CNS Gets Burned By Kanye
Like its Media Research Center parent, CNSNews.com used to hate Kanye West until he started spouting right-wing-friendly talking points -- and it was similarly reluctant to criticize Ye's turn toward anti-Semitism.
By Terry Krepel
It published a 2008 column by then-MRC apparatchik Dan Gainor complaining that "Top performers bash President Bush as a matter of faith," citing as an example "Kanye West’s embarrassing stupid comments saying: 'George Bush doesn't care about black people'" during a benefit concert for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
It also published a 2010 column by Michelle Malkin declaring that West won "the Olympic gold medal for racial grievance-mongering" for that comment, as well as a column that year by MRC boss Brent Bozell ranting about how "idiotic rapper Kanye West shouted during an NBC telethon that Bush didn’t care about black people."
MRC boss Brent Bozell sneered in a 2012 column that "Rapper Kanye West, worth $70 million, showed up to the [Occupy Wall Street] protests in New York wearing gold chains."
CNS, however, did turn more favorably toward West a little earlier than the rest of the MRC, which didn't do so until he embraced Donald Trump. A 2015 article by Melanie Arter may or may not have been mocking West by reporting his reaction to receiving an award that "I think I maybe for the first time in my life I understand how it is to feel humbled."Another article by Arter that year foreshadowed the Trump-Kanye bromance:
If there’s one person you won’t hear GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump bashing, it’s rapper Kanye West. He told reporters Thursday that he loves West, because the rapper considers Trump to be his “all-time hero.”
But the day after that article, it also published a column by Bozell and Tim Graham yet again rehashing his Katrina remark: "In the early spin, race-baiting rapper Kanye West and "objective" anchors like Brian Williams were in rhetorical sync: George Bush didn't care about black people."
A few weeks after that, though, Mark Judge -- who a couple years later would become infamous as a bit player in the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination as someone who engaged in drunken youthful antics with him (something his MRC employer sought to hide) -- touted how West praised another right-winger for president:
Rapper, Kardashian spouse and fashion designer Kanye West had high praise for Dr. Ben Carson, the Republican presidential candidate, in an interview published today by Vanity Fair.
Judge followed up a few days later with an article quoting Carson telling West to start "doing some music that might be uplifting that might give young women a sense of their value and young men a sense of responsibility." And a couple weeks after that, Judge touted how West "praised soldiers, police officers and firefighters as brave." In April 2016, Judge hyped how "Pop superstar Justin Bieber recently posted a photograph on Instagram of himself praying with fellow musicians Kanye West and Sean 'Puff Daddy' Combs."
Judge continued to obsess over West: An October 2016 article noted that musician David Crosby criticized West by claiming that he “can neither sing, nor write, nor play."A December 2016 article noted that West met with Trump to "discuss multicultural issues. These issues included bullying, supporting teachers, modernizing curriculums, and violence in Chicago."
West didn't surface again at CNS until 2018, when he voiced his support for Trump. An April 2018 article by Michael Morris quoted right-wing talking head Ben Shapiro asserting that West support of Trump "might actually matter" because it might draw support of Black people to Republicans. An article by Arter a few days later lamented that West "is facing continued backlash over his support for President Donald Trump and for recently voicing support for black conservative commentator Candace Owens." It then published a May 2018 column by Shapiro voicing his full support of West's support of Trump:
It's easy to dismiss Kanye West.
Yes, it only took West spouting right-wing talking points for Shapiro to deem him "an important voice." Then, in true echo-chamber fashion, Morris wrote a "news" article the next day rehashing Shapiro's praise of West. And the right-wing praise from CNS continued to pour in:
Republicans do love their message discipline, don't they?
CNS continued to crank out the Kanye praise and stenography later in 2018:
When CNN panelists in October 2018 criticized West's embrace of Trump as "what happens when Negroes don’t read," CNS was not only there to document the atrocity, it even called in Herschel Walker to criticize it (which, in retrospect, may not have been the best idea, though at the time Walker was being built up by right-wing media like CNS to be a political candidate). CNS columnist came out in force to defend Kanye:
By 2019, CNS was giving space to West's more esoteric ideas, like a piece that July by Craig Bannister headlined "Kanye West Designing 'Star Wars'-Themed 'Living Spaces for the Homeless'." In September, Michael Morris was touting West's then-wife, Kim Kardashian, saying that Kanye "had an amazing evolution of being born again and being saved by Christ." More pontification was given a platform in an October 2019 article: "Songwriter and record producer Kanye West said his parents fought for the right to express their opinion, not the right to vote for politicians the 'white liberals' said blacks are 'supposed to vote for.' West added that Democrats have pushed policies that compel blacks to abort their children."
In November 2019, managing editor Michael W. Chapman cheered how "Evangelical leader Franklin Graham praised singer/songwriter Kanye West for using his talent to 'point thousands of people to Jesus Christ,' especially young people, and urged Christians to pray for West, stressing that liberals will oppose him and the Devil will try to discourage and 'destroy him.'"A couple weeks later, Melanie Arter served up related pontification:
Rapper Kanye West joined Pastor Joel Osteen’s congregation on Sunday and gave his testimony on how God had a calling on his life that he had been ignoring for a long time, and that even in his lowest moments, God was sending him visions and inspiring him.
In January 2020, Chapman returned to cheer that "During a press conference about the upcoming Super Bowl, Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark wore a sweatshirt displaying a photograph of President Donald Trump and musician Kanye West. When asked about his sweatshirt at the Jan. 24 press conference, Clark said, 'Never forget man! Y'all know the moment when Donald Trump met Kanye, a very historical moment in our history!'"
In April 2020, CNS published a column by its favorite dishonest Catholic, Bill Donohue, headlined "Kanye's Christian Rebirth Really Does Seem Genuine":
He says he has given his life to Christ, crediting Jesus as his "anchor" and saying he is "definitely born again." He recognizes that there are those who have done things "with the word of Christ that were bad," but, he hastens to add, "that's not going to stop my love for Christ. I'm going to keep on expressing what God has done for my life."
West continued saying more right-wing-friendly things for which CNS served as a dutiful stenographer in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election:
These were joined by a November 2020 column by James Ensor parroting right-wing support for West's stated position on abortion:
Kanye West’s recent tearful call for the black community to reject abortion as child-killing gives us hope that a wave of black Americans will flood into the pro-life movement. If so, it means the end of abortion as a business!
Ensor went on to repeat a right-wing myth about the locations of abortion clinics in black neighborhoods and falsely equated Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's onetime support for eugenics to "white supremacy."
After nearly a two-year period without mentioning him at all, West resurfaced to spout more right-wing anti-abortion talking points, and Susan Jones eagerly documented it in an Oct. 7 article:
Kanye West, the celebrity rapper, fashion designer, and leader of Sunday church services, recently sat for an interview with Tucker Carlson. West was wearing a badge with an ultrasound photograph of a baby in the womb.
CNS didn't mention West again -- during which time it was revealed that Carlson selectively edited his interview with West to remove parts in which he spouted anti-Semitism and said even more crazy things -- until a week later, when an Oct. 17 article by Arter announcing West's purchase of right-wing social media site Parler finally mentioned West's anti-Semitism:
Rapper Kanye West, who now goes by the moniker “Ye,” is set to buy conservative social media platform Parler, the company’s CEO announced on Monday.
Much of the article was devoted to a statement by Parler CEO George Farmer -- who, like Arter, was not moved to criticize West's anti-Semitism. And like the MRC, Arter also failed to report that the person selling Parler to West is also a chief funder of her paycheck, Rebekah Mercer, as well as the fact that right-wing activist Candace Owens, who did the "White Lives Matter" shirt stunt with West, is married to Farmer, raising the possibility that she set in motion events that ultimately resulted in Farmer and Mercer unloading Parler on West.
It wasn't until another article later that day by Arter that CNS finally reported criticism of West's anti-Semitism -- albeit from Democrats, not its fellow right-wingers:
The White House on Monday condemned rapper Kanye West’s comments about Jews as news broke that the rapper is set to buy conservative social media platform Parler.
An Oct. 31 article by Arter finally brought a Republican, Sen. Rick Scott, into the discussion -- but only in a roundabout way, recounting a CNN interview in which Scott was asked to denounce not West's anti-Semitism but, rather, the phrase "Kanye Was Right About the Jews" being projected on a college football stadium.
It seems that CNS' promotion of West over the past several years has made it surprisingly shy about condemning his anti-Semitism, especially since it is so quick to promote right-wing Jewish groups like the Coalition for Jewish Values that frame any criticism of Israel by liberals and Democrats as "anti-Semitism." That seems to tell us just how corrupted CNS' "news" product is -- after all, criticizing anti-Semitism wherever it surfaces should be a slam-dunk and one of the things both sides ought to agree on.