Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center began its runup to Robert K. Kennedy Jr.'s appearance before Congress by trying to do some cleanup of an inflammatory comment he made. Ana Schau was stuck playing whataboutism in a July 18 post:
CNN This Morning host Phil Mattingly had Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) on Tuesday morning’s program to discuss several different issues, notably the recent anti-Semitic statements from Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). Together they lamented Republicans calling out Democrats and tried to tie the anti-Semitic comments from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to House Republicans despite him running for president as a Democrat.
Mattingly introduced the subject by asking Slotkin about Jayapal and “the statement that she made about Israel being a racist nation.”
But Jayapal's statement is not "anti-Semitic" -- it's simply critical of Israel. Not all criticism of Israeli is anti-Semitic, and Schau made no effort to prove Jayapal's statement is. By contrast, Schau did not repeat the statement Kennedy made -- that the COVID virus was "ethnically targeted" not to infect Jews -- which is much more clearly anti-Semitic.
Also, it's quite easy to associate Kennedy with Republicans given that they are the only ones actively promotiing his candidacy -- and that includes the MRC. Schau didn't mention that inconvenient fact, of course. (It's also a sign that he's serving Republican purposes that Fox News barely mentioned his Jewish conspiracy theory, which is not something he would ignore if he were a genuine Democratic candidate.) Instead, she labored to counterfactually distance Kennedy from Republicans, even though they ewere the ones who invicted him to the upcoming hearing:
Mattingly was the one who put the name to the person when he asked specifically about Kennedy’s invitation to testify from Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), seeming to think that this invitation linked them together in an anti-Semitic ideology somehow.He said that, despite McCarthy’s statement that he disagreed with Kennedy’s opinion on the matter, “there’s a difference between censoring somebody and inviting them to testify at a hearing,” and asked Slotkin if the Republicans were not as “uneasy” about Kennedy’s statement as they should have been.
The assumption that McCarthy and the other House Republicans agreed with Kennedy simply because they had invited him for a testimony in a case is an absurd assumption. It would be like assuming that Jack Smith or any other investigator for the January 6th hearings agreed with Trump simply because they had some of his supporters there to testify in the case.
If Kennedy is not serving Republican desires by running, why is Schau working so hard to distance his anti-Semitism from Republicans?
The next day, Gabriela Pariseau ramped up the MRC's victimhood narrative, whining that Kennedy had been "censored" -- then cheered McCarthy for not disinviting him from the hearing over his anti-Semitic remarks:
Big Tech has censored 2024 Democratic Party presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at least 10 times over a span of three months, but apparently, that is not enough for the left.
Kennedy is no stranger to censorship. Big Tech companies have already interfered in the 2024 presidential election and have censored Kennedy no fewer than 10 times between April and June 2023, according to MRC’s exclusive CensorTrack.org database. YouTube committed the majority of the censorship as it removed no fewer than eight videos from its platform for violating its “Community Guidelines.” In the videos, Kennedy repeatedly spoke on controversial topics like COVID-19 and claimed that the CIA killed his father. Twitter additionally added context or Community Notes to two of Kennedy’s posts.
Kennedy is set to testify at a House Judiciary hearing on censorship Thursday, but he has recently come under fire for comments claiming that COVID-19 was an ethnically targeted bioweapon that does not affect certain Jewish and Chinese people. As a result, Congressional Integrity Project Executive Director Kyle Herrig and over 100 members of Congress have all called for Kennedy to be uninvited from speaking to the committee, arguing that Kennedy has a history of making offensive claims. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, in the spirit of free speech, has not caved to the left’s pressure.
Pariseau also got mad that Twitter's Community Notes were used to call out a Kennedy lie:
Twitter has also posted Community Notes under a couple of Kennedy’s posts. In one case, Kennedy was actually drawing attention to the fact that ABC had censored portions of an interview he gave them. “47 USC 315 makes it illegal for TV networks to censor Presidential candidates but Thursday, ABC showed its contempt for the law, democracy, and its audience by cutting most of the content of my interview with host Linsey Davis leaving only cherry-picked snippets and a defamatory disclaimer,” Kennedy tweeted.
The Community Note, however, claimed that Kennedy misunderstood the statute he referred to. "47 USC 315’s censorship prohibition applies only when candidates 'use a broadcasting station'. The law explicitly exempts newscasts & news interviews, which are allowed to censor," the note read.
The MRC considers Community Notes to be "censorship" when used to correct falsehoods made by right-wingers (and Kennedy).
Alex Christy tried to do more cleanup via whataboutism of Kennedy's anti-Semitic remark, again invoking Jayapal's non-equivalent criticism of Israel, in a July 21 post:
A befuddled Scott Jennings was forced to correct Rolling Stone’s Jay Michaelson on Thursday’s CNN Tonightw hen the former claimed that he couldn’t recall someone with “such anti-Semitic ideas getting this kind of platform” when referring to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee. Jennings politely reminded Michaelson that “It's platformed every day in the Democrat conference.”
Alluding to Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s remarks that Israel is a racist state, Michaelson, who is also a non-denominational rabbi, alleged, “But it's outrageous that there is, I think, perhaps a double standard that when somebody who spouts anti-Semitism is useful to a party in power, they get a platform. And when someone says something which may or may not, maybe sort of anti-Semitic, thinking, you know, the congresswoman from last week, you know, they get censured.”
Michaelson added, “So, this is a shocking display, I think, of -- I can't think of someone who has espoused-- someone-- such anti-Semitic ideas getting such this kind of a platform.”
There is no doubt that RFK Jr. is a kook and that his latest comments about COVID being “ethnically targeted” to protect Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people is just the latest example of that, but host Sara Sidner noticed Jennings wasn’t buying the larger point, “Scott, you made a face and don't think I didn't notice it.”
If Kennedy is such a "kook," why is the MRC so desperate to defend him and deflect criticism from him? Christy didn't answer that question.
When Michaelson pointed out that Japayal's remarks were not, in fact, anti-Semitic like Kennedy's, Christy helped Jennings push his narrative:
Michaelson then tried to defend himself, claiming that Jayapal’s comments are not even close to as bad as Kennedy’s, “Scott, there is no comparison between a statement, which I think was out of line, saying Israel is a racist state. That is a political statement. It is not one that I agree with. I think it's extreme and I've said it again in the column for CNN why I think that's incorrect… But to compare a sort of extreme political statement with, again, a thousand-year-old claim that Jews somehow engineered plagues to kill non-Jews, that's a crazy false equivalence. They're totally different.”
Jennings shot back by informing Michaelson that he was moving the goal posts, “No, your statement was you had never heard of anti-Semitism being platformed like this in the U.S. Congress. It's platformed every day in the Democrat conference.”
Again, Michaelson tried to suggest Jayapal’s remarks were different, “That's only if you agree that a statement about Israel which, again, I'm not agreeing with that statement or endorsing it, is anti-Semitic. It's a political statement… And so, for this guy to get on, you know, to get a platform after saying that like the Jews are immune and that this was targeted and it's some sort of a bioweapon, I'm sorry, but to compare that to one statement saying Israel is a racist state, that's no comparison.”
It is not just Jayapal, as Jennings recalled, “It's not one statement. That corner of the party makes repeated statements, but sorry.”
Jennings is, of course, correct. Elected progressives say anti-Semitic things routinely under the guise of criticizing Israel and, unlike RFK Jr., they actually hold positions of power.
Christy did not explain how, exactly, Jayapal's remark was anti-Semitic, and he offered no examples to support hs contention that Jennings "is, of course, correct."