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The MRC's Double Standard On Cross-Party Election Meddling

The Media Research Center and its "news" division got upset over Democrats promoting extremist Republicans -- but censored the fact that they endorsed Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" cross-party meddling scheme.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/28/2022

Tim Graham

Media Research Center executive Tim Graham devoted a June 14 post to complaining that not enough attention was being given to Democrats supporting extremist Republicans in GOP primaries in the hope of having an easier candidate for Democrats to defeat in November:
We’ve seen the liberal networks and the top liberal newsmakers lament at great length about the deadly grip that Donald Trump has on the GOP. So let’s put this story on the desk for CNN and the rest: Why are the Democrats funding Trump die-hards in GOP primaries?

Sophia Cai at Axios reports under the header "Democrats play with fire in GOP primaries":


Liberal journalists were highly agitated when Rush Limbaugh ran an "Operation Chaos" campaign in 2008 urging Republicans to vote in open primaries for Hillary Clinton to drag out the primaries. So they should at least report on this.

Kevin Tober similarly grumbled about the tactic in a June 30 post:

On Thursday night's Don Lemon Tonight, Lemon and two of his guests CNN commentator Nia-Malika Henderson and Republican political strategist Scott Jennings discussed anti-Trump Republican Liz Cheney's primary challenge and whether she can survive it, or if she will be ousted on August 16.

"Liz Cheney is doing well in terms of raising tons of money but we all know that that doesn't necessarily translate to votes" Henderson claimed adding that "she's essentially kind of pleaded with Democrats to cross over and help her win this primary in August because she knows that the writing is on the wall for her."

Lemon jumped in and cut her off to claim "that makes sense" and asked "why wouldn't they do it? I mean if they really cared they should do it!"


Lemon is now using CNN's airwaves to lobby for Democrats to sabotage the Republican primaries in Wyoming. Keep in mind the leftist media melted down when conservative talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh launched "Operation Chaos" and encouraged his listeners to switch parties and vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Primaries to prolong the process.

There is a double standard here, of course -- this is the MRC, after all. Graham and Tober didn't mention that their employer approved of Limbaugh's operation in 2008. Graham himself was upset when one writer suggested crossover voting was illegal, and Matthew Balan complained that one news report "brushed aside the possibility that Rush Limbaugh’s 'Operation Chaos' strategy to meddle in the Democratic primaries might be a partial explanation" for why Republicans were becoming registered Democrats. P.J. Gladnick similarly demanded that Limbaugh get credit:

I have to give the Christian Science Monitor credit for at least discussing Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos which is his plan for Republicans to register as Democrats in order to vote for Hillary Clinton so as to cause yet more disorder in the Democrat party [sic]. One can search in vain in Google News for dreaded term "Operation Chaos," but with the exception of the Christian Science Monitor, the mainstream media shuns any mention of it despite the fact that registrations of Democrats in Pennsylvania are at record levels due to "mysterious reasons." Often when reading or watching media outlets describe the record number of Democrat registrations in the Keystone State without giving credit to Operation Chaos, I feel like channeling the late great comedian, Sam Kinison, who was famous for yelling: "Say it! SAY IT!!!"

Graham, ghostwriting for his boss Brent Bozell, declared in April 2008 that "Mrs. Clinton's situation is so dire she's relying on Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos," calling on his multitudes of listeners to vote for Hillary to keep the race going." Gladnick returned to cheer how "Rush Limbaugh's 'Operation Chaos' has caused disarray among the Democrats" and that, again, he should be given credit. Matthew Sheffield hyped somebody's rap video "inspired in part by Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos.

Mark Finkelstein noticed how then-MSNBC host Chris Matthews "mused about the potential impact of Operation Chaos on the upcoming primaries -- but he did not criticize it like he did Democratic crossover voting. Warner Todd Huston whined that CBS wouldn't give Limbaugh his deserved credit for "egging on these crossovers." Again ghostwriting for Bozell, Graham endorsed the operation by claiming that "Voting for Hillary in the primaries through Operation Chaos is about as naughty as they are willing to be" (years before the Capitol riot proved this benign interpretation of right-wing radio listeners wrong). Noel Sheppard pondered: "Are 'Totally in the Tank for Obama' media members focusing on Rush Limbaugh's 'Operation Chaos' in order to force Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton out of the race?" Sheppard later gushed at the idea a "second phase" might be "in the works" if Clinton challenged Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

Brent Baker cheered in a May 2008 post how "Rush Limbaugh's “Operation Chaos,” the effort to urge conservatives and Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to prolong the Democratic nomination battle, certainly annoys MSNBC's Chris Matthews who, during primary coverage Tuesday night, denounced the “mischief-making” by “a talk jock.” Baker then approvingly quoted Michelle Bernard of the right-wing (and misleadingly named) Independent Women's Forum gushing that "Limbaugh did 'something positive' which helped Barack Obama 'because he's said to African-Americans, ask the Democratic Party 'what have they done for you lately?'' and encouraged African-Americans to force 'Republicans and Democrats to compete for the black vote' For that, she concluded, 'I say to Rush Limbaugh: good job.'"

Graham reprised his hypocrisy by complaining in a 2012 post that the head of Daily Kos urged followers to ape Limbaugh by adding chaos to the Republican primaries. And Gladnick cheered a possible return in a 2016 post:

Oh you rascal!

Rush Limbaugh today announced that he might launch Operation Chaos 2. For those of you who have forgotten, the original Operation Chaos was launched by Rush during the 2008 primary season in order to help Hillary Clinton with the goal of prolonging the Democrat primary season.


Keep in mind that for Operation Chaos 2 to work, a Republican candidate will need to be the obvious winner of the primary season early on so that voters can cross party lines, where permitted, in order to cast their votes for Bernie. At the very least this could help make the Democrat primaries more fun to watch as they stretch on and on and.....

The MRC's whining on the subject has, unsurprisingly, continued. Tober hyped in a July 24 post:

On Sunday’s State of the Union on CNN, panelist Scott Jennings wiped the floor with the leftists he was debating during the panel segment of the show. Once the direction of the panel drifted toward how in many Republican primaries, voters have nominated what some claim are weak or radical candidates, Jennings turned it around on them and noted how the Democrat Party [sic] has been propping up these candidates.

“Let me just say. We’ve heard a lot of names here this morning. Cox, you brought up the Maryland guy, Lake, Arizona, Mastriano, Pennsylvania. What do all these people have in common?” Jennings asked rhetorically. “Trump is for them and the Democrat [sic] Governors Association has spent millions of dollars to get them their nominations. It is the height of cynicism and hypocrisy!”

Graham, did more whining in a July 26 post:

On Monday night, Rachel Maddow fulsomely interviewed Josh Shapiro, the Democrat nominee in the governor's race in Pennsylvania, about how his opponent Doug Mastriano is a dangerous, anti-democratic extremist, and never asked Shapiro why -- if he was such a danger -- Shapiro spent almost a million dollars trying to help him win the Republican nomination.

Shapiro spent $840,000 running ads calling Mastriano “one of Donald Trump’s strongest supporters.” The ad went on to say that Mr. Mastriano “wants to end vote by mail. He led the fight to audit the 2020 election. If Mastriano wins, it’s a win for what Donald Trump stands for.” Shapiro and the state Democratic Party sent out mailers boosting him.

It's cynical, but MSNBC doesn't think it's worth mentioning. This, obviously, is the same tactic the Democrats attempted with Trump in 2016, only to see it backfire in their faces. But Maddow will play the game of pretending they had nothing to do with this!


Shapiro ran an "Operation Chaos" in the race, spending money to make it possible that the "dangerous chaos" candidate won. And MSNBC is presenting this Fake News impression that he never wanted this to happen.

Graham didn't explain that "Operation Chaos" started with right-wing icon Limbaugh -- and that he and his employer loved it.

Tober returned for a July 31 post touting talking heads on ABC criticizing the idea:

On Sunday’s This Week on ABC, both co-moderator Jonathan Karl and his panelists on the “PowerHouse Roundtable” tore into the Democrat Party congressional campaign arm: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for running ads promoting Trump-backed candidates in GOP primaries. One panelist, USA Today Washington Bureau chief Susan Page declared it both “risky” and “hypocritical."

Switching gears from an unrelated subject, Karl turned to the topic of the Democrats' election meddling. He remarked: “Speaking of this question of credibility, I wanna Susan, get you to kinda help explain Democrats going in and putting millions of dollars in states, in races across the country to support candidates” that are like former President Donald Trump.

Turning to Page, Karl bemoaned how even liberal Never-Trump Republican Peter Meijer, who was one of the ten Republicans to vote for Trump’s second impeachment is being targeted by the DCCC.

In neither post did Tober mention the hypocrisy of being Republicans being outraged over this when they cheered Rush's 'Operation Chaos."

Finkelstein whined in an Aug. 7 post:

How all-in has Michael Steele gone for the Democrats? As his comments on Ali Velshi’s MSNBC show on Saturday demonstrated, the answer is, very all-in! Steele is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, turned Never Trumper, MSNBC analyst, and eventually, member of the disgraced Lincoln Project.

The subject was the efforts by Democrats to meddle in Republican primaries by promoting MAGA/Trump-supporters, whom the Dems assume would be easier to defeat in the general election with the latest example being Michigan's third congressional district with Democrats pumping money in to promote John Gibbs, an ardent Trump supporter over incumbent Congressman Peter Meijer, who had voted to impeach the President in 2021.


Not only did Steele support the Democrats' intervention in the Republican primary, but he was also less-than-truthful in describing their efforts. Steele twice claimed that the Democrats had run “positive” ads for Gibbs.

Finkelstein also refused to mention "Operation Chaos."

Graham somehow had even more to say on the subject in his Sept. 16 column:

The Democrat-enabling media are currently highlighting a Republican tactical rift on whether or not to support a national ban on abortions in the later stages of pregnancy. They are not spending much time on an obvious tactical rift among Democrats. Should Democrats be boosting “MAGA Republicans” as Biden screams in speeches that they’re killing democracy?

On September 12, PBS NewsHour reporter Laura Barron Lopez laid out just how cynical Democrats are in backing these alleged monsters. In New Hampshire’s GOP Senate primary, they spent $3.2 million attacking more moderate candidate Chuck Morse as a Mitch McConnell stooge to smooth the path for Trump-loving Don Bolduc to win. Now they think the re-election of Sen. Maggie Hassan is a fait accompli.

This is happening all over the country. In Maryland, Democrats spent $627,000 to elevate “election denier” Dan Cox, so they can finally elect a Democrat governor in a state that Biden won by 33 points.

But the snow-topped summit of cynicism came in Michigan’s 3rd congressional district, where Democrats poured $435,000 into promoting “election denier” John Gibbs. Gibbs then beat freshman Congressman Peter Meijer, who boldly voted for the second impeachment of Trump after the Capitol riot.

Um, wouldn't the real "snow-topped summit of cynicism" be Graham continuing to whine about this while staying silent on his employer's enthusiastic support of "Operation Chaos"? You'd think so, but Graham would rather perpetuate the hypocrisy:

Democrats cynically backed candidates that their media buddies can paint as scary “hard-right” kooks while they pose preposterously as the sensible essence of moderation. They are so aerobically cynical that they can align this whole exercise with Joe Biden’s “restoring the soul of the nation.”

These trashy tacticians should just admit they would do just about anything to win. That's where their moral compass is pointed.

Graham is certainly not about to admit that turnabout is fair play. Otherwise, he's have to concede how hypocritical and cynical he is, and there's no way he'll do that.

These MRC writers don't get to accuse people of hypocrisy when they and their employer have exhibited the exact same hypocrisy. Sit this one out, boys.

CNS hypocritically complains too
There's basically no wall between the partisan activist MRC and its "news" division anymore -- which a real, credible "news" organization would have -- so what one side of the operation does, the other side likely will as well. So the MRC's hypocritical obsession with Democrats supporting extremist Republicans to win their GOP primaries so Democrats could beat them more easily in the general election unsurprisingly spread to CNS. Susan Jones wrote in an Aug. 23 article:
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), head of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that his job is "to win elections for the Democrats," even if that means supporting pro-Trump Republican candidates perceived to be weak opponents for Democrat candidates.

"The moral imperative is keeping the gavel out of the hands of Kevin McCarthy," Maloney told Chuck Todd.

But a number of Democrats oppose what the DCCC did in Michigan -- running ads to promote Trump-endorsed John Gibbs over Republican incumbent Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach Trump. Gibbs won the Republican primary.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) is among the Democrats who oppose the DCCC's attempt to advantage Democrats by boosting Republicans perceived to be the weakest opponents.

Jones complained further in a Sept. 6 article:

As President Joe Biden slams "MAGA Republicans" and Donald Trump as "election deniers" who threaten democracy, the Democrat Party [sic] is spending millions of dollars to boost the campaigns of so-called Republican election-deniers ahead of the midterm election.

Their goal is to have Democrats in New Hampshire and other states run against Republican candidates viewed as weak.

As has reported, not all Democrats approve of the strategy. But two Democrats on Sunday gave it a pass.


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has criticized the Democrat hypocrisy. He tweeted last week: "If President Biden is truly serious about threats to democracy, then he would condemn the tens of millions Democratic groups have spent promoting extremists threatening democracy. The fact that he won't do so shows this is more posturing from a failed administration."

But Jones didn't report her employer's own hypocrisy on the issue: Like its parent, CNS approvingly promoted Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos." Jones herself lovingly wrote about Limbaugh's plan in a July 2008 article:

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh says the ultimate goal of his Operation Chaos is "Democrats losing in November."

To get to that point, he's issued "orders" to loyal listeners of his radio program, telling them in recent weeks to switch sides, if possible, and cast ballots for Sen. Hillary Clinton in various primaries -- just to keep Clinton in the bruising Democratic race.

The point of Operation Chaos is not to support Clinton, but to undermine Obama, Limbaugh says. On Thursday, he told Fox News that Clinton should stay in the race and insist that delegates from Florida and Michigan be counted.


By pressing Clinton to scream "disenfranchisement," Limbaugh is staying true to his "chaos" theme.

Limbaugh noted on Thursday that he told everyone in advance what he intended to do with Operation Chaos -- and how they could stop it.

"I advised the Obama campaign, look, if you guys want to shut this down, all you have to do is acknowledge it -- and simply say that a number of Mrs. Clinton's votes are tainted because they come from people who actually have no intention of voting for her in November."


Limbaugh says he hatched the plan because Republican presidential candidate John McCain -- and the Republican Party -- were so reluctant to criticize Obama, who was being treated like a "messiah." Limbaugh decided there was only one person who could beat up Obama politically -- and that was Sen. Clinton.

"Operation Chaos thus was born to keep Mrs. Clinton in the race, and it worked. Obama has been bloodied," Limbaugh said Wednesday on his radio program.

Limbaugh has now urged Democrat superdelegates to side with Obama -- because "he will lose" the general election. At the same time, he's urging Sen. Clinton not to drop out of the race -- "because the not over."

"The chaos will continue," Limbaugh promised on Wednesday. "We have been successful beyond our wildest dreams. We have created a bloodied Obama via our vessel of the Clinton campaign because the McCain campaign and the Republican Party refuse to do so. Obama is no longer the messiah," he said.

And the Democratic Party is in disarray.

Jones did not include any criticism of Limbaugh's plan in her article. That, apparently, was offloaded to a separate article the same day by Fred Lucas:

Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" -- a tactic that calls on Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries to keep her in the race where she will "bloody" Barack Obama and cause primary mayhem in general -- is apparently working, according to the Obama campaign. The campaign said that the tactic helped Clinton win the Indiana primary on Tuesday.

During a "State of the Campaign" teleconference Wednesday, Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, and several high-profile supporters talked to reporters about Obama's (D-Ill.) double-digit primary win over Clinton (D-N.Y.) in North Carolina and narrow two-point loss in Indiana.

"If it was not for Republicans taking Democratic ballots, he would have won (Indiana). Rush Limbaugh was tampering with the primary," said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the party's 2004 presidential nominee and an Obama supporter. "The GOP has clearly decided they want Hillary as the candidate."


Limbaugh has said that he thinks Obama will be the Democratic presidential nominee. But he has been encouraging his audience of about 14 million listeners to vote for Clinton.

Speaking about "Operation Chaos" on his talk-radio show Tuesday, Limbaugh said it has not only caused chaos in the Democratic Party, but also in the "drive-by media."


Limbaugh had said on Tuesday that he was not tampering with the election.

"I don't think there's anything untoward going on with Operation Chaos," Limbaugh said in response to a caller. "Operation Chaos is balance to all of the fraud that is being committed throughout our electoral process. George Soros is tampering with our electoral process with a huge multibillion-dollar fortune. is tampering with vast fundraising tentacles. The unions -- I mean, who doesn't 'tamper' with elections, if you want to get right down to it? Everybody tampers with elections because they're trying to influence the outcome. But I'm not a tamperer. I'm an untamperer. I'm trying to level the playing field here somewhat."

Given its support of election meddling when Republicans do it to affect Democratic primaries, CNS has no real moral basis to complain when Democrats return the favor.

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