The MRC's War on Jen Psaki (And Man-Crush On Peter Doocy): The Profiles
Media Research Center writer Curtis Houck can't handle it when White House press secretary Psaki doesn't face hatred in media interviews -- or that Fox News reporter Doocy's right-wing bias gets called out.
By Terry Krepel
Houck devoted a May 5 post to ranting about a magazine profile of Psaki that didn't hate her as much as he does:
On Wednesday, Washingtonian magazine came out with a nearly-2,220 word profile of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki that could best be described as a slobbering love letter that hailed her as a fact-based saint who refuses to play to the cameras, plays and works well with reporters, and represented a break from the belligerence and back-talking of the Obama and Trump administrations.
Yes, Houck certainly could -- hating Psaki is his job, after all. The Space Force "kerfuffle" is something Houck helped manufacture for no other reason to have a reason to attack Psaki. He's certainly never to to acknowledge Psaki's humanity. And, of course, nobody is allowed to ever be critical of his man-crush.
Houck even managed to take some time away from his anti-Psaki rage to work in a tribute to his man-crush:
Though falsely treated by leftists as a carnival barker worse than even Jim Acosta, Fox’s Peter Doocy showed himself to be a far better man than the actual characters like Acosta and Brian Karem that Trump spokespeople had to deal with when he told Goldstein that Psaki has run “a very low-blood-pressure briefing room.”
Reminder: Spewing hatred at Acosta because he dared to ask questions of the Trump administration was Houck's main job in the Trump years.
Which brings us to a May 7 post, in which Houck complained that a Politico profile of Doocy wasn't man-crushy enough and spent too much time (which is to say, any time) likening him to Acosta:
Christopher Cadelago’s feature “Is Fox’s Peter Doocy Just Asking Questions Or Trolling the White House” led with the build-up to President Biden’s March 25 press conference and what ended up not being “a titanic collision between” Biden and Doocy as Biden chose not to call on him.
No mention, of course, of Doocy pushing fake news by asking Psaki about a false story involving Kamala Harris' book purportedly being given to immigrant children (which the MRC later stealth-edited out of an item he wrote on the exchange). Houck grew increasingly perturbed that Doocy was likened to the despised Acosta, even bizarrely lashing out yet again at CNN's Oliver Darcy and descending once more into Acosta Derangement Syndrome:
Conservative media Benedict Arnold and CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy was also predictably, insisting Doocy bears more resemblance to a divisive pundit than an actual journalist: “Doocy’s line of questioning fits neatly into the messaging pushed by Fox’s conservative newscasts and propagandistic primetime shows.”
Actually, it is pretty much just you, Curt -- the fact that you can't let your rage against Acosta go appears to be some sort of mental issue. How does Houck know for sure that Doocy's not like Acosta? That's just wacky man-crushing. And why did Houck think he needed to get a comment from Fox News to respond to the Politico piece? It's almost as if the MRC is part of Fox News' PR department.
Houck concluded with one last bit of man-crushing:
Cadelago closed with an important tidbit that Doocy has largely stopped tweeting to better focus on his job and, not surprisingly “disputes the characterization of his job as one big troll.”
Again, Houck doesn't know any of that. And when Doocy inevitably gets rewarded for his hostile questioning of Psaki with his own Fox News show, will he lash out at Doocy the way he did at Acosta when the same thing happened to him?
Smearing reporters who wouldn't smear Psaki
It's not just Psaki who must be abused and denigrated on a daily basis by the MRC -- anyone who doesn't treat her with that same off-the-charts level of contempt must be targeted as well. In that vein, a June 6 item by ragebot Nicholas Fondacaro is one giant screed against CNN's Brian Stelter for refusing to hate Psaki as much as he does:
As a feature during Sunday’s so-called “Reliable Sources,” CNN host Brian Stelter flaunted a pre-taped interview with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki where he came off as a bootlicker for the Biden administrations. Stelter ultimately embarrassed himself with softball question after softball question that added up into a huff piece for the Press Secretary. He even invited her to lash the media for getting stuff wrong with their reporting on the administration.
Of course, McEnany's criticisms of the press" were actually abject hatred for any non-right-wing media outlet who tried to hold the Trump administration accountable -- and the MRC got off on it every single time she ranted about the scrutiny. This is the MRC, and Fondacaro won't admit it.
For the June 7 NewsBusters podcast, Fondacaro and Curtis Houck -- who had a major crush on McEnany -- continued to spew hate against McEnany and Stelter. Houck ranted that the interview was "cockamamie BS" and "bat guano nonsense," adding:
I don't think it's a stretch to say these people don't care about you. this is what they do with their free time instead of asking substantive questions here. ... I think this rhetoric is really dangerous -- and I want to talk about this -- because I think it could really get someone hurt. Because these people go on and on and on bellyaching about the need for conservatives to watch our tone and our words matter. Fine. But we at NewsBusters condemned what happened at CNN when they had bombs sent to them by a Trump supporter. And I don't even want to see people like Jim Acosta threatened. We're gonna make fun of them, but we don't want anything bad to happen to them. And I said this at the time, and it's still true: These goobers deserve to live in peace. Their politics are messed up as it is, they should just be allowed to live their lives. But we're not Maxine Waters here, people. That's the kind of thing we call out here at the MRC and NewsBusters. That's who they are; again, that's not who we are.
Well, let's look at the record: The MRC was much more interested in shielding President Trump from responsibility for inspiring the attempted bombing than denouncing the bombs themselves. Houck himself ranted at CNN for having "lashed out at Trump, insinuating his guilt and deeming his remarks insufficient" (though he did concede that "it’s inexcusable and unacceptable for that to happen to anyone in this country"). He also whined that CNN commentators "smeared conservative media for overwhelmingly being responsible for our country’s worsening discourse," insisting that right-wingers like himself merely "bring you the latest liberal media bias," not their actual job of trashing and denigrating CNN employees day in and day out.
Nevertheless, Houck continued: "Do they even see their political opponents as human beings? Do they believe in and relish the free exchange of ideas that Chris Matthews believed in?" Well, it's more than clear that Houck and his MRC co-workers don't see non-right-wing reporters as human; their response to reporters being concerned about their safety after years of Trump (and, yes, MRC) demonization was to mock them as self-centered. Yes, thinking someone might murder you for doing your job does tend to make one "self-centered" -- people don't like to be threatened or killed for doing their job and telling the truth. Houck concluded by suggesting that any TV host who doesn't sound like Fox News doesn't love America -- so much for relishing the free exchange of ideas.
Houck even more laughably defended the MRC's attacks on CNN because "it's important to lower the temperature by identifying what's wrong." But accusing your ideological opposites of hating America is a temperature-lowering claim?
Speaking of lowering the temperature, Houck's buddy Fondacaro amply demonstrated in a June 17 post that the MRC actually interested in doing the exact opposite by absolutely loving a profane tirade by podcaster Joe Rogan:
During a very fiery segment on Thursday’s edition of The Joe Rogan Experience, the prolific eponymous podcaster and progressive YouTuber Kyle Kulinski tore into CNN media journalist and Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter for his bootlicking interview with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki a couple of weeks ago. The two also teed off on CNN in general for not acting like “real people” and also calling for the “censorship” of their opponents.
Why would Stelter respond to such a vile, obscene, vicious tirade? And why does Fondacaro think he's turning down the temperature by putting his stamp of approval of Rogan calling Stelter a "motherfucker"?
Then, the next day on the podcast, Fondacaro gushed that Rogan "made a fool of Brian Stelter," while Houck added, "that was something else." No mention of any of that temperature-lowering he was lecturing about a week or so earlier. Apparently conservatives never raise the temperature with anything they say, no matter how vile. Perhaps Houck can explain some time how that works.
But Fondacaro wasn't done lashing out at journalists who refuse to hate Psaki as much as he does. He ramped up the childish insults and condescension in a June 24 post on another Psaki interview under the deliberately hateful headline "SPIT SHINE: MSNBC’s Wallace Tries to Beat CNN in Licking Psaki’s Boots":
MSNBC Deadline: White House host Nicolle Wallace apparently saw Brian Stelter’s bootlicking interview with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and thought ‘challenge accepted.’
This isn't "media research" -- it's partisan bile, pure and simple. It seems as if there is a contest inside MRC headquarters regarding who can hurl the most immature insults at its political enemies and the non-right-wing media. It's unprofessional and embarrassing, and if Fondacaro was capable of the emotion, he should be ashamed.
The sin of not trashing Psaki extended to a July 1 post by Geoffrey Dickens complaining that "lefty journos" committed the offense of having "sucked up to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki with the likes of CNN’s Brian Stelter asking her 'what do we [journalists] get wrong?' and MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace gushing, 'You get such high marks from the vast majority of the people in the [press] room.'"
If the MRC had ever complained about suck-up interviews at Fox News to the likes of Kayleigh McEnany, it might have a point -- but it didn't. When McEnany resurfaced for a fluffy Fox News appearance on March 2, Houck predictably gushed over his crush once more and uncritically treated her biased complaints as the indisputable truth:
In her first interview since the end of the Trump administration, former White House Press Secretary and newly-minted Fox News contributor Kayleigh McEnany spoke Tuesday about what she viewed as a “disparate” and “unfair” treatment from liberal journalists who refused to give her “a modicum of respect,” while current Press Secretary Jen Psaki had been able to skate by relatively unscathed.
McEnany's attack on Karem is part of a grudge against him that dates back months.
Houck also gave McEnany a pass for shirking her job at the end: "The interview also touched on how McEnany had wanted to give a final briefing to recap the administration’s many, many successes, but the events of (and the fallout from) January 6 inhibited that." There was nothing stopping McEnany from doing her job in the final two weeks of Trump's presidency;' instead, the day after the pro-Trump Capitol riot on Jan. 6, McEnany read a brief statement, refused to take questions, then fled the room, never to be seen again. She could have answered questions about the Trump administration's response to the riot -- which might have earned her a modicum of respect -- but she chose not to do her job.
But that doesn't matter to Houck. As for as he's concerned, McEnany is perfect in every way, especially in their shared loathing for journalists who refuse to parrot right-wing narratives.
Houck and Fondacaro inadvertently demonstrated why nobody should ever take the MRC's bad-faith "media criticism" seriously.