworthy right-wing media is.
That was followed by Schneider uniroinically rehashing his employer's conspiracy theory about the 2020 election, which involved buying biased polls from Trump's campaign pollster and the polling firm founded by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway to complain that not enough people knew about Hunter Biden's laptop. Graham was happy to echo that conspiracy:
GRAHAM: This is the interesting part, where they'll say we took a poll -- Geraghty says this -- you know, you take a poll and say, "did Biden legitimately win?" I think the key there is the word "legitimately." Because anybody who looks at these polls and says, if there's the risk that if these people had actually reported in real time on the Hunter Biden laptop, that this could have changed the election. Obviously, this election was in some states very close, and so, yes, it's quite possible that just by these voters not voting for Biden, whether or not they voted for Trump, could have affected the results. So I would say, did Biden win? He did, but he won, as we've tried to demonstrate, by suppressing damaging information.
Graham then went the whataboutism route once more, complaining yet again about Anita Hill and women who accused Brett Kavanaugh of untoward behavior, as well as bringing up the CNN settlement with Nicholas Sandmann.
Graham's April 21 column didn't comment much about the Fox News-Dominion settlement despite that being the news peg it was based on; instead, it was almost entirely whataboutism -- mostly whining about BuzzFeed publishing the Steele dossier (while downplaying the fact that BuzzFeed never presented the dossier as fact), huffily insisting that those who promoted the dossier have no moral standing to criticize Fox News.But if Graham is going to give a pass to Fox News' lies, what moral standing does he have to criticize others?