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The MRC's Silver Linings Playbook

The Media Research Center gets mad whenever someone notes a bright side to the coronavirus pandemic -- but writers for it and its "news" division CNS have touted their own favorite bright spots.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/20/2020

The Media Research Center has regularly complained whenever anyone noted a side effect of the coronavirus pandemic being a reduction in pollution and emissions:
  • A March 13 post by Brad Wilmouth complained that "Christiane Amanpour echoed climate alarmists who have suggested that the Coronavirus has been good for the climate by depressing human activity as she suggested there has been a 'silver lining' for the environment in China."
  • On March 19, Scott Whitlock huffed: "Talk about tone deaf. CBS This Morning on Thursday attempted to report the upside to a global pandemic that is killing thousands" being lower emissions.
  • Joseph Vazquez complained on March 23: "Multiple liberal outlets have capitalized on the coronavirus outbreak to push climate change propaganda. The essential message: Hey, at least pollution is down." He added, "The liberal media’s taste for infusing climate change propaganda into a global pandemic apparently knows no bounds."
  • Kyle Drennen groused on April 1: "NBC weatherman Al Roker joined some of his other liberal media colleagues in trying to find a 'silver lining' amid the coronavirus pandemic, namely that the deadly disease was improving the climate by forcing people to stay home.," adding; "Even as thousands around the world continue to suffer and die from COVID-19, liberal journalists can’t help pushing their environmental agenda."

By contrast, the MRC's very own "news" organization,, has been similarly touting silver linings to the pandemic -- reframed as "blessings." Michael W. Chapman wrote in a March 23 article:

In her spiritual message for March 23, Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the late Pastor Billy Graham, said there may be a "blessing in the coronavirus" in that God is perhaps using the pandemic "to get our attention so that we will listen to His message," and that this will spark a "national spiritual renewal."

"It’s time to pray! It’s time to turn away from our sin, self-centeredness and secularism, and turn to God in faith and trust. Now," said Anne Graham Lotz.


"Could the silver lining in the black cloud of the coronavirus be this?" asked Graham. "That it causes America to look up and listen to what God has to say, and therefore becomes the trigger for a national spiritual revival? May it be so!"

The same day, CNS published a column by Rev. Michael Orsi headlined "Sex Trade Slowdown and Other Blessings Behind the Fear," in which he claimed that "If we look behind the fear of coronavirus currently gripping the nation, we can spot a few genuine blessings," listing among them that it "has provided an occasion for us to reflect on life and death — and some of the big issues related to those. We should think about what it means to be human, how we should be living as a community, what we owe each other as neighbors, and what we really believe," adding that "those who come through may see new value in human existence. They may rediscover faith. They may come to a new relationship with God."

The next day, a CNS column by Hannah Harrison carried the headline "Quarantines Remind That He Is Still God" and declared: "Maybe this mania is a wake up call to the soccer mommas, the workaholic daddies, the busy kiddos, and the on-the-go college student. Two weeks, two months, or two years is nothing compared to the eternity we must behold with our Savior above. Instead of worrying what tomorrow will bring, maybe a quarantine is a head start exalting the One who is one the throne both today and forever."

Hypocrisy in April

The double standard continued during April:

  • On April 14, Wilmouth declared it was "TONE DEAF" for a CNN weekend host and meteorologist to have "marveled over a "bright spot" in the COVID-19 pandemic -- that requiring people to stay at home has led to cleaner air."
  • Three days later, Wilmouth grumbled that "PBS and CNN International host Christiane Amanpour again devoted a segment of her show to talking up the possibility of preserving the cleaner air that has resulted from people being forced to stay indoors during the deadly coronavirus pandemic."
  • Drennen huffed on April 20: "NBC’s Today show worried that all of the “environmental benefits” of the coronavirus pandemic 'may not last' after the crisis is over. While devoting a full report to touting 'cleaner air and cleaner water' due to less human activity amid global economic shutdowns, the coverage cautioned that it could all be lost 'if we return to business as usual.'" He went on to sneer: "The press never let a crisis go to waste or keep them from promoting a liberal climate change agenda."
  • Kristine Marsh followed on April 22: "All three networks Wednesday morning shamelessly used the coronavirus pandemic to push their hope for more stringent environmental regulations. Celebrating Earth Day, ABC, NBC and CBS each gave lengthy reports praising the nationwide lockdown’s 'silver lining' of less pollution and more wild animals reclaiming their habitats. But they didn’t just point out changes to our environment; they turned into climate activists, actually encouraging us to keep certain pandemic lifestyle changes, such as not driving cars, to make these climate benefits 'permanent.'"
  • Mark Finkelstein found a non-climate-related excuse to get mad at: "Even for the execrable Nicolle Wallace — Trump-hater extraordinaire and Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferer — this was truly grotesque. Sure, tens of thousands of Americans have died, and the economy is in shambles. But hey, there's a 'silver lining' to all the death and misery: Trump's alleged 'lies' and 'sins are hurting him politically."

While the MRC was getting outraged over that, CNS published an April 13 column by Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council literally headlined "A Silver Lining to the Dark Cloud of COVID-19," in which he gushed that while thousands may have died, but people are "turning to God":

The coronavirus is turning people in the United States away from many things. Thousands of workplaces are empty. Shopping malls are vacant. Movie theaters, restaurants, schools, and even many public beaches are closed.

But the virus is turning us toward one particular thing: prayer.

If there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of COVID-19, it’s that we’re turning to God for guidance and protection. Social distancing, which is separating us from others for the sake of our physical health, has given people more time to draw near to God, which is certain to affect our spiritual health.


Our economy is being shaken as a vicious disease moves like an invisible invader throughout our country. But the hope offered by Jesus Christ is as real and vital as it was the first morning of his empty tomb. “He is not here; he has risen,” said the angel to a group of women wondering where Christ's body had gone. He is alive, and he is eager to enter your life.

The uncertainty of life has never been more evident, but so too is the reality that the God who made us is unchanging — the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can be thankful that he is closer to us than the air we breathe and is only a prayer away.

Nobody at the MRC has yet complained about Perkins being "TONE DEAF" or being "grotesque" for finding something good in something bad.

Through April and into May, that pattern continued ... but with a twist showing that the hypocrisy is coming from further inside the house.

Whitlock complained in a April 25 post that "The journalists at CBS This Morning on Wednesday celebrated Earth Day by finding the upside to a global pandemic killing hundreds of thousands and destroying the economy" by noting "the rapid and amazing environmental improvements taking place during the pandemic." He declared this to be "tone deaf" (like another MRC writer) and huffed: "To underline, 180,000 people are dead. The journalistic excitement over this COVID-19 'silver lining' is tacky at best and ghoulish at worst."

Whitlock grumbled again on May 13 about another CBS segment that is "finding the environmental 'silver lining' to a global pandemic that has killed almost 300,000 people and is destroying the economy" in which it "described the environmental rebound (less pollution, more animals moving freely) as a response to humans 'mucking everything up.'" He raged: "Do journalists not see how unseemly all this 'silver lining' talk sounds?"

Well, Whitlock might want to have a talk not only with his CNS co-workers down the hall, but also with his officemate Matt Philbin, who found his own silver lining in a May 5 post:

The left is salivating about using the pandemic crisis to force massive changes to American society. Average Americans, of course, just want to go back to work or to the mall or to … church. And those desires -- in particular the last one -- could present a formidable stumbling block in the sprint to the new progressive future. Despite years of eager predictions to the contrary, “the opiate of the masses” is not dead. In fact, it’s feeling better.

Since the pandemic began, secular progressives in the media have been spewing venom at Evangelical Christians, blaming their purportedly anti-science mindset for every setback in combating the virus and aghast at anyone worshipping something other than the environment or the state. (The communist Chinese government gets a pass, but fellow Americans trying to exercise religious liberty are smeared without mercy.)

All for naught, it seems. New Pew research published on April 30 found that “Some Americans say their religious faith has strengthened as a result of the outbreak, even as the vast majority of U.S. churchgoers report that their congregations have closed regular worship services to the public.”

Is Whitlock going to attack his co-worker for being "tone deaf" or acting "unseemly" for pointing out this "silver lining"? Unlikely -- the MRC is not exactly known for holding itself to the same standards it demands from everyone else.

On May 20, Geoffrey Dickens put together a compilation listicle of "the Top 14 worst examples of liberal media types discovering the 'bright spot' of the coronavirus crisis." Needless to say, he didn't mention any of the "bright spots" discovered by MRC's own writers.

If only the MRC held its own "news" division -- and its own writers -- to the standards it tries to enforce on the "liberal media."

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