Trump Friends Even After The End
The fact that President Trump has been out of office for months (and left in disgrace after the Capitol riot) isn't keeping the Media Research Center from continuing to defend him and his wife's record in office.
By Terry Krepel
Donald Trump may be out of the White House, but the Media Research Center -- in an apparent exercising of its pro-Trump defense reflex -- has continued to defend him and his wife, Melania.
That pattern was set up even before Trump officially left, in the aftermath of the Trump-instigated Capitol riot. In a Jan. 17 post, Nicholas Fondacaro complained that NBC's Chuck Todd said of Trump's presidency that "it is hard to look at this as anything other than a failed presidency when you look at particularly the coronavirus in the last year and obviously the violent ending to his presidency." Fondacaro first retorted, "While Trump’s actions and the events of the last couple of weeks did taint his legacy and final days in office, there was a long list of accomplishments; even if Todd, a man who rents to Democrats, didn’t want to see them." That weird attack referenced a post by MRC executive Tim Graham claiming that Todd once rented a home he owned to Democratic Rep. Amy Klobuchar; apparently, Graham wants Todd to violate anti-discrimination laws by refusing to rent to a Democrat.
Then, Fondacaro started acting as if he was on the payroll of former Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany:
As noted by a list put out by the White House, the administration could brag about Operation Warp Speed which oversaw the fastest vaccine research and development ever. And before the coronavirus, “The unemployment rate reached 3.5 percent, the lowest in a half-century,” which included record low unemployment for many minority groups. Also, “The DOW closed above 20,000 for the first time in 2017 and topped 30,000 in 2020.” Plus, the tax cuts.
Nothing says "media research" like coping and pasting from a press release in order to obscure Trump's failures.
As soon as Joe Biden took over the presidency, the MRC strangely went all in on defending the Trump administration's coronavirus vaccine distribution plan, even though there really wasn't much of one. Curtis Houck ranted in a Jan. 21 post:
On Thursday morning, CNN White House correspondent MJ Lee filed an anonymously-sourced story on behalf of her fellow lefties that set the agenda for Zuckerville and like-minded outlets (which our friend Drew Holden chronicled in another legendary thread): “Biden inheriting nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan and must start ‘from scratch,’ sources say.”
Because, as others have pointed out, the plan, such as it was, wasn't a very good one -- it was concerned only with shipping the vaccines to states, which were then on their own in figuring out distribution. PolitiFact summarized: "There are many criticisms of this process, including that it took too long to give states money to implement their plans and a lack of communication from the top about how the rollout would work. But that was the plan they drew up." The Biden administration has said it will help the states much more closely than the Trump administration did.
But the MRC had its narrative -- Trump had a rock-solid plan, CNN was lying -- and it was running with it. Tim Graham huffed in his Jan. 22 column:
Nonexistent? If the Trump administration had a “nonexistent” vaccine strategy, how was the vaccine distributed across the country? This is self-evidently false. CNN somehow didn’t have the talent or intelligence to Google the 11-page HHS document on their Operation Warp Speed vaccine strategy. Instead, CNN reporter MJ Lee was relying on anonymous Trump-trashing sources for her dishonest spin.
MRC chief Brent Bozell ranted in a Fox Business appearance: "The plan called, had it all set up for distribution in every state, in every territory, tribal distribution, even local distribution. You're entitled to your opinion. You're not entitled to lie. And CNN flat-out lied to its viewers. Its viewers need to understand it is not biased, they're not spinning it, they're flat out lying. That just wasn't true.”
Graham returned to complain on Feb. 15:
Isn't it fascinating that the liberal media lecture us about all the dangers of misinformation about the coronavirus, but now the Biden-Harris team just keeps repeating nonsense about how they had to start "from scratch" on the vaccine? That there was "no plan"?
Of course, we can't expect Graham to tell his readers that whatever plan Trump had was wholly inadequate to the task.
This narrative reached its desperate nadir on Feb. 17, when Joseph Vazquez cheered how Fox Business host Larry Kudlow was eager to rip apart a lie Vice President Kamala Harris told Axios about the vaccine rollout effort of former President Donald Trump’s administration," even happier that "Kudlow shot back over a hot mic: 'Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!'"
Kyle Drennen groused that a later interviewer of Harris "ignored Harris lying in a recent interview about the Biden administration having to 'start from scratch' in its COVID response after President Trump left office," claiming that the questions that were asked "conveniently took the place of any attempt to hold Harris accountable for lying in a recent Axios interview about the Biden administration supposedly having to 'start from scratch' in its COVID response, as if the Trump administration had not done anything to combat the pandemic. Something even Dr. Anthony Fauci said was false."
Graham harped on it again in a Feb. 20 post, pretending to be outraged that the Washington Post gave Harris only two Pinocchios for Harris' statement, trying to split hairs in offering a defense:
In this case, [Glenn] Kessler thinks it's fair game to say there was "no national strategy" since it was "state-centric." You can't have a "state-centric national strategy"? He did think it was "trouble" to say "starting from stratch," even though he elastically allowed they have "fill in the blanks" a bit.
So dedicated was the MRC to this talking point that Tim Graham dedicated his March 17 column to rehashing it yet again:
Were vaccines “moving at a snail’s pace”? On January 15, the week before Biden was sworn in, 10.6 million Americans had received a COVID vaccine under Trump, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Remember: For the MRC, narrative is everything. The truth -- that Trump's plan was apparently only marginally better than no plan at all when it came to the end goal of vaccines in people's arms -- is secondary.
The Media Research Center was such a safe space for Melania Trump that it couldn't get outraged over the 2016 surfacing of nude photos taken a couple decades earlier, which would likely have gotten her labeled as a slut, Sandra Fluke-like, had she not been married to a Republican presidential candidate (and later president). Along the way, the MRC whined that her plagiarism in her 2016 Republican National Convention speech was reported on and even found a way to defend her bizarre "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" jacket. That continued throughout the 2020 presidential campaign and its aftermath.
In October, the MRC tried to defend Melania from secretly recorded phone calls of her complaining about having to decorate the White House for Christmas, desperately trying to change the subject by huffing that reporting on the tapes omitted "the First Lady's anguished retelling of her intervention on behalf of a migrant child."
After years of defending Melania's odd Christmas design choices for the White House, the MRC did so again for her final Christmas choices in a Nov. 30 post by Kristine Marsh that devolved into a bit of Obama-bashing:
CNN’s New Day took a break from their feverish panicking over coronavirus and President Trump not conceding the election to taunt Melania Trump, Monday morning. Co-hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota relentlessly ridiculed and laughed at the First Lady over whether or not she likes Christmas decorations, even bringing their rival Fox News into the childish and mean-spirited mockery.
On Dec. 14, Kyle Drennen complained that NBC defended Jill Biden from attacks on her use of the "Dr." title, though "This is the same network that just a few months ago criticized Melania Trump for condemning looting and has spent years hurling similar cheap shots at the First Lady." Two days later, on his podcast, "executive editor Tim Graham discusse[d] now the media have never been fair or balanced in their treatment of Melania Trump. They mocked her as merely a "former model" and routinely suggested she must be clawing her way out of her husband's clutches."
On Jan. 19, Mark Finkelstein groused:
How clueless is John Berman? On the one hand, the CNN anchor trumpets the fact that Melania Trump is the first First Lady to leave the White House with a net-negative approval rating. On the other hand, his own sneering remarks are a perfect illustration of the kind of negative coverage that Melania has received during her years as First Lady that have contributed to her negative ratings.
The same day, Marsh weighed in again:
The View hosts talked briefly about President Trump’s legacy to kick off Tuesday’s show, but ended the segment with vicious gossip about First Lady Melania Trump. Moderator Whoopi Goldberg asked Joy Behar what she thought about the First Lady’s farewell speech and that prompted a nasty rant from the far-left co-host.
Marsh went on to huff that "Behar ended her trash talk by attacking Mrs. Trump for her 'I really don't care' jacket, which Trump denied was about the child separation policy, but actually about how the media treats her. Still, that didn’t stop Behar from declaring that was what the jacket was about."
Even after Melania exited the White House door, the MRC was still defending her. Gabriel Hays whined in a Feb. 1 post:
Former First Lady Melania Trump can’t ever catch a break. According to a new poll, Donald Trump’s wife has been labeled the least popular first lady in history. Of course we all know it has much less to do with Melania than with a media whose unhinged hate for her husband sloshed over the entire family.
Hays also whined that Michelle Obama got more fashion shoots than Melania did, not-so-subtly suggesting that Melania deserved it more because she's better-looking:
Another over-the-top display of bias towards Melania Trump involved fashion magazines like Vogue snubbing the former supermodel from its cover shoots, but putting First Ladies like Michelle Obama on the cover of its fashion magazine on multiple occasions. InStyle acknowledged that Obama graced the cover three times over the years, though reported that the Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, admitted they’d never put Trump on the cover in the near future.
Of course, Hays gets paid to make non-conservatives like Michelle Obama look bad in the public eye, so he's just projecting here.
Tim Graham similarly whined in his Feb. 19 column:
Melania Trump began her tenure as First Lady behind the Eight ball. First, the liberal media always adores First Ladies who are Ivy League-educated lawyers or career educators, not just ick wives. Second, Melania Trump’s beauty was deployed against her: she was seen as “arm candy,” a “trophy wife.” She resisted any attempt at public affection for the cameras. Comedians mocked their marriage, insisting she wanted to claw out of it, like it was a prison. She didn’t go for magazine cover articles or go “out and about in Washington” for fear of all the poison pens.
Graham is not going to mention that a major part of the MRC's right-wing agenda over the past few decades was to denigrate both Hillary and Michelle, so he's projecting too.