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The MRC's War on Lia Thomas

The Media Research Center spent months spewing hate at a transgender college swimmer, a hostility that only increased as her winning and awards did.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/22/2022

Lia Thomas

It was no surprise to see the highly transphobic Media Research Center -- which went all in on attacking transgender athletes last year -- go all in again with the rest of the right-wing media on a hate campaign against Lia Thomas, a transgender college swimmer. Matt Philbin kicked things off with an especially hateful Dec. 10 post:
If you haven’t heard, there’s an athlete at Penn who’s destroying women’s swimming records.

According to The New York Post, “She recently set school records in the 200-meter freestyle and 500-meter freestyle in November. This past weekend, the record-breaking stretch continued, as Thomas set a school record in the 1650-meter freestyle. Her teammate Anna Kalandadze finished in second place — over 38 seconds behind” this waterborne prodigy.

But there’s one little problem: She’s not your female swimmer, she’s a man, baby! Yep. Lia Thomas is a veteran Penn swimmer – a veteran of the men’s team.

The NCAA may be fine with a biological male making the women look like their treading water, but the rest of the team is apparently none too thrilled having Moby Dickless on the squad.

One female Penn swimmer spoke anonymously to Outkick about the awful situation Thomas, the NCAA and our stupid culture have put them.

1) Philbin apparently thinks that 25-year-old cultural references are relevant to insulting transgender people today. 2) Philbin seems to have forgotten that his employer believes anonymous sources are not trustworthy and are used only to advance political narratives. Still, he continued whining:

This guy has the potential to be NCAA champ and break NCAA all-time records. In women’s swimming. Outckick’s interviewee pointed out the absurdity of it all.

The Ivy League is not a fast league for swimming, so that’s why it’s particularly ridiculous that we could potentially have an NCAA champion. That’s unheard of coming from the Ivy League.

So is anyone speaking the truth about biology and culture. Good on this young lady for doing it, even anonymously. But she seems to know how much good it will do, given the myopia of woke culture and the rot of institutions like the NCAA:

A Dec. 13 item by Jay Maxson -- who's so mysterious we don't even know what gender he (or she) is -- was upset that the transphobes attacking Thomas were correctly identified as such:

Courtesy of “transphobes,” an “anti-trans panic” has come to the Ivy League swimming pool at Pennsylvania University. Lia Thomas, the latest trans woman athlete,” has become the “villain”, says SBNation Outsports trans writer Karleigh Webb (no conflict of interest here though). Thomas is a man who’s smashing women’s swimming records to bits, while violating Webb’s belief that “transgender women” are only acceptable to the Right if they lose at women's sports.

Some of Thomas’s teammates are among the “transphobes” complaining about Thomas and unfairness. Media members are also crossing the line in their attacks on the “biological male,” Webb complains.


Historically speaking, it’s the LGBT pressure groups who are the johnny-come-latelys. They encourage kids to experiment sexually and to focus on gender identity, instead of their gender reality. They are gender-bending social engineers, “shock jocks” who encourage people to continue in their confusion.

Maxson devoted a Dec. 21 post to cheering that an editor for a swimming magazine trashed Thomas, littering it with phrases like "It’s time to stop the madness" and "gender-bending nonsense." Three days later, Maxson found someone else to help him (or her) trash Thomas:

Long-time USA Swimming official Cynthia Millen resigned a week ago in protest over the so-called University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete making a mockery of women’s collegiate swimming. Millen told The Washington Times and Fox News that she will not support transgender nonsense on the grounds that the fairness in women’s swimming is being destroyed by a man.

Lia Thomas was a mediocre swimmer on the UPenn men’s swimming team for three years, then suddenly claimed he is a female. Now swimming for the women’s team, he is smoking all female competitors in the pool. He completed testosterone suppression treatments to meet the NCAA’s ridiculous guidelines, but his XY chromosomes and his physical advantages over females have not lessened.

Millen said she can no longer serve as a women’s swimming official because biological men are creating an uneven playing field for women.

‘'I don't mean to be critical of Lia,” Millen said. “Whatever's going on, Lia's a child of God, a precious person, but bodies swim against bodies. That’s a male body against females. And that male body can never change. That male body will always be a male body.'’

Maxson concluded by gushing that "The courageous people are those like Millen who have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and oppose the agenda."

Maxson's fellow MRC sports blogger, John Simmons, heaped more love on Millen in a Dec. 29 post:

On Christmas Eve, swimming official Cynthia Millen resigned after 30 years in the sport due to a transgendered woman who is smashing swimming records. Now, she is boldly speaking out against men who are allowed to compete in women’s sports simply based on what they identify as.

Miller criticized the University of Pennsylvania for allowing Lia Thomas, a biological man who transitioned to being a woman, to participate in events and in the process obliterate swimming records set by real women.


Miller is absolutely right, allowing men to compete in women’s sport accomplishes nothing but the destruction of women’s sports. Not only does it further blur the line between men and women, but it allows for men (who are biologically stronger in the vast majority of cases) to minimize anything that women accomplish in athletics.

But both Maxson and Simmons censored from their readers the fact that Millen is actually a far-right hater who has lashed out against transgender people as a whole (so much for the "child of God" thing), same-sex marriage and adoption and even birth control. But really, does anyone expect the MRC to be honest about this?

A Jan. 18 post by Maxson was filled with hate and deliberate misgendering:

In a gag-worthy twist, the latest from the PennU trans swimming pool is that Lia Thomas says he is the Jackie Robinson of transgender athletics. Strange, but I don’t recall anything about a “Jacquelyn” Robinson, major league baseball’s first black player with Brooklyn in 1947, later joining the Rockford Peaches women’s baseball team (1943-54) and batting .990!

Robinson was a man’s man, U.S. Army veteran and a great, Hall of Fame baseball player. He was hard as nails for taking the horrible racial abuse he suffered. He would have scoffed at the idea of men playing with the girls.

To be compared to Thomas, who previously swam on the Penn men’s team and now leaves female rivals in his distant wake, would be absurd, shocking and absolutely insulting to Jackie.

The same day, John Simmons bashed champion swimmer Michael Phelps for accurately noting that Thomas' situation is complicated, whining that "his stance on transgenderism leaves a lot to be desired" before going into right-wing lecture mode: "People cannot simply take testosterone suppressants or have reassignment surgery to 'change their gender.' You are either born a male or a female, anything else you do is a feeble attempt to change the fundamental identity you were born with. So we should never be 'comfortable in our own skin' if we are living a lie, but our Phelps seems perfectly okay to let that one slide."

Maxson returned on Jan. 21 to whine that "the NCAA is changing its rules because of Thomas," further huffing: "Maybe being the BTOC (Big Transgender On Campus) wasn’t such a hot idea after all for Will 'Lia' Thomas. She’s growing more and more unpopular with her teammates." A Jan. 28 post by Matt Philbin -- under the weird, creepy headline "Women’s Locker Room Gets Teste Over Thomas" -- was also outraged that Thomas allegedly has Trump's personality (and is weirdly obsessed with the state of Thomas' genitals):

There’s still junk in Davy Jones’s locker, and the gals don’t wanna see it.

Whether you believe he is a she (he isn’t), or whether he/she should compete on the University of Penn women’s swim team (he shouldn’t), all Americans can come together and agree on a single, simple truth: Lia Thomas is a selfish jerk.


Just ask Thomson’s teammates. Some of them told the Daily Mail that Thomas sometimes doesn’t cover her as yet unmutilated male genitalia. “While Lia covers herself with a towel sometimes, there’s a decent amount of nudity,” says the Mail. Swimmers say they “have had a glimpse at her private parts.” Uh, ew.

“‘It's definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women,’ one swimmer on the team told in an exclusive interview.” Apparently, says the Mail, “Lia has told her teammates that she dates women.”

So he is becoming a she so she can ...? Whatever. The point is that the nudity is just another indication that Thomas doesn’t seem to give a water rat’s patootie about the actual women trying to compete in actual women’s swimming. The women who are his ostensible teammates. (There's no I in TEAM, but there sure is in LIA.)

It seems that both Philbin and Maxson have forgotten that their employer considers anonymous sources to be untrustworthy. Maxson forgot it again in a Jan. 30 post:

The Will (aka “Lia”) Thomas controversy with Penn University women’s swimming is on a collision course with postseason events and potential NCAA rules changes regarding transgender athletes. An anonymous member of that team told Fox News she overheard Penn administrations speaking of a potential lawsuit if Thomas is prevented from NCAA national competition in March.

The anonymous swimmer, who fears LGBT retaliation if she reveals her name, told Fox New, “I have a feeling that if USA Swimming changes their rules, they will be filing a lawsuit for Lia (see Thomas photos as male, upper right, and female, upper left) to swim, but they wouldn’t do that for us. That’s just really upsetting.”


While anonymous Penn swimmers feed inside information to the media, a group of left-wing law groups published a public letter last week in The Daily Pennsylvanian in support of Thomas and the hysteria surrounding transgender athletes.

Actually, the folks generating that "hysteria" are transphobes like Maxson. Speaking of transphobia, Simmons served up a helping of it in a Feb. 22 post:

Left-leaning, publicly-funded media outlet National Public Radio (NPR), like a large contingent of the American population, loves the fact that trans-woman Lia Thomas is dominating the swimming competition in the Ivy League. They love it so much they are willing to sacrifice basic journalist principles to make sure it's seen as nothing but an accomplishment that everyone should celebrate.

Michaela Winberg, a general assignment reporter who covers LGBTQ people and culture for Billy Penn (in Philadelphia), produced a radio feature for Morning Edition that NPR posted on their website as a reaction piece to Lia Thomas’ record-setting weekend at the Ivy League’s women’s swimming championships (the transcript for which is here ). However, Winberg did not conduct a single interview with someone who may have opposed the fact that a man is swimming against women, and all the quotes from her sources voiced nothing but support for the delusional athlete.

Then it was lecture time again from Simmons:

This situation lacks all semblance of basic moral principles and common sense, which is perhaps exactly why NPR published the story in the first place.

But, the reason why no opposing voices are allowed to be heard is because they all just want to be accepted. The media and the wackos who support this ideology want to purport a narrative that says anyone who wants to indulge in their delusions should be allowed to do so, and no one should attack them or make them own up to their actions. But if you’re going to be so bold about your stance, shouldn't you be able to take a little heat from the other side?

If Simmons actually cares about the issue, he should look inside MRC headquarters, where its "news" division serves up bias and unbalanced reporting on a regular basis.

Philbin returned to spend a Feb. 28 post in full whine mode over an Associated Press report that accurately pointed out how right-wingers like him are hyping transgenderism in general and Thomas in particular as wedge issues for political purposes:

Long before “Republicans Pounce!” they had “wedge issues.” They used them to divide people and, according to an AP report, they still do.

Today’s GOP wedge issue of choice is transgenderism – you know, the mental health problem that’s sweeping the nation? Conservatives and Republicans (and lots of other normal folks) are bewildered and revulsed by the trans craze, and so it’s coming up in GOP primaries.


Worse, these cynical troglodytes aren’t even following transgender industrial complex-approved protocols. McMillan and Levy huffed that a Missouri senate candidate’s ad called swimmer Lia Thomas “by her by her deadname and saying ‘women’s sports are for women, not men pretending to be women.’” Horrifying. Except that Lia was a mediocre men’s swimmer named Will until he started, well, pretending to be a woman.

Another campaign had the effrontery to use “inaccurate terminology to describe transgender women” when it said its candidate doesn’t believe that “biological males should compete in women’s sports.” Okay Jeff and Marc, we get it. You guys are hip to the acceptable terminology, and virtuous in your insistence on correcting others.

Philbin's mocking tone disguises the fact that no point does he deny that that he and his fellow right-wingers are whipping up transphobic hysteria for political purposes.

The winning -- and the hate -- continues

As Thomas competed in college conference competitions, the hate ratcheted up. Alex Christy huffed in a March 18 post:

MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson took a break from Ukraine coverage towards the end of her Thursday show to hype the “potentially history-making night” to come as transgender swimming Lia Thomas prepared to compete in the NCAA swimming championships -- which Thomas did win later in the day. Together with activist Chris Mosier, the duo demanded Thomas be celebrated for making it to the championships.

After touting the historic nature of the situation, Jackson asked Mosier to “Talk a little about what's at stake tonight.”

Christy complained that Jackson "cherry-picked" a competitor who didn't object to competing against her and ignored "plenty of reports that her teammates resent having to share the same locker room as Thomas and compete at such a biological disadvantage." But the reports Christy cited come from the New York Post, which has the same right-wing anti-trans agenda as the MRC, and are anonymously sourced, which, again, the MRC doesn't like. Christy went on to baselessly suggest that Thomas became transgender solely because she couldn't compete successfully as a male: "Thomas went from being the 462nd ranked male swimmer to the number one ranked female swimmer and later on Thursday would go on to win the national championship. It doesn’t take an advanced biology or anatomy and physiology degree to figure why and that is not a cause for celebration."

The same day, John Simmons cheered that "tranny" Thomas received "warranted backlash" for winning a race at the NCAA championships:

In the most unsurprising sports headline of the week, Lia Thomas - a transgendered female - defeated a pool (no pun intended) of real women in the 500-yard freestyle event at the NCAA Division I Championships in Atlanta, GA on Thursday, with a time of 4 minutes, 33.24 seconds.

Thomas, who has been rightly scrutinized for being a biological male that the NCAA has somehow let compete in women's sports, defeated the next closest competitor by roughly two seconds and was just a little over nine seconds from breaking Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky’s world record time.

While the NCAA and ESPN fawned over Thomas’ “win,” plenty of people condemned Thomas' charade, and several of Thomas’ teammates have anonymously decried Thomas' actions for several months. They don't support what this tranny is doing and that it eliminates any competition before the race has started.

Simmons didn't explain why anonymous sources should be trusted to trash Thomas. And like Christy, his sources of criticism of Thomas were mostly right-wing activists, and the first one he cited was notorious homophobe Matt Walsh. Simmons concluded by ranting:

When you start to lose the support of feminists for what you are doing, maybe it’s time to take stock in just how bonkers of a situation we have on our hands.

We have stooped to the level of allowing men who fail competing against other men to mutilate themselves, claim they are women, beat biological women in sporting events, and then hail them as individuals worthy of praise. We have abandoned reason, forsaken truth, and embraced foolishness with open arms.

What a sick world we live in.

By contrast, Simmons and the rest of the MRC have stayed silent about Walsh's sick stunt of deceiving transgender people into thinking he was making a pro-transgender film. Maxson cheered the right-wing backlash as well in a March 21 post:

America’s college women’s swimming season is over, but the controversy over transgender fraud Will “Lia” Thomas isn’t disappearing any time soon.


Thomas (at left, on NCAA victory stand, in photo) won the national championship in the 500-yard freestyle last week, preventing real women from advancing to the finals and relegating them to lower finishes than they would have gained had the NCAA not allowed him to compete. He defeated three U.S. Olympic silver medalists in the process.

“We think everyone should play sports fairly,” Save Women’s Sports told the New York Post on Saturday. The group aims to restore biology-based eligibility and identifies itself as “pro women,” but not specifically targeting Thomas.

Beth Stelzer, an amateur powerlifter and the founder of Save Women’s Sports, says that defending women in athletics shouldn't be seen as a partisan or religious issue. The group protested the NCAA policy of allowing men to compete on college women’s sports teams during the national women’s swimming championships last week in Atlanta.

Maxson hid the fact that Save Women's Sports is very much making it a partisan political issue; members protested outside the NCAA swimming championships even though none of them had any background in swimming and have consistently misgendered Thomas. Maxson deliberately misgendered her too:

Meanwhile, Thomas, who is a senior and finished with college competition, is setting his sights on the 2024 women’s Olympic swimming competition. He’s aiming to take his ill-gotten eligibility for women’s swimming to its highest competitive level. The unfairness never ends in this mad, mad, mad world of woke sports.

Maxson put out another rant the same day complaining that "NBC airbrushed a photo of Penn University swimmer Will 'Lia' Thomas to portray him [sic] more like a cover girl than a manly man." Simmons used a March 25 post to gush over how transgender person Caitlyn Jenner criticized Thomas while also misgendering her as well:

Caitlyn Jenner is an odd individual. He transitioned to a she in 2015 and has been an outspoken supporter of trans rights in recent years, but yesterday Jenner made a statement that might have some trans people scratching their heads.


Many Americans need to take note of what just happened.

A transgender individual just came out and blasted the fact that a man who wants to be a woman is competing against and beating women in women’s sports. Not only is she saying this is wrong, she is saying that it is common sense. Even someone who is living their life in the transgender delusion can say that what Thomas is doing should not be applauded, celebrated, or allowed.

That means everyone else, whether conservative, progressive, or somewhere in the middle, should also be seeing Thomas’ actions for what they are: abominable in every sense of the word. There is no middle ground, there is no rationalizing Thomas’ actions, there is no sympathizing with this delusion.

Tolerating the ideology that Thomas’ embraces needs to stop. Ironically, even transgendered people get that.

Yes, Simmons really thinks being transgender is an "ideology" like his being a hateful right-winger. He then used a March 29 post to cheer that a college swimmer went on a right-wing podcast and "detailed how repulsive it was being in the same locker room with a man," going on to rant that Thomas was destroying American society:

A growing contingent of NCAA swimmers have had enough with Lia Thomas ruining women’s swimming not just in the pool, but in other aspects as well.

According to one of Thomas’ peers, the transgendered female, who still has male genitalia and is by any objective measure still a man, currently undresses and gets ready for races in a women’s locker room.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Simmons concluded by ranting that accepting Thomas means "society will devolve into chaos and ruin" and sneering, "Hopefully, pressure like this will be enough to get Thomas out of the pool with biological women and get him back to being mediocre against other men."

An April 7 post by Maxson championed another swimmer bashing Thomas, prompting yet another transphobic rant:

Excuse me, but Lia does not need anything but a one way ticket out of women's swimming.

Thomas has been a disgrace to the sport and one of the biggest proponents of an ideology that is bringing ruin upon our culture. Because the NCAA has indulged his fantasies and desires for what he wants reality to be, women like Gaines are being erased from today's culture.

Maxson used an April 11 post to baselessly claim that Thomas became a woman to win more medals, then bashed the NCAA for not hating LGBT people as much as he (or she) does:

For three long seasons, Pennsylvania University student William Thomas toiled at the back of the pack in men’s collegiate swimming. To say he was an also-ran would be an insult to also-runs. After ranking a woeful 462nd in men’s swimming, he re-invented himself as “Lia” Thomas, a transgender “woman.”

A season in which Thomas reduced women’s swimming competition to rubble is over, but nearly 40 former women’s college swimmers are collectively demanding the NCAA stop the charade of male transgender migrants ruining the integrity of women’s sports.


The 40 letter signees are courageous in standing against the NCAA’s prevailing tide. However, the group that oversees collegiate sports has never had the guts to oppose LGBT priorities, and that isn’t likely that will change. In fact, the anacronyms NCAA and LGBT could just as well be combined to form NCAALBGT.

The MRC's war on Thomas has always been about dehumanizing and smearing her for being transgender, and it's a part of the organization's overall hatred of anyone and anything LGBT. Let's not pretend it involves any sort of desire for "integrity."

The attacks never stop

When Thomas did an interview with ABC, Michael Ippolito was in full rant mode in a May 31 post:

Men are not women, and women are not men. Ten years ago, that statement would need no elaboration. Now this phrase can get you called transphobic, ignorant, fired, or shunned from civil society.

Now christened Lia Thomas, William Thomas interviewed with Good Morning America to defend his intrusion into women’s sports in March. Thomas’s participation was the subject of a massive controversy when he became the first man to win the 2021-2022 NCAA Division I Individual National Title in the 500-yard freestyle. After stealing the title from the hardworking women competing, Will Thomas is now defending his decision to compete.


“Trans people don't transition for athletics,” Thomas said, “we transition to be happy.” It seems Thomas’ understanding of being happy is robbing young women of their ability to compete freely and fairly.


How backward has our country become that a hulking male can be crowned the champion of women’s sports? Only from the left can you find the defense of the destruction of what a woman is.

Ippolito censored the fact that Thomas also said that the hormone treatment she underwent as part of the transition meant that "I lost muscle mass and I became a lot weaker and a lot, a lot slower in the water." Of course, that inconvenient fact disproves a key right-wing narrative about Thomas, that she is using full-male-strength muscles to compete with other women.

So offended was the MRC that Thomas was allowed to tell her side of the story regarding the controversy over her swimming that it took a second to fully express their hatred of her. Curtis Houck attacked the interview again later that day:

On Monday, Good Morning America aired their delayed ABC News/ESPN exclusive interview with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who switched genders and crushed actual female swimmers to win an NCAA Division I Swimming title. And, as predicted, the Disney-owned channel largely laid it on thick for Thomas.

“Breaking her silence...College swimmer Lia Thomas, who made history as the first transgender athlete to win a national title in her first sit-down interview...Her journey and what's next,” boasted co-host George Stephanopoulos in the first of two teases. Later in the show after the interview, Stephanopoulos swooned over how Thomas is a “strong woman.”

Nightline co-host Juju Chang conducted the interview and she set the tone early by lamenting that Thomas’s “success as a trans athlete...landed her smack in the center of a heated culture war over trans people try to balance the core values of inclusion versus fairness.”


After a softball about how “there are some” that “look at the data and suggest that you're enjoying a competitive advantage,” Thomas cartoonishly credited an improved mental state for dominating women’s swimming while Chang brushed aside teammates who were uncomfortable by noting they were done anonymously (without pointing out the pressure to comply)[.]
Houck left Thomas' statement about becoming slower and losing muscle mass buried in a transcript and otherwise ignored.

In a June 1 post, Maxson found a former Olympic swimming champion to attack Thomas: "Three-time Olympic women’s swimming gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar criticized males competing in female sports Tuesday and told TMZ Sports they can’t out-run biology. Transgender wannabes like Will “Lia” Thomas, the man who swam for the Penn University women’s team this past season, can’t out-swim it either. On June 14, Maxson dug up some anonymous person who claims to be Thomas' roommate for some Thomas-bashing:

A former teammate of Penn U transgender swimmer William “Lia” Thomas asserted the controversial athlete is “mentally ill.” The anonymous Thomas critic made her remarks in an exclusive interview with Christopher Tremoglie of the Washington Examiner.

The ex-teammate was responding to an interview Thomas recently conducted with Good Morning America. The male swimmer, who was allowed to compete on the Penn women’s swim team during his senior year of college, said his so-called transitioning from male to female brought him true happiness.


Thomas is also faulted, in the interview, for his lack of empathy and concern for the women forced to sacrifice their rights and happiness. They were uncomfortable with a man in their locker room who flaunted his male genitals. They questioned why their happiness was discounted.

Maxson did not mention any purported "pressure to comply" regarding why this alleged ex-teammate remained anonymous. After all, if she's no longer on the team, there's no reason to stay anonymous, is there?

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