The MRC Takes It Out On Liz Cheney
The Media Research Center denied it was news that the Republican congresswoman was ousted from GOP leadership for not loving Trump enough, then bashed her for serving on the Capitol riot committee and cheered that she lost her Republican primary.
By Terry Krepel
In a May 6 post, perpetually angry MRC writer Nicholas Fondacaro ranted that "Republican flack-turned-Democrat" Kurt Bardella was a "loon" in part for bringing up the Cheney battle, "saying that Republicans are the ones who are “detrimental and dangerous” to the country for removing Cheney for, according to Bardella, the lone sin of “telling the truth about January 6th” and the 2020 election." He added: "Numerous people have debunked this claim, but facts aren’t exactly Bardella’s strong suit." The "numerous people" Fondacaro linked to were Federalist writer Mollie Hemingway making unsubstantiated claims about Cheney and a Politico article citing anonymous Republicans criticizing Cheney (huh, we thought the MRC hated anonymous sources).
Mark Finkelstein complained that MSNBC's Joe Scarborough lent his support to Cheney: "But with her harsh criticism of President Trump, and vote to impeach him, Cheney has made herself the darling of the liberal media. Witness the Washington Post offering her an op-ed spot yesterday to continue to blast Trump. So is Liz really indifferent to liberal love, or has she gone out of her way to cultivate it?"
Tim Graham summarized his May 10 podcast thusly:
On the latest NewsBusters Podcast, we tackle the ginned-up controversy over Rep. Liz Cheney, and how her crusading against Donald Trump looks like it will lead to a vote removing her from the House GOP leadership. Oh, how the media love this sticky wicket!
In the podcast proper, Graham complained: "The question is this: Which one of these is more newsworthy? Which one's more the news channel? Does doing the story more make you a better news channel, or doing the story less make you a better news channel?... That shouldn't be how we define news." Graham seems to have forgotten how much the MRC praises Fox News for covering certain stories (that advance right-wing narratives) more than CNN or MSNBC. He then paranoiacally whined: "It should be obvious that the media and the Democrats -- the media-Democrat complex -- aren't really interested in figuring out "let's help the Republicans win.' The Cheney fight is their hope to split the party into warring factions and then dominate at the polls."
The next day, Graham complained that a commentator noted that Cheney was being kicked out of GOP leadership "for no offense other than saying that Joe Biden won the election," retorting: "That's the official Democrat line on Cheney, and forget the reporters who've heard how Cheney's political operation "has been described as difficult, brittle, unresponsive and tone deaf," and that she's actually endangering the re-election of anti-Trump Republicans." Like Fondacaro, Graham cited as evidence the anonymous source-laden Politico article.
(Graham also called the person who said that, "hardcore partisan Democrat lawyer" Mark Ellias, a "shyster" -- a slur for an unscrupulous or dishonest lawyer. Graham offered no evidence that Elias committed any crimes or acts that would get him disbarred other than complaining that he was "the bagman who paid Fusion GPS for the phony-baloney Steele Dossier full of collusion delusion.")
On May 12, Scott Whitlock tried to embrace a CBS reporter's claim that he thought he could exploit:
CBS This Morning’s Major Garrett on Wednesday shocked his fellow journalists as he rejected the evolving liberal media narrative that Liz Cheney is the most important story on the planet. Garrett mocked this idea as the equivalent of caring about the third string quarterback on a JV high school football team. Now, he also used hyperbolic language, insisting that Cheney is “being stoned or burned at the stake.” But at least the CBS journalist underlined the obvious point: This story is a media creation.
Of course, by that very loose definition, every news story is a "media creation."
Another post that same day, by Kristine Marsh, hammered further on the idea that Cheney is a non-story as decreed by conservatives:
View’ co-host Meghan McCain ruffled feathers on Wednesday’s show by bringing up a topic unrelated to GOP bashing. Her co-hosts were talking endlessly about Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney being ousted from her leadership role. It has been an obsessive topic from the liberal media the past two weeks to distract from troubles the Biden administration is facing, such as the historically bad border crisis that continues to get worse.
CNN-hating writer Curtis Houck lashed out again in a May 13 post:
When it comes to fulfilling basic journalistic duties, CNN long ago ditched them in favor of what Becket Adams called “the business of hyping meaningless, clickbait feuds” and the news version of “professional wrestling.”
Fox News devotes no small amount of coverage to clickbait feuds and pro wrestling-type coverage, but Houck (nor any other MRC employee) will never, ever call it out.
Ironically, a post by Kyle Drennen the same day complained that an NBC interview of Cheney didn't do enough pro-wrestling attacks on President Biden: "Despite Thursday’s Today show featuring an over 10-minute long interview with a sitting Republican member of Congress, only a paltry 29 seconds of the coverage focused on Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney’s criticism of current President Joe Biden. Instead, nearly all of the exchange was centered on co-host Savannah Guthrie urging the newly-ousted House GOP leader to attack her fellow Republicans and former President Trump." Drennen made sure to insert the MRC's anti-media narrative: "The leftist media have been eagerly using Republican Party disagreements to distract from a border crisis, bad jobs report, and gas lines across the country. Reporters like Guthrie are doing everything they can to give President Biden a pass and portray the GOP in chaos."
Graham whined further in his May 14 column:
The front page of the May 13 Washington Times was sobering: “President Biden’s second 100 days are off to a woeful start, including a gas shortage for much of the East Coast, a surge of inflation, a slowdown in hiring despite a record number of job openings, renewed fighting in the Middle East and an unresolved border crisis.”
Graham failed to mention that the Washington Times is a right-wing, anti-Biden paper that is still run by Unification Church cultists, so maybe its news judgment shouldn't be presented as accurate and objective -- or that the Biden-is-failing story the Times published is just as much of a narrative as anything he accuses the "liberal media" of doing. And he and the rest of the MRC don't seem to understand that just because the right-wing powers-that-be have deemed an unflattering story not to be news doesn't mean that it actually isn't.
Cheney, the 1/6 committee and re-election
The MRC raged that a House committee was seeking accountability for the Capitol riot and the events leading up to it, so it's unsurprising that it also made a particular target of Cheney for serving as the committee's vice chairman -- because Republicans are apparently supposed to ride and die with Donald Trump and the MRC will tolerate no criticism of him, especially from a fellow Republican.
In a September 2021 post, Fondacaro complained that a CBS report on partisan Republican hearings on the U.S. withdrawal on Afghanistan noted that Cheney came to the defense of Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley. Her presence on the 1/6 committee drew specific attacks from the MRC:
But as Cheney faced a Republican primary challenge for her Wyoming seat from a Trump-endorsed opponent, the MRC was happy to make her a target. In a June 30 post, Kevin Tober complained that CNN's Don Lemon "ma[d]e his case for why Democrats should vote for Liz Cheney in a Republican primary for the sole reason that she hates former President Donald Trump just as much as they do," going the whataboutism route:
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.
Graham spent his July 25 podcast whining that the non-right-wing media doesn't hate Cheney -- who he tried to loosely tie to Al Gore -- as much as he does:
Then there were the Liz Cheney interviews. On CNN, Jake Tapper offered a series of softball questions about how the Pelosi-picked January 6 panel would proceed, and then in a second segment, underlined how Cheney would probably lose her congressional primary in Wyoming because she's for "the truth." Then Tapper asked her if she would run for president. As with Al Gore, this was more a compliment than a serious question. Which state would Liz Cheney win when she's dramatically unpopular among Republicans?
Graham whined further in an Aug. 7 post about non-right-wing non-hatred of Cheney:
On Friday's PBS NewsHour, liberal MSNBC Sunday host and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart made a Star Wars analogy, comparing Liz Cheney to Obi-Wan Kenobi (and Trump to Darth Vader).
Graham's Aug. 10 column groused that Cheney was getting praise for likely losing her seat because she stood up for principle:
As the Wyoming primaries approach, The New York Times is already preparing the post-election spin boosting the post-congressional exploits of Liz Cheney. The August 8 front-page headline was “Cheney Ready to Lose a Race, But Not a Fight.”
Graham didn't explain why holding those responsible for the Capitol riot accountable for their actions is a principle no Republican should embrace.
Scott Whitlock then served up a series of flashback whataboutism posts:
As expected, Cheney lost her primary race to a Trump-endorsed opponent, and the MRC continued to be upset she was being portrayed as standing up for the principle of holding Donald Trump accountable (something the MRC has no interest in doing). Mark Finkelstein complained in an Aug. 17 post:
Not exactly the people you need to win a Republican presidential primary . . .
Scott Whitlock similarly complained in a post later that day:
NBC on Wednesday repeatedly lobbied Liz Cheney to run for president after she lost her renomination bid for Congress. Today co-host Savannah Guthrie also repeated the media-created comparison that Cheney is Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars and Trump is Darth Vader.
Neither Whitlock nor Finkelstein didn't explain where the nobility is in defending Trump's attempted insurrection.
Graham whined about this yet again in his Aug. 17 podcast:
Rep. Liz Cheney was clobbered by 37 points in her Wyoming Republican primary, but the media broke out their praises as she gaudily compared herself to Lincoln and Ulysses Grant. She's a savior of the Republic!
He too failed to explain why it's preferable to take Trump's side of corruption over Cheney's side of accountability.
Tober took up the complaining about praise of Cheney in an Aug. 18 post:
In news that will shock nobody, MSNBC’s The ReidOut turned into another Republican bashing segment where a guest referred to the GOP as supporters of Fascism and the Democrats as supporters of democracy. Never mind the fact that the network spent much of Wednesday and Thursday wringing their hands over the defeat of Never Trump Republican Liz Cheney’s landslide defeat for renomination. The leftist media only reveres democracy so long as their preferred candidates win.
Graham whined in an Aug. 20 post that it was pointed out that Cheney was effectively "disappeared" Soviet-style by her fellow Republicans for the sin of not loving Trump enough:
We know that liberal journalists have descended into a nasty habit of associating the Democrats with democracy and the Republicans with authoritarianism. But Time magazine took it its illogical dead end: Liz Cheney getting trounced in an election was some sort of Stalinist liquidation.
Graham again failed to explain why Republicans must jettison Cheney to cling to the corrupt Trump.
Tober returned to whine again in an Aug. 21 post:
Days after recently ousted anti-Trump Congresswoman Liz Cheney laughably compared herself to former Republican President Abraham Lincoln, ABC’s This Week co-moderator Jonathan Karl took it a step further and compared Cheney to former President Theodore Roosevelt. The ahistorical idol worship didn’t end there, USA Today bureau chief Susan Page suggested Cheney could have the same long-term ideological impact on the GOP that socialist Senator Bernie Sanders had on the Democrat Party [sic].
Graham spent his Aug. 24 column contradictorily whining that Cheney was being lionized for her crusade to hold Trump accountable while also insisting that Trump doesn't have a death grip on the Republican Party, as the Heathering of her by both Republicans and the MRC (but we repeat ourselves) makes clear:
Liz Cheney lost her Wyoming primary election by 37 points. But the concession speech didn't so much concede as announce a new crusade, a quixotic campaign to drag down Donald Trump in any way possible before the 2024 election.
Note that Graham isn't exactly running away from Trump -- his criticism is tepid at best because he knows that Trump does, in fact, control the Republican Party. He will sheepishly go with the GOP crowd and continue to support Trump, making a full public break only if his boss, Brent Bozell, orders him and the rest of the MRC to do so -- his paycheck depends on it, after all. But that's not coming anytime soon because Trump serves the MRC as a victim and because his views are those of the conservative movement.
Cheney has guts. Graham doesn't, nor does the rest of the MRC. -- and in their heart of hearts, they know it.