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The MRC's School Wars, Part 1: The Agitator

The Media Research Center hyped battles over critical race theory and LGBT issues in a Virginia school district so its followers would create chaos -- and it could then hype that chaos.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/9/2021

In a June 20 post, the Media Research Center's Nicholas Fondacaro asserted that NBC's Chuck Todd "tried to lie to viewers by claiming that parental opposition and outrage to Critical Race Theory was “manufactured at Fox [News]," claiming that the claim was "even more obviously untrue" because Todd had on a reporter who "had covered the 'dozens and dozens and dozens of parents' that turned out the Loudoun Country school board meeting in Virginia to speak out against the racism inherent in Critical Race Theory."

Well, Todd's not completely right -- just not in the way that Fondacaro wants you to think. Not only is anti-CRT outrage manufactured by Fox News, it's also manufactured by the MRC.

A couple days after Fondacaro's post -- on June 22, the day of a Loudoun County school board meeting -- the MRC sent out an email to its mailing list declaring that the "MRC will be at the Loudoun County school board meeting today as teachers and parents fight Critical Race Theory, 'Trans' In Any Bathroom, and 'Genderless Pronouns' In Loudoun County, Virginia Schools." The email went on to rant (random bolding in original):

On Tuesday, June 22, staff from the Media Research Center (MRC) will be on hand to cover the incendiary Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Board meeting, in Ashburn, VA, as concerned parents, teachers, and students fight the leftist agenda to cement Critical Race Theory, the admission of “trans” students into any bathroom or locker room, and the banning of “gendered speech” in all district schools.


The LCSB meeting begins at 4pm ET, and its agenda includes “adoption of Policy 8040” as well as discussion of the bathroom/locker-room policy, and word is spreading that this will be a powerful moment for the kids, parents, teachers, and ALL taxpayers forced to pay for the increasingly progressive agenda being pushed by the bureaucracy.

As an MRC Action member, we want you to know what the MRC team is doing, right there, on the scene, to keep families and friends informed about this very important battle, and the ideology against which the Loudoun residents fight.

Transgenderism, the claims of “inherent racism” leveled against innocent people by the pushers of Critical Race Theory, the destruction of the language, and even the inclusion of biological males in girl’s bathrooms — it’s all being exposed, today, at Ashburn.

Thanks to you, the MRC will be there.

Please keep us and the good folks who fight for their kids and their tax dollars in your prayers.

The MRC went on to tout one of the people who spoke out against the school board:

You also might have seen MRC chatting, in person, with Lilit Vanetsyan, a Fairfax County-based teacher who, at a recent Loudoun board meeting, also railed against the LCPS policy proposals, especially Critical Race Theory, explicitly saying that the proposed policies will push a radical lesson plan prompting kids to “root for socialism by the time they get to middle school."


Now, Vanetsyan and others are pushing for the removal of six LCPS Board members and the vanquishing of these anti-family, anti-reality, collectivist agendas, this afternoon, at 4pm ET.
The MRC didn't tell you that Vanetsyan is no mere school teacher -- if she is that; it's unclear which school, if any, in the Fairfax County district Vanetsyan actually teaches at -- she's a right-wing activist who's affiliated with Turning Point USA and is a former reporter for the highly biased Right Side Broadcasting Network. (Also: Why is a teacher in one school district trying to speak out against policies in another school district? Isn't that out of her jurisdiction?)

The MRC got the provocation it was seeking at that meeting -- chaos reigned, and at least one arrest was made. And the MRC couldn't have been more delighted, as an email it sent out the next day showed (typographical effects in original):

Leftist Local VA School Board SHUTS DOWN Dissent Over Critical Race Theory, Trans In Bathrooms - AND The MRC Was There

Local Loudoun, Virginia, residents who have become national heroes turned out in the hundreds on June 22 to oppose the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Board plan to adopt Critical Race Theory and perverse sexual “identity” rules in schools across Loudoun County, Virginia, and the Media Research Center (MRC) was on the scene.

As MRC Action members likely are aware, both CNS News and MRCTV have focused time and manpower to bring tell the nation about the plight of Loudoun County taxpayers, children, and numerous teachers, as the LCPS board prepared plans to force racist Critical Race Theory ideology into classrooms and as it prepped its scheme called “Policy 8040.”

Policy 8040 would require schools to admit “trans” students into any bathroom or locker room, and would ban “gendered speech” — i.e. pronouns that conform to the correct biological sex of the individual being addressed — in all district schools.

On Tuesday, June 22, the board abruptly ended the public comment period, even as taxpayers lined up to add their voices to the scant number that the bureaucrats allowed to speak. Tuesday also saw Sheriff’s Department police ARREST individuals who tried to be heard while the board members walked off.

But Tuesday saw the courage that is lighting fires nationwide — fires that could help others stop Marxist Critical Race Theory and Trans-permissive bathroom, locker room, and speech policies from being imposed on them, other taxpayers, and kids.


MRCTV’s Libby Kreiger Tuesday also reported on the meeting, revealing how these bureaucrats — formerly insulated from public outcries by COVID-related lockouts of the public — shut down dissent, and police cuffed and arrested citizens who tried to voice their protestations, claiming they were engaging in “unlawful assembly.” Which is curious, since the First Amendment prohibits the government from infringing on the right to peaceably assemble for redress of grievances...

Clearly, the leftist Loudoun way is not the American way.


This story is receiving far less national news attention than it is from conservative and libertarian talk radio hosts and web commentators, and MRC Action and the Media Research Center will follow this, thanks to YOU.

Your care about freedom and the generations to come are the fuel for our never-ending efforts.

The MRC, meanwhile, cares about fomenting and exploiting chaos to advance its right-wing political agenda. Indeed, its seems like part of a coordinated right-wing campaign to agitate over school boards; in the three and a half months before this school board meeting, Fox News referenced critical race theory more than 1,200 times.

(By the way, It's not like the MRC went through any huge effort to turn this school board meeting into a launching pad for activism. Loudoun County is just a few miles from the MRC's headquarters in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, so it just cost MRC employees a little gas money.)

Promoting the chaos

The day after the meeting, the MRC cranked out articles gushing over the scene it helped to agitate. Abigail Streetman was up first:

On June 22 the Loudoun County School Board voted on policies regarding the treatment of transgender students and critical race theory -- school board meeting that drew crowds of concerned parents on one hand and left-wing activists on the other. All along the medians and sidewalks there were different flags and signs advocating each side's message. The far-left group had posters and yard signs that read “gay rights are human rights,” while the opposing side’s read “Loudoun County’s Worst Nightmare: Educated Parents.”

Many different organizations gathered in adjacent parking lots, including Family Foundation of Virginia, Virginia Education Association, The Radiance Foundation and members of Glenn Youngkin’s campaign team. There were tents set up for both sides and obvious tension between the two, although the real action didn’t occur until the meeting came to an end.

The protesters gathered around 2:15pm, with doors opening around 3:30pm. The meeting only lasted until around 5:50pm before the board voted to shut down the meeting and police declared an "unlawful assembly." A few of the frustrated parents were even arrested.


Loudoun County was obviously not expecting the parents to have so many supporters, if the lefties made up the majority you can bet the meeting wouldn't have been forced to end so soon.

Veronica Hays cheered that "Jolene Grover, the 8th Grade student who went viral this month after calling out the Loudoun County School board for its dangerous transgender policies and CRT indoctrination, was back again at the heated June 22 school board meeting. Once again, she scorched panel members." Hays added that "Jolene Grover is a courageous young girl who should be exalted for her fearless witness before the 'wokest school board in America.'"

Fondacaro whined that non-right-wing media didn't report on the Loudoun County scene that his employer helped agitate, then praised Fox News for doing that reporting:

In a disturbing segment of Wednesday’s World News Tonight, ABC came out in support of poisoning the minds of students with Critical Race Theory. And instead of showing the parents of Loudoun County, Virginia rising up against their radical school board who wanted to teach it to their kids, the network promoted Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Mark Milley defending the teaching of the racist theory to West Point cadets.


What ABC tried to hide from their viewers was the fact a multiracial coalition of parents was standing up to Critical Race Theory being thought to their kids. “Meanwhile emotions are running high tonight in a suburban Washington school district and at times it's getting physical. The issue is about political correctness and Critical Race Theory in the classroom,” announced Special Report fill-in anchor Bill Hemmer.

In a June 24 post, Charlotte Hazard huffed that "left-wing CNN host Don Lemon “interviewed” the chairwoman of Virginia's Loudoun County School Board, Brenda Sheridan, about a school board meeting that occurred Tuesday night before it was quickly shut down to public comment as parents and citizens rejected the teaching of radical critical race theory."

None of these MRC writers disclosed their conflicts of interest in writing about school board meeting chaos that their employer helped to agitate.

More promotion from CNS

The MRC-generated chaos also generated more content for various MRC operations, like this June 23 article by Elizabeth Nieshalla, under the biased headline "Virginia Parents Fight Back Against Loudoun County School Board’s Transgender Policy":

A Loudoun County, Va., school board meeting on Tuesday was the site of a large protest against a transgender policy that ended reportedly in one arrest and one injury.

Nearly 300 parents and community members attended the meeting to speak out against the pending pro-transgender Policy 8040, Critical Race Theory, and related left-wing ideologies of the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) School Board. Some people who support the policy were also in attendance.

Loudoun County parents organized a rally outside of the LCPS Administration Building to take place prior to the meeting. A crowd wearing red gathered in solidarity against the school board and the policy.

Cathy Ruse, a lawyer and former Fairfax County School Board member said at the rally, “Loudoun County School Board is poised to impose on all families in the public school system a radical anti-science proposition that biological sex is meaningless.”

The policy, she said, “wraps itself in fake science and then shuns any true science that doesn’t further its politics.”

Needless to say, more attention was paid to opponents of the policy than supporters, and Nieshalla made no mention at all of the fact that her employer help to incite the anti-transgender forces.

A few days later, Nieshalla attacked the school board again for no real reason at all:

Two days after their controversial June 22 school board meeting, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) sent out an email to families detailing and promoting President Joe Biden’s Child Tax Credit under the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law in March of this year.

The LCPS School Board has been under harsh criticism by many parents who are concerned about the implementation of many of the board members’ progressive ideologies, such as a transgender policy that requires the illogical use of pronouns in reference to a person’s selected gender, as well as concerns about the anti-American Critical Race Theory and its variants.

Neishalla didn't explain why the school board informing parents about a new child tax credit is so offensive. Nor did she explain what the child tax credit has to do with the other initiatives that right-wingers have targeted the school board for.

(She also didn't explain how critical race theory is "anti-American" either or why referring to a student by their preferred pronoun is "illogical," but then, she's just regurgitating right-wing talking points.)

Informing parents of a benefit they may be able to take advantage of is a responsible act by a school district, not a partisan act. The use of a photo of a woman holding up a sign declaring "Education Not Indoctrination" is quite illogical in this instance, because the child tax credit is not tied to anything the school district does, and information is not indoctrination.(Not hating transgender people and informing students of racism in American history isn't either, but again, Nieshalla is all about right-wing narratives, not facts.)

Nieshalla was a summer intern for CNS, which doesn't seem to be interested in teaching her how to do fair and balanced reporting -- or how to disclose clear conflicts of interest.

Getting called out, not taking it well

Despite all that deliberate agitation, the MRC continued to feel the need to melt down every time it was (accurately) pointed out that Republicans are ginning up anti-CRT and anti-LGBT outrage at school board meetings. On July 7, Tim Graham complained that Politico reported that "Republicans are hoping to turn that discord [over CRT] into political capital," offering whataboutism in response: "This carries the usual Democrat spin: it somehow leaves out that the Democrats and their race-based interest groups like the NAACP somehow aren’t waging 'culture wars,' and somehow the Democrats aren’t driving a narrative on race to beat the Republicans." Graham further grumbled:

This links to another Politico story on how "Trumpworld bets big on critical race theory," and "Republicans aren’t coy about what they are trying to do. It’s not just about changing curricula. It’s about taking back Congress." That story doesn't prove conservatives have no evidence. Instead, it notes that black journalists and entertainers are pushing "systemic racism" education.

The focus of the Politico story was Loudoun County -- and Graham failed to disclose that the MRC effectively encouraged agitators to make noise at the meeting.

A July 16 post by Kristine Marsh grumbled about a segment of ABC's"Nightline" on school board chaos across the country and that it didn't reflect the MRC's narrative:

Once he got around to speaking to a Loudoun County mother working to fight CRT in schools, the reporter dismissed her as against “equality.” He sneered “She's now on the front lines fighting the steps the district is making to address inequality in its schools.” How is that fair and neutral reporting?

Instead of talking about what’s actually in the curriculum that parents are fighting, Presha pivoted to giving a Loudoun County public school teacher, who uses her Twitter account to mock these parents, ample time to bash her county for not having done enough to experience its own “racial reckoning.”

Like the others, Marsh didn't disclose the MRC's role in agitating things in Loudoun County. Also, her idea of "fair and balanced" is likely anything that advances right-wing narratives, so her media judgment is somewhat skewed.

In an Aug. 20 post, Clay Waters complained that the New York Times "collected anecdotes from fraught school board meetings around the country as the school year begins, including the controversy over accommodating transgenders in Loudoun County, Virginia schools"; needless to say, he didn't disclose that the MRC helped to agitate the Loudoun County scene.

Promoting a fellow agitator

The MRC even found a fellow agitator it could promote. A Sept. 30 piece of sycophancy from MRC writer Gabriel Hays featured his interview with right-wing columnist and anti-LGBT activist Matt Walsh. Hays doesn't call Walsh that, of course -- that would be too honest. Instead, he gushes that Walsh is a "Loudoun County resident and Daily Wire blogger" who is in the county to rage against the idea that Loudoun County schools might dare treat LGBT people with respect.

The sycophancy started early, as Hays wrote in the post accompanying the video: "The popular conservative columnist explained why it was important to stand up against this child abuse, which is not only destroying our young children in public school and destroying their parents’ right to a say in what their kids are being taught, it’s also denying the truth about biology." In the video, Hays' first sycophantic question was "Why is it important that you're here today, in this fight?" Hays then teed up various softballs for Walsh talk smack about LGBT people.

Surprisingly, Hays inserted a clip of a Walsh screed that showed his true hatred: He irrationally ranted that school board members were "child abusers" who "indoctrinate" children into a "insane, ideological cult" of transgenderism, going on to screech, "You are poison. You are predators." Hays followed up, however, by letting Walsh spout further on his extreme claim that letting transgender people be who they are is "child abuse" and never questioning him on it -- perhaps because Hays hates transgender people as much as Walsh does. Hays remained a passive interviewer even when Walsh insisted the way to handle transgender teens is "to lovingly correct them, to affirm them in the truth," even though nothing Walsh has shown thus far shows he is capable of love toward anyone, let alone transgender people.

Hays also gave Walsh space to reframe his stunt of leasing space in Loudoun County for the sole purpose of being able to harangue school board members after the board made the commonsense decision to limit speakers at meetings to county residents. As Hays sycophantically summed it up in the post accompanying his video:

In a hilarious work-around, Walsh signed a lease and rental agreement for Loudoun County property just days prior to the meeting so he could speak. In jest we asked if his new Loudoun County residency was a “coincidence” and he played along. “Just like they changed the rules before I showed up was a ‘coincidence,’ they said ... coincidentally I just happened to decide to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a Loudoun County resident,” he quipped.

Well we’re honored to welcome Matt as a new Virginian. Hopefully he can move up here anytime there’s another LCPS board meeting looking to take advantage of our kids.

"Our kids"? Hays did not inform his audience that 1) he has any kids, and 2) has meaningful residence in Loudoun County to send them to county schools. While Walsh did claim to have a kid, it's highly unlikely he uprooted her from his actual home in Tennessee to enroll her in a school just to pursue a hateful transphobic vendetta -- which means he has abandoned his family to pull this stunt. Indeed, he simply paid a friend $1 to claim he was a Virginia resident, a tactic that probably wouldn't hold up for tax purposes. Hays didn't ask for proof of his residency, of course.

Further, as Wonkette pointed out: Pretending to be a resident of another state for the sole purposes of denigrating LGBT people and insulting school boards is not the mark of a healthy, well-adjusted man. Wonkette added: "Walsh isn't interested in honestly engaging on this topic nor even attempting to empathize with the people, including vulnerable children, he actively demonizes. This is all a sick game to him."

Walsh has no personal stake here -- no actual residency, no kids in public school (here or anywhere). He just wants a platform to spew hate. And Hays was just the hateful sycophant to eagerly provide that to him. After all, the MRC loves sick games too.

Sidebar: Lashing out at the competition

At the same time the MRC was fixing the Loudoun County school board as a target for its fellow right-wing agitators, it was whining about a series by NBC News about an increasingly extremist battle about critical race theory and other educational ideas between parents and a Texas school district. Nicholas Fondacaro whined in an Oct. 14 post:

For months now, NBC News has been assailing the concerned parents of Southlake, Texas because they’ve been standing up to the tide of critical race theory being crammed down the throats of their children. And on Thursday, despite new details in the already outrageous Loudoun County high school rapes story, NBC Nightly News continued their assault on the community that has had enough of liberal propaganda. They even deceptively edited audio to make it seem as though the parents were support of the Holocaust.

Continuing their smears suggesting the town was made up of rabid racists looking to drive minorities out of their community, anchor Lester “fairness is overrated” Holt chided the town for being the “center of a firestorm over diversity and inclusion efforts. Now, secretly recorded comments from a top administrator about books on the Holocaust are sparking new outrage.”

That’s right. NBC wanted to claim the town was now either made up of Holocaust deniers or Nazi sympathizers.

But it's not until after the 8th paragraph of his item -- buried in a transcript excerpt -- that Fondacaro got around to noting the background of that not-inaccurate descriptor: The school district's director of curriculum told teachers to "Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, make sure that you have one that has other perspectives." Fondacaro then tried to soften that statement by blaming NBC for editing audio:

Notice where NBC and Hylton decided to cut off the audio. In a more complete, but still highly-edited version on their website, Peddy responded by saying, “[B]elieve me, that’s come up.” But who’s bringing that up? The audio ended without an answer but it seemed as though it was a question brought up in an attempt to sink opposition to critical race theory.

Earlier this year, NewsBusters has caught NBC deceptively editing 911 audio to make a police officer look like a murderer.

Still, Fondacaro didn't explain why it's a good idea to teach "the other side" of the Holocaust and give it equal weight. Nor did he explain that it was a logical, if severely misguided attempt to follow a new Texas law requiring teachers to present multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” issues, a law that was a direct response to ginned-up fears about critical race theory. Finally, Fondacaro didn't dismiss out of hand the idea that there is another side to the Holocaust that should be taught in schools. He did, however, sneer at an "anti-racism" book as "CRT propaganda" and dismissed the NBC Southlake series as "nonsense."

Fondacaro continued whining about the NBC series in an Oct. 19 post, complaining that it was pushing that story instead of one that forwards a false right-wing narrative that "radical Attorney General Merrick Garland" was "unjustly suggesting parents protesting at school board meetings were committing 'domestic terrorism'":

Meanwhile, NBC continued its months-long crusade against the Texas town of Southlake, which ousted the liberal members of the school board in an special election earlier this year. And for the second week in a row, they used one person’s gross misinterpretation of Texas law to suggest the anti-CRT board was trying to downplay the Holocaust.


Hylton once again played a highly edited soundbite of one administrator’s misinterpretation of the Texas law to suggest it was designed to downplay the Holocaust. And she once again refused to have a comment from a member of the board or a parent that opposed CRT. And they would likely declare the Loudoun County rapes story (which the networks were still ignoring) was just local news.

Then again, “fairness is overrated” for NBC.

Note that Fondacaro is still trying to blame NBC for editing the clip while also conceding the clip isn't inaccurate and just a "misinterpretation" of the law. He also failed to mention his employer's months-long crusade against the Loudoun County district.

Fondacaro repeated his attacks on NBC in an Oct. 21 post with Geoffrey Dickens that otherwise whined that its pet Virginia school assault story was being ignored by non-right-wing media: "While NBC Nightly New has YET to report on the Loudoun County, VA sexual assault scandal, they DID find time to devote five stories (totaling 14 minutes, 8 seconds) to (mostly) deriding parents in local school districts in Southlake, Texas and Rockwood, Missouri for their resistance to leftist teaching materials. In fact, NBC News has devoted an entire podcast to the Southlake story."

When NBC's reporting resulted in a federal civil rights investigation, the MRC complained about that too. Kyle Drennen huffed in a Nov. 18 post:

After spending months relentlessly attacking the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas for not implementing radical Critical Race Theory curriculum, on Wednesday, NBC Nightly News eagerly touted how the network’s smear campaign had been rewarded. Earlier in the day, the Biden Department of Education announced that it would be launching multiple civil rights investigations into the not-sufficiently-woke school district.

“The Texas schools in a firestorm over race. The new civil rights investigation,” anchor Lester Holt teased at the top of the evening newscast. Minutes later, he breathlessly proclaimed: “Tonight, there’s developing news in Southlake, Texas following the in-depth reporting NBC News has done there on the issue of race and education. A new federal investigation is now underway.”


While NBC has been happy to spend nearly a year stoking racial tensions in a single school district, it willfully ignored multiple scandals – including two student sexual assaults – rocking the entire Loudoun County, Virginia school system, which had a major impact on the commonwealth’s closely-watched governor’s race.

Actually, as a transcript excerpt showed, the civil rights investigations involve "allegations of discrimination based on race, nationality, and gender," not about being insufficiently "woke." And only the MRC would describe reporting that doesn't slavishly reinforce right-wing partisan narratives as an "attack" -- and it would certainly never describe its campaign against the Loudoun County school board as one.

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