The MRC Flips On Kanye West: The Early Years
The Media Research Center hated rapper Kanye West -- until he started spouting right-wing anti-abortion rhetoric and launched a bromance with Donald Trump.
By Terry Krepel
But Whitlock and the rest of his MRC cohorts did not remind its readers that it was Kanye vs. Kanye at the MRC as well. Until his political flip-flop, the MRC despised West.
The MRC spent years nursing the grievance that West asserted that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" during a 2005 telethon to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina. or instance, a 2008 column by then-MRC apparatchik Dan Gainor complained 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.
In 2011, the MRC's Erin Brown was outraged that a preview for the video for West's song "Monster" "shows the rapper making sexual advances to a dead or drugged female corpse in his bed, and several dead, lingerie-clad women are seen hanging with chains around their necks." Brown added: "West has objectified women in his videos before such as the 2005 hit 'Gold Digger,' in which attractive young females were seen throughout the video in provocative lingerie dancing around West. But none have gone so far as 'Monster,' which sexually objectifies a woman to the point of death."
Catherine Maggio complained that "Monster" includes "28 F-words," adding about the video: "West's so-called "art piece" opens revealing a dead, young girl, hanging from a ceiling in a noose, wearing nothing but underwear and heels. The video is centered around the graphic violence against and the death of the women in the video, who are often shown wearing only underwear or lying face down, naked, bloody and dead. We are warned before the video that it is to be taken as art, but the saddest thing is that violence and necrophilia would be considered 'art' by anyone at all."
A 2012 post by Paul Wilson declared that West and Jay-Z "have once again expressed their love of gratuitous violence" through their song "No Church in the Wild," the video for which includes "anti-police riots."Wilson further huffed that "Kanye showed up to support the Occupy Movement wearing expensive gold chains," which made him "the embodiment of the 1 percent."
In 2013, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard cheered a Jay Leno joke about "Kanye West wanting to be the Obama of clothing saying, 'To achieve his goal, he's designing fashion nobody wants and offering it on a website that doesn't work.'" Sheppard also mocked -- in hindsight, highly ironically -- one commentator's suggestion that President Obama should meet with West: "Does the President of the United States really need a vulgar, anti-Semitic manager who thinks Obama's inability to get his agenda passed is because black people don't have the connections that Jewish people do?"
MRC chief 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." In a 2013 column, Bozell bashed West as a "nattering, narcissistic rapper" and whined that the New York Times was "pandering to West's colossal self-regard," He took offense to West's criticism of Bush, claiming that "West lashed, for no reason, and stupidly, arrogantly, and rudely declared that President Bush 'doesn’t care about black people.,'" then added: "West aspires to be a limousine leftist, a race-baiting revolutionary driving a $760,000 Lamborghini. How many poor Katrina victims could he feed if he didn’t have those car payments?" He then huffed: "Lyndon LaRouche is more rational than this idiot."
And in another 2013 column headlined "Kanye, Go Away," Bozell took offense to Kanye "offending the Jews" by saying blacks "don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people." Bozell ranted that "This oppressed man is worth an estimated $100 million. But victimization is way too seductive to let go." Bozell added:
It’s just ridiculous that mega-rich black rappers complain about their terrible plight. Or is that all just part of their cynical marketing? Don’t count it as a political act. It’s a craven business strategy. Aren’t they and their race-baiting enablers easily accused of strangling the people’s view of what is possible in America? If Kanye West can’t handle the heat of public opinion especially the opinion of people who live outside the bubble of his ideological apple-polishers he should just go away.
Bozell and the MRC clearly aren't wishing for Kanye to go away anymore -- at least, not as long they can exploit him in order to boost Trump. And it's funny how narcissism and anti-Semitism suddenly become genius at the MRC when it's a right-winger (or right-wing-adjacent rapper) engaging in it.
Of course, this is doubly disingenuous because in this Kanye flip-flop, the MRC is doing the same thing it accused the media of doing when President Obama invited the rapper Common to the White House in 2011 for a poetry event. Scott Whitlock huffed that Common "has repeatedly defended cop killers such as Mumia Abu-Jamal," and Tim Graham took offense to Common's lyric that God "was able to Barack us" and declared that the media assert that "raising questions about songs honoring convicted cop killers was not a legitimate line of inquiry." The MRC, meanwhile, no longer considers raising questions about Kanye's song a legitimate line of inquiry.
And of course, Bozell felt compelled to rant: "Everyone from record companies to record buyers should be condemned for enabling "music" that glamorizes killing police officers. It's ridiculous and offensive that a black multi-millionaire like Common can still pretend America and the police officers who protect Americans of all colors are racist. It's even more offensive that this man would be honored as a poet at the People's House." Again, Bozell will never raise this issue about Kanye.
MRC continued its Kanye lovefest for years afterward. A June 2019 post by Rachel Peterson and Alexa Moutevelis gushed over an interview West did with David Letterman, which involved "an enlightening conversation about Trump supporters getting bullied and media groupthink that liberals like Letterman don't often get to hear," adding: "Trump supporters are shunned and treated like they don't deserve to even be a part of the national conversation. The media buy into this and push their narrative that automatically assumes anyone wearing a MAGA hat must be a bigoted bully (think of the news reaction to the Covington Kids and Jussie Smollett). Kanye can be off the wall sometimes, but it’s still nice to see a celebrity not afraid to speak up against the liberal media and trigger them by wearing a MAGA hat in public.
An October 2019 post by Gabriel Hays kept up the Kanye slobbering:
In what many have seen as one of his more provocative moves to date, the larger-than-life rapper, producer, and clothing designer Kanye West has decided to take his new Christian-themed concerts to historically African American Howard University, prompting more of the “Kanye, what are you doing?” responses from his former lefty colleagues who can’t stand that he’s the owner of a “Make America Great Again” hat.
Later that month, Moutevelis cheered West engaging and Democrat-bashing while also praising his new Christian-themed album, "Jesus Is King," and bashing its critics: "Among the unspeakable horrors Jesus Is King has produced, New York Daily News reported, “Kanye praises notoriously anti-LGBTQ Chick-fil-A in new song.” Pardon me as I listen to Kanye’s new album while picking up Chick-fil-A on my way to the next pro-life rally."
When West's album hit the top of the charts the following month, Hays gushed:
If there’s one thing Kanye West shouldn’t be worried about, it’s the elitist music critics who claim his most recent album is a bust. The hip hop artist and fashion-designer has just topped the official Billboard Music “Artist 100” Chart for the second time thanks to the influence of his recently-released Jesus Is King hip hop/Gospel album.
In a February 2020 post, Peterson complained that a character on the Hulu show "High Fidelity" mocked West for wearing a MAGA hat and said that he showed he had "shitty politics and a second-grade understanding of American history," then further groused that the character "defends Kanye by saying that he 'has a mental health issue.' Because that is the only reason that a reasonable person would willingly wear a MAGA hat and like Trump."
Hays gushed over Hays again in a March 2020 post:
Rapper-turned-Gospel-music-producer Kanye West refuses to let the media have the final word on his support for President Donald Trump.Hays served as West's PR agent again the following month:
Some say Kanye West doesn’t matter anymore, since finding Jesus and donning a MAGA hat. Yet there he is, on the cover of liberal men’s magazine GQ. Inside, West is saying he will be voting for Trump in November and calling out the media and Hollywood for trying to pressure African Americans to vote blue. Seems pretty consequential, doesn’t he?
A July 2020 post by Hays cheered West claiming that “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.” In fact, as ConWebWatch has documented, most Planned Parenthood clinics are located in majority-white black neighborhoods; Hays apparently though West's declaration was too good to fact-check.
Kanye presidential effort
During the 2020 campaign, an effort began to collect signatures to put West on the presidential ballot. Michael Dellano wrote in a August 2020 MRC post trying to deny that this was a Republican dirty trick to try and steal votes from Joe Biden:
The Biden-backing media have been dumbfounded for weeks with the presidential campaign of rap star Kayne West, and by their twisted logic, the rational move was to blame it on Republicans. On Wednesday night’s All In, MSNBC host Chris Hayes, alongside other leftist hacks, accused Republicans of propping up West’s campaign.
Except, you know, for all the evidence to the contrary conclusively showing that Hayes was correct:
The MRC would rather that you forget how much it used to hate Kanye until he started sucking up to Trump.
And don't expect the MRC to issue a correction -- it doesn't do so when that would interfere with its anti-media agenda.
The return of Kanye
The MRC mostly lost interest in Kanye after that, serving only passing references to him -- until he resurfaced earlier this month to spout more right-wing-friendly things. So when Ye (as he has changed his name to) surfaced for a little more of the kind of right-wing provocation the MRC loves, Tierin-Rose Mandelburg lovingly wrote about it in an Oct. 4 post:
Kanye may not have won the 2020 election but he did just win the hearts of those who agree that the Black Lives Matter movement is built on a lie.
Mandelburg went on to gush about how West posted a since-deleted post on his Instagram feed screeching, “EVERYONE KNOWS THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER WAS A SCAM NOW IT’S OVER YOU’RE WELCOME,” declaring him "actually correct" and reciting her own well-rehearsed right-wing talking points: "The Black Lives Matter movement, in and of itself, is a corrupt, self-proclaimed Marxist money making ploy. There’s been numerous reports of million dollar mansions bought as well as various money funneling allegations by the founders of the movement." Mandelburg didn't explain how something could be both "Marxist" and a "money making ploy" given how Marxists are not known for their love of capital.
A few days later, West appeared on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show, and Mandelburg was in right-wing heaven again:
BRB, adding Kanye West’s music to my daily mix.
Unfortunately for Mandelburg's narrative of West as a God-loving right-winger, West went full anti-Semitic a couple days later, declaring in a tweet 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." More on the MRC's reaction to that in a future article.