The MRC's Dirty War on George Soros, Part 2
The Media Research Center dialed back the more explicitly anti-Semitic attacks on the liberal billionaire -- but its obsessive attacks still frame him as the Jew conservatives are allowed to hate.
By Terry Krepel
For years, the Media Research Center has shared the right's obsession with George Soros as a bogeyman -- to the point that it notoriously used anti-Semitic imagery to portray him as a liberal "puppet master." That obsession is still going strong.
The main way it's been showing up in the past couple of years is in numerous posts by Joseph Vazquez -- apparently the MRC's designated Soros-hater -- complaining that he's allegedly funding political groups attacking President Trump and promoting Joe Biden.
In January 2020, Vazquez did a post freaking out that "Godfather of the left" Soros was named philanthropist of the year by an organization. Vazquez attacked Soros for numerous other things over the following few months:
You will not be surprised to learn that Vazquez does not track right-wing anti-Biden ads -- which may have been funded by the MRC's chief benefactor, the Mercer family -- with the same level of obsession.
Vazquez also contributed a February post complaining that Soros criticized Facebook because it might help get Trump re-elected, sarcastically adding: "Is Soros concerned that Trump’s social media game will hinder his agenda to bend the 'arc of history' in 'the right direction?'"
In March, Alexander Hall complained that Soros bought an interest in a video game company that "appears to have jumped the shark in recent years -- even capitulating to communist censorship in 2019." Hall never returned to the subject, and thus didn't bother to report that Soros saw a 45 percent return on his investment in just a few months, which made it a smart financial decision.
Also in March, Gabriel Hays went far afield to attack a British website in his usual sneering way because it received some funding from Soros and expressed an opinion he didn't like:
Lefties on George Soros’s payroll know that no good crisis should go to waste and are using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to peddle their communist garbage, like the idea that this crisis should remind society of its imperative to “abolish the family” and the “private household.” Wow, what a wonderful thought.
In April, Vazquez served up this curious thought: "The Washington Post continues to ruin its reputation by relying on a mix of a Soros-affiliated organization, the UN and the ADL to claim criticism of China’s handling of the coronavirus is racist." No, Joe; they criticized the use of slurs like "kung flu" are racist. And he never actually explained how the Post citing any of these groups -- even the pro-Jewish Anti-Defamation League, which he snidely dismissed as "lefty" -- "ruin its reputation."
The MRC even bashed something as uncontroversial as media literacy as being tainted by Soros' involvement. A May post by Hall grumbled that "Facebook is partnering with Soros-funded Poynter’s 'Mediawise' project and a progressive news outlet to teach youth how to process media," going on to further attack Poynter as "openly liberal." In fact, the Poynter Institute is a nonprofit institute that educates journalists; of course, in the highly skewed eyes of people like Hall and the MRC, any organization that refuses to be as right-wing as they are is automatically slimed as "openly liberal."
Vazquez returned yet again a few days later complaining that Soros said in an interview, "I have put my faith in Trump to destroy himself, and he has exceeded my wildest expectations.” Vazquez didn't note that letting Trump destroy himself has worked out quite well so far; instead, he huffed that "Soros’s super PAC Democracy PAC has been involved in funding radical left-wing groups. These groups have been exploiting the coronavirus in TV ad blitzes and appear to have aligned with Soros in an attempt to 'destroy' Trump and undermine his efforts."
This is the kind of abject hate and enemy creation that the MRC has to create to keep its right-wing narratives alive.
Vazquez continued to fearmonger about Soros every week or two over the last half of 2020 and into 2021:
In a Nov. 30 post, Vazquez complained that "It took Election Day being over for CNN to slam Democratic hypocrisy on the use of dark money," highlighting that "The George Soros-funded Sixteen Thirty Fund a left-wing group CNN noted as responsible for about a third of the 'dark money' that helped fuel Democratic candidates this cycle had given $52 million to other 'groups active in the 2020 elections.' CNN ignored mentioning that the group was connected to Soros." Vazquez wasn't similarly concerned about dark money in Republican political campaigns.
Meanwhile, Hall went on a Soros-blaming binge in a July post:
Don’t doubt that Wikipedia is liberal. Fierce debate erupted among Wikipedia moderators about whether Fox News could even be used as a credible source in Wikipedia entries. It ended by being a source that could only be used with proper warnings in place.
Yes, Hall really was blaming all of this on Soros giving money to Wikipedia.
In a Dec. 2 post, Hall complained that Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the "infamous" Anti-Defamation League, "has smeared online conservatives as being 'anti-Semitic' for their criticism of liberal billionaire George Soros. He claimed 'George Soros is patient zero for the anti-Semites.'" Remember, the MRC has designated Soros as a Jew conservatives are permitted to hate.
On Dec. 18, MRC chief Brent Bozell attacked the Americans for Prosperity Foundation for seeking emails the MRC may have sent to Trump administration officials to pushing its dubious conservative victimization agenda regarding social media, further attacking key AFP funder the Koch brothers for having "launched a multi-million dollar venture with George Soros."
Alex Christy grumbled in a Jan. 15 post that folks on CNN argued that MRC-beloved right-wing social media site Parler can't be fixed to get rid of the hate, adding a dash of Soros fearmongering: "CNN was roughing up Facebook on Friday, using a report from the Tech Transparency Project -- which is described as 'nonpartisan' but is transparently funded by leftist George Soros."
As 2021 continued, Vazquez kept up piling up the hyperbolic accusations:
Vazquez even tried to blame Soros for things he had nothing to do with. On August 2, he pushed a salacious story under the headline "SICK: 6 Women Sue Soros ‘Right-Hand Man’ After BDSM in His ‘Sex Dungeon'." (Vazquez sure loves to associate the word "SICK" with Soros.) In fact, the person in question, Howard Rubin, hadn't worked for Soros Fund Management since 2015. Vazquez also sourced his claim largely from the notoriously unreliable Daily Mail, which offered no evidence to back up its claim that Rubin was ever Soros' "right-hand man,'" and from the New York Post, whose right-wing bias is nearly as notorious.
In June, Vazquez complained that a "A U.K.-based fact-checking outlet financed by liberal billionaire George Soros tried as early as February 2020, to swat down the idea that COVID-19 had leaked from a laboratory in communist China." In fact, there is still little proof to substantiate that theory (though that's in no small part because the Chinese have been less than cooperative), and it remains at least as likely that it is a naturally occurring virus and was not genetically altered in the Wuhan lab.
ConWebWatch has already noted Vazquez cheering a ProPublica report on how little in taxes rich people play when it exposed Soros -- only to flip-flop a few days later to condemn that very same report because it exposed the financial info of non-liberal rich people.
From late 2021 to early 2022, Vazquez piled up even more hyperbolic attacks on Soros (and anything that can be tangentally linked to him, no matter how tenuous):
Despite his employer's use of anti-Semitic tropes to attack Soros, Brad Wilmouth spent an Oct. 22 post complaining that criticism of Soros has been portrayed as anti-Semitic:
On Wednesday morning, there was night a day difference in the way MSNBC and Fox News covered the gubernatorial race in Virginia as Morning Joe bolstered Democratic candidate and ex-Governor Terry McAuliffe as he attacked Republican Glenn Youngkin. Joe Scarborough even went so far as to compare the GOP nominee to an "illiberal tyrant" who is using "anti-Semitism" in his campaign.
Wilmouth didn't respond to Scarborough's criticism -- he simply complained that it was said. The MRC has previously praised Orban for supporting "free speech" in the form of criticizing "big tech" over purported "censorship" of right-wingers, even though Orban has a history of suppressing free speech by cracking down on dissent of his regime.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the MRC censored all mention of its friends at Fox News publishing a cartoon in December using that exact same "puppet-master" trope.
Playing the Soros bogeyman card
The MRC also played toe Soros card on Gigi Sohn, who was nominated to a seat on the board of the Federal Communications Commission. Autumn Johnson first spent a Nov. 9 post trying to invent a conspiracy theory that Sohn will destroy right-wing media because she has been critical of them. Vazquez trotted out his overly familiar Soros bogeyman in a Nov. 15 post:
Tech on the Rocks Podcast host Gigi Sohn, who has a documented history of left-wing bias against conservative media, is co-founder and former President of the leftist group Public Knowledge, which “has long sought more government control of the internet and media,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Influence Watch reported that Public Knowledge is a “staunch supporter of expanded regulations on internet businesses and technology companies, backing so-called ‘net neutrality’ regulations against internet service providers.” Soros’s Open Society Foundations funded Public Knowledge with at least $1,148,984 just between 2016-2020 alone.
In a Nov. 30 post, Catherine Salgado was mad that "Soros-linked" Sohn refused to buy into the right-wing social media "censorship" narrative:
Sohn has openly mocked the idea that there is biased censorship of conservatives online. “For years, @Twitter & @Facebook tried to appease @realDonaldTrump & other right-wing extremists on phony claims of conservative bias. It didn't work,” Sohn tweeted from her unverified account in May 2020. She also slammed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for highlighting online bias. “No shock - @Jim_Jordan rants and raves about so-called anti-conservative bias on online platforms, which we all know is a bunch of BS,” Sohn tweeted n July 2020.
Salgado joined in Johnson's conspiracy-mongering that "Sohn has also indicated that she will censor non-leftist voices, particularly through her repeated attacks on Fox News" and "impl[ied] she would expand government power over the internet."
Vazquez's biggest project in this time period, however, was a Jan. 10 post that was an extended attack on Soros for committing the offense of funding educational causes he likes:
Billionaire George Soros said he is working to “bend” the arc of history “in the right direction.” In Soros’ case, that direction is far to the left. To do it, he donated over $32 billion to his Open Society Foundations since 1984, to further leftist ideology and activism well beyond his own lifetime. Soros has committed a combined sum of more than $2.3 billion to create a global university network to push his extreme ideology.
Of course, from the hard-right perspective of Vazquez and the MRC, anything that's not ideologically in lockstep with them is going to be viewed as "leftist" or "radical" or "extremist." And he's really angry that Soros and people who have received money from him have dared to criticize Donald Trump, whom he appears to believe is above any criticism.
(There's also the irony of someone whose paycheck depends on the largesse of right-wing moneybags Rebekah Mercer attacking how some other wealthy person spends their money.)
Vazquez went on to repeat criticism of Soros by Orban, implicitly praising him for attacking Soros for purportedly "backing mass illegal immigration in the country" for smearing Soros as running "an extensive mafia network," as well as for forcing a Soros-backed "leftist university" to leave the country. Unsurprisingly, Vazquez didn't mention that Orban is a right-wing authoriarian who is working to censor free expression, even as the MRC praises him for trying to censor social media operations by ludicrously framing that as "free speech."
Nevertheless, Vazquez continued to rant:
It is clear from Soros’ massive funding of leftist causes that he has worked tirelessly to cement his ethos in global society. His funding of billions to foment racial strife and shape global education is proof of this. Soros’ vision to mainstream his thinking on a worldwide scale through his global university network and his racial politics spending impact every American citizen.
This was followed by a Jan. 15 post touting MRC chief Brent Bozell touting this hit job on his buddy Mark Levin's radio show, who gushed that it was "a great service" to "the nation," weirdly adding that "Soros is making sure that his money goes exactly where he wants it to go so from the grave he can reach out and try and destroy America."
Vazquez wants you to think he's doing real "media research" here, but like most of the MRC's work, it's a partisan hit job -- the word "radical" appears nine times, the word "leftist" appears 19 times, and the word "extremist" appears nine times. That's the motivation of every single attack on Soros he has penned -- and gets paid by Rebekah Mercer to pen.
The attacks continued throughout the early part of 2022:
The MRC invoked Soros in an attempt to criticize ADL leader Alan Greenblatt for working with Whoopi Goldberg over her incorrect statements about the Holocaust. Alex Christy complained in a Feb. 3 post:
On Thursday's New Day, CNN's John Avlon rushed to defend liberal View host Whoopi Goldberg from charges of anti-Semitism after her offensive comments about the Holocaust. As part of one of his "reality checks," Avlon instead tried to deflect the controversy by claiming critics of left-wing billionaire George Soros using his immense wealth to push a radical political agenda were the real villains.
The same day, Alexander Hall renewed the MRC's attack on the ADL while also playing the Soros card on Greenblatt, rehashing a claim from the right-wing New York Post that Greenblatt once "directed an initiative at the Aspen Institute, a George Soros-financed, left-leaning nonprofit."
The MRC also dragged its Soros obsession into other narratives it has pushed. As part of its campaign of hate against Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joseph Vazquez huffed in a March 23 post:
A leftist dark money group funded by liberal billionaire George Soros is closely connected to efforts to push for confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee.
By contrast, Vazquez has been silent about right-wing dark money influencing the selection of conservative judges and Supreme Court members, or that said dark money funded attacks on Jackson.
Does Clark not know who funds his paycheck?