The Peter Doocy Protection Center
The Media Research Center went into full defense mode after President Biden muttered an insult at him -- then laughably denied it was obsessed with the story even after generating days of content about it.
By Terry Krepel
Houck's summary piece was all about Doocy and other right-wing reporters -- not that he identified their ideology -- hurling hostile questions:
In a press conference Wednesday that ran nearly two hours, President Biden faced over 60 questions from 24 different reporters, but it wasn’t a surprise that the most contentious moments and questions that were most probing came from reporters that usually give Press Secretary Jen Psaki a run for her money in Fox’s Peter Doocy, the New York Post’s Steven Nelson, Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann, and newly-minted Newsmax correspondent James Rosen.
When Biden made a verbal stumble suggesting he might allow a "minor incursion" by Russia into Ukraine to go unpunished, Kevin Tober cheered that "all three evening news broadcasts were flabbergasted" by the misstatement from the "geriatric president," going on to huff: "This is stunning candor from the networks. The networks must’ve known there was no way to hide these comments from their viewers, so they were forced to report on them. We applaud them regardless."
The next day, Houck returned to take "a look at the other questions from more establishment, (supposedly) objective, and/or traditional outlets." Of course, no right-wing outlet asked any of the "worst" questions, and his "best" question came from a reporter from 'the delightfully objective and refreshing NewsNation." As ConWebWatch has noted, the idea that a "news" operation run by former Fox News executive (and short-lived Trump White House communications director) Bill Shine and staffed by other ex-Fox Newsers is no reasonable person's definition of "objective."
On Jan. 21, Houck joined his boss Tim Graham's podcast to slobber over Doocy and the other right-wing reporters -- Graham would only describe them as "our side of the media, as they would see it," and not having an unambiguous bias. Graham fawned over Doocy's highly biased gotcha question: "This question, Curtis, is a perfect summation of the kind of questions conservatives in general put to Biden. It putt the whole onus of the Democratic Party as a part of the left, you as president has been a part of the left. ... What on earth is Build Back Better? That's not a capitalist bill."
Houck nonsensically insisted Doocy's gotcha question was "about important issues of the day." Houck also sneered that Biden "is clearly not in charge of his faculties," which led to both of them cheering Rosen's question, and Graham complained that this would be treated as a "Brian Stelter question," adding that it was "a challenging question. It could be seen as a rude question, but it was stated politely as the way James Rosen typically does these things." He too failed to mention why Rosen slid down the right-wing media food chain from Fox News to Newsmax -- apparently, sexual harassment is totally cool with Graham and Houck as long as the offender is polite about it. They also praised NewsNation without, again, mentioning that ex-Fox News staffers run it.
This was capped off with a Jan. 22 column by Jeffrey Lord declaring that Rosen "was doing his job as a journalist" with his hostile question about Biden's mental fitness, going on to whine that similar questions were asked about Donald Trump, which were not based on "facts in a poll" but on people's opinions. He added in another fit of whataboutism: "This is real journalism, something that was rarely to be seen in the Trump years as CNN and others spun, for example, the fantasy tale of Trump-Russia collusion." Lord didn't explain why, if there was no Trump-Russia "collusion," the Trump campaign met with Russian operatives dozens of times during the 2016 campaign. He too failed to mention the sexual harassment claims against Rosen.
Defending Doocy against Biden
So when Biden muttered a few days later that Doocy was a "stupid son of a bitch," you know the MRC had days of manufactured outrage to come (despite its embrace of the "Let's Go Brandon" insult and cheering Joe Rogan calling Brian Stelter a "motherfucker").Houck kicked off the faux outrage by setting the scene:
Early Monday evening, following remarks at the start of a White House Competition Council meeting, President Biden lashed out at Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy as “a stupid son of a bitch” and mocked inflation as “a great asset” to the economy.
Houck was in full Doocy-fluffing form, touting how Doocy later went on Fox News to offer "his first-person account" and even lauding his press briefing appearance earlier in the day, where he hurled more biased questions at Psaki.
The next day, Houck ramped up the Doocy smarm by portraying the biased reporter as a mature man:
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy continued to show on Monday night a level of class, light-heartedness, and professionalism most of the liberal media lack as he shared that President Biden called him to “clear the air” after blasting him as “a stupid son of a bitch” earlier in the day. In fact, Doocy told Sean Hannity that, now Biden said it was “nothing personal, pal,” it was “enough” and time to “move on.”
Yes, nothing says "class" and "professionalism" like Doocy rushing to talk about the incident with the hateful, hyperpartisan Hannity.
The MRC's "Editor's Pick" on Jan. 25 was an article from the right-wing The Blaze whining that CNN's Brian Stelter wouldn't make the insult the federal case that right-wingers want it to be. That was followed by Scott Whitlock complaining that "All three networks on Monday night and Tuesday morning offered sympathy for Joe Biden" over the insults, going on to sneer, "As Biden’s gaffes and 'hot mic' moments pile up, look for the networks to continue to argue for understanding and empathy towards our “frustrated” and sometimes bewildered President."
Houck returned later that day with a serious piece of dishonesty:
Appearing on Monday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, CNN host Jake Tapper falsely claimed to the eponymous ABC host that Peter Doocy’s employer in Fox News “would never come to my defense” if a president called him “a stupid son of a bitch” as President Biden did hours earlier to the Fox White House correspondent.
But Tapper referred to himself in the first person -- not CNN as a whole. Houck is being very dishonest by trying to play gotcha by deliberately misreading what Tapper said.
Nicholas Fondacaro mixed his Doocy-fluffing with sexist insults:
Even with Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy being a class act and asking everyone to “move on” from President Biden calling him a “stupid son of bitch,” the cackling coven on ABC’s The View kicked off Tuesday’s show by suggesting Doocy got what was coming to him because he asks “endless stupid questions,” with unhinged co-host Joy Behar predicting Doocy would be “fired pretty soon” for acting like an adult in response to Biden’s childishness.
Is that more or less immature than referring to "The View" hosts as a "cackling coven"? Fondacaro didn't elaborate.
Fondacaro had more insults to hurl later in the day:
Of course, the liberal hacks and Democratic Party lackeys at CNN thought Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy had earned President Biden’s insult. And that’s exactly the argument CNN’s anti-Fox hatchetman Brian Stelter made on Tuesday’s CNN Newsroom, suggesting Doocy’s question about inflation and the midterms was a “provocation” as he lamented “Biden took the bait.”
It's quite difficult for Fondacaro to be credibly outraged over Biden's insult when he can't stop insulting people who say things he doesn't like.
Jorge Bonilla took the faux outrage to Spanish-language media, first being complementary that "For a brief moment Univision, the nation's leading Spanish-language network, showed moral clarity by reporting a story unfavorable to Democrats in an unbiased manner" before devolving into whining whataboutism regarding the channel's alleged "framing of Fox as being constantly critical of Biden, as if we are somehow expected to forget Univision's behavior over the past decade."
Whitlock went full whataboutism in a Jan. 26 "flashback" post:
Don’t look to Chuck Todd to speak truth to a swearing Joe Biden. The MSNBC journalist on Tuesday offered no response to the President lashing out at Fox reporter Peter Doocy as a “stupid son of a bitch.” He tweeted nothing about it. This is quite the contrast from when then-President Donald Trump spewed his own vulgarity in 2018.
Houck may have been slacking off on his self-appointed job of Doocy-fluffing and Psaki-bashing so far this year, but his writeup of the Jan. 26 briefing only referenced the insult in passing in order to fluff Doocy anew about how "it was back to business Tuesday in the White House Briefing Room a day after President Biden called Fox’s Peter Doocy 'a stupid son of a bitch' and then called him to hash it out. Doocy led the way in shifting focus back to the news, battling Press Secretary Jen Psaki over illegal immigration and the crisis at the Russia-Ukraine border."
Denying the obsession
Tim Graham spent his Jan. 26 podcast insisting that the kerfuffle "is not the biggest thing in the world ... it's kind of a one-day story," even though by this time the MRC was on Day 3 of writing about it, and Graham's podcast was the 10th NewsBusters post referencing it. He then gave a pass to Donald Trump calling NBC's Chuck Todd a "sleeping son of a bitch" because he purportedly did it "to get laughter and claps at a rally," going on to whine that journalists think they're immune from criticism. This from a guy who runs an organization that repeatedly runs to the defense of Fox News because it thinks the channel should be immune from criticism.
In the 11th post referencing the story, on the fourth day of the MRC covering it, Houck devoted a Jan. 27 post to bashing NBC's Seth Meyers for arguing that Republicans have been "triggered" by the Biden-Doocy story:
Even though President Biden and Fox White House correspondent Peter Doocy have both moved on after the former called the latter “a stupid son of a bitch” on Monday, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel and NBC’s Seth Meyers decided on Thursday to spend nearly 15 minutes falsely claiming that the Republican Party has spent the week obsessing over Biden’s expletive when, in reality, it’s the far-left “comics” who seem to have nothing else to talk about.
Later that day, P.J. Gladnick grumbled that a Politico piece argued that Biden should do more trash-talking: "Right now Joe Biden and his administration are deeply unpopular . So how to reverse this situation? Return to enforcing immigration laws at the border? Cut wild spending in order to rein in inflation? Open up the Keystone pipeline and encourage drilling to lower the cost of gasoline? Naw! The secret is... TRASH TALK!"
On day 6 of the MRC's coverage, Graham devoted his Jan. 28 column to whining about the kerfuffle he earlier insisted was just a one-day story:
When Joe Biden called Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy a “stupid son of a bitch,” he didn’t need to borrow from a speechwriter. But he’s not “well-equipped” to demonstrate decency or empathy to a journalist who isn’t obsequious to him.
Even more than a week after the story started, Graham couldn't let this"one-day story" go. In a Jan. 31 post, he whined that a New York Times reporter called it s feel-good moment," huffing further: "The most annoying part of this spin is how it exploits Doocy's willingness to shrug it off, and not pose righteously as some sort of Wronged Statue of Liberty like Jim Acosta." And on Feb. 3 -- 12 days after the story began -- Graham cranked up the whining in the 14th post referencing it, this time over a game show referencing the story:
National Public Radio airs a weekly game show on Saturdays called Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! Over the years, we've found liberals on that show making fun of ads promoting Jesus and church-going, smearing George W. Bush as a White House drunk, and playing along as Obama adviser David Axelrod "joked" that socially conservative Miss California Carrie Prejean was tried out for White House dog. The latest episode included jokesters adoring President Biden calling Fox News correspondent Steve Doocy a "stupid son of a bitch."
Remember, Graham is the guy who gets mad that right-wing satire site Babylon Bee gets fact-checked (but hides the fact that it gets fact-checked because right-wingers have a bad habit of presenting its satire as fact).
Graham concluded by adding, "NPR is paid for by ... you." But he offered no proof that any tax money actually went to the show's production.
Then again, who cares about facts when there is a right-winger to defend?
More Doocy confrontations with Biden
Having milked that for all it was worth (and then some), Houck made sure to hype future Doocy confrontations with Biden.
Houck hyped "Doocy Time" with Biden upon he Russian invasion of Ukraine in a Feb. 24 briefing derisively headlined "You Awake Now, Joe?" in which he also touted other reporters "call[ing] out the likelihood the latest round of economic sanctions would do all but nothing to deter Putin":
Following Vega, it was Doocy Time as the Fox News correspondent first touched on the economic impact in the U.S.:
For Houck -- and, presumably, Doocy's Fox News bosses -- it's all about Doocy landing punches on Biden, not whether the questions are unfair in a time of conflict.
Houck covered a March 28 press briefing by Biden in great anticipation of another hot-mic moment. Instead, Houck had to settle for crushing on Doocy for hurling more right-wing narratives at Biden and treating him has a returning hero after a two-week absence from the White House briefing room (which Houck didn't explain):
Making his first appearance during a White House Q&A since March 10 (when he asked Jen Psaki whether President Biden owns an electric car), Fox News’s Peter Doocy went toe-to-toe with Biden Monday over numerous statements the latter made during last week’s European excursion that drew condemnations from international leaders and White House walkbacks.
Remember that Houck's metric is Doocy successfully delivers his right-wing talking points and making Biden look bad, not whether they have any basis in reality. If Biden can be harmed, that's good enough for a right-wing activist like Houck.