The MRC's Selective Outrage on Sexual Harassment
The Media Research Center is happy to lecture about Harvey Weinstein -- but was mostly AWOL when prominent conservatives were exposed as sexual harassers and misogynists.
By Terry Krepel
The Media Research Center was quick to exploit the sexual harassment allegations surrounding now-former film executive Harvey Weinstein. It's cranked out dozens of posts about it, a large number of them calling out people and media outlets that weren't obsessing over it as hard as the MRC has been, or who had previous links to Weinstein. For instance:
MRC chief Brent Bozell and lieutenant Tim Graham lectured in their Oct. 13 column:
We can guess no one will make a movie about the decades of harassment by Weinstein and Hollywood's cover-up. And, certainly, no one would win an Oscar for it. No Holy Father in Tinseltown has moral authority. Feminist superstars like Meryl Streep professed they hadn't the slightest idea of what their friend Harvey was doing ... which makes them either profoundly cynical or amazingly clueless.
You know who else is being hypocritical and failed to speak truth to power when it mattered regarding certain other perpetrators of sexual harassment? Bozell, Graham and the MRC.
If Bozell and the MRC want to play this game, let's take a look at how they reacted to two other recent high-profile cases of serial sexual harassment -- but these involved the leader and the star employee of the MRC's favorite channel, Fox News -- as well as our current president.
MRC on Trump and Ailes
The MRC's game in discussing conservatives caught in sexual harassment or misogynistic behavior has always been deflection rather than obsession. Its reaction to the infamous audiotape of Donald Trump engaging in vile misogyny was distract by going full Clinton Equivocation; Bozell admitted it was "disgusting," but only in passing as he ranted about Bill Clinton's sex life.
When tales of sexual harassment by Fox News chief Roger Ailes forced him to resign last year from the "news" channel he created, the MRC was the opposite of obsessed; it was mentioned only in passing, when it was mentioned at all. For instance, Graham tried to make light of it by quipping, "If these claims of sexual harassment are true, Ailes seems more like Bob Packwood than J. Edgar Hoover." But that Hoover comparison was more apt than Graham will ever (publicly) admit: New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reported that Ailes used the Fox News budget to hire consultants, political operatives, and private detectives who reported only to him and conducted PR and surveillance campaigns against journalists, authors and other critics of Fox News or perceived threats to the organization.
In the very rare times it did address the issue, the response was deflection: One NewsBusters blogger insisted that Ailes shouldn't be blamed for the pervasive culture of sexual harassment at Fox News, and another claimed it was "liberal bias" for anyone to even discuss Ailes' sexual harassment issues -- or, for that matter, anything remotely critical about him, no matter how accurate.
When Ailes died earlier this year, not only did the statement Bozell issued fail to mention the sexual harassment (while gushing that "The good Roger did for America is immeasurable"), the MRC attacked anyone who attempted to include sexual harassment as part of an accurate accounting of Ailes' legacy:
If it wasn't for double standards, the MRC wouldn't have any standards at all.
MRC on O'Reilly
When star Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was ousted from the network over similar sexual harassment allegations, the MRC didn't really want to talk about that either -- not even when Tim Graham appeared on the final edition of O'Reilly's old show (albeit after O'Reilly had been dismissed) and had a chance to speak truth to power.
Graham and Bozell then issued a perfunctory denunciation of O'Reilly ("If all the charges of sexual harassment are true, his case is indefensible"), then spent the rest of their column attacking O'Reilly's critics as guilty of "rank hypocrisy," dismissing the allegations as old news and portraying O'Reilly as the victim of a hypocritical "liberal media." (Never mind Bozell and Graham's own hypocrisy in being unable to denounce sexual harassment without invoking the Clintons.)
They concluded: "Women deserve a workplace where men don't harass them for sex. But that's not what these sanctimonious liberal journalists care about. It just doesn't matter how brutal the alleged rape of Juanita Broaddrick was. What matters is that Bill O'Reilly had to go. Bill Clinton is laughing." Probably because he, like the rest of us, can see through the sanctimonious load of horsepuckey Graham and Bozell are serving up here.
Yes, Bozell and Graham are still pushing dubious allegations the alleged victim spent 20 years denying, for the sole purpose of turning attention away from O'Reilly.
In September, the MRC touted O'Reilly's appearance on NBC in which he denied any harassment without offering any evidence to back him up and -- in an echo of Bozell and Graham -- insisted he was the victim of a "hit job, a political and financial hit job." Would the MRC ever provide a similarly uncritical platform for Weinstein to deny the allegations against him? Highly unlikely.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Bozell even suggested that the sexual harassment charges against Ailes and O'Reilly weren't true, and even if they were, the Fox News audience wouldn't care:
But many of the stories are background noise to Fox viewers suspicious of bias by the “mainstream media,” said Brent Bozell, president of the conservative media watchdog Media Research Center. Many question the truth of the stories or see them as payback for Fox’s success, he said.
Bozell didn't say whether he himself was having the same disconnect -- one that the MRC, by contrast, is working to ensure doesn't happen between Weinstein and anyone even tangentally associated with him.
The MRC has no room whatsoever to complain about silence and hypocrisy by others on the issue of sexual harassment. Yet it insists on complaining anyway.
Attacking the victim (of conservative harassers)
The MRC's Kyle Drennen used an Oct. 11 post to attack an old victim of sexual harassment who spoke out (needless to say, the perpetrator was a prominent conservative):
Discussing the growing list of sexual harassment and rape allegations against left-wing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein on her MSNBC show Wednesday afternoon, anchor Andrea Mitchell saw a chance to deflect away from the scandal swirling around the prominent Democratic Party donor to instead attack conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
This is simply a false, baseless attack that demonstrates how the MRC treats victims of sexual harassment depending on the ideology of the alleged perpetrator.
Graham then took it one step further in an Oct. 15 post by attacking one of Ailes' accusers, whining that "this week’s People gave three pages to a big article on former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment accusations against Fox News chief Roger Ailes created a similar hubbub in July 2016. Fox News settled her lawsuit for $20 million." Yes, according to Graham, Ailes' serial sexual harassment was just a "hubbub," apparently not a big deal.
Graham then portrayed Carlson's allegations as part of a liberal hit job on Ailes: "Carlson has a new book coming out called Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back, and they loaded in an excerpt. The book’s dust-cover testimonials come from a progressive crowd: Maria Shriver, Katie Couric, Larry Wilmore, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, Billie Jean King, and Fox-loathing journalist Gabriel Sherman."
Graham seems not to have considered that Carlson's publishers could find no conservative who would speak out on her behalf for fear of alienating Fox News and losing those precious TV hits -- after all, Bozell and Graham certainly have no interest in doing so.
The MRC's selective outrage is driven by partisan politics, not by any sense of morality they claim to hold, which is why they give Ailes, O'Reilly and Trump a pass and would never hold them to the same scrutiny they hold non-conservatives caught doing bad things. They're more mad that the media exposed O'Reilly's (and Ailes' and Trump's) bad behavior than by the behavior itself.
They carry the stench of cynical opportunism, and everyone can smell it.