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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
Posted 10/26/2022

Liz Cheney

The Media Research Center hates it when the media focuses on issues that makes Republicans and conservatives look bad. Thus, it spent part of last year lashing out at coverage of Liz Cheney's status as a top Republican leader, desperate to change the subject.

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!

On Friday night's Don Lemon show, Brian Stelter touted how CNN and MSNBC have loaded more than 300 mentions apiece of Liz Cheney, while Fox News had less than 50. So which approach is better "news"?

The screen read “Fox propaganda in overtime turning Liz Cheney into a pariah.” Is Brian really so out of touch with conservatives that he doesn’t realize CNN and MSNBC and the rest are also turning Liz into a pariah? The more they celebrate Cheney as a Heroic Dissenter, the more the regular Republicans react against her.

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.


Cheney will soon start a media tour blitz. But Garrett’s point is correct.

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.

Nearly seventeen minutes into the show and after one commercial break, the liberal co-hosts were still discussing Cheney, now salivating over the idea that Republicans like herself should break off to form a third party. But Meghan McCain shot down this notion, suggesting they discuss the gas shortage that is wrecking the East Coast, because that is something average Americans actually care about[.]

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.”

On Wednesday, they further showed their unseriousness by spending nearly three times (2.72) times more time over a 12-hour period on Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) losing a role in House GOP leadership than the multiple economic crises facing the country, ranging from the Colonial pipeline hack to gasoline shortages to inflation to stagnant job growth.


Instead of displaying nuance or delivering a comprehensive look at the day’s news, CNN showed on Wednesday it has zero desire to do that as they’d rather play the role of liberal agitators condemning Americans who don’t support their political party.

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.”

But the rest of the news media? They’re obsessing over how terrible (and terribly split) the Republicans are. One party is engaged in a “civil war,” and the other is forever portrayed as a placid pool of calm.

This is how you know the “news” today is whatever narrative the Biden-coddling “mainstream” media decide to adopt. They’re never going to sound like Ted Cruz, who says “Biden policies are failing across the board: economically, domestically and abroad.” They’re going to sound like humanoid robots programmed by Jen Psaki.

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:

  • An April 11 post by Graham grumbled that Cheney did an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, who "ended the interview by tossing a softball. Tell us, Liz, how much has House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy failed democracy?" Graham went on to whine that "Tapper is demonstrating again that he favors "CNN's kind of Republican" instead of any Republican who would dare to criticize the partisanship of the 1/6 Committee." And Graham is demonstrating again that the MRC is little more than an arm of the Republican Party that tries to keep their fellow partisans in ideological lockstep.
  • A June 7 video by Bill D'Agostino served up "a little guessing game for viewers to see how well they can distinguish between two prominent committee members from opposing parties: Nancy Pelosi, and Liz Cheney (R-WY)." D'Agostino didn't explain why Republicans should automatically support an attempted insurrection if Pelosi and Cheney oppose it.
  • A June 10 item by Houck grumbled that an ABC report on the hearings "went full shill when talking about Cheney, boasting she was made for this."
  • Elizabeth Buckley whined in a June 11 post that "Morning Joe" "glorified Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as the new Winston Churchill of our time," and that "Joe Scarborough thought that it would be a fantastic move to compare Congresswoman Cheney to the likes of Sir Winston Churchill and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy."

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.

Tober didn't mention that the MRC had no problem with "Operation Chaos," making him a hypocrite trying to deny the same opportunity with the political stakes reversed.

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).

Anchor Judy Woodruff played a Liz Cheney campaign ad, with her dad, former vice president Dick Cheney, attacking Trump as a “coward.” Woodruff said “They don't come much more conservative than Dick Cheney.”

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.”

Times reporter Jonathan Martin laid it on thick: “She has used the Aug. 16 contest as a sort of a high-profile stage for her martyrdom – and a proving ground for her new crusade.” Martyrdom? She’s not being burned at the stake like Joan of Arc, even if that’s the kind of moral high ground the liberal media coverage suggests.

She’s losing her race “in part because of death threats, her office said.”

Her new crusade is the media’s old crusade. The pull quote on the back of the front section read: “If the cost of standing up for the Constitution is losing the House seat, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay.” Martin also insisted “she has become arguably the most consequential rank-and-file member of Congress in modern times.”

She will be “consequential” if the January 6 Committee somehow helps ruin Donald Trump before 2024. Cheney is only “rank-and-file” because she was tossed out of the House Republican leadership for seeking an entirely new constituency: The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the alphabet of liberal TV networks.


Liz Cheney proves that no politician can be both the biggest darling of the liberal media and a viable candidate for Republican leadership.

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:

  • Now that journalists see Liz Cheney as a heroic Joan of Arc, willing to be burned at the political stake, it’s good to sometimes remind everyone of the seething hatred many in the liberal media had for the daughter of Dick Cheney. -- Aug. 13
  • NBC journalists need to decide who Darth Vader is in their tortured political analogies. On Tuesday’s Today, Hallie Jackson said to an on-screen colleague, “[Let me] raise you a Star Wars analogy.” But back in 2011, Dick Cheney was the evil Vader. -- Aug. 16
  • Journalists have been eagerly cheering Cheney 2.0 as the GOP’s Joan of Arc, willing to be burned at the political stake for principles. ... But a simple look into history shows that journalistic love for a Republican is entirely dependent on how useful that person is to liberal press. In the past, the news and entertainment media despised the “toxic” “daughter of Dracula,” freely using sexist language to mock the child of Dick Cheney. -- Aug. 17
Whitlock didn't tell his readers that Cheney has ceased to be useful to Republicans because she is holding Trump accountable for his actions or why the GOP should put party before honor and responsibility. And he's done this before; he complained in a May 2021 post that "While NBC’s Today show was eager to hail Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney for bashing fellow Republicans during an exclusive interview on Thursday, back in 2012, the broadcast questioned whether her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, deserved a life-saving heart transplant."

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 . . .

Given Liz Cheney's overwhelming defeat in yesterday's Wyoming Republican congressional primary, it would be a very uphill slog for her to win a national GOP presidential primary, should that be her goal for 2024. In a mark of just how steep that climb would be, on today's New Day, CNN cast the two legs of Cheney's base of support as . . . Democrats, and the Beltway media!

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.

Guthrie deemed “64 percent” of Republicans to be election deniers (without citing a source) and then lobbied for Cheney to outright call for Democratic victory in 2022: “That is your red line. That is who is coming to Congress if Republicans prevail and get control of Congress. Given that state of affairs, do you think it would be better for the country if Democrats retained control?”

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!


After the landslide, they asked Cheney if she would run for president in 2024, ignoring all proof that she drove her political car off a cliff. Savannah Guthrie repeatedly pressured Cheney to proclaim the Democrats should keep their majority power in Congress. They want her to sound fully like a Democrat. Democracy is only authentic and safe when Democrats win.

None of them seemed to figure out Republicans don't want to vote for Cheney when she's being painted as a hero by Dan Rather.

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.

The headline was "The GOP Just Borrowed a Soviet Skill and Disappeared Liz Cheney." If you've been around a while, you know why this spin is funny. Time magazine made Mikhail Gorbachev the "Man of the Decade" and honored him as the "communist Pope and the Soviet Martin Luther." So maybe Liz Cheney is their Gorbachev now. Don't send her to Lithuania.


Except she wasn't executed! She didn't actually disappear! The liberals can't stop spotlighting her! Trump has a Politburo, like America is a one-party state. At least Elliott acknowledged "Her performance made her a darling of liberals who not that long ago thought the Cheney clan to be some of the worst people in America."

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].

After first declaring Cheney the face of the “opposition to Donald Trump in this country,” Karl turned to Page who happily noted how Cheney told Karl during an exclusive interview that “she’ll be campaigning for some Democrats, who are running against election deniers” and gushed that Cheney “has the statute and the ability to raise money to have an influence on some of those races.”

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.

When she lost, CNN analyst Nia-Malika Henderson accurately explained that her base was no longer in Wyoming. It's the “Beltway media.” It's more than that — it inspires the Left from New York to Hollywood. They want to portray it as both impossible and irresistible.

Cheney's been raising millions from Democrats who want to stir up this campaign as another goad to Trump. Many Republicans would like to try a different flavor than Trump the next time around, but it's time to imagine that just as they've been doing in the midterm primaries, the Democrats deeply desire another run by Trump -- this time, the Trump that goaded on a riot and refused to concede defeat. They want him, damaged and angry.

The Democrats and their media partners like the narrative that Trump has a “death grip” on the Republican Party, because death is what they seek. They boast about how they are the saviors of democracy when what they really want is to shut the “ignorant” half of America up.


Cheney's defeat did not underline that Trump has full control of the Republican Party. It did show that Republicans have control of the Republican Party, no matter how much the liberal media and the Democrats want to run it.

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.

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