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A Shared Love Of Hating Others, Part 2: The Chappelle Show

The Media Research Center went from hating comedian Dave Chappelle to loving his transphobic "humor." Plus: How has the MRC continued to show transphobic love to Ricky Gervais and J.K. Rowling?

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/26/2022

Dave Chappelle

If you hate transgender people, the Media Research Center will automatically love you and immediately memory-hole any previous criticism of you. We saw that with Ricky Gervais and J.K. Rowling when they turned transphobic, and it has also done that with comedian Dave Chappelle.

In a July 2019 post, Clay Waters bashed New York Times critic Jason Zinoman for criticizing Chappelle's "lukewarm jokes" about transgenders, claiming that Chappelle committed the offense of "telling jokes about people that Zinoman doesn’t think he should be telling jokes about." Waters chortled later in the post that "Zinoman was getting his own 'comedy roast' on Twitter for being such a censorious scold and advising comedian Chappelle what he can and cannot joke about."

(Meanwhile, the very next day, MRC leaders Tim Graham and Brent Bozell attacked a cartoon for making jokes about President Trump, with the goal of advising it about what it can and cannot joke about.)

In an August 2019 post, Gabriel Hays defended Chappelle's transphobic jokes as him merely deciding to "refuse to kiss the ring of every insane progressive cause on the market," declaring that "It’s more that the left has a 'basic misunderstanding' of humor, or in other words, liberals can’t take a freaking joke."

When Chappelle served up a new round of transphobic humor in an October 2021 Netflix special, the MRC was back to defend him anew.

In an Oct. 7 post, Matt Philbin mocked an NBC News article on Chappelle, sneering that the complaints came from one transgender person with only a thousand followers and "some other LGBT something something activist." But the complaints turned out to have more staying power than Philbin planned, so he did another mocking post the next day:

The woke left has reached peak absurdity. Yesterday, I noted that NBC got the vapors because Dave Chappelle spoke sense on his new Netflix special, “The Closer.” Today, Variety has more on the fallout of Chappelle saying “Gender matters.”

Jacklyn Moore, who was a writer and showrunner on Netflix’s Dear White People, is angry, and vows not to work with Netflix again. On Instagram, Moore said the streaming platform is “promoting and profiting from dangerous transphobic content.”

They’re jokes, but never mind. Variety said “Moore transitioned during the pandemic, a journey she has chronicled across her social media platforms.” Like ya do. Sounds more like a career move than anything else.

Funny, the MRC never gives the "they're jokes" defense to comedians when they make jokes about conservatives.

As criticism of Chappelle increased, so did the shrill MRC posts defending him. Alex Christy groused in an Oct. 11 post:

Irony died during Monday's edition of At This Hour on CNN as guest host Boris Sanchez and "transgender D.J. and actress" Lina Bradford urged viewers to reconsider their Netflix subscriptions in the aftermath of Dave Chappelle's latest comedy show, where he took on cancel culture and woke gender theory.


In his show, Chappelle said that he didn't care if he got dragged on Twitter, "because Twitter is not a real place." In his next show, maybe he can throw in a joke about not caring that CNN was trying to cancel him, because CNN was not a real news organization.

In an Oct. 13 post, Scott Whitlock could have given Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos for credit for saying that "We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line" -- but instead he ranted that Sarandos was lying because "Netflix produces shows encouraging hate against Christians routinely and without remorse or the same level of uproar." Whitlock, however, cited only two examples of such from the dozens of shows Netflix has produced.

Right-wing movie critic Christian Toto ran to Chappelle's defense in an Oct. 16 post while also lashing out at critics of right-wingers like himself who like to say "woke" and "cancel culture" a lot:

Call it a polite bullying, or more proof that the journalist (or editor in charge) wants to embarrass the star even more. An industry aghast at Cancel Culture would do no such thing. Today’s news editors behave otherwise.

And we’re seeing it again, courtesy of Dave Chappelle. The comedy icon released his latest Netflix special, “The Closer,” Oct. 5 on the streaming giant. The special lets Chappelle explain, and by most measure double down, on jokes deemed beyond the pale by woke activists. His critics dubbed the material “transphobic,” just like they did two years ago when he uncorked similar barbs on “Sticks & Stones.”

Note many of the same outlets will deploy the scare quotes around terms like “woke” and “Cancel Culture” as if neither may only exist in the minds of their critics. It’s laughable.

The media attack against Chappelle came in several waves. Sometimes reporters weaponize a modest number of social media posts – as little as three – to build the narrative that the comedian had stepped out of bounds.

Toto doesn't explain how that's any different from how right-wingers attack non-conservative content they disagree with.

Jeffrey Lord used his Oct. 16 column to warn of "organizations with staffers who are in reality leftist totalitarians. Totalitarians with zero regard for the free speech that in fact is what enables their respective institutions do what they were created to do, whether that means producing TV specials and movies (Netflix) or reporting the news of the day and various opinions on that news of the day." Lord went on to give the praise for Sarandos that Whitlock denied him: "Three cheers for Netflix in standing firmly behind Dave Chappelle. Co-CEO Sarandos is refusing to be bullied into silencing the comedian."

Lord added: "The real problem here is that the fight for free speech, even - especially even - offensive free speech, is raging across America. Giving in and appeasing the bullies, no matter where they show up, is never the answer." He didn't mention that shouting down free speech they don't agree with and acting like bullies is the MRC's entire reason for existence.

Tim Graham whined in his Oct. 22 column:

The Left claims that their most urgent battle is to save democracy, but when it comes to any questioning of the LGBT lobby, they are the ones that sound like authoritarians. The overtones are unmistakable in the “news” coverage promoting “dozens” of employees walking out of Netflix in Los Angeles on October 20 in protest. The target? A popular Dave Chappelle comedy special titled The Closer.

Tens of thousands of pro-lifers can assemble against abortion and be ignored, but assemble two dozen transgender lobbyists, and NBC and PBS treat it as momentous.

If an anti-abortion protest occurs once a year every year for 40-plus years, it ceases to be news. Graham simply wants the "liberal media" to serve as propagandists for right-wing causes.

Graham went on to complain about a NBC report about the Netflix protest: "NBC’s stilted story failed to offer one clip or quote or explanation of what Chappelle said that was offensive. We can guess it’s because the comedian said 'gender is a fact' and 'Every human being on Earth had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. That is a fact.' Is that somehow too horrific for NBC to include?" Graham is cherry-picking a remark that conveniently echoes right-wing narratives; Chappelle said many other transphobic things.

Graham had Toto on his Oct. 22 podcast to defend Chappelle some more. Toto fawned over Chappelle as "the most popular, most talented stand-up of his time" and complained that Chappelle's critics weren't quoting what Chappelle actually said -- though he didn't call out Graham for selectively quoting Chappelle in a way that advances right-wing narratives. Toto went on to grouse that non-famous people drew attention to Chappelle's transphobic humor: "Chappelle has millions of fans. People love the work he does. And you know, he's a liberal guy -- it's not like conservatives are rallying for a fellow conservative. But, you know, why should this small group of people have say and sway over what Dave Chappelle is able to do?"

The MRC is a pretty small group too; why should it have say and sway over anything? But Toto never asked Graham that.

Graham responded by arguing that only "fans of Chappelle" or "people who think comedians should have free speech" have the right to tell people why they find Chappelle offensive. He went on repeat his cherry-picking, insisting that Chappelle wasn't "mocking transgenders" but his saying "things they can't stand to hear, which is gender is a fact, every one of us came out of a woman."

An Oct. 23 post by Toto rehashed another Chappelle-related thing he talked about in Graham's podcast, that the Associated Press and Variety "brazenly lie[d] about a Chappelle protest. He offered no evidence that the incorrect AP claims he called out were deliberate. Toto had to append an update admitting that the AP corrected its account of the protest.

On Oct. 27, Lydia Switzer unusually praised a CNN host for defending Chappelle:

On Tuesday’s New Day, CNN’s John Avlon surprisingly stood up for free speech: even speech he doesn’t like. He was part of a discussion, along with fellow liberal Mara Schiavocampo, about Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special The Closer, which has faced intense pushback and outrage from the cancel culture mob, especially from Netflix employees who claim that some of Chappelle’s jokes were offensive and transphobic.

Netflix has refused to take down Chappelle’s special, which has high audience ratings and has been extremely popular on the streaming service since its release.

That would seem to undercut the MRC's narrative of CNN as relentlessly "liberal," but Switzer didn't bring that up. Instead, she brought up how Schiavocampo said she thought Chappelle's special was "mean," adding, "Unfortunately for Schiavocampo, mean and even offensive language is still speech worth protecting." Funny, the MRC doesn't seem to feel that way when that "mean and even offensive language" is directed at conservatives.

In a Jan. 3 post, Matt Philbin got mad because comedian Patton Oswalt apologized for hanging out with Chappelle:

At Chapelle’s invitation, Oswalt recently appeared at the former’s show, doing an impromptu standup set. But then he posted to Instagram pics of the two backstage. Bad move.

See, several months ago, Chapelle ran afoul of the Transgender Industrial Complex by publicly saying sensible things about biology. He agreed with “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists” (TERFs) about women having lady parts.

There was, as you’d expect, BIG drama, and Chappelle is persona non grata to the better sort of woke activists. Worse, the comic refused to debase himself and apologize. In fact, he was rather defiant.

So Oswalt’s picture was not well received. Think of Stalinists reacting to a junior Politburo member showing off a chummy snapshot with Leon Trotsky.

Oswalt is no Chappelle (and he’s no Patton either) so he immediately issued a craven apology that managed to patronize the trans movement while demeaning his pal Dave.

Yes, spewing hate at transgender people equals "saying sensible things about biology" in Philbin's hateful little world.

In a Feb. 26 post, Christian Toto cheered that Netflix, which aired Chappelle's earlier transphobic special, continued to stand by him in "a direct blow to Cancel Culture, Inc."

When Chappelle was attacked on stage by a man allegedly triggered by his anti-transgender "jokes," the MRC did a round of pearl-clutching. Elise Ehrhard fretted in a May 5 post that the alleged assailant "had a "connection" with the transgender community" and huffed, "The transgender movement has been particularly aggressive in attacking anyone who questions their gender narrative, as everyone from J.K. Rowling to Jordan Peterson can attest." Perhaps transgender people wouldn't be so angry if people like Ehrhard didn't dismiss their existence as people by insisting they merely have a "gender narrative."

Toto returned for a May 7 post whining that Chappelle suffered "the natural results of that ensuing rage" over his transphobia, going on to huff that other comedians might not be able to tell bad transphobic "jokes" :

Comedians already self censor for fear of offending the woke mob. Desus & Mero, the Showtime power duo, admitted just that even though they align almost perfectly with the progressive narrative.

Others do so out of fear, and understandably so. A Chappelle or Bill Burr can survive if they never told another joke again, in theory, given their ample income. A blue-collar comic can’t say the same.

Now, comedians have to worry about more than Cancel Culture. What if the wrong joke upsets the wrong comedy club patron, and he or she decides to rush the stage in response?

It may be wiser to avoid jokes that push boundaries than put oneself at risk.

Once again, the comedy world has suffered a sizable blow.

Yes, unfunny jokes that punch down at people would indeed "push boundaries." But Toto never explained how any of Chappelle's transphobic jokes are actually funny, nor did he reprint any of those alleged jokes to justify their humor. Also, the MRC doesn't give the "they're only jokes" defense to folks who make fun of their fellow right-wingers -- witness its archives of outrage at Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers.

In July, Chappelle quietly dropped a special on Netflix that wasn't actually a comedy special but, rather, a speech he gave at his high school alma mater which was going to name its theater after him but thought better of it after all the transphobia; he spent a good part of it ranting about his critics and insisting they missed the "artistic nuance" of his anti-trans humor and denounced the students who fought against naming the theater after him "instruments of oppression." Needless to say, the MRC loved it. Wallace White cheered in a July 8 post:

No one runs liberals up a wall with comedy quite like Dave Chappelle has in his widely acclaimed Netflix specials The Closer and Sticks and Stones. After lots of leftist backlash from previous shows, he once again stands his ground against PC culture in a surprise release on Netflix titled Dave Chappelle: What’s in a Name? according to The Daily Beast July 7.


He sums up his attitude to speech policing, saying “The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it. It has nothing to do with what you’re saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my right and my freedom of artistic expression.”

Right on the money.

He calls on the kids at the Q&A to be self-aware about whether their words were genuine conclusions they came to themselves, or if they were parroting propaganda fed to them. He says, “I know those kids didn’t come up with those words. I’ve heard those words before,“ and “These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression.”

A bunch of high school kids were simply being megaphones of liberal talking points instead of thinking for themselves. Dave Chappelle wants them to realize that, and teach them the value of freedom and how it can be used for good, like in his case, a good laugh.

Like Toto, White didn't explain how any of Chappelle's transphobia is actually funny. But he "runs liberals up a wall," and owning the libs (or pretending you are while just spewing hate) is all that matters to the MRC.

Still defending Rowling

The MRC bonded with "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling over their shared hatred for transgender people. As Rowling has continued to say transphobic things, the MRC's love for her has only grown, devoting several posts in 2021 to defending her and bashing her critic.

In January 2021, Tierin-Rose Mandelburg complained that Rowling's transphobia was brought up in response to rumors of a "Harry Potter" TV series in the works:

Fans are embodying the typically selfish desires of the left. They want the Harry Potter series but they don’t want Rowling involved. Giving money to a “transphobe” seems barbaric so they’re conflicted and feeding off of other leftists to figure out what the heck they actually stand for. MRC had a great day witnessing again how “the left has completely sold out to this lunacy and the fact that someone as previously woke as Rowling is getting heat for this speaks volumes.” Their mob mentality is not new.


Conservatives are just sitting out and watching the heat as leftists attack one of their own yet again. Tuesday afternoon comedic relief.

Mandelburg forgot to mention that her employer used to hate Rowling because Dumbledore was gay.

A couple days later, Mandelburg unironically declared that "Holding a grudge is one area the left thrives" -- forgetting that she's employed by the MRC, which has held a grudge against Anita Hill for 30 years. In March, Mandelburg hyped how the actor who played "the villianous Lord Voldemort" in the "Harry Potter" movies, Ralph Fiennes, defended Rowling against criticism of her, adding, "Thank heavens Fiennes stood up to the blasphemy of cancel culture but he should be warned that he may face it too."

Veronica Hays grumbled in May 2021 about how a book festival in New Zealand "removed a popular Harry Potter segment from the event because of author J.K. Rowling’s 'transphobia,'" going on to sneer, "It certainly is madness when a popular event is removed just to appease the delicate sensibilities of some mentally-ill individuals; even to the detriment of the festival’s overall success."

It was Abigail Streetman's turn to gush over Rowling in a July 2021 post, repeating the malicious narrative that transgender people are mentally ill:

J.K. Rowling can now be deemed the queen of owning (a certain segment of) libs on Twitter. The liberal author's sarcasm and refusal to back down to the far-left trans nuts has made them even crazier, but she is firing back once again.

When Rowling shared her thoughts on only women being able to menstruate in a tweet last year hard-core trans Twitter was fuming. Despite the hatred she still managed to avoid being cancelled and continues to sell millions of copies of her Harry Potter books -- even announcing plans for a Harry Potter TV series.

The Rowling hate train never stopped although it did slow down for a bit. But there's apparently a new Tweet jihad against her.


Thankfully Rowling actually has a backbone, unlike most of the celebrities who have caved to the social justice warriors and embraced the idea of mutilating your body in support of mental illness. She may be a fiction, author but when it comes to transgenderism she isn’t afraid to speak the truth.

It’s no wonder her books have done so well, Rowling really has a way with words.
Catherine Salgado helped Rowling play victim in a Nov. 22 post, lamenting how "The renowned author said she has been doxxed on Twitter for not agreeing with the left’s narrative on gender and sexuality," though the alleged "doxxing" came only from a photo on social media from people "who allegedly deliberately photographed themselves in front of her house so as to include the address."

When a group of quidditch players decided to change the name of the sport in part to distance it from Rowling's transphobia, Matt Philbin was on hand to be a jerk about it in a Dec. 20 post:

You’re an adult playing a game adapted from a children’s fantasy book about witches and magic. But you don’t want to be associated with the woman who invented the game in her children’s fantasy book about witches and magic because she’s not willing to indulge in your magic fantasies about human biology.

This really is the Gold Age of Stupid.

According to an article on, there are enough lonely, directionless people in the U.S. to form two Quidditch leagues. Yes, Quidditch from J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series. The one where they fly around on brooms in scenes that stretch 10 - 12 hours in the movies.

And while it’s nice that people who would otherwise be shut-ins are getting fresh air and exercise, there’s trouble in Hogwarts. US Quidditch (USQ) and Major League Quidditch (MLQ) are going to change their names, “due to trademark issues and concerns over the ‘anti-trans positions’ of the series' author, J.K. Rowling,” according to CNN.


More importantly, the move is about cancelling Rowling, "who has increasingly come under scrutiny for her anti-trans positions in recent years," according to a statement from the leagues. Rowling’s heresy is believing the women are women and men who say they’re women aren’t. The otherwise exquisitely liberal author is concerned that the trans fad and it’s demands that the owners of wedding tackle be called women will eventually erase actual women (“people who menstruate,” as woke phrasing would have it).

So Rowling is a "renowned author" but fans who honor her renown by re-enacting scenes from her books are suddenly "lonely, directionless people" because they chose to reject the author's hate? We're confused.

When the New York Times called Rowling a "TERF," Waters decided this was a "slur" and rushed to her defense in a Feb. 24 post:

Author J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of fantasy novels, has been the subject of “cancellation” and even violent threats for standing up for the biological reality of women against the radical trans ideology, in which a biological man is free to self-identify as a woman and invade women’s spaces.


But the story’s bigger journalistic crime was an editorial detail. The original URL link at the top of the story ... actually contained the slur “terf,” a derogatory acronym employed by trans activists to smear their feminist opponents. It stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” and has no place in mainstream journalism. The URL also included the insult “transphobic.”

Clearly someone had second thoughts about the slur against Rowling; the link now resolves into a more conventional URL. (The term “terf” had previously appeared in The Times only in trans-activist opinion pieces.)

Matt Philbin, meanwhile, undermined Waters' outrage by completely embracing Rowling as a TERF in a March 9 post:

J.K. Rowling is well on her way to becoming “She Who Must Not Be Named.” It doesn’t seem to bother her. The world’s most famous (or infamous) TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) still maintains that biology has meaning and dudes who claim to be chicks aren’t actually chicks. For this, she regularly faces the Twitter mob.

On March 8, Rowling saw a puffy tweet from the U.K. Labour Party that claimed “Labour will lift women up, not hold them back. Because we are the party of equality.” Rowling wasn’t having it, and she replied, “This morning you told the British public you literally can't define what a woman is. What's the plan, lift up random objects until you find one that rattles?”

Hmm, kinda makes sense. If you’re being pandered to, don’t you want the people doing the pandering to be able to tell you from a toaster or a butternut squash? As usual, the Twitter reaction was swift and stupid. One unfortunate tweeter caught Rowling’s eye for asking, “You really want your legacy to die on this hill, @jk_rowling ?”

That sounds awfully like being “on the wrong side of history” progressives are always threatening to place dissidents on. It’s also another way of asking if she really wants to be canceled by all the virtuous people.

Autumn Johnson spent an April 3 post complaining about "a “diss track” against Rowling" and griping that "Twitter’s Terms of Service specifically ban content that threaten violence. When the tweet was reported, however, Twitter refused to take action." Johnson made sure to note that Rowling "had been criticized for her comments on transgenders in the past," though she offered no link between that and the alleged death threat.

MRC still loves Gervais' transphobia

The MRC's love affair with Gervais and his transphobia has continued as well. A July 2020 post by Randy Hall touted Gervais ranting that "cancel culture" is "a new, weird sort of fascism," going on to deny that "people who want free speech want to say awful things all the time." Of course, we've documented how the MRC has eagerly defended right-wingers who love to say awful (and factually false) things all the time, as if there was a constitutional right to lie and mislead.

In a December 2020 post, Gabriel Hays cheered that Gervais "shows no fear in the face of his and his fellow comedians’ arch-nemesis, cancel culture. In a recent interview, the British comic declared that he’ll never stop saying whatever he wants, even if he has to 'stand up on a bench and shout shit.'" Some might say he's participating in that act right now.

Fast forward to May, when Gervais released a comedy special on Netflix chock full of anti-transgender insults; one reviewer noted that "Four minutes into the special, Gervais dives into material about the trans community seemingly calculated to draw controversy." Naturally, the MRC got off on this and couldn't wait to proclaim Gervais' hate as the new "free speech." By contrast, Elise Ehrhard gushed in a May 25 post:

Ricky Gervais' is one of those rare left-of-center comedians who revels in mocking woke cancel culture and elite arrogance. In SuperNature, his new Netflix comedy special released on Tuesday, he makes sure to offend everyone left, right or center in pursuit of constructing actually funny jokes.

Some of the jokes work, some don't, but none tiptoe around anyone's feelings, no matter how sensitive the subject. There are no "safe spaces" in a Ricky Gervais show.

Straight out of the gate in the opening minutes, the comedian offends feminists by making jokes about a lack of good female comedians. He tries to think of a funny living female comedian and comes up with....Dame Edna Everage, a legendary British character performed by a man.

He soon segways into the topic that's currently unleashing the most left-wing hate against him - transgenderism.


Gay Inc. has reacted angrily to Gervais' special. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) called it "dangerous" and Pink News labeled it an "anti-trans garbage fire."

During the special, Gervais alludes to tranny anger over his comedy.

"I talk about AIDS, famine, cancer, the Holocaust, rape, pedophilia, but the one thing you mustn't joke about is identity politics," the 60-year-old said. "The one thing you should never joke about is the trans issue. 'They just wanna be treated equally.' I agree. That's why I include them."

Needless to say, the hour-long show includes plenty of subjects usually forbidden by social justice warriors, from ethnic jokes to laughing about fat people.

Ehrhard has ever explained what, exactly, "Gay, Inc." is; perhaps she wants it to be some sort of secret group that only becomes more purportedly sinister by being so vaguely defined. However, she continued with a complaint about a branch of Gervais' humor she actually didn't like, presumably because it didn't involve making fun of the political enemies she's paid to hate:

Notably, SuperNature also targets conservatives, such as when Gervais brings up the issue of abortion. After repeatedly touting the wonders of nature, Gervais is surprisingly cavalier about the anti-nature practice of killing unborn life.

He decries what he calls "this propaganda machine that goes, 'Liberals, they're aborting babies at nine months, pulling them out of the vagina, liquidizing them.' Like, crazy conspiracy theory, right?"

Partial-birth abortion and other late-term abortions aren't conspiracy theories. It may shock Europeans, but in the United States Roe v. Wade allows abortion up to birth. Perhaps Gervais should learn about Kermit Gosnell or Planned Parenthood's baby parts business in the U.S.

As an atheist, Gervais also likes to skewer religious believers. His routine includes mockery of Christians, Muslims and even Hindus (there is a snippet about reincarnation). No religion is off-limits.

We're guessing that Ehrhard thinks the tranny and fat jokes are the ones that worked, and his jabs at conservatives are the ones that didn't. That might cost him future right-wing brownie points that his transphobia might not be enough to overcome.

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