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The MRC's Brent Bozell Problem

The head of the Media Research Center is spouting increasingly hateful and unhinged rhetoric. How does that reflect on the organization he founded? All too well, given the incivility spreading throughout the MRC.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/5/2012

Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell has always been an angry man prone to ranting and spewing bile. For instance:

  • At the end of the Clinton presidency, he hosted a insult-laden $125-a-plate dinner to mark the end of the administration. "It's our way of celebrating the fumigation of Washington," he is quoted as saying.
  • He has lashed out at websites cited in a book by conservative-turned-liberal author David Brock, for no other apparent reason than that they were Internet-based.
  • After appearing on a TV show with a liberal panelist, Bozell got in an argument with him after the appearance, accusing him of speaking "horseshit" and concluding by declaring, "Fuck you!"

Even for someone prone to being so hateful in public, Bozell's behavior in recent months stands out -- and particularly in the past week -- in its viciousness and disregard for the reputation of his organization.

Bozell's most recent blast of over-the-top vitriol came earlier this week with a tweet about CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's admission that he's gay: "Can @andersoncooper give us his expert opinion on teabagging now?"

Not only is this comment insulting, Bozell is a screaming hypocrite for making it. The MRC took great offense to others in the media (including Cooper himself) referring to tea party activists as "teabaggers," alternately calling the term "vulgar and childish," "incredibly juvenile," and "disgusting."

Bozell, it appears, doesn't find this term offensive -- let alone childish, disgusting, or anything else his employees have said about it -- when he can use it to insult a TV host whose sexuality he despises.

Even though this got play elsewhere in the media, both Bozell and the MRC won't talk publicly about it, let alone issue any sort of apology. Indeed, as of this writing, Bozell's tweet remains live, which indicates that he's proud of his slur.

A few days earlier, Bozell bizarrely attacked Chief Justice John Roberts over his opinion that President Obama's health care reform law is constitutional, calling Roberts a "traitor to his philosophy." In reporting Bozell's remarks, the conservative Daily Caller curiously hid Bozell's MRC connections, identifying him only as a "conservative leader and chairman of ForAmerica," Bozell's electioneering organization.

Just as curiously, no MRC website reported Bozell's "traitor" remark. Perhaps it was embarrassed by the boss' vindictive sentiment.

Bozell, however, doubled down on his inflammatory "traitor" rhetoric in his July 5 column, adding a paranoid conspiracy theory to the mix: "Someone clearly pressed Roberts to cry 'uncle.' He is a traitor to strict constitutionalism, whether he folded to Obama or to his image-manufacturing bullies in the media. The Constitution to him and his liberal friends is simply Play-Doh in the hands of our governing elites."

But those examples aren't the only bile from Bozell's mouth lately. Last December, during an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, Bozell called President Obama a "skinny ghetto crackhead." Yes, he did. Really.

The MRC seemed slightly more embarrassed by this -- his NewsBusters posted the clip of Bozell's appearance, but didn't say a peep about his "skinny ghetto crackhead" remark, ironically focusing instead on Bozell's complaining about "those endless lectures we've heard from the Left over the years about hatemongering, and fearmongering, and civility."

Bozell obviously missed those lectures. Even better, though, was the headline under which NewsBusters posted the clip: "The Left Can Stop Lecturing About Civility At Any Moment Now." So, it seems, can Bozell.

For that matter, the rest of Bozell's organization is following in his footsteps on the civility front.

When Rush Limbaugh went on a three-day misogynistic tirade against Sandra Fluke for committing the offense of talking about birth control in public -- calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute," among numerous other vile things -- Bozell's MRC subordinates eagerly joined in the attacks.

Leading the charge was Culture & Media Institute writer Matt Philbin, who took to his Twitter account to hurl more sleaze:

  • "Anybody got Fluke's mailing address? I'm gonna send her a big Costco-sized box of condoms."
  • "Rush's prob was semantic. Shoulda said 'Woman of dubious reputation,' 'horizontal laborer' or 'Lincoln Tunnel Hitcher.'"
  • "Lawschool in your 30s, kvetching on 'The View,' calls from the prez, free BC so you can sleep around w/impunity. Some #waronwomen."

Bozell apparently had no problem with Philbin's hate, for he remains an MRC employee. Of course, Bozell seemed to have no problem with his friend Limbaugh's misogyny either -- after all, the MRC gave Limbaugh its inaugural "William F. Buckley, Jr. Award for Media Excellence" in 2007. The harshest criticism he could come up with was "Let’s all agree Limbaugh crossed a line," which he followed by creating an "I Stand With Rush" website to try and change the subject: "It isn’t about what Rush said last week. It’s about roaring hypocrisy and about censorship." (That website was mysteriously shut down without explanation after about a week. Did the MRC have a sudden fit of conscience about insisting on standing with such a raging misogynist? We don't know; they won't talk about it.)

The hate can also be found at the MRC's "news" operation, As ConWebWatch has documented, CNS has attracted a class of readers who feel surprisingly free to use the comment threads on articles to make racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks. The comments receive little apparent policing from anyone at CNS, and the offensive ones tend to hang around.

It seems that the MRC's readers are emulating its vitriolic corporate culture -- and that Bozell and Co. are completing the vicious circle by issuing more vitriol.

What does it say about an organization when its leader has a reputation as an insult-spewing hothead? If the MRC has ever given any thought to the question, it doesn't show. After all, Bozell still appears weekly on Hannity's Fox News show, the same forum in which he slimed Obama as a "skinny ghetto crackhead."

Every piece of bile from Bozell's mouth discredits his organization, but does anyone there care? Or are they so in lockstep with that bile that they don't see it? As noted above, vitriol is endemic throughout the MRC.

The MRC clearly has a Brent Bozell problem -- but because his brand of hate is so integral to its corporate culture, nobody seems to recognize it, let alone do anything about it.

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