The MRC's Post-Riot Cleanup
The Media Research Center labored hard to distance conservatives from the right-wing, pro-Trump Capitol riot -- even though MRC chief Brent Bozell endorsed the anger behind it and the election-fraud conspiracy theories that led up to it.
By Terry Krepel
MRC chief Brent Bozell made an appearance on Fox Business later that day to justify -- yes, justify -- the violent insurrection at the Capitol earlier in the day: "This is an explosion of pent-up outrage from Middle America. Look, they are furious that they believe this election was stolen. I agree with them. They are furious that with the Deep State, they believe Washington is utterly corrupt, and they've had it. I agree with them. They are furious with Antifa and the rampaging in the streets and the lawlessness ,and one cop every single week is being shot to death -- think about that one for a second -- and I agree. They are furious with the vast censorship of free speech that's taking place. So the fury was there."
Then, he pivoted away, trying to minimize the violence as done by a small group of actors: "Unfortunately, it was controlled fury with the vast majority, and one element went forward with lawlessness, and it has done tremendous damage to everyone else." Remember that Bozell's MRC loves to mock commentators who said the same thing about the summer's racial justice protests. He then went the whataboutism route, saying that critics of the violence have "damn well better have criticized Antifa for the last year and Black Lives Matter for their lawlessness, their destruction of property, their killing of people. If they have done that they have every right to be critical. If they have not done that, let those people who have been reasonable and have been objective in this, let them speak out."
Bozell also reiterating that he agrees with those who claim the election was stolen and effectively justified the violence, betraying his own words. He then ranted: "It's hundreds -- it's millions, tens of millions of people -- it's 40 percent of the American people believe this stolen. This is not a handful of people."
But Bozell has spread lies and misinformation about the election and fed this false story that these people believe. As ConWebWatch has documented, Bozell asserted without evidence that pre-election polls showing Joe Biden with a big lead over Trump were "deliberately wildly wrong," and he hired right-wing pollsters -- one of whom actually worked for the Trump campaign -- to push his conspiracy theory that the media stole the election from Trump.
Bozell then backpedaled a bit on his support for the riot, fretting about what the violence would likely do to the conservative movement: "I am heartsick about that element that has been so destructive and has done so much damage to a very noble cause, but the damage they have done to conservatives like me is profound. ... No one's going to look at pictures of the whatever, the 900,000 that didn't participate in this, who were there marching peacefully. No one's going to look at that. No one ever looks at marches by conservatives that are peaceful -- the right-to-life march every single year, the Tea Party marches where they pick up their own wrappers. They've never gotten credit for this. So one's going to look at the overwhelming majority that were peaceful. They're going to look at the bad guys."
He concluded by declaring, "I hope there is a through investigation. My guess is when all this is over you're going to find that there were some bad guys on the other side who were also participating. It's just a hunch."Bozell was silent about President Trump -- whom his MRC has been dedicated to defending in an unquestioning manner over the past four years -- or his role in instigating the violence.
After his TV gig, he went on Twitter to thank the host, adding: "Violence is never the answer and hurts the cause of the millions, like myself, who know this election was stolen." Bozell will never admit that when you lie to people the way he has, violence is inevitable -- and he's got blood on his hands for encouraging it.
By contrast, the right-wing riot briefly shocked MRC executive Tim Graham into reasonableness, if his Jan. 8 column was any indication:
Critics of liberal-media bias are often accused of whataboutism. We're accused of diverting everyone's attention from some conservative or Republican scandal or offense by changing the subject to the media's performance.
That's a big change in tone from his boss, Bozell. Graham's disavowal of whataboutism is also interesting, since whataboutism is what the MRC runs on (and Graham too).
Graham went on:
The "told you so's" from liberals weren't half as depressing as the "protests" from so-called "born-again Americans" themselves. And at this sad hour, I'm not invested in driving the notion that a vast left-wing conspiracy somehow overtook a peaceful Trump rally. In this moment, it feels like another unproven claim, like the Trump landslide.
Graham seems to have ignored that his boss is still clinging to his bogus election-fraud conspiracy theories -- and that the MRC has not only published posts promoting the idea that the election remains in dispute, it has complained that right-wing tweets disputing the election were flagged by Facebook.
More interestingly, Graham wrote this:
Adding salt to the wounds of video showing "conservatives" ramming through police barricades were pictures of "conservatives" destroying media equipment. If you're stomping on someone's camera, you're no friend of America. Just because journalists might seem to wear hats that say America has never been great doesn't excuse your destruction of property. They have a right to report even a right to distort and we have the right to call out distortions. That's the First Amendment, too.
That sort of expressed respect for journalists is almost unheard of at the MRC, which had effectively rooted for Trump supporters to attack them at rallies and mocked their concerns about their safety in covering Trump. The MRC's hatred for journalists and journalism is so vicious that it sells shirts saying, "Believe In America, Not The Media."
But Graham apparently got that fit of conscience out of his system, and he quickly reverted to form. His Twitter account since then has a tweet sneering at CNN as "the MMMBop of news," and he also wrote a post mocking CNN's Anderson Cooper as nothing more than the "son of the famous and uber-wealthy fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt" and calling him "Anderson Vanderbilt Cooper" even though that's not his actual middle name.
So, it appears Graham really didn't mean anything he wrote in his column.
Distancing conservatives from the riot
Meanwhile, the MRC's rank and file had the one mission it usually has at times like this: to distance conservatives from the attack -- even though the rioters clearly believed they were acting on behalf of Trump, and even though the MRC has sought to portray fringe-right extremists of the kind that led the insurrection as a part of mainstream conservatism.
Curtis Houck complained on the day of the riot:
Wednesday afternoon during live coverage of the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, NBC’s Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd took a ghoulish victory lap of sorts, discarding any and all conservative and Republican denunciations of the Capitol violence as “a lot of empty rhetoric” and “empty concern” that, in his mind, means absolutely nothing.
Remember this post the next time Houck urges people to choose unity instead of holding Trump or any other conservative accountable.
Nicholas Fondacaro ranted:
Wednesday saw disgusting acts of sedition and insurrection from radical elements of the far-right as Trump supporters launched an assault on the Capitol, breaching its halls and offices. The acts were roundly and justly condemned by most sound people on the right, both from lawmakers and right-wing media figures. But the CBS Evening News wasn’t having it.
Curiously, Fondacaro ignored that a bomb was also discovered outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters as well.
The next day, Kristine Marsh cheered how a Republican congressman blamed the media for the riot, even though she admitted that "Trump supporters" took part while also trying to avoid blaming Trump for instigating it. Scott Whitlock echoed Houck's talking point: "The fact that scores of conservatives and Republicans have come out and condemned both the violence at the Capitol, as well Donald Trump himself, is apparently lost on MSNBC. Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night smeared the entire GOP as “fascist,” “violent, insurrectionist party.” Joy Reid mocked Republican condemnations, saying they “don’t matter.”
Kyle Drennen had his own very special meltdown in a post smearing MSNBC anchor Katy Tur as "nasty" for the sin of pointing out right-wing culpability in the riot:
Appearing on Wednesday’s Tonight Show for a segment aired early Thursday morning, left-wing partisan MSNBC anchor Katy Tur claimed that “decades” of conservatism somehow caused the horrific assault on the U.S. Capitol. She rushed to exploit the disgraceful event and claim that “Rush Limbaugh” and “Fox News” were to blame.
Drennen offered no facts to rebut Tur's claims.
Marsh returned to whine:
While conservatives can and do condemn violence from the right, as we saw yesterday at the Capitol building, it appears to be too much to ask the liberal media to condemn violence from both sides as well. On Thursday’s GMA 3 on ABC (which serves as the afternoon hour of Good Morning America), co-anchors T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach pretended they were publicists for the Marxist group Black Lives Matter, whose supporters engaged in many violent riots this past Summer. But instead of pointing that out, ABC covered for the left-wing organization by inviting their co-founder to stoke racial hatred against law enforcement over the terrible events of Wednesday.
Marsh added, "Robach didn't challenge Cullors repeated claims that BLM was mostly peaceful." She offered no evidence that they weren't.
In a Jan. 8 post, Alex Christy complained that CNN wasn't giving enough credit to Trump administration officials who resigned over the riot:
For years, CNN has exploited former Trump officials as they dumped on the old boss, from Anthony Scaramucci to Omarosa. But CNN thinks anyone resigning the wake of the Capitol Hill riot has no principles at all, and are just trying to "cleanse their reputation" It's too late to help CNN.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Hays chimed in:
In the media’s mission to associate literally everyone and their Bible-thumping grandmothers with “terrorist” attacks at the Capitol Building from this past Wednesday, outlets are beginning to blame the violent actions of a vast minority of a Trump rally-attending crowd on pro-Trump Christians in general.
On Jan. 11, Fondacaro continued the MRC's defense of Melania Trump, this time over the statement she issued afterwards. When ABC News pointed out that she turned attention to herself by grousing about "salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me,'" Fondacaro huffed that "An important part of the statement that ABC and Bruce intentionally omitted from their reporting, was how the First Lady said she’ll carry with her the stories of those who had died at the Capitol."
Scott Whitlock ramped up the victimhood in a Jan. 13 post grumbling that late-night hosts were unfairly blaming all conservatives for a conservative-instigated riot:
The far-left Democratic activists posing as late night hosts on Monday night used last week’s violent assault on democracy as an excuse to smear all conservatives and Republicans as "sociopathic" and to mock Mike Pence, who was nearly murdered by the band of demagogic thugs.
Christy returned to huff: "Americans of all races and political persuasions want those who rioted at the Capitol on Wednesday to be brought to justice, so it was disheartening, but not necessarily surprising when former Republican senator from Maine and Clinton Secretary of Defense William Cohen poured gasoline on the fire on Monday's Andrea Mitchell Reports by spreading the blame to 'white people' and their 'white rage.'"
Meanwhile, Hays had a very special meltdown of his own:
Vice’s latest anti-life piece is proof that last week’s Capitol riot is a one-smear-fits-all bad PR event being used by the left to condemn all of its political enemies.
Of course, Hays failed to mention that judging a group by its worst actors is exactly what his employer has done regarding Black Lives Matter -- or that violence and murder has been a non-insignificant component of the anti-abortion movement.
Hypocritical whataboutism galore
Even though Graham specifically advised against playing whataboutism on the riot, his MRC minions did exactly that on the very day his column appeared, as well as in the days afterward:
Yes, the MRC has managed to have double standards about double standards.