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The MRC's Jeffrey Lord Problem

The right-wing writer and NewsBusters contributor is not only indifferent to facts that contradict his right-wing agenda, he loves to defend every Donald Trump utterance, no matter how offensive. How long will the MRC keep him on the payroll?

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/5/2016

Jeffrey Lord

Even before he became a weekly columnist for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog in April 2014, Jeffrey Lord -- whose main gig is writing for the far-right American Spectator, infamous for its Richard Mellon Scaife-funded "Arkansas Project" in the 1990s with the goal of personally destroying President Clinton but only ended up destroying the Spectator itself and forcing its sale after Scaife stopped being its sugar daddy -- had a history of dubious ranting.

In 2009, Lord falsely smeared then-Obama administration official Kevin Jennings by asserting that

Jennings had counseled an underage gay youth on sexual matters; in fact, the youth was 16. When asked to correct the false information, Lord not only refused, he made the false claim again. And in 2010, Lord claimed that former federal official and onetime right-wing pinata Shirley Sherrod's story about a relative being lynched was "not true" because the relative didn't die by hanging but, rather, was beaten to death by a mob. After it was pointed out to him that the definition of a lynching did not preclude methods other than hanging, Lord doubled down by insisting that the three people who beat the relative to death was not enough to constitute a "mob," and therefore the death was not a "mob action."

So you can see why the MRC thought Lord would be a perfect blogger for NewsBusters. And indeed, Lord brought that peculiar, pedantic train of thought with him.

In March 2015, after evidence was uncovered that conservative-friendly Fox News host Bill O'Reilly had made a number of demonstrably false statements about his early career, Lord declared that O'Reilly's lies were irrelevant because calling them out was "all about politics" and "political correctness":

There is a lesson from all of this O'Reilly story, a reminder of exactly how the American Left works. Make no mistake. This story of what Bill O'Reilly did or did not say or do decades ago during the Falklands War is not what this latest dust-up is really all about.

The first objective here was to try and ruin Bill O'Reilly's career. To get him off of Fox News and shut him up. Not coincidentally sending a torpedo into Fox News itself - and more. Much more.

The disturbing fact is that Bill O'Reilly is but the latest figure in what is called "conservative media" to have this experience. And worse? This obsessive drive to destroy - not disagree with, but destroy - conservatives or even those like Bill O'Reilly who do not self-identify as a conservative, (O'Reilly sees himself as a traditionalist or "T-Warrior" as in "traditionalist warrior" and is well out there, as here saying that "I vote all over the map") has spread well beyond conservative media.


Let's be clear. What was done to Bill O'Reilly was nothing less than one more attempt to completely suppress a viewpoint - in this case The O'Reilly Factor - the American Left not only wants to silence but suppress utterly. With Fox News always the perpetual target.

It is wrong - and more to the point, it is dangerous.

At no point did Lord concede the indisputable fact that O'Reilly had lied.

In August 2015, Lord spent an entire post bragging about how CNN just hired him as an analyst and that is happy to promote his "legitimate conservative" views on the network. Among those "legitimate conservative" views, apparently, is to smear people as Nazis.

As Media Matters noted, around the time CNN hired him, Lord used a column at the American Spectator to go Godwin big time, claiming that Donald Trump's critics were engaging in a "Goebbelsesque Big Lie technique" by criticizing Trump's nasty remarks about Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly that she "had blood coming out of her wherever." He calls it "a plu-perfect example of the insight of Hitler's Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels" and adds in case anyone missed the point, "This is -- there is no other word for it -- a Goebbels-esque lie."

Lord's false "liberal media narrative"

Lord spent his Sept. 12 column complaining about the purportedly dishonesty-laden "Liberal Media Narrative.":

How does the Liberal Media Narrative game work? Like this.

Reported the New York Post of then-Senator Barack Obama during the fall campaign of 2008 in a remark that was instantly seen by Republicans as an attack on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
“You know, you can put lipstick on a pig,” Obama said, “but it’s still a pig.”

....Many in the Obama crowd leaped to their feet in delight – apparently taking the “pig” comment as a direct slam at Palin.”
The liberal media of the day was outraged. From the New York Times to the Washington Post to MSNBC, Obama was pilloried for being a sexist and a misogynist. His poll numbers tanked.

Just kidding. The media didn’t care a whit, Senator Obama was not only elected president he was re-elected.

Except, well, that's not how that happened at all -- starting with what Obama actually said.

Obama was criticizing John McCain's policies by referencing a common saying, and Obama's full statement in context shows that he didn't reference Palin at all. The New York Post made up the part about the statement being a "direct slam at Palin."

Contrary to Lord's claim, MSNBC did, in fact, promote the idea that Obama was attacking Palin. Even the Associated Press, which Lord would most certainly count among the "liberal media," did it as well.

Media critic Howard Kurtz, now with Fox News, pointed out at the time that the right's narrative on the "lipstick" quote was a "manufactured story that was pushed by the right ... pushed along and made up by Drudge, Sean Hannity, and the New York Post," and yet the media did "segment after segment on it."

That's what you might call the Conservative Media Narrative -- and Lord fell for it.

Why did Lord do this? To deflect from Donald Trump's recent misogynistic remarks not only toward Fox's Kelly but toward then-fellow Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina as well. He's following the MRC playbook as Ted Cruz did by insisting that any criticism of Trump is, by definition, liberal:

Now comes the media dust-up over Trump’s remark’s about Carly Fiorina. And unlike the media’s treatment of then-Senator Obama’s attack on Sarah Palin with his “lipstick on a pig” comment, Trump gets no pass. As he did not with his comments on Fox’s Megyn Kelly after the Fox debate. The Liberal Media Narrative game is in play.

And it isn’t working.

What is the lesson here? It’s an easy lesson, an old lesson and a lesson that has nothing whatsoever to do with Donald Trump on Carly Fiorina’s looks or Ted Cruz on a government shutdown beyond the fact that they are Republicans. The fact is that no Republican - no matter who he or she is - will get a pass on anything the media decides is “controversial.” The Liberal Media Narrative must be served come hell or high water.

Despite the fact that Obama was definitely not referencing Palin in his remarks while Trump was unambiguously directing his nasty remarks at Kelly and Fiorina, Lord insisted that Trump's fans -- himself among them -- "understand why comments about the physical looks of a woman are bad if coming from Donald Trump, irrelevant and dismissed if coming from Barack Obama."

At no point, however, does Lord quote a word of what Trump actually said about Kelly and Fiorina in his defense; he simply declares any attempt to hold Trump accountable for his words (never mind the fact that even conservatives criticized those jabs at Fiorina and Kelly) is part of the "Liberal Media Narrative."

But if there is a dishonest "liberal media narrative" that Lord believes exists, then there is also a conservative media narrative that is just as dishonest -- and Lord's mission is to further that dishonesty.

Facts don't matter

Speaking of dishonesty, Lord whined in a Oct. 10 NewsBusters post about then-GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson being fact-checked on his claim that gun control laws enabled the Nazis and the Holocaust:

Media firestorm to follow - immediately. From the Huffington Post to ABC to Time and more (and more!) the liberal media was out there to dismiss Carson’s comments to Wolf Blitzer’s quite legit question as somehow as wacko as it was inflammatory. Even the Anti-Defamation League jumped in to say that Carson’s remarks were "historically inaccurate and offensive."


One has to wonder, do all these media outlets have anybody working for them who is familiar with history?

Actually, yes, they do -- hence all the fact-checking. At no point in his post does Lord refute any of it. Instead, he declares that "In fact, to the question of whether gun-toting Jews could have impeded Hitler the answer was long, long ago answered. And the answer is a decided yes." And he cites the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, as if that could be retroactive:

In other words? In other words what Dr. Carson is suggesting -- specifically that a massively armed Jewish population could have severely hampered Hitler’s Holocaust -- is supported by the true story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In which a relatively small minority of Jews inside the ghetto, with a minimum amount of, according to the Holocaust Museum, “mostly pistols and explosives” managed to “sufficiently disorient” the Nazis and “suspend further deportations” to the death camps, at least delaying the inevitable. Even more importantly, as word spread of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising it “inspired other uprisings in ghettos (e.g., Bialystok and Minsk) and killing centers (Treblinka and Sobibor).”

One can only imagine the damage that could have been inflicted on Hitler’s thugs as they rose to power in the early 1930’s if the Jewish population had been as well armed as the American populace is today.

Lord's focus on guns ignores the fact that gun restrictions for Jews in Nazi Germany were far from the only thing that targeted them. Mother Jones reported:

"But guns didn't play a particularly important part in any event," says Robert Spitzer, who chairs SUNY-Cortland's political science department and has extensively researched gun control politics. Gun ownership in Germany after World War I, even among Nazi Party members, was never widespread enough for a serious civilian resistance to the Nazis to have been anything more than a Tarantino revenge fantasy. If Jews had been better armed, Spitzer says, it would only have hastened their demise. Gun policy "wasn't the defining moment that marked the beginning of the end for Jewish people in Germany. It was because they were persecuted, were deprived of all of their rights, and they were a minority group."

The truly hilarious thing is that Lord titled his post "Ben Carson, Guns, and the Holocaust: Doesn't History Matter?" Not to Lord, obviously.

Lord followed up on the theme in his July 2 column, in which he ranted about how fact-checking operations have a liberal slant, while proudly shilling for the place where his column appears by declaring that "the entire NewsBusters site is filled 24/7 with examples of how the liberal media — yes The Washington Post included — has a mystifyingly non-existent relationship with 'the facts,' manipulating them as needed when not ignoring them altogether."

Lord didn't mention that NewsBusters is run by Brent Bozell, who has demonstrated his non-existent relationship with "the facts" by deliberately hiding for more than a decade the fact that he doesn't write the twice-a-week columns that appear under his byline.

Bad "schooling"

The Media Research Center's Nicholas Fondacaro channeled the ghost of Noel Sheppard in a May 25 post headlined "Jeffrey Lord Schools Former Philly Mayor on Origin of Housing Collapse":

NewsBusters contributor Jeffrey Lord laid out the facts about the origin of the housing market collapse of 2008, on CNN’s America’s Choice 2016 primary coverage Tuesday night. “You've got people out there saying that the Clinton housing policy helped cause the housing crisis in the first place,” Lord stated, after being asked if it was smart for Hillary Clinton to attack Donald Trump for his comments about the bubble poping. Former Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter had a bone to pick with Lord over his facts.

Nutter wanted to blame the collapse, not on bad government policy, but solely on Republican President George W. Bush:


Lord shot back, “It was set in motion in the 1990s.” Nutter couldn’t seem to keep up with Lord’s line of reasoning. He instead chose to argue that the right was going to try to blame “every bad thing” on Hillary.

“Their policy was to force the government to give mortgages to people who couldn't afford to pay them back and it caused the economy to collapse,” Lord continued, not letting up. “That was 20 years ago,” Nutter responded again, “At that time, George Bush was president of the United States of America when this was all going on.” Lord shot back yet again by reiterating that the policy that forced the banks to give loans to people was signed by then President Bill Clinton.

We wouldn't want to go to any school where Lord is teaching, because it's simply not true that Clinton administration policies were the sole cause of the financial crisis, as he is apparently claiming.

It's unclear which particular Clinton policies Lord is blaming, but two have been cited by other right-wing critics eager to shift blame away from Republicans: the 1995 Community Reinvestment Act, and the 1995 National Homeownership Strategy initiative.

Regarding the former, the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank points out that the 1995 CRA "came more than a decade before most of the financial crisis seeds were sown," adding: "There have been no substantive changes to CRA regulations since the mid-1990s to cause a major change in LMI lending trends, yet the subprime crisis is rooted mainly in mortgages extended between 2004 and 2007. That implies other factors caused the more recent boom in subprime lending and deterioration of lending standards."

The latter, it could be argued, may have been a contributing factor, though -- as with the CRA -- its major effects were seen well before the financial crisis occurred. The Richmond Fed states that the strategy was part of a series of policies that "may have conveyed ongoing government support of the housing market and reduced the propensity of lenders, markets, and regulators to question loosened lending standards and investment in housing."

It's absurd to blame a single policy adjustment 20 years ago for a financial crisis -- the economy's too complex for that, and there's plenty of blame to go around (which Lord definitely doesn't want to admit). Indeed, Time magazine lists 25 people who could share blame for the financial crisis. Clinton is on there, but so is President George W. Bush along with several bankers and subprime mortgage lenders.

Is the "school" Lord is running here affiliated with Corinthian Colleges or something? Count us out.

Defending Trump's worst slurs

Lord was an early and enthusiastic support of Donald Trump and a defender of anything he says, no matter how offensive. When Trump smeared Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists in his announcement speech, Lord took to NewsBusters to laughably assert that the smears were "accurate," adding: "Trump is surging in the polls on the very basis of his blunt criticisms of the Obama administration’s conduct of foreign affairs and the GOP Establishment’s woeful performance on issues - dealings with Mexico over the southern border and on trade but two of those issues."

Lord ultimately found himself defending the indefensible -- Donald Trump's race-baiting attacks on a judge presiding over a class-action lawsuit against the shady Trump University, dismissing him a "Mexican" though he was born in the U.S. Lord actually spent 20 minutes on CNN defending it -- his twisted logic insisting that Trump was calling out racism, not engaging in it, by attacking Judge Gonzalo Curiel's ethnicity -- as both liberal and conservative co-panelists and even host Anderson Cooper repeatedly beat down his Trump-defending arguments. Commentators from across the political spectrum mocked and denounced Lord's absurdist defense of Trump.

Lord actually previewed this defense of Trump in his June 4 NewsBusters column a few days earlier, in which he asserted without evidence that Curiel was "injecting ethnicity into the legal profession" because he belongs to a group for Latino lawyers. "Is it any wonder that Donald Trump suspects that his political opinions on illegal immigration are influencing Judge Curiel - a judge who quite voluntarily belongs to a group devoted not to promoting San Diego lawyers but San Diego lawyers based on their heritage?" he declared. (Again showing how little he regards fact that conflict with is right-wing agenda, that legal group Lord is attacking is, in fact, "a pretty typical professional group that promotes diversity and Latino empowerment in the legal community" and "a conventional professional organization.")

Despite the fact that Lord's CNN debacle and the aggressive Trump sycophancy that drives it should cause a re-evaluation of his status as a NewsBusters contributor, the MRC has been silent about it, to the point that the existence of the CNN segment has never been acknowledged on its websites.

If Lord's aggressive defense of Trump's race-baiting attacks caused the MRC to have any concern about the fact that he embarrassed himself on CNN making said defense, there's no evidence of it. To the contrary, the MRC's view of the issue is apparently, "Heck, no! We love having a race-baiting defender write for us!"

Lord's NewsBusters column appeared on schedule after the CNN debacle, and he dealt with the issue of Trump's race-baiting not by trotting out his own discredited defense as he tried to do on CNN, but by changing the subject.

Lord whined that a New York Times columnist called Trump a racist, then quickly pivoted to portraying the columnist as a hypocrite because the Times has been sued for discrimination. His justification for doing so: "Why does this matter? Because the New York Times plays the race card -- as Mr. Kristof just demonstrated in that interview -- with obsessive regularity."

This, apparently, is how Lord gets to keep his NewsBusters gig, at least for the time being: refusing to address the elephant in the room while playing the media-bashing card on the Times, one of the MRC's favorite targets. Unsaid, though, is how aggressively Lord can defend Trump's race-baiting before the MRC cuts him loose -- or if there is even a limit.

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