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CNS Gets Burned By Kanye

Like its Media Research Center parent, 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
Posted 11/21/2022

Kanye West

Like its Media Research Center parent, hated Kanye West before it loved him, using its stable of columnists and MRC co-workers to do so:

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.”

“Kanye West, you know what? I’ll never say bad about him. You know why? Because he loves Trump. He loves Trump. He goes around saying Trump is my all-time hero. He says it to everybody, so Kanye West, I love him,” said Trump.

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.

"When I run for president, I'd prefer not to run against someone," West said, while discussing his Yeezy fashion line and his desire to run for president in 2020.

"As soon as I heard [Ben] Carson speak, I tried for three weeks to get on the phone with him," said West. "I was like this is the most brilliant guy.

"And I think all of the people running now have something that each of the others needs," he said. "But the idea of this separation and this gladiator battle takes away from the main focus that the world needs help and the world needs all the people in a position of power or influence to come together."

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.

It's easy to dismiss him because he's nutty. This is a fellow who tweets about antique fish tanks and fur pillows. This is the guy who calls himself Yeezus (after Jesus) and suggested that then-President George W. Bush didn't care about black people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He isn't exactly known for his bouts of emotional stability.

And in our celebrity-driven culture, we shouldn't pay too much attention to those who haven't spent a lot of time studying policy. That's how we end up with celebrity politicians, emotion-driven policy and reality television substituting for news.

With that said, Kanye West did something deeply important over the last two weeks: He opened up the debate.


What's happening? It's doubtful that West started reading Edmund Burke. It may just be that West, like a lot of Americans tired of being told what to think by their industry and racialists on all sides, is getting tired of being told what to do. It's possible that West, like most Americans, sees America as a place with problems but a place where individuals can think and achieve freely. And he's clearly willing to take part in a political debate so many of his friends aren't.

That makes West an important voice, at least for now. It does take courage to buck your entire cadre in order to publicly declare what you think. West deserves credit for that.

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:

  • A column by David Limbaugh hyped how "Democrats are losing their minds over Kanye West's praise of Trump and his assertion that African-Americans should be free to think for themselves and not be pressured into identity groupthink."
  • Onetime WND columnist Jesse Lee Peterson wrote: "For two weeks, President Trump and artist Kanye West have expressed love and affection toward each other. Godless blacks and others have trashed Kanye for it and continued to drag Trump’s good name through the mud."
  • Walter Williams kept up the narrative, writing that "West's support for Trump, along with his criticism of the "plantation" mentality of the Democratic Party, has been met with vicious backlash from the left," adding that "Kanye West is not saying anything different from what Dr. Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Jason Riley, I and other black libertarians/conservatives have been saying for decades." He went on to cheer that "The Kanye problem for the Democratic Party is that if the party doesn't keep blacks in line and it loses even 20 to 25 percent of the black vote, it can kiss any hope of winning any presidential and many congressional elections goodbye."

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:

  • Allen West complained not only about this but also that "Even Saturday Night Live could not resist in making the Kanye West Oval Office visit the brunt of its jokes" and that any criticism of Kanye is just part of "the tyranny of collectivism."
  • David Limbaugh insisted that "Democrats have no solutions anymore and thus are reduced to crass, divisive identity politics ... This explains why they demonize Kanye West and any other black person who dares to stray from the prescribed liberal dogma."

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.

“I know that God’s been calling me for a long time, and the devil’s been distracting me for a long time. And when I was in one of my low points, God was there with me and sending me visions and inspiring me, and I remember sitting in the hospital at UCLA after having a mental breakdown, and there’s documentations of me drawing a church and saying—writing ‘start a church in the middle of Calabasas,’ and even after that, I went and made the Life of Pablo album,” he said.

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."

Jesus, West says, has been a source of "healing," noting that his succumbing to alcohol—he wound up drinking Grey Goose in the morning—was the work of the devil. He began rebounding the day he said, "Devil, you're not going to beat me today." He says he hasn't had a drink since.


Perhaps the most surprisingly astute observation West made—it is shared by many devout Catholics and evangelicals—is his comment on surrender.

"Now all of that energy and that creativity that I have channeled and put on track comes from me surrendering to God and saying that everything is in God's will."

That is the voice of a mature Christian.

Kanye West is his own man. He is also a man at home with the Creator. He should be welcomed, not disparaged, for going against the grain of the dominant culture.

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!

West’s plea erupted from a contrite heart. It was public and loud. Recalling the pressure he put on his pregnant wife, he shouted, “I almost killed my daughter!” His own words hit him and he broke down weeping, “I almost killed my daughter.” The raucous crowd went silent.

When painful truths rise up on the tears of repentance like this, it tends to crash through all our defenses. In that silence, I suspect hearts and minds were undergoing radical transformation regarding abortion.

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."

Delayed criticism

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.

"What does that mean?" Carlson asked West.

"It just represents life, I'm pro-life," West said.

Carlson asked him, "You wear it on a badge, what kind of response do you get?"

"I don't care about people's responses. I care about the fact that there's more black babies being aborted than born in New York City at this point. That fifty percent of black death in America is abortion.

“So I really don't care about people's response, I perform for an audience of one, and that's God.”

West, no stranger to controversy, said he took a lot of grief from his family and everyone around him for supporting Donald Trump and wearing a MAGA hat. West recently stirred things up by wearing a "White Lives Matter" shirt to his fashion show in Paris.
Two days later, West spewed on Twitter that he was "going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE" and bizarrely claiming that "The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew." And like its MRC parent, CNS had trouble criticizing his anti-Semitism. An Oct. 10 article by Melanie Arter -- the day after West's outburst -- was focused on a Fox News interview with Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and touted that host Shannon Bream "asked Abrams whether she shares the view of rapper Kanye West, who told Fox News that there are more black babies aborted than born in New York City" while making no mention of West's anti-Semitic tweet.

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.

This comes as West was suspended from Instagram and locked out of Twitter because of an anti-Semetic [sic] tweet.

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.

As reported, Parler CEO George Farmer announced Monday that “Parlement Technologies has entered into an agreement in principle to sell Parler to Ye (formerly known as Kanye West).”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that she couldn’t speak to the purchase agreement of Parler, but she condemned what she called “anti-Semitism” and “hateful” and “insulting rhetoric.”

As a result of his tweet about Jews, West was recently suspended from Instagram and locked out of Twitter.

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.

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