The MRC's Other Big Lie
For the past year, the Media Research Center has been promoting the fiction that Donald Trump was banned from social media because he called for "peace" after the Jan. 6 riot (which he helped to incite). It's also denying that what happened that day was an "insurrection."
By Terry Krepel
For the past year, the the Media Research Center has been promoting a version of Donald Trump's Big Lie that the election was stolen from him -- buying questionable results from Trump's own election pollster (despite attacking pre-election polls showing Trump losing big as being made up) claiming that Trump might have won if voters knew more about the dubious October surprise about Hunter Biden pushed by Trump loyalists (like the MRC).
The MRC even sold bumper stickers promoting that conspiracy theory, stating things like "Biden Won ... And Pigs Fly" and "Roses Are Blue. Pigs Fly. And Biden Won." It cut down the number of those after ConWebWatch called them out on it following the Jan. 6 insurrection -- which MRC chief Brent Bozell actually tried to justify as legitimate -- but continued to sell one sticker claiming that "Biden 'Won' Because The Media Lied."
The MRC is so dedicated to Donald Trump, in fact, it has also spent the past year pushing another Big Lie -- this one about his suspension from social media -- in order to present Trump as a victim.
Alexander Hall first forwarded this victimization lie on Jan. 6 -- the day of the Capitol riot -- in a post headlined "Twitter Suspends Trump As He Calls for 'Peace'," in which he declared that "Trump’s call for order was restricted by Twitter, as chaos erupted in the nation’s capital." As Hall very well knows, the "call for peace" had nothing to do with platforms suspending Trump -- it was the weeks and months of spreading lies about the presidential election he lost, which instigated that "political unrest in D.C." better known as the Capitol riot, that prompted the platforms to act.
Needless to say, Hall was also silent on the fact that Trump helped instigate the chaos he was now trying to defuse. Hall and others at the MRC have spread this same dishonest lie linking the call for "peace" with suspensions in other MRC posts as well -- not just immediately after the Capitol riot but weeks afterward:
Still miffed about Facebook ban
As Facebook's oversight board weighed whether to reinstate Trump, that false narrative surfaced again. In a May 4 item prior to the board's announcement, Alexander Hall attacked the oversight board for have "damning affiliations" (read: they're not all right-wing activists like the MRC), adding "Facebook had suspended then-President Trump indefinitely, even as he called for peace amidst the U.S. Capitol riots." Gabriel Hays played the whataboutism cared in another post that day, complaining that "In light of the fact that a social media tribunal will decide on May 5 whether Trump can get his Facebook account back, it’s good to take note of all the famous people who should have had keys to their own accounts taken from them for promoting actual violence."
After the decision to keep Trump's account suspended, Kayla Sargent also made the false "peace" claim:
In a massive blow to free speech online, the Facebook Oversight Board decided to uphold the platform’s ban of former President Donald Trump. But with limits.
Sargent also attacked the oversight board, claiming that "many of the Board’s members are radical leftists."
Hall returned with a post filled with right-wing Trump sycophants -- whom Hall wants you to think are merely "conservative leaders and free speech advocates" -- criticizing the "notoriously liberal" for upholding Trump's suspension, And, yes, he wrote again that Facebook had suspended then-President Trump indefinitely, even as he called for peace amidst the U.S. Capitol riots."
Alec Schemmel touted Trump's unsurprisingly negative reaction to his continued ban; surprisingly, he didn't invoke the "peace" claim, instead declaring Trump was suspended for "purportedly inciting the chaos at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 with his social media postings." Sargent served up another post on the decision, this time on "liberal tech journalists" -- read: not right-wing activists -- purportedly being "upset" over the continued ban, again asserting that "Facebook decided to ban Trump following the Jan. 6 riot in Washington D.C. after he called for 'peace.'"
And the MRC wonders why it's not taken more seriously.
The MRC also made a May 10 "explainer video" complaining that "Facebook's overwhelming global oversight board made an overwhelmingly American ruling and blocked the former president, at least for now," going on to whine further about the non-American and "leftist" nature of the board and huffing, "And these people get to influence American elections!"
Sargent wrote in a June 2 post that "Trump was banned from at least 10 platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Stripe, Snapchat, Reddit, TikTok and even Shopify, after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in which the former president called for 'peace.'" That slippery wording doesn't come out and directly make the false claim, but it's heavily implied there's a linkage that doesn't actually exist. A June 3 post by Casey Ryan, however, actually said the lie: "Before his ban, Trump had the biggest megaphone calling out Big Tech’s hypocrisy, and Facebook suspended him after he called for peace following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot."
Sargent compounded the lie in a June 4 post co-written with Michael Morris attacking Facebook VP Nick Clegg for keeping its ban on Trump: "The platform, in continuing to censor Trump, absurdly concluded that it is still convinced Trump’s calls for 'peace' during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol constituted a 'risk to public safety.'" Clegg said in the Facebook statement: “Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols.” In fact, nowhere in Clegg's statement does he reference Trump calling for "peace" as the reason he was suspended.
A June 5 post by Autumn Johnson declared that "At the beginning of the year, Twitter suspended then-President Trump after he called for peace in the wake of the deadly riots at the Capitol. Sargent repeated her bogus boilerplate in a June 8 post, claiming that "Donald Trump was suspended from at least 10 platforms following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol after he called for 'peace.'" Sargent made a similar claim on June 11: "Twitter removed former President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol after he called for 'peace.'" Sargent returned to her full boilerplate in a June 15 post: "Former President Donald Trump was banned from 10 platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Stripe, Snapchat, Reddit, TikTok and even Shopify, following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol after he called for 'peace.'"
Hall similarly wrote on July 7: "Trump was banned from at least nine other platforms after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, during which the former President called for 'peace,'" which was copied nearly word-for-word in a post by Sargent the same day, which she repeated in a post on July 8. On July 12, Sargent stated that "YouTube, along with at least nine other platforms, banned Trump after he called for 'peace' following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. She declared on July 14 that "Former President Donald Trump was also banned from at least 10 platforms after he called for 'peace' following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol," repeating the statement in a July 15 post.
Ryan returned in a Sept. 3 post to take the lie further:
Twitter banned Trump after he called for peace following the Capitol riot in January. In a tweet, Twitter Safety appeared to falsely accuse Trump of inciting violence: “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” The platform has not allowed him back on since.
In fact, it's been amply demonstrated that Trump played a major role in inciting the riot.
Hall tried to forward the bogus narrative again in an Oct. 29 post complaining that Facebook has a history of sabotaging conservative politicians:
Facebook suspended then-President Trump indefinitely, even as he called for peace amidst the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Trump assured his supporters, “I know your pain. I know your hurt,” but told them “you have to go home now. We have to have peace.” President Trump also said he agreed the election was “fraudulent,” but warned, “we can’t play into the hands of these people.” Zuckerberg declared on Jan. 7 that blocking Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram would be extended indefinitely, as “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”
That's a highly selective reading of Trump's words, ignoring the part where he incited the riot and also encouraged the rioters by saying, "We love you. You're very special," and falsely claimed that "We had an election that was stolen from us."
Another MRC writer, Catherine Salgado, pushed the bogus boilerplate in a Nov. 2 post, stating that "Trump was also banned from at least 10 platforms after he called for “peace” following the Capitol 'riot.'" She didn't explain why she put scare quote around "riot," though elsewhere in her post she referred to the riot only as "the events of January 6th."
Spreading this blatant lie does not help the MRC's credibility issues at all.
Denying the insurrection
After initially expressing some level of outrage over the Jan. 6 insurrection, the MRC is getting in line with its right-wing, pro-Trump contemporaries who want to downplay the events of that day. It's now in revisionism mode, insisting that it wasn't an "insurrection."
An Aug. 28 column by right-wing movie reviewer Christian Toto devoted to attacking Stephen Colbert declaring that the Afghanistan withdrawal was "the first of several body blows against the far-left propagandist. This week also saw a damning report saying the Jan. 6 Capitol riot weren’t an insurrection, nor were they egged on by President Donald Trump or any other body." Toto linked to a Reuters article about an FBI report claiming there was little evidence the Jan. 6 riot was "the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result." The word "insurrection" appears nowhere in the article, and Toto didn't explain why there has to be an "organized plot" for it to be called an "insurrection." But the article also noted that "FBI investigators did find that cells of protesters, including followers of the far-right Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups, had aimed to break into the Capitol," though they allegedly lacked "serious plans about what to do if they made it inside."
On the basis of that report -- even though it showed there was some level of coordination happening -- the MRC began downplaying the events of Jan. 6 were an "insurrection," mostly by putting scare quotes around the word:
Jay Maxson took his (or her) own approach in an Oct. 13 post featuring Donald Trump whining that a New York City borough is ending its management deal with the Trump Organization of a local golf course stated that one writer said "the golf course seizure stems from the events of the Jan. 6 'insurrection' at the U.S. Capitol." In fact, there is no "seizure"; the city owns the course and is seeking to end the management deal because the riots associated with the Trump name have tainted the course.
But neither the Examiner nor Maxson defined the precise level of coordination they're using to avoid calling Jan. 6 an "insurrection." It looks like right-wingers are playing games with language to downplay what happened.
A Dec. 10 post by Brian Bradley threw out the scare quotes in complaining that "leftist figurehead" Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League -- not a "leftist" organization, by the way -- complained that an ADL fellow was de-platformed by Face book for "'studying' the role that company may have played leading up to the Jan. 6 so-called 'insurrection.'" It's unclear why Bradley put "studying" in scare quotes, though it's all too clear why he did that to "insurrection."
In a Dec. 12 post, P.J. Gladnick featured an article about the Jan. 6 committee where "one problem is that none of the supposed insurrectionists has actually been charged with insurrection. " after the writer noted "law-enforcement officers who were attacked by insurrectionists," Gladnick added: "Attacked by 'insurrectionists' who were not charged with insurrection. That could be one reason why the January 6 investigations have become 'weirdly static.'" Is Gladnick denying that law enforcement officers were attacked as well?
Jeffrey Lord embraced scare quotes as well while also playing whataboutism in his Dec. 25 column:
Thus it is that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election when it fact it was Hillary Clinton’s campaign paying for the infamous dossier. Thus it was that all those riots in 2020 that resulted in death, looting, burning and destruction were really “mostly peaceful.” Perfectly decent high schoolers Sandmann and Rittenhouse were racist brats. And the riot by a relative handful of out-of-control protestors at the Capitol on January 6th was really an “insurrection”, with the U.S. government itself hanging by a thread, with a coup attempt incited by President Trump under way.
Lord didn't explain exactly what was "fake news" about any Jan. 6 coverage.
Still pushing the Big Lie
Meanwhile, the MRC is still clinging to the Big Lie it had been pushing, and it once again called in Trump's pollster again to push it anew, as detailed in an Oct. 27 item by Alexander Hall:
A new poll commissioned by MRC with McLaughlin & Associates shows 51.8 percent of voters blame Big Tech for “election interference” in the 2020 presidential election.
Actually, the Hunter Biden laptop story has exactly not been "confirmed." Right-wing media in September pounced on a Politico report in September about a book on the Bidens claiming only that an anonymous "person who had independent access to Hunter Biden’s emails" and other anonymous people received emails found on the laptop, though Politico also pointed out that "While the leak contains genuine files, it remains possible that fake material has been slipped in."That's hardly convincing confirmation, and it comes nearly a year after the New York Post's original report, and it certainly doesn't disprove that the story was Russian disinformation.
Hall is also being dishonest in suggesting that Twitter and Facebook block the story because made Biden look bad; in fact, the story was blocked because it was apparently hacked material of dubious origin. And there were many other reasons to distrust the story, as the Columbia Journalism Review summarized: "the owner of the repair shop contradicted himself multiple times, and also referenced conspiracy theories in an interview; the emails made their way to the Post via some questionable sourcesformer Trump advisor Steve Bannon and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani; and the Post story was co-written by a former producer on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, in her first published article for the newspaper."
Hall didn't tell his readers any of that, of course -- no need to confuse readers with the facts. He also failed to disclose that McLaughlin was Trump's pollster, a fact that raises questions about the poll's objectivity. We know the poll was misleading and skewed because the Hunter Biden questions parroted the right-wing narrative by declaring in a question that that "Politico recently confirmed the authenticity of the Hunter Biden emails" and the narrative that "Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites' censoring of the now- confirmed Hunter Biden email story."
In other words, there's still no reason to treat the MRC's Big Lie seriously. That, of course, doesn't mean the MRC will stop telling it. You know what they say about big lies -- tell 'em often enough and people start believing them.