An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia
Exhibit 66: Against History
The Media Research Center spent a good part of the Obama years complaining that the media described historic events as "historic."
By Terry Krepel
One of the odder manifestations of the Media Research Center's hatred of anything that could be remotely considered "liberal" in the media is its disdain during the Obama years for a historic event to be described as such -- especially if it doesn't conform to the MRC's right-wing political agenda.
We first noticed this in an August 2010 item in which MRC vice president Brent Baker portrayed the evening news programs' noting the historic nature of Elena Kagan being confirmed to the Supreme Court -- making the first time in American history that three women have sat on the high court -- as making them, in the words of Baker's headline, "as Giddy as Liberal Democrats." Baker seemed particularly annoyed that the event was even being described as historic:
“The number that really excited Democrats is three: Think Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan,” NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell excitedly announced Thursday night while leading into a clip of Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, who exclaimed as he bounced on his heels on the Senate floor: “Three women will serve together on the United States Supreme Court for the first time in our nation's history!”
Baker, it seems, was letting his partisan hate blind him to history.
That attitude returned in an April 2013 post by Matt Hadro, which he complained that "After NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay on Monday, CNN hyped the announcement as a 'bombshell,' a 'big deal,' and one for the 'history books.'" Hadro didn't explain why Collins' coming out is not historic.
That same attitude prevailed in a June 2013 MRC item by Kyle Drennen:
During live coverage of the Supreme Court's gay marriage rulings on Wednesday, NBC legal analyst Lisa Bloom could barely contain her enthusiasm at the decisions overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8: "There is no question that this is a sweeping historic decision for gay rights....I think this is only the beginning, by the way. This is the decision today, but this is going to engender many more cases to come to further protect gay rights."
Drennen offered no evidence that these Supreme Court decisions are not historic -- he's simply annoyed they were described as such.
The MRC really ramped its anti-"historic" crusade in 2016. Matthew Balan did the honors in a May 13 post, under the headline "NBC Hypes 'Historic' Obama Admin. Move on Transgender Students":
The Big Three networks' evening newscasts on Friday devoted full reports to the Obama administration's controversial letter to every public school district in the nation directing them to allow transgender students to use bathroom and locker rooms according to their chosen sexual identity. However, NBC Nightly News's segment on the issue touted the "Obama administration's historic new directive to the nation's public schools," and revisited a Massachusetts girl who now lives as a boy. Kate Snow touted how the child's mother says the federal government's move is "protection for him at school and validation that his rights matter." [video below]
Hillary Clinton clinching the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- the first time a woman has done so for a major political party -- seriously ramped up the MRC's whining over the "historic" aspect being reported, with seemingly the entire MRC staff drafted to denounce it:
The whining culminated with a post by Tim Graham finally conceding that Hillary getting the nomination was, in fact, historic -- then complaining that the media largely ignored in 2012 that Mitt Romney was the first Mormon to get a major party presidential nomination:
The TV networks are heavily promoting the word “historic” in Hillary Clinton’s presumptive-nominee status and “historic” is correct. This surely is a first. But in all of that hype, Clinton critics pick up a heavy whiff of suggestion “but to make it truly historic, you have to elect her.”’
Graham avoided mentioning the obvious: Only 2 percent of the U.S. population is Mormon, while roughly 50 percent are female.
Also, Graham really should have thought about sending out a memo to his MRC underlings to stop whining about historic events being accurately described as such if they want to be taken seriously as "media analysts."
But he didn't, so the anti-"historic" ranting continued. Kyle Drennen's Aug. 31 post on a reporter taking the first commercial flight from the U.S. to Cuba in more than 50 years, something most non-agenda-driven observers would admit is historic, complained about use of the H-word:
On Wednesday’s NBC Today, correspondent Kerry Sanders once again acted like a representative from the Cuban board of tourism as he reported live from a plane set to take off for the Communist nation: “Well, good morning from the cockpit of Jetblue Flight 387....this is going to be a one hour and eight minute flight into history.”
Scott Whitlock similarly put "historic" regarding Cuba in scare quotes in a Sept. 1 post, huffing that "CBS isn’t the only network to be excited over the communist country. On July 21, 2015, as ABC thrilled over the 'historic' opening of a Cuban embassy in Washington D.C., the same network skipped coverage of the country’s human rights violations."
Drennen surfaced again to grouse in a Sept. 22 post:
On Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer proudly announced that the network had received an Emmy award for its biased coverage of the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling legalizing gay marriage across the country. Lauer told viewers: “By the way, the News and Documentary Emmy awards were held last night and NBC News and MSNBC picked up this one for our live coverage of the Supreme Court's landmark decision on same-sex marriage.”
Remember: This is all supposed to be "media criticism."
Needless to say, the MRC no longer sees any bias in calling historic things "historic" -- and a few not-so-historic things as well -- now that a Republican in president. On Jan. 25, for example, James Powers cheered the "historic day" that the Dow Industrial Average topped 20,000 making sure to add that "experts credit President Donald Trump’s election and his platform for the recent stock market surge."
On Feb. 1, Houck enthused about how "the White House took the historic step to involve four journalists from outside Washington D.C. in the Daily Press Briefing," followed a few days later by Tom Blumer similarly touting "the historic step of including four outside-the-DC Beltway journalists at White House press conferences via Skype."
Apparently, at the MRC, something is "historic" only when it involves a conservative or Republican -- or if the MRC can declare it so.