ConWebWatch home
ConWebBlog: the weblog of ConWebWatch
Search and browse through the ConWebWatch archive
About ConWebWatch
Who's behind the news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
Letters to and from ConWebWatch
ConWebWatch Links
Buy books and more through ConWebWatch

A Collusion of Dunces

The Media Research Center's Brent Bozell and Tim Graham have a new book that rehashes its tired right-wing agenda by blaming the "liberal media" for Mitt Romney's election loss.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/24/2013

The new book by the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell and Tim Graham -- fully and lengthily titled "Collusion: How the Media Stole the 2012 Election And How to Stop Them From Doing it in 2016" -- got a day-of-release promotion on MRC's NewsBusters blog:
The media have always been liberal, but never have they shown such obvious bias as in the 2012 election. Today, the book “Collusion” by Brent Bozell and Tim Graham is available online and in book stores. The authors present detailed evidence of the liberal media’s unmistakable – and highly successful -- efforts to reelect Barack Obama and to demonize his rival.

Based on the excerpts released by various MRC outlets, however, the book merely recycles the MRC's tired old "liberal media bias" mantra for the 2012 election, with added upset that the media reported the truth about Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates. Given that Bozell and Graham employed similar tactics in a 2007 book attacking Hillary Clinton, this is clearly the MRC's modus operandi.

But you don't even have to make it to the book's table of contents to find Bozell's first bit of deception.

The promotion page for "Collusion" on the Media Research Center website declares, "All proceeds go to the Media Research Center—you not only get a great book, but you also support a great cause!" But the copyright page of the book states that the copyright for "Collusion" belongs to Bozell, not the MRC.

That means all the money from the book actually goes to Bozell, not the MRC (and Graham isn't getting anything). Bozell may ultimately give the book's proceeds to the MRC, but the easiest way to have guaranteed that was to make the MRC the copyright holder. As such, there is no publicly known, legally binding agreement that the MRC will get the book's proceeds or that the money Bozell makes from it will be officially accounted for.

Defending the candidates

In a July 10 excerpt published at NewsBusters, Bozell and Graham blame the whittling of the 2012 Republican presidential field on the media exposing weakness and controversies of the candidates, not the weaknesses and controversies themselves:

As Obama prepared for re-election, the media elite treated the emerging Republican challengers as a field of nightmares, a group of pretenders and has-beens who could not be seriously hoping to defeat Obama. Republican debate audiences were criticized as “bloodthirsty” and demonstrating “bloodlust.”

From the start of the Republican race in 2011, every candidate who took the lead in the pre-primary polling was subjected to a beating. Even Sarah Palin was slimed in case she decided to run. Outbursts of "investigative journalism" erupted repeatedly for against the GOP front-runner of the moment. Republican presidential campaigns were damaged or demolished, one by one.

In other words, Bozell and Graham are complaining that the media reported the truth, in direct contradiction to the MRC's "Tell the Truth" campaign during the 2012 election.

Bozell and Graham defend the honor of former Godfather's Pizza executive Herman Cain, complaining that a Washington Post writer "made him sound like a mobster" acting "as if America were a midgrade Midwestern chain whose many problems could be solved with a few deaths in the family (read: store closings) and a tough-talking thug in a pin-stripe suit and fedora." In fact, the writer was playing off the fact that the longtime TV commercial spokesman for Godfather's was, indeed, a tough-talking thug in a pin-stripe suit and fedora (as shown in this vintage ad) which the chain had abandoned but Cain brought back under his leadership. Did Bozell and Graham somehow miss the fact that the chain is named Godfather's?

Funny thing: When Graham first wrote about this in an October 2011 NewsBusters post, he updated it to acknowledge that even Cain's campaign "thought my inference that the Post was referring to Cain as a tough-talking thug was wrong." Strangely, that correction did not make its way into his book.

Bozell and Graham went on to complain that in the first week after it was revealed that another former Cain employer, the National Restaurant Association, paid to settle two sexual harassment lawsuits involving Cain, "ABC, CBS, and NBC combined for 84 stories on Herman Cain's alleged impropriety with women -- before the media would or could identify an accuser with a name and a face." The authors seems not to understand that the settlements agreed to by the National Restaurant Association are a de facto admission of impropriety. No "name and a face" was necessary.

Bozell and Graham went on to defend Newt Gingrich from ex-wife number 2, who had appeared in an ABC interview to tell her story (despite the fact that in a 1997 column, Bozell complained that the media was ignoring the tawdry tales of Paula Jones). Then, the authors have a freakout over Newsweek reporting on the interesting past of Rick Santorum's wife, as the live-in lover to an abortion doctor 40 years her senior: "It is impossible to imagine a greater personal attack on an innocent wife, and a blameless candidate, than this." The authors whine: "Can you imagine Newsweek plotting a hard-hitting investigation of who Michelle Obama dated before Barack? Or who Barack dated before Michelle? Did Mrs. Obama have sex with other men before Barack? Did she have affairs with married men?"

Besides this being another rampant case of MRC hypocrisy -- Graham has previously expressed a weird bit of concern that the media haven't spent enough time talking about the "white girlfriends" President Obama had in his early 20s and "how exactly would the black women feel about Obama having white girlfriends" -- Bozell and Graham offer no evidence that the story was untrue. How can a true story be an "attack"?

Defending Romney

In another excerpt, Bozell and Graham lament that Romney's wealth was made an issue that purportedly was not regarding wealthy Democratic presidential candidates. They even offer a response that Romney should have given to ABC's Diane Sawyer when she asked him if he was "too rich to relate" to people: "Diane, you make $12 million a year. The ritzy Manhattan penthouse, the wealthy movie director husband, the estate on Martha’s Vineyard. Does that make you too rich and elitist to relate to your audience?” As if being president was a remotely similar job as news anchor.

Bozell and Graham also rant that the Washington Post devoted an article to "how Mitt Romney may have pinned a boy down and cut his hair in 1965. 1965. Nineteen sixty-five. That's almost a half- century ago." They also assert that the family of the alleged haircut victim should be taken at their word that the story was "factually incorrect" even though they offered no specifics, then criticize the Post for pointing out that no specifics of factual inaccuracy were offered. The authors then huff that Obama never got the same scrutiny:

The Post knows full well that they never did this kind of "investigation" of for Barack Obama in 2008. Take Obama's admissions of teenaged marijuana and cocaine use in his memoirs of teenaged marijuana and cocaine use. Did the Post send a reporter to find out from Obama's classmates how often he used illegal drugs, and where he purchased them? And did he in turn distribute them?

How eager are Bozell and Graham to whitewash Romney's record? They declare that the infamous incident of a dog forced to take a road trip in a pet carrier strapped to the roof of Romney's station wagon was "a profoundly nothing story" and excoriated the media for reporting it, retorting: "Romney misplaces dogs. Obama eats them. How can the former be news -- big news -- and the latter not be any news at all?" The authors declare the obvious answer -- because Obama was a child living in Indonesia when it -- to be lame.

The authors grouse that "The media staunchly resisted any attempt to humanize Romney," adding: "Republicans like Romney have to pay for advertisements to make themselves look human. The networks did that on a daily basis for Obama, free of charge." Bozell, mind you, is not a big fan of portraying Obama as a human, having once likened him to a "skinny ghetto crackhead."

'Elitist' Obama

Another book excerpt posted at NewsBusters focuses on the complaint that the "liberal media" was denouncing Romney has an "uptight white gazillionaire" while "boosting Barack Obama as a populist as he hobnobbed with the richest and most famous elites in Hollywood.

The authors rant that Obama got a free pass for his PAC receiving a $1 million donation from "toxic, atheist bomb-thrower" Bill Maher while freaking out over how "Santorum Super PAC backer Foster Friess had repeated a very old, and equally innocent, joke about Bayer aspirin being used as birth control." But Bozell and Graham ignore the difference between Maher -- who was far from the only major donor to Obama's re-election -- and Friess, who was pretty much Santorum's only major donor. As the New York Times points out, Friess' pro-Romney super PAC was pretty much the only reason Santorum's campaign stayed alive for as long as it did.

Bozell and Graham also complain that "Maher became the star of a strange segment on NBC's Rock Center, that attacked not Maher, but Maher's critics, including media watchdogs":

We were a bunch of lowlife "gaffe-seekers." Ted Koppel announced, "Comedian Bill Maher has always been a favorite target of Bozell's, but especially since he made a one-million-dollar contribution to a Super PAC supporting Barack Obama." Koppel conjured up the vision of busybodies at groups like the Media Research Center "sitting their with headsets . . . watching television sets . . . waiting for someone to make a misstep." Maher replied: "Gaffe seekers." Koppel injected: "Any little gaffe they can find."

This amazing indictment came after more than a year of liberals leaping on any gaffe or pseudo-gaffe from Republican candidates (and even their donors!) that sounded too conservative, too religious, too Republican, or too rough on Obama.
In fact, the "Rock Center" segment was a balanced piece that also looked at the flip side -- liberal-leaning groups like Media Matters (disclosure: my employer) that monitor the words of conservatives.

Bozell and Graham also fail to acknowledge that the "Rock Center" piece highlighted how the MRC played an important role in the media food chain that led to Rush Limbaugh's three-day tirade of misogyny over Sandra Fluke -- Limbaugh was inspired by a blog post by CNS director of communications Craig Bannister in which he slimed Fluke as a "sex-crazed co-ed" who is "having so much sex that it's hard to make ends meet."

(If you'll recall, Bozell himself offered only the most tepid criticism of Limbaugh's remarks, while his MRC employees approved of and encouraged the radio host.)

Bozell's organization helped make Sandra Fluke a star by holding her up for right-wing ridicule. It would have been nice if Bozell and Graham had acknowledged that fact.

Biased polling

For as much as Bozell and Graham rant about "liberal media bias," they sure aren't afraid to be biased themselves when it suits their agenda.

A July 16 article by Terry Jeffrey that according to a poll conducted for the book "Almost 23 percent of the Americans who voted for Mitt Romney in last November’s presidential election would have voted to re-elect President Barack Obama—if they believed the liberal media."

And yes, that's what they asked, according to Jeffrey:

The survey asked Romney voters: “If you had accepted the liberal media’s news reporting as factual, truthful and objective, would you have voted for Barack Obama?”

22.8 percent of Romney voters said: Yes. An additional 6 percent said that if they had believed the liberal media they “might” have voted for Obama.

Such skewed questioning privileges the MRC's argument that the mainstream media is "liberal" and therefore biased.

The poll was conducted for the MRC by McLaughlin Associates, whose client list is laden with Republican and conservative-leaning candidates and organizations, making the bias further apparent.

In other words, Bozell and Graham paid to get the poll results they wanted in order to reinforce the dubious and tired premise of their book.

Apparently, media bias is OK with Bozell and Graham as long as conservatives like themselves are perpetrating it.

Send this page to:

Bookmark and Share
The latest from

In Association with
Support This Site

home | letters | archive | about | primer | links | shop
This site © Copyright 2000-2013 Terry Krepel