The MRC Doesn't Care About Tara Reade
The Media Research Center has embraced a woman who accused Joe Biden of sexual misconduct a few decades back -- but only because she's useful to its agenda. By contrast, it demeans women who make similar allegations against President Trump.
By Terry Krepel
The Media Research Center has spent much of 2020 being particularly obsessed with Tara Reade, the woman who has accused Joe Biden of sexual misconduct back in the 1990s -- it published at least 37 articles referencing her in the first month after the story broke. It's been doing a lot of concern-trolling on this, especially after it dug up video of a woman who is purportedly Reade's mother vaguely referencing a similar incident while calling into Larry King's CNN show in 1993, which prompted MRC chief Brent Bozell to baselessly accuse CNN of colluding with the Biden campaign to keep the story secret. There is also, of course, a "study" of media coverage of Reade that omits Fox News.
It should be obvious, but we'll point it out anyway: The MRC doesn't give a damn about Tara Reade. Because it is a partisan political organization -- not one that does objective "media research" -- it cares only about hurting Biden's electoral chances by any means possible. For proof, one need not look further than the shabby, denigrating treatment the MRC has given to women who make sexual misconduct accusations against conservative figures, and the defense it has given to the accused conservatives.
The MRC is closing in on 30 years of smearing Anita Hill for making never-disproven allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- most egregiously baselessly accusing her of making the allegations so she could cash in by writing a book and getting a supposedly cushy law school teaching job.
The MRC made sure to attack Chrstine Blasey Ford for making allegations of sexual misconduct against another conservative Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh (which somehow justified even more Anita Hill-bashing) while hiding the fact that one of the key players in the saga, Mark Judge, was employed by the MRC until the Blasey Ford story broke. The MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, followed the same playbook.
By contrast, the MRC said nothing about the mounting accusations of sexual harassment against Fox News host Bill O'Reilly until the channel had safely fired him, and in fact was so unconcerned about the accusations that Tim Graham appeared on the final episode of the show (after O'Reilly's departure).
So the MRC can spare us the lectures and instead exhibit some modicum of consistency in its own treatment of sexual misconduct charges -- and, you know, maybe not act so blatantly political and hypocritical.
When it was revealed that President Trump's campaign paid hush money to Stormy Daniels to get her to keep quiet about an affair between the two lest it hurt his election chances, the MRC attacked not Trump for having sex with a woman out of wedlock but, rather, Daniels for being a porn star who violated a nondisclosure agreement. Its NewsBusters blog even tagged some of its articles about Daniels as "pornography."
In a March 2018 post, Scott Whitlock complained that "Stormy Daniels received $130,000 from Trump’s lawyer before the 2016 election" and tried to compare it to Gennifer Flowers, who claimed to have had an affair with Bill Clinton, getting paid by a tabloid in the 1990s. But Whitlock clearly didn't understand the difference between the two payments. Flowers was paid by a tabloid to tell her story about an affair with Clinton, while Daniels was paid by Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen -- not a tabloid -- not to tell her story during the 2016 presidential election lest it hurt Trump's campaign. The sources of the money meant different consequences: Flowers appeared less credible by taking money from a tabloid, while Daniels' credibility was enhanced by Cohen buying her silence, effectively making her claim of an affair credible.
A July 2018 post by Kyle Drennen groused that " all three network morning shows promoted the conspiracy theory that the arrest of porn star Stormy Daniels at an Ohio strip club for misdemeanor sex offences was a “politically motivated” “sting operation” designed to embarrass the adult film actress, who accused President Trump of having an affair with her in 2006." Drennen's post started falling apart almost immediately: CNN soon reported that appears Daniels was indeed targeted for arrest; newly released emails between officers in Columbus, Ohio -- where she was arrested following a performance at a strip club there -- reveal that included photos and videos of Daniels and a map to the club, and that one officer was "seemingly giddy about the arrest after the fact."
Indeed, a year later, the city where Daniels was arrested agreed to pay her $450,000 to settle her claim that she was arrested to protect Trump. Given the MRC's historic refusal to correct fake news that appears on its website, you will not be surprised to learn that neither Drennen nor anyone else at the MRC has reported this development, which rather blows up his dismissal of this as nothing but a "conspiracy theory."
The MRC has, however, published a column by Graham and Brent Bozell attacking Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, for appearing on TV too much for their liking -- which tells us that they would like the whole Daniels story to be censored -- as well as a rant from right-wing radio host and Bozell buddy Mark Levin, a propagandist pushing an agenda, attacking the "liberal media" for being "propagandists who push an agenda" because they reported on Daniels:
Stormy Daniels is a non-story. Stormy Daniels is a non-story. It was a non-disclosure agreement apparently signed. So why is there a story? Because she’s violating a non-disclosure agreement. They’re trying to embarrass the President. So what? Week after week after week after week. A porn star, the media, mainstreams a porn star and her crackpot, slip-and-fall lawyer.
We suspect that Levin didn't think a president having sex with a woman not his wife was a "non-story" when said president was a Democrat.
The attacks on Daniels continued as 2018 continued. In August, Gabriel Hays huffed that Daniels had been invited to take part in a satirical awards show designed to mock sexism created by comedian Lizz Winstead:
Ms. Stormy appeared grateful for the invitation. She claimed that she was “surprised and honored when I was invited to be a presenter at this year’s Golden Probe Awards and I’m very much looking forward to the exciting evening.”
Hays weirdly didn't mention Trump at all in his piece, let alone that Trump has been credibly accused of paying hush money to Daniels.
Later that month, Graham spent a post dismissing Daniels as a "porn star" and "liberal stripper" as well as a "#Resistance mascot and plasticized container of impeachment fantasies-- again, no mention of the hush money, and again, no mention of how this reflects on Trump rather than his critics -- as he whines about Vogue magazine "trying to glamorize" Daniels. Graham was also triggered by Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, complaining that he's quoted in the Vogue article as saying that "Stormy is 'really f---ing smart' three times...like it's a porn version of Beetlejuice."
The same day, Curtis Houck was similarly triggered by the appearance of the "liberal journalist" who wrote the Daniels profile for Vogue appearing on TV calling Daniels the "perfect adversary" to Trump. Houck also complained that the writer "passed her off as just [a] 'working mom' with 'a family to support'" even though "Daniels doesn’t have full-time custody of her child and makes money that most Americans could only dream of making."
The MRC even got mad that a domestic abuse allegation against Avenatti -- whom it loved to call a "creepy porn lawyer," something it didn't call Alan Dershowitz -- was fact-checked and found to be false.
At the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, reporter Susan Jones at first wouldn't even use Daniel's name while dismissing the story as nothing more than a liberal media narrative. Jones eventually referenced Daniels by name but still peddled the "narrative" narrative and lamented how the story was part of "the politics of personal destruction" since Trump took office. Jones has a conveniently short memory if she thinks the "politics of personal destruction" began only 14 months ago.
Reade's credibility vs. Fox News accusers
By mid-May, the MRC had referenced Reade in 85 NewsBusters items and did lame "studies" on coverage -- most ludicrously complaining that news channels (excluding Fox News, natch) covered Vice President Mike Pence's potentially dangerous gaffe of refusing to wear a face mask while visiting the Mayo Clinic than the Reade allegations.
This, of course, has nothing to do with "media research" and everything to do about partisan politics. The MRC cares nothing about the well-being of Reade; since it's an arm of President Trump's re-election campaign, it cares only about hurting Trump's opponent, Biden.
The MRC's dishonesty and the double standard continued in a June 29 post by Bill D'Agostino complaining that "it’s been more than a month since ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC or NBC have even mentioned the accusations of Tara Reade, a former Biden staffer who alleges that he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s."
But D'Agostino censored news that countered his narrative that Reade is credible: Politico looked into Reade's background and found a history of manipulative and deceitful behavior, and a PBS report that interviewed 74 former Biden staffers, many of whom disputed Reade's accusation based on their experiences with Biden. The only place you'll find these pieces referenced at the MRC is in a May 15 post by Graham, who dismissed the Politico article as a "hit piece" and the PBS investigation with whataboutism, complaining that "Clarence Thomas's co-workers showed overwhelming support for Thomas and rejected Anita Hill's claims, but that didn't slow down the media's I Believe Anita boosters." At no point did Graham dispute the accuracy of either piece.
The day after D'Agostino's "study," Whitlock served up a post with the whiny headline "In May, Hypocrite John Oliver PROMISED to Return to Tara Reade. He LIED." The whining continued:
It’s been eight weeks since HBO host John Oliver allowed a pathetic 26 seconds to the Tara Reade sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden. On the May 3 show, the HBO host promised her story would be “ fully investigated” and “I am sure that we will talk more about this as the story unfolds.”
While D'Agostino and Whitlock were clutching their pearls over purported lack of coverage of the Reade story, they and their MRC coworkers were actively censoring the latest tales of sexual harassment at Fox News -- something they have lots of practice with, given how often Fox News personalities have been accused of untoward behavior.
On July 1, Fox News announced it had fired pro-Trump correspondent and anchor Ed Henry after a complaint of sexual harassment against him. This follows a 2016 suspension by Fox News following news of an extramarital affair. Not even a history of denouncing Henry as not sufficiently down with the right-wing Fox News agenda for committing the offense of asking non-softball questions to MRC sacred cow Mark Levin didn't even draw out the MRC gloating we know so well.
Then, on July 20, two women -- a former Fox News producer and a once-frequent guest on the channel -- sued Fox News and hosts including Henry, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Howard Kurtz, accusing them of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. One woman even accused Henry of raping her.
This story too has been completely censored. The only mention of it we could find was on Brent Bozell's Twitter account, where he huffed: "I know Sean, Tucker and Howie. They are all honorable men. This stinks to high heaven. I don't believe a word of it."
In other words, he's doing what Graham complained PBS did in using people's personal experience as an excuse to dismiss the complaint. And he's certainly not giving these women the benefit of the doubt his organization is giving Tara Reade.
It's as if the MRC's treatment of sexual harassment allegations depends entirely on the employer or political agenda of the accused.
Reade vs. E. Jean Carroll
As a kneejerk defender of all things Trump, the MRC knew what it had to do when writer E. Jean Carroll came forward in June 2019 to accuse President Trump of sexually assaulting her in a department store dressing room 24 years ago: destroy her and paint her as crazy and non-credible. Let's take a look at how.
Jorge Plaza started the MRC attack by questioning Carroll's motives for going public when she did: "The timing of this allegation is suspect. Why didn’t she come forward with her story after the release of the infamous Hollywood Access [sic] tape? At that point, accusations were coming out left and right. ... Instead, Carroll waited until she had published her book -- almost 3 years after the Hollywood Access [sic] tape -- to make her claim." Plaza then criticized celebrities who bashed Trump over the allegation, huffing that they're driven by "an all-consuming rage that inhibited their rational ability to smell a fishy story. Carroll's story fit into their preconceived notion of Trump as an evil rapist, so her story must be true without any investigation."
(By contrast, the MRC has never questioned Reade's motives.)
This was followed by Emma Fantuzzo bashing MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell for reporting on it: "O’Donnell and the liberal media quickly ate up the allegations without any skepticism, with O’Donnell spending over half of his hour-long program on the story." After O'Donnell pointed out that Trump lied when he claimed that he never met Carroll as shown by a photo of the two of them,Fantuzzo sneered: "One photograph from the early 90’s in no way confirms that Carroll was later raped."
Joseph Chalfant then played the victim card after a CNN interview with Carroll: "The interview was reminiscent of the firestorm Justice Brett Kavanaugh received when the media launched a barrage of unsubstantiated claims against him in his youth, or how the press treated Justice Clarence Thomas during the Anita Hill hearings. The left has a long history of using sexual assault claims as a club to beat conservatives with." He added: "Should sexual assaulters be robustly condemned? Of course, but they need to be proven guilty in a court of law before angry mobs form to declare them guilty in the court of public opinion."
We should remind Chalfant that his employer was a leader of the angry right-wing mob that portrayed President Clinton as a serial sexual assaulter despite the lack of a guilty verdict against him in a court of law.
Kristine Marsh played up Carroll's supposed "very odd behavior" in a CNN interview, in the form of Carroll saying that there are people who think rape is sexy, but was more mad that the media accurately reported that Trump insisted that Carroll is "not my type" and "pointing out past comments Trump had made about an accuser’s appearance." This was followed by Scott Whitlock obsessing over the "weird turns" in the Carroll interview with CNN.
Gregory Price also used the CNN interview against Carroll, whining:
If you are a woman, and accuse any notable Republican of sexual assault, you will immediately become the darling of the liberal media for at least a day no matter how little evidence there may be to back up the allegations. Over the last few days, the press have paraded around gossip writer E. Jean Carroll, who, in her new book, accused President Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a New York City department store in the 1990s.
After host Joe Scarborough referenced Juanita Broaddrick, who level a rape accusation against President Clinton in the late 1990s, Price groused that "the media trashed Juanita Broaddrick and the rest of Bill Clinton’s accusers back in the ‘90s." Price appears not be sufficiently self-aware that he's doing the exact same thing to Carroll.
Chalfant joined in wielding the interview as a cudgel, complaining that a different CNN show "refrained from airing the portions that may not portray the President’s accuser in the most appealing light. ... Rather than air a clip that may cast doubt on Carroll’s credibility, they swept it under the rug." He concluded by huffing: "If Trump committed an act of sexual assault he should be wholeheartedly condemned, but until he’s proven guilty it’s important for the media to depict the situation objectively in fairness to both the President and to Carroll." Again, not a standard the MRC ever applied to allegations against Clinton, or to Reade's history.
Clay Waters also played the Carroll attack/Clinton equivocation card, responding to the New York Times' claim that it was overly cautious in reporting Carroll's allegations by claiming that "the paper risks being caught in a whipsaw, if Carroll’s credibility as an accuser suffers, or she keeps making bizarre comments like the one she made Monday night to CNN host Andersen Cooper, which only right-leaning outlets have noticed" and that "The Times had a far different reaction to an old rape accusations against a president back in 1999, after Juanita Broaddrick came forward with her story of being raped by Bill Clinton."
Curtis Houck served up his own version of that attack, grousing that MSNBC host "and Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferer Nicolle Wallace falsely claimed that there’s never been a presidential 'candidate to be credibly accused of sexual assault as violent as the rape described by E. Jean' before Donald Trump," citing "the history regarding any and all of Bill Clinton's accusers (most notably Juanita Broadrick) as well as Ted Kennedy’s sordid history with women." He also gleefully highlighted "the now scatterbrained story of E. Jean Carroll" and "her bizarre claims."
(The MRC has not told its readers that Reade has not been consistent in her accusations.)
Ryan Foley took issue with late-night host Samantha Bee claiming that NBC's Chuck Todd offered Trump a "softball" interview because he didn't ask the president about the Carroll allegations, huffing that "Apparently, Bee didn’t watch the interview, or she would have known that the interview was loaded with tough questions" (because the MRC had complained about Todd trying to "confront the president from the left") and dismissing her complains as a "typical tirade."
Carroll came for further attack in another post by Plaza after she stated in an interview about her book that "the world is a very, very merry place without men" and that men are so terrible that they should be sent to a "secret place" for "special retraining" while women are left to rule the world. Plaza cheered that "the media has distanced itself from the alleged victim, opting to focus simply on the allegation’s “impact.” adding: "The more distance between Carroll and her allegation, the better. The media loves the rape accusation against Trump. Carroll’s bizarre comments and flagrant man-hate? Not so much."
The last non-transcript mention of Carroll at the MRC was an April 15 column by Graham complaining that "Last summer, when magazine writer E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of raping her inside a New York department store dressing room, NBC News waited about six hours to report it" while grousing the media wasn't moving fast enough on Reade's allegations. The MRC clearly has no interest in keeping Carroll's story alive.
Another Trump accuser censored
The MRC has continued to obsess over Reade as the election draws closer. In a Sept. 7 post, Brad Wilmouth complained that CNN had on the hated Anita Hill to talk about Biden while "Tara Reade's accusations of sexual assault against Biden were not mentioned at all." Wilmouth further complained: "Even though Anita Hill's claims against [Clarence] Thomas were entirely about inappropriate sexual talk, in contrast with the physical assault accusations against Biden by Reade -- who used to work in his Senate office in the early 1990s -- nothing at all was mentioned about the allegations against Biden."
The same day, Alex Christy complained that a commentator pointed out before the first presidential debate that "Trump is not above pulling stunts," citing Reade as a possible example." Christy huffed in response: "It's not a stunt to ask the Democratic nominee if he believes in the standard of evidence he applies for himself or the standard his party applied for Brett Kavanaugh or that he himself has pledged to apply to college students as a matter of policy."
Whitlock returned on Oct. 5, having gone far afield to find some Tara Reade coverage that fit his anti-Biden bias:
Journalists have been derelict in their duty of investigating last March's bombshell sexual assault claims against Joe Biden, providing cover for the Democratic presidential candidate. So you may be surprised to know that 60 Minutes on Sunday spent 12 minutes and 56 seconds investigating Tara Reade and talking to a witness who corroborates her story. Except... it was 60 Minutes Australia. NOT the CBS program that airs in America and might be helpful in educating voters a month before the election.
While Whitlock and the MRC were continuing to flog the Reade allegations in an attempt to breathe new life into them, they censored yet another Trump accuser. In mid-September, model Amy Dorris stated that Trump sexually assaulted her at the 1997 U.S. Open, groping her and "shov[ing] his tongue down my throat."
Whitlock concluded his column by asserting: "Believe all women... unless they’re accusing a powerful Democrat who could be president." But he's a hypocrite; he obviously believes only women who accuse powerful Democrats who could be president, while powerful Republicans who already are president are given a pass.
UPDATE 11/9/20: With all this work put in pushing Reade, it's unsurprising that the MRC basically did an ad for Reade's new book. Scott Whitlock gushed in an Oct. 31 post:
After Reade went public in March to assert that Biden forcibly penetrated her while a Senate staffer in 1993, the networks, as well as CNN and MSNBC, buried the story. Since protective journalists don’t want to tell the truth, Reade is telling her own story in a new book called Left Out: When the Truth Doesn’t Fit In.
Whitlock was surely pleased that Reade was parroting the MRC's own rhetoric about "liberal media titans." He followed with lots of blockquoting from Reade's book and a declaration that "Reade ended with a message of hope, despite the trauma she suffered, despite the corruption of the mainstream media."
Needless to say, Whitlock is not going to tell you about Reade's history of manipulative and deceitful behavior, nor the dozens of Biden staffers who dispute Reade's accounting of events. Nor did he breathe the names of E. Jean Carroll or Amy Dorris or any other Trump accuser.
Whitlock concuded his ad with the expected link-filled sales pitch: "The e-book version of Left Out is available now and can be ordered here and on Amazon here. The hardcover will be available January 1, 2021. (Also available for pre-order here.) If you want the truth that journalists have hidden, read this book."
Whitlock will never say the same about any Trump accuser. Hypocrite.