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Rep. Jim Jordan, R-MRC

The Media Research Center loves the conservative congressman so much that it campaigned for him to become House GOP leader -- while also burying and censoring claims that ignored sexual abuse in a previous job as a coach.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/27/2018

Rep. Jim Jordan

The Media Research Center loves conservative Rep. Jim Jordan, particularly in his role as a point man and gatekeeper trying to deflect from the various investigations targeting President Trump. Headlines like "Smackdown: Jim Jordan Destroys Chris Cuomo Over Claims There’s ‘Tons of Proof’ of ‘Potential Collusion’" and "Jim Jordan Battles MSNBC’s Tur: ‘I Want to Keep You Focused on the Facts’" illustrate the level of fandom.

Then, in July, NBC News reported that several former college wrestlers at Ohio State, where Jordan served as an assistant wrestling coach from 1986 to 1994, said that Jordan knew of sexual abuse perpetrated by a team doctor against the wrestlers and other student athletes but did nothing about.

The MRC rushed to try and poke holes in the story. A July 11 post by Isaac Cross made a big deal of how "six wrestling coaches who personally know and worked with Jordan when he coached at Ohio State University came to his defense," making sure to take the opportunity to try and slime one of the accusers: "Coming from six upstanding men who know Jordan, the statement has a lot of weight when put in contrast to the claims of eight wrestlers, at least one of which has a criminal history." Cross went on to huff: "Sexual harassment charges have long been a weapon of the left, and considering that Jordan is a staunch conservative candidate for Speaker of the House, the media will ignore all the facts they can in order to assassinate his character."

But it turned out that one of those coaches is not necessarily an "upstanding man." TPM reported that one of the signatories to the letter -- "assembled by the right-wing PR firm which an anonymous funder has retained to attack Jordan’s accusers," something Cross didn't see fit to mention -- is Russ Hellickson. Contrary to the letter's claim that "None of us saw or heard of abuse of OSU wrestlers," Hellickson admitted in an interview that he did indeed know there was inappropriate behavior going on.

The next day, Cross accused Slate of having "ignored the facts in support of Jordan" after a writer accused conservatives of glossing over accusations of inappropriate behavior among one of their own. Never mind that Cross himself was ignoring facts regarding the case in order to defend Jordan.

An Aug. 10 item by Alec Sears complained that some media outlets didn't report that one Jordan accuser "recanted" his accusations. Sears himself didn't report that Jordan's allies have reportedly been running a pressure campaign to get his accusers to recant.

TPM highlighted how "reports surfaced in early August that [former Ohio State couch Russ] Hellickson, at Jordan’s behest, was using his power over and relationship to his former wrestlers to push them to recant their accusations against the congressman." The revised claims from the accuser, Mark Coleman, were released from the PR firm that is working for Jordan to counter the charges, which ought to have raised questions from Sears but apparently did not.

Sears also didn't report Coleman's original comments so readers can examine how they were allegedly not accurate or misconstrued. TPM reported:

This stands in stark contrast to Coleman’s statement to the Wall Street Journal in early July.

Coleman had been one of the nine wrestlers who asserted that then-assistant coach Jordan definitely knew about the widespread culture of sexual abuse on the team, especially at the hands of team doctor Richard Strauss, took no action at the time and later lied about his knowledge.

“There’s no way unless he’s got dementia or something that he’s got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State,” Coleman said in July. “I have nothing but respect for this man, I love this man, but he knew as far as I’m concerned.”

There seems to be little room for misconstruing there -- not that Sears would admit it. Nevertheless, he followed up with an item the same day complaining about the "massive discrepancy" on CNN between reporting of the original accusations against Jordan and Coleman's attempt to walk back his words. Sears also ignored that Coleman was just one of nine accusers, and apparently the only one to change his story.

And in an Aug. 17 item, Kyle Drennen took offense to reporting on an ad by a Democratic political action committee that "compared Republican Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan to disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who helped cover up child sexual abuse for years." Drennen didn't rebut the claims but instead played whataboutism, whining that the reporting lacked "acknowledgment of the numerous scandals Democrats have been embroiled in over the past two decades."

Meanwhile, the MRC's "news" division,, has never published a story -- "news," blog or otherwise -- regarding the allegations against Jordan. It has, however, published numerous articles featuring Jordan, mainly in his role as member of that Republican-dominated House committee looking into links between Russia and President Trump -- The only thing that even alluded to it was an Aug. 17 post (again, well past a month after the accusations first became public) that is only a headline, a video and a link to the above-referenced MRC post complaining about a Democratic ad likening Jordan to Paterno.

The speaker campaign begins

With the accusations at least temporarily tamped down, it was time for the MRC to take on another order of business: campaigning to make Jordan the House Republican leader for the next congressional term -- which would make him House speaker if the Republicans retained control of the House in the midterm elections -- as current speaker Paul Ryan declined to seek re-election.

CNS led the charge at first with a July 27 article on Jordan announcing he planned to seek the position. That was followed by a ridiculously fawning Aug. 10 piece by managing editor Michael W. Chapman touting how "A new poll by the grassroots organization Tea Party Patriots shows that 98.4% of its supporters would like to see conservative Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, should the Republicans hold onto Congress after the mid-term elections in November." After copiously quoting sycophantic quotes about Jordan from the Tea Party Caucus, Chapman then made his own appeal, noting that "Some of the Republicans who say they support Jordan for Speaker include Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.), Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Rep. Dave Brat (Va.), Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The conservative group FreedomWorks has also announced its support for Jordan."

Chapman also promoted Jordan's platform: "In a July 26 letter to Republican members of the House, Jordan said the GOP members should push for 'actually repealing Obamacare,' reforming welfare across-the-board, building a real wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, making the 2017 tax cuts permanent, ending taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, and 'enacting meaningful, immediate spending cuts to ensure that we never see $1 trillion deficits.'"

Chapman declared in his final paragraph: "Jim Jordan, 54, is in his sixth term in Congress. He is married to Polly Jordan." Never mind that Jordan's first name and length of service in Congress had already been established earlier in the article; apparently Chapman simply and lazily copied-and-pasted that from elsewhere and didn't bother to edit it.

Chapman was completely silent about the allegations about Jordan turning a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse, despite those accusations being around for a good month before Chapman's article appeared.

In other words, CNS is very much attuned to Jordan's importance in the current political scene. Which means that the only possible reason CNS has failed to report on the abuse allegations regarding Jordan is that it is deliberately censoring them from its readers.

A Sept. 12 CNS article by Chapman touted how "Recent surveys by five conservative grassroots organizations show that their members overwhelmingly support Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, as the next Speaker of the House should the Republican Party retain its majority in the November midterm elections." Two of those polls are MRC-linked groups: MRC Action, the political action division of the MRC that Chapman describes as "the grassroots army of the Media Research Center," and ForAmerica, whose chairman is MRC chief Brent Bozell and which is run by Bozell's son David. (The article did disclose most of this.)

That's not the only Jordan-fluffing CNS was doing. For instance:

  • An Aug. 29 article by Susan Jones portrayed Jordan in Trump-fanboy mode (and Jones once again in Trump fangirl mode), touting how Trump has had "an amazing year and a half."
  • A Sept. 13 article by Emily Ward detailed a Facebook Live conversation between Bozell and Jordan, in which Jordan signs onto the MRC's narrative of "conservative censorship" by social-media companies.
As was the pattern, none of these articles mentioned allegations that Jordan knew about sexual abuse of athletes by a team doctor but did nothing about it. They clearly don't want to hurt Jordan's chances by reporting facts.

By the way: While ForAmerica operates under different nonprofit tax codes that allow them to engage in more political activity (501(c)4, specifically), it's unclear whether MRC Action is under a different tax status than the 501(c)3 status of the rest of the MRC, which restricts political activity -- and defending Jordan and promoting his efforts to be House speaker, as CNS and the main MRC are doing, are nothing if not political.

The MRC ought to making sure that Bozell's ambitions to promote a political candidate aren't jeopardizing its tax status.

After the midterms

The midterms didn't turn out for Jordan and the MRC. Democrats took control of the House, meaning that the chief House Republican would no longer be speaker but, instead, minority leader. Still, the MRC gave Jordan's bid one last shot.

Nearly a week after the midterms, Bozell -- who did a fawning interview of Jordan in September -- issued a statement blandly titled "Bozell Comments on Midterms and Media" in which he tried to spin the loss of GOP control of the House as a "serious messaging problem" because "their leaders aren't committed to their own party platform. They cannot articulate it, sell it, and enact it, because they don’t believe in it." At the end was an endorsement of Jordan as minority leader:

For them to regain the faith of their constituents, conservatives believe the GOP must find new leadership with leaders that truly believe in and are willing to fight for the conservative policies they espouse. It’s why conservatives are rallying behind Jim Jordan as the new GOP Minority Leader. Conservatives believe that with his leadership the Republicans will regain their fallen majority, and they can do it in two years. It is then that they'll fight – fight seriously – for that which they say they believe. This time it'll be Promises Made, Promises Kept for them.

House Republicans elected their leader on Nov. 14, and the winner was ... not Jordan. Kevin McCarthy is the new minority leader, and it wasn't even close: 159 votes for McCarthy, 43 for Jordan.

Despite being a self-proclaimed "news" organization, CNS never reported McCarthy's election and Jordan's defeat. It was similarly never acknowledged on the MRC's main content site, NewsBusters, though a Nov. 15 post by Scott Whitlock complained that during an "exclusive interview" with CBS after his elevation to speaker, "network journalists chose to spend the entire interview demanding McCarthy answer for a lack of diversity within the Republican Party."

Still, Jordan did retain his congressional seat, though he'll have less power now that he's in the minority. That didn't keep the MRC from defending him from the abuse-related allegations, though. A Nov. 8 post by sports blogger Jay Maxson was outraged that a "liberally biased" USA Today columnist thought that the accusations against Jordan should be examined further "though he won re-election," complaining that the writer "wants this story to be a constant thorn in the side of the GOP congressman who survived yesterday's loss of the House."

And, thus, the MRC's Jordan protection racket continues.

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