Classified Document Double Standards at the MRC: The Biden Flip
After defending Donald Trump over a raid on Mar-a-Lago to retrieve classified documents, the Media Research Center went on the attack when documents were found at offices belonging to Joe Biden ... until it was revealed Mike Pence had some too.
By Terry Krepel
After the FBI raid on Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago to retrieve numerous classified documents that he had refused to return despite repeated requests from the National Archives, the Media Research Center was slow to respond to the story, then quickly moved into defense-and-deflection mode. When a handful of classified documents were discovered among Joe Biden's papers at private offices outside the White House and his Delaware home -- which, in contrast to Trump, he immediately returned when they were discovered -- the MRC moved exponentially faster and immediately went into full pounce mode. A Jan. 9 post by Kevin Tober kicked things off, with the usual MRC complaint that non-right-wing media was failing to embrace right-wing narratives -- and, even worse, pointed out that the Biden and Trump situations were different:
On Monday afternoon, CBS was given an exclusive that revealed that classified documents were found at President Biden's private office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington D.C. After the amount of handwringing and nonstop negative coverage of the news that Trump had classified documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago, you would think the media would take this story seriously. Predictably, they sought to downplay the news and deflect blame from Biden and distance him from any comparisons to what happened with Trump's storage of classified documents.
A couple hours later, Tober found someone to peddle a conservatively correct narrative:
On CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, senior political commentator Scott Jennings slammed President Joe Biden over his reportedly mishandling classified documents at his private office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington D.C. What made this revelation especially rich was the fact that Biden was so outraged at former President Trump allegedly having documents marked classified at his home in Mar-a-Lago. Jennings even got in a Michael Scott reference during his Monday night appearance.
The pouncing continued in full force the next day:
Curtis Houck, meanwhile, served up the requisite daily take that non-right-wing media aren't sounding like Fox News:
Along with the Monday night network evening newscasts, the Tuesday morning broadcast network news shows tried to dial back the heart rates of liberal viewers by insisting there’s no there there to classified documents being found in the Washington D.C. office of President Biden’s University of Pennsylvania think tank. Instead, it was a case of Republicans “pounc[ing]” despite “key differences” between Biden and what they hope to be the jailing of former President Trump for classified documents found in Mar-a-Lago.
In a Jan. 11 post, Christy looked at the reaction of late-night comedy hosts, complaining in particular that Jimmy Kimmel pointed out that "for the MAGA crowd, this was like Christmas and the McRib coming back at the same time." Other coverage complaints continued, again largely focused on non-right-wing media not attacking Biden like right-wing media would (and did):
Tim Graham's Jan. 11 podcast pretended that the "liberal media," not right-wingers, are the ones with the real double standard:
CBS broke the news on Monday that Biden's lawyers disclosed they have discovered classified documents in an office at the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center in the nation's capital. The "roughly 10" documents are from President Biden's vice-presidential office at the center, which opened in 2018.
Fact check: Right-wing media, including the MRC, have been pushing attacks on Hunter Biden precisely because they are a distraction from everything Trump (whom the MRC will never completely repudiate, despite instigating a violent insurrection).
Meanwhile, Fondacaro unironically ranted:
On Thursday morning, news broke that the second batch of classified documents President Biden took when he was vice president was found in the garage of his Wilmington, Delaware home, next to his Corvette. And conspiracy theories flew around the set of ABC’s The View as the co-hosts whine about how these documents just appeared, with some apparent suggestions that Republicans were “behind” them getting into the garage and the President’s former office at the Penn Biden Center.
Fondacaro somehow forgot mention that Trump himself accused the FBI (or, at least, the "Marxist thugs" therein) of planting those classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. You'd think he'd acknowledge there's precedent for such a view, but we know Fondacaro is not an honest guy.
The MRC did find a couple instances of non-right-wing outlets sounding sufficiently like Fox News to be worth promoting:
But it still found other instances of non-Fox-News media behavior to complain about:
P.J. Gladnick, meanwhile, got assigned the duty of complaining that Republican (and MRC) double standards on possession of classified documents were being called out:
ABC News appears to be in such a state of urgency to defend Joe Biden in the wake of the documents scandal that they regurgitated a term that was thought to have been mocked out of existence. The worn cliché, "Republicans pounce" or as the title of ABC News reporter-producer Ben Gittleson's story put it on Wednesday, "GOP pounces," as you can see in "Biden leaves questions unanswered on classified documents, as GOP pounces."
Despite whining about the phrasing, Gladnick did not dispute that Republicans are exhibiting a double standard.
Jeffrey Lord gleefully declared that it was a "media misfire" that Biden got a special counsel to look into his document situation the way Trump got one for his in his Jan. 14 column:
Joe Biden’s Trump-hating liberal media allies can take a bow. By their insistence that a Special Counsel be appointed to investigate Trump because he had classified documents at Mar a Lago, the revelations that Biden did exactly the same thing - three times over! - has now won their hero a Special Counsel of his own, plus a congressional investigation. All this along with the revelation that his Penn Biden Center has been financed by millions in Chinese dark money. And also raising the question, of course, of how much of that Chinese money was laundered through the Biden Center before going in the Big Guy’s pocket.
The MRC played up a couple more instances of non-right-wing media criticizing Biden over this (oblivious to the fact that it discredits its narrative that these outlets are hopelessly biased):
Then it was back to whining that people keep pointing out the difference between the Biden and Trump situations. Bill D'Agostino huffed in a Jan. 16 post:
The rapidly unfolding nightmare of President Biden’s document scandal prompted desperate talking points from Democrat-friendly cable networks last week, the most prominent of which was the claim that Biden’s classified document issues bore “night and day” differences to those of former President Trump.D'Agostino didn't dispute that there is a difference; instead he parroted Lord by noting that "despite the corporate media’s protests, a Special Counsel has been appointed. One suspects he will not receive the same high praise with which the media routinely showered Robert Mueller."
Clay Waters similarly whined later that day:
Public television’s idea of a balanced political debate: Friday's PBS NewsHour punditry found little daylight between “conservative” New York Times columnist David Brooks and liberal Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, nodding in agreement that the new Biden classified document controversy had no comparison to Trump’s.
Despite complaining that it was said, Waters also didn't dispute the accuracy of the assessment.Curtis Houck repeated the MRC's sub-complaint, that it's being pointed out how Republicans are hypocritically using the discovery to attack Biden:
The Biden documents scandal entered its second week Monday and, on the flagship broadcast network morning news shows, ABC’s Good Morning America remained in a defensive mode for Team Biden by repeatedly insisting the White House will be cooperative and transparent with the special counsel, fretting “Republicans...are now pouncing,” and boasting Republicans will never be able to find out who’s been visiting Biden at his Wilmington, Delaware home.
It's "attack mode" to point out Republican hypocrisy?
Houck returned to repeat his narrative: "ABC’s Good Morning America fought a surprisingly lonely battle Tuesday in carrying water for President Biden and the White House amid their classified documents scandal, repeatedly touting the administration as 'firing back' at Republicans wanting to learn more and making requests of the regime because...Donald Trump." Again, despite the complaints, Houck made no attempt to argue that there wasn't hypocrisy. More complaints followed:
While most normal people had moved on by this point, the MRC wasn't going to yet, as evidence by Brent Bozell rushing to Fox Business for a softball interview to desperately keep the story alive:
Media Research Center Founder and President Brent Bozell joined the Wednesday edition of the Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co. to sound off on the liberal media’s coverage of President Biden’s classified documents scandal and, for Bozell, it boiled down to six stages of behavior.
If there was any mention of Trump's document scandal, it was not deemed important enough to be referenced in the item.
But even that last-ditch effort didn't help, and the MRC got bored with it too, as the posts on it slowed to a trickle over the next few days:
Perhaps even the MRC realizes there was nothing there in the first place.
Pence ruins the fun
After a solid two weeks of attacking President Biden over classified documents found at his properties, the MRC was angry to see all that manufactured outrage go to waste when classified documents were discovered at the home of former (and Republican) Vice President Mike Pence. Kevin Tober complained in a Jan. 24 post:
Like a bunch of five-year-old children, CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell and chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes appeared to be beside themselves with excitement Tuesday over the news that former Vice President Mike Pence had about a dozen classified documents at his home in Indiana. Since they presumably see their jobs as serving as apparatchiks of the Biden regime and the Democrat Party [sic] at large, O'Donnell and Cordes were clearly relieved to know Pence was also reportedly guilty of having mishandling classified documents.
Of course, by that definition, the MRC has been acting like a bunch of five-year-old children in spending two weeks hyping Biden's document issues while portraying Donald Trump as a victim for refusing to cooperate with archive officials to such an extent that an FBI raid became necessary to retrieve the documents he took. Tober made sure not to bring up Trump's name here.
But Tober and the rest of the MRC didn't really want to talk about Pence either. Thus, a Jan. 25 post by Nicholas Fondacaro based on yet another hate-watching of "The View" tried to turn the focus on a co-host he particularly hates for not loving Trump enough:
Faux conservative and co-host of ABC’s The View, Alyssa Farah Griffin used to work for the Department of Defense and former Vice President Mike Pence during the Trump administration. And on Wednesday, after it was reported that Pence had classified documents at home, Farah Griffin had the spotlight of scrutiny (jokingly) placed on her. But she couldn’t confirm nor deny that she had classified documents there.
Kathleen Krumhansl served up further whining that the Pence discovery undermined right-wing narratives in a Jan. 26 post:
To take it from Joseph Malouf, Telemundo's in-house “Constitutional Law Expert”, Christmas came a month late for Donald Trump on January 23 when classified documents were found at former Vice President Mike Pence's Indiana home.
As it turns out, the Pence discovery so deflated the MRC that it has not done any more posts focused on Biden's classified documents for the next few weeks -- and it certainly did no more on Pence's classified documents. Still, the MRC was desperate enough for any possible anti-Biden dirt it could find that Curtis Houck did serve up some really thin gruel, however, in a Feb. 16 post:
Late Wednesday, CNN’s Paula Reid revealed the FBI had conducted multiple searches of President Biden’s records at the University of Delaware from his Senate tenure (and “documents...sent...in recent years") that have been held in secret since their donation in 2012. While they reportedly didn’t find any classified documents, it was worth sharing as it marked another chapter in his classified documents scandal, but CBS Mornings saw no reason to mention it on their Thursday editions.
Yes, Houck really demanded full wall-to-wall coverage of a search in which nothing was found, just because right-wingers could use it to bash Biden. That's how we know the MRC is first and foremost a partisan political organization, not anything seriously dedicated to "media research."