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Mercer Money Motivates the MRC

The Media Research Center has received millions from the Mercers, and Brent Bozell and his organization are acting accordingly on behalf of the Mercers' interests -- such as Donald Trump and Breitbart.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/7/2017

Rebekah Mercer

The Media Research Center's Brent Bozell and Tim Graham kicked off their Oct. 18 column by ranting about a columnist who referred to the "reactionary New York gozillionnaires" in the form of Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, known for backing right-wing causes. The do complained that the columnist, Charles Pierce -- about whom the MRC has repeatedly lied -- highlighted a lawsuit "by a former Bob Mercer employee named David Magerman who, reportedly against company policy, felt compelled to tell The Wall Street Journal that his boss had "contempt for the social safety net" and wanted 'government be shrunk down to the size of a pinhead.' (Horrors!) In his lawsuit, Magerman upped the ante and claimed that Mercer held racist views."

In the midst of harrumphing that "Magerman is is irrelevant" and "That kind of repugnant slur is undeserving of a response and will get none here," Bozell and Graham interject: "Full disclosure: The Mercers are not just supporters; they are friends."

Actually, Bozell and Graham's "full disclosure" is not so full.

Mercers are much more than "supporters" of Bozell and the MRC; they're among its largest donors, if not the biggest. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Mercer has given the MRC approximately $13.5 million between 2008 and 2014, and the $3 million Mercer gave the MRC in 2014 made up one-fourth of all contributions that year. On top of that, Rebekah Mercer is a member of the MRC board of directors.

A Newsweek article examined how billionaire Robert Mercer has been a guiding force behind Trump's campaign, and how his daughter, Rebekah, has been even more intimately involved, with ties to Trump campaign officials like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

The article also noted that the MRC "gets a lot of money from the Mercer Family Foundation," and quoted Bozell slobbering all over Robert Mercer: “What will just blow you away is how smart he is…. You start listening on a conversation he’s having with someone else, and guaranteed within 60 seconds your mind is in some happy place because you have no idea what he’s talking about.”

In addition, there are Mercer ties to other Bozell-related ventures. In 2014, according to CPI, the group For America -- founded by Bozell but ostensibly headed by his son David -- paid more than $1.1 million to Cambridge Analytica, a data-analysis firm owned mostly by Mercer interests that was also enlisted by the Trump campaign. Further, CPI notes, For America received more than 90 percent of its $5.3 million in 2014 from a single donor, about whom Bozell failed to answer questions from CPI regarding his or her identity.

Buying Bozell's Trump flip

What have the Mercers gotten for their millions to the MRC? For one thing, the MRC's big Trump flip in 2016, in which Bozell and his organization turned from a Trump critic to a Trump defender.

Bozell hasn't been very forthcoming about the motivation behind his rather abrupt change from denouncing Trump in National Review as someone who doesn't "walk with" conservatives to a full-throated defender of everything Trump does, no matter how vile. But we can probably assume that MRC board member Rebekah Mercer -- who was also heavily involved behind the scenes in Trump's campaign -- played a big role in flipping him.

Bozell unsurprisingly had good things to say about Rebekah in the Newsweek article: "She is like her dad. ... She understands issues, she understands people, she has a very good read on what’s real and what’s BS."

Defending Mercer's interests: Breitbart and Milo

In February, the Mercer family was revealed to have an ownership stake in the Breitbart operation. That would probably explain why the MRC has worked to defend it.

In an August 2016 post, for example, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth fretted that CNN's David Gergen "managed to work in a Hitler reference as he picked up on Breitbart founder Andrew Breitbart supposedly comparing Breitbart website chief Steve Bannon -- who had just become the head of Trump's presidential campaign -- to film maker Leni Riefenstahl, who was a leading propagandist for the Nazi dictator."

But Breitbart's likening of Bannon to Riefenstahl is not a "supposed" reference, as Wilmouth claims in suggesting that it was made up; it appears in an October 2015 Bloomberg profile of Bannon, noting that Breitbart said it "with sincere admiration."

A few days later, Wilmouth complained that Breitbart's anti-Semitic tendencies were cited:

In spite of Breitbart News having a pro-Israel history which champions the defense of the Jewish state from the dangers of radical Islam, [conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer] Rubin presumably picked up on a recent attack not only from the Hillary Clinton campaign but also from the far-left Ha'aretz publication which, despite being stationed in Israel, has a history of criticizing the Jewish state and its treatment of Palestinian Arabs.

Ha'aretz dubiously cited as evidence an article by Jewish conservative activist David Horowitz which bitingly accused fellow Jewish conservative William Kristol of being a "renegade" who was endangering fellow Jews by refusing to support Trump, and thus aiding Clinton -- viewed by Horowitz as promoting policies dangerous for Israel. Therefore, Horowitz, rather than making an anti-Semitic attack, was actually making an accusation of abandoning Jewish interests.

But Wilmouth downplayed the main evidence of anti-Semitism on Breitbart's part: the words "RENEGADE JEW" in the headline of Horowitz's post. Further, as the Washington Post's Callum Borchers pointed out:

To summarize: Kristol’s opposition to the Republican standard-bearer is tantamount to a betrayal of his fellow Jews; therefore, he is a “renegade Jew.”

But Horowitz’s rationale, if you want to call it that, doesn’t arrive until the final paragraph of an 1,800-word story. The rest of the piece has nothing to do with Israel or religion. Unless you make it all the way to the end — and perhaps, even if you do — you’ll leave with the impression of an anti-Semitic attack.

And Matthew Balan groused that CNN's Alisyn Camerota "badger[ed] Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, about Bannon and "underlined past Breitbart headlines" that most sentient beings would consider inflammatory, whining that "The CNN anchor twice used the 'incendiary' term about the Breitbart headlines/'messaging' as she pressed her guest on the issue." Balan doesn't dispute the accuracy of the term as applied to Breitbart, though.

In a June 8 post, Charles Dorfeuille complained that a Breitbart article was listed in a PBS report as "fake news":

The article, titled “Pentagon May Court Martial Soldiers Who Share Christian Faith” was written in 2013, and was about religious liberty concerns at the Department of Defense during the Obama Administration. The article had followed reports from the Family Research Council and Fox News.

The article was penned by Ken Klukowski, who was at the time a senior fellow at the Family Research Council for religious liberty. To call Breitbart a fake news site based on some of its more outrageous articles is one thing, but to insinuate Klukowski, a man who's worked at the American Civil Rights Union as a Senior Legal Analyst, is outrageous.

Tellingly, Dorfeuille did not link to the Breitbart article in question so his readers could judge for themselves. Despite Klukowski's alleged credentials, this is yet another one of those outrageous Breitbart articles.

Klukowski is ridiculously alarmist, falsely portraying a reiteration of longstanding Pentagon policy against proselytizing in the military as a ban on even talking about religion:

So President Barack Obama’s civilian appointees who lead the Pentagon are confirming that the military will make it a crime–possibly resulting in imprisonment–for those in uniform to share their faith. This would include chaplains–military officers who are ordained clergymen of their faith (mostly Christian pastors or priests, or Jewish rabbis)–whose duty since the founding of the U.S. military under George Washington is to teach their faith and minister to the spiritual needs of troops who come to them for counsel, instruction, or comfort.

This regulation would severely limit expressions of faith in the military, even on a one-to-one basis between close friends. It could also effectively abolish the position of chaplain in the military, as it would not allow chaplains (or any service members, for that matter), to say anything about their faith that others say led them to think they were being encouraged to make faith part of their life. It’s difficult to imagine how a member of the clergy could give spiritual counseling without saying anything that might be perceived in that fashion.

That Fox News item Dorfeuille cites as evidence of Klukowski's purported veracity is, in fact, a rant (now apparently deleted) by Fox-employed radio host Todd Starnes, who has a lengthy record of false claims.

Just because a man has worked as a "Senior Legal Analyst" for a right-wing group doesn't make him immune from pushing fake news. If anything, it makes him more prone to do so. And make no mistake -- Klukowski's article is fake news. The fact that it dovetails with the MRC's right-wing agenda doesn't make it any less so, or make him any less accountable.

None of these articles, by the way, disclosed the fact that Breitbart and the MRC share a financial benefactor.

Another right-wing figure who benefitted from Mercer family largesse is Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart editor and provocateur. Buzzfeed reported in February that according to one observer, "Rebekah Mercer loves Milo." And, thus, did the MRC.

A November 2016 post by Katie Yoder cheered Yiannopoulos' histrionic likening of Planned Parenthood to the Third Reich for its support of abortion. When a Yiannopoulos speech at the "ultra liberal" California-Berkeley campus sparked violent protests, Kristine Marsh complained that he was labeled as "conservative" and "controversial," and that he had expressed "racist and misogynistic views" and was "inciting harassing tweets." Marsh did not dispute the accuracy of those labels. Rather, the MRC's plans appears to have been to describe Yiannopoulos as benignly as possible, trying to mainstream him as merely a "Breitbart senior editor" or a "Trump supporter."

When Yiannopoulos was ousted from Breitbart after a video surfaced showing him condoning pedophilia, the MRC ignored that news. Later references to him at the MRC have mostly been in the context of denouncing anti-conservative protests that turn violent (though did get busted down to a description as an "alt-right-speaker").

When Robert Mercer announced he was selling his stake in Breitbart to his children (including Rebekah) and renouncing his financial support of Yiannopoulos, the MRC didn't think that was worth mentioning either, censoring any mention of it on any MRC website.

* * *

The Newsweek article on the Mercers concluded on this note:

Bozell insists that the Mercers have no motive besides patriotism and that they fall outside of any D.C. oligarchy. “When you’re a billionaire or a multibillionaire, you really don’t need anything,” he says. “These people are driven by what they believe is good for the country.”

It's almost as if Bozell was being paid to say that.

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