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Friday, June 2, 2023
MRC Tried To Falsely Conflate Carlson, Lemon Firings
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center had a sad when Fox News fired Tucker Carlson, but it rejoiced when CNN fired Don Lemon the same day. But the MRC also wanted to create a false equivalence between the two firings --  even though Carlson was a highly rated (for cable news) host in charge of the flagship show on a highly partisan TV channel while Lemon had been, as the MRC repeatedly reminded us, "demoted" to a morning-show slot on a more straightforward news channel. As a result, it complained with non-right-wing outlets wouldn't embrace that narrative. Kevin Tober huffed in an April 24 post:

The cable news landscape was shaken to its core Monday with the stunning newsthat cable news star and host of Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson Tonight was out at the network. A short time later, CNN announced that CNN This Morning co-host Don Lemon was fired as well. During CBS Evening News's coverage of both developments, anchor Norah O'Donnell resorted to labeling Fox News as a conservative network, while seeing no need to use the liberal label for CNN.

While it's accurate to label Fox a conservative network in terms of its opinion-side programming, it wasn't honest or fair reporting to refuse to label CNN a liberal network when that's clearly what it is.

In fact, Fox News' "news" side is just as biased as its opinion side -- not a surprise given how many former MRC employees work in that "news" operation. And CNN's failure to not be as far-right as Fox News does not make it a "liberal" network; that's just the view from Tober's ideological position, which was made even more clear when he laughably called O'Donnell a "left-wing anchor."

Joke policeman Alex Christy complained that late-night comedians told too many jokes about Carlson's firing and not enough about Lemon's (and, yes, he counted them):

The Monday news media news surrounding Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon provided the late night comedy shows a golden opportunity to show they aren’t just liberal partisans. However, they would fail this test as individual jokes about Carlson outnumbered jokes about Lemon 32-to-2 with five additional jokes about both men.

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show temp host Desi Lydic came in with a 6:1 ratio. Her most notable jabs at Carlson included, “I can't believe that a network that’s so opposed to gender-affirming surgery just cut off their own dick. Though, apparently, Tucker was forced out by Rupert Murdoch, which is pretty ironic. Tucker spent so many years saying that Mexican people were coming to take our jobs away. Turns out, he should have been worrying about Australians.”

An April 25 post by Tim Graham brought the MRC's hypocritical labeling complaints into the debate, grousing that the New York Times wouldn't portray Lemon as being as "far left" as Carlson is far-right:

William Donohue of the Catholic League pointed out the Tuesday New York Times demonstrated an obvious labeling contrast. On page A1 came the headlined "Fox News Ousts Carlson, a Voice Of the Far Right." But on B-1, there was no label in the header "Lemon Out At CNN; He Says He Is ‘Stunned’. " 

In the piece by Michael Grynbaum, John Koblin, and Benjamin Mullin, Lemon was only "fiery" and "spiky," not liberal or far-left:


But the Carlson story by Jeremy Peters, Katie Robertson, and Grynbaum began: "Fox News on Monday dismissed Tucker Carlson, its most popular prime-time host, who became one of the most influential voices on the American right in recent years with his blustery, inflammatory monologues on immigrants, Black civil rights activists, vaccines and national identity."

There were five mentions of conservatives and their media in the piece, and two "far-right" uses in the copy:

He then cited a purported analysis by dishonest Catholic Bill Donohue claiming that "We found over 200 examples of Carlson being called 'far right,' but only a few instances of Lemon being called 'far left.' PBS, NBC and MSNBC referred to Carlson as 'far right' but none referred to Lemon as 'far left.'" But neither Graham nor Donohue provided any evidence that Lemon is "far left" or that Carlson is not "far right."

(Graham also didn't disclose that his boss, Brent Bozell, sits on the board of advisers of Donohue's right-wing Catholic League.)

Mark Finkelstein played the whataboutism card in an April 26 post, referencing Graham's post as a starting point:

Yesterday, our Tim Graham called out the New York Times' double standard when it came to the paper's descriptions of Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon. The former "Gray Lady"—now the home of red-hot wokeism—branded Carlson "far right." But when it came to Lemon, the Times merely called him "fiery," and "spiky," with no mention of his consistently left-wing views.

That same sort of double standard was on display at CNN itself today. In a CNN This Morning segment on Fox's firing of Carlson, repeated mentions were made of an alleged culture of misogyny and sexism at his show.

Fair-'n-balanced journalistic standards would have made it incumbent on CNN to discuss serious allegations of sexism and misogyny against its own fired host, Lemon. But not a peep about Lemon's transgressions out of his former co-hosts, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, or from CNN media reporter Sara Fischer. The focus was exclusively on Carlson's alleged misdeeds.

However Carlson might have transgressed respectful norms, it would appear to have occurred behind the scenes. In contrast, Lemon unleashed some of his feminist-frown material on the air, for all to see and hear.

Finkelstein didn't explain why Carlson is somehow less of a terrible person because he didn't display it on air.He then dismissed claims made about the working environment on Carlson's show made by a former show producer Abby Grossberg -- whom the MRC previously attacked as "disgruntled" -- as "not the most outrageous allegations imaginable," as if that makes it OK.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 PM EDT

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