The MRC's Election of Failed Narratives, Part 2: The Aftermath
The Media Research Center's bitterness at Republicans not doing as well as predicted in the midterm elections was palpable, from whining that Democrats who weren't white or heterosexual got elected to dabbling in election fraud conspiracy theories.
By Terry Krepel
After spending so much time peddling Republican narratives before the midterm elections, the Media Research Center was severely disappointed that Republicans severely underperformed -- at least, that's what we can assume from all the whining it did about news coverage pointing out that fact.
Election night started out promising for the MRC, though, as noted in a Nov. 8 post by Kevin Tober declaring that "MSNBC began losing it over the strong early results" for Republicans Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio in the Hispanic county of Miami-Dade, which was a reliably solid Democrat [sic] county." But as the night looked more favorable for Democrats, the whining kicked in. Curtis Houck complained:
After spending hour after hour sticking to horse race results and CNN’s magic walls, the liberal network’s first piece of analysis reminded us of why they’re still a laughing stock of a network as a trio of lefties marveled at Democrats winning back governors' mansions in some of the deepest blue states with “stellar” Wes Moore in Maryland and lesbian Maura Healey in Massachusetts.
Yes, the MRC is still complaining about that, even thought it cheered Republican meddling in Democratic primaries as urged by Rush Limbaugh. And he's not about to give Democrats any credit for the tactic being a success.
The next morning, Alex Christy grumbled:
Joe Scarborough and the rest of the cast of MSNBC’s Morning Joe spiked the football on Wednesday as they opened the show by laughing at the GOP’s disappointing results. Scarborough, specifically inflated GOP expectations so he could compare Kevin McCarthy to Liz Truss, despite the results still being unknown.
Christy was silent about the fact that Republican pundits like Dick Morris were, in fact, confidently predicting a 60-seat gain in the House.
Houck whined some more about "gloating" (read: reporting accurately on GOP failures) and whining about the attack on Paul Pelosi being linked to Republican extremism:
Following a disappointing night full of failures (and some highs) for Republicans, the Wednesday morning’s broadcast network news shows each moments of gloating and outright laughter that included claims such as country was reminded to not “bet against Joe Biden,” that January 6 mattered, and voters bought the narrative that Republicans were tied to the Paul Pelosi attack.
The MRC has been quite desperate to distance Republicans from the attack, even though the MRC helped make Paul Pelosi a target.
Mark Finkelstein devoted a post to complaining about more "Morning Joe" election takes:
Be careful what you wish for, liberal media: you might get it.
Kevin Tober added his two cents on allegedly "gloating" newscasts:
On Wednesday evening, after a disappointing showing for the GOP in Tuesday's midterms, the three leftist evening news broadcasts sought to further alienate the few right-leaning viewers they have by gloating over Democrats exceeding expectations by not getting wiped out as is common during a president's first midterm election. CBS went the extra mile by virtue signaling over the first openly-lesbian governor elected in the United States.
The boys at the MRC have been so indoctrinated inside their right-wing media bubble for so long, they think any accurate reporting of negative news about Republicans is biased "gloating."
Young, non-white, non-heterosexuals
Another piece of bitterness the MRC spouted over Republican failures in the midterm elections was whining over certain Democratic candidates making history in their wins. Curtis Houck grumbled in a Nov. 9 post about attention given to one particular Florida candidate:
Following most nationwide elections, one of the liberal media’s favorite tropes is to trumpet so-called “historic” winners that assist one in filling out a diversity bingo card. Such was the case Wednesday morning after the lackluster Republican performance as ABC, CBS, and NBC used their flagship news programs to swoon over Democrat Maxwell Frost winning a dark-blue Orlando-area House seat to become the first member of generation z elected to Congress.
Tim Graham noted that one of the subjects of in his Nov. 14 podcast was "the post-election huzzahs over 25-year-old Democrat socialist Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the first "Generation Z" member elected to Congress from the Orlando area. NPR promoted him like a new Taylor Swift album. PBS also threw him softball questions over the weekend. That's your tax dollars at work. Of course, MSNBC also tried to blow the wind beneath his wings." Graham complained further in a Nov. 15 post:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently turned 33, so it’s time for a younger socialist Democrat for the media to swoon over. In September, I found at least eight sappy national interviews with 25-year-old Maxwell Frost, who had won a primary to fill the seat of Rep. Val Demings, who ran for the Senate against Marco Rubio.
Though Graham sought to tar Frost with the "socialist" label, he didn't cite any "socialist" policies the guy actually held.
But Frost wasn't the only MRC target -- it was also unhappy that non-heterosexual people won elections. A Nov. 9 post by Kevin Tober was upset that one newscast was "virtue signaling over the first openly-lesbian governor elected in the United States. And Tierin-Rose Mandelburg whined so spitefully in a Nov. 10 post about a transgender candidate that she not only misgendered her but also baselessly suggested there was election fraud in her victory:
Remember when we used to elect political officials based on their skills, not how progressive they were? No? Me neither, but it's getting silly.
Mandelburg concluded by sneering: "All I can say is that thank God I don't live in Minnesota and I pray that we start electing people based on their skill set, not who they sleep with and which gender they decide to be on a given day." If she doesn't understand anything about transgender people -- which she clearly doesn't based on her uninformed assumption they choose "which gender they decide to be on a given day" -- she shouldn't be writing about them. Then again, the MRC isn't about advancing facts; it only cares about pushing ideological hate.
Graham served up even more of this in a Nov. 20 post complaining that a transgender candidate busted false right-wing narratives:
The leftists who make endless propaganda with our tax money have laid out a plush red carpet for newly elected bisexual transgender radicals in state legislatures. On Thursday, NPR's All Things Considered typically failed to consult an opposing point of view in a tenderly promotional eight-minute interview with Zooey Zephyr of Montana and James Roesener of New Hampshire.
But Graham himself offered no rebuttal to anything said in this interview. And if Graham really cared about journalistic balance, he can start down the hall at the MRC's "news" division CNSNews.com, which regularly publishes statements from Republican politicians and commentators without giving the other side an opportunity for rebuttal. And only Graham would think that it's "propaganda" to not spew hate at transgender people the way the MRC does on a daily basis, or that portraying that hatred as merely an "opposing view" is responsible, accurate journalism.
Graham whined further:
This one-sided claptrap also happened on the PBS NewsHour on November 11. Laura Barron Lopez mangled plain English by claiming Montana had "a bill that blocked trans girls and women from playing in sports." She lamented there are "already some pre-filed anti-trans bills, one in particular that would restrict transgender surgery on minors."
But the litter box story really was a lie -- even as it uncritically spread through right-wing media -- as is the malicious right-wing portrayal of all LGBTQ people as "groomers." Which, of course, makes Graham's whining that "Lopez painted Republicans as liars" nonsensical because she cited two specific examples of clear Republican lies. Again, Graham made no effort to rebut the argument.
Essentially, Graham is complaining that these transgender legislators are telling the truth about Republicans. Not exactly what normal people think of as "media research."
Arizona election misinformation
And indeed, after the election the MRC spread right-wing misinformation about vote counting in Maricopa County and in Arizona as a whole, darkly hinting that the slow count meant election fraud was going on. Curtis Houck pushed it in a Nov. 11 post:
During Friday’s Good Morning America, ABC’s senior national correspondent Terry Moran made it clear he’s not going to tolerant anyone who decries the reality that it’s unclear when the final votes will be tallied in states like Arizona. Why? Because, according to Moran, offering such gripes makes you a conspiracy theory calling into question a “normal” and “ordinary” process we should all accept.
Houck linked to D'Agostino's post, which whined:
Since election night on Tuesday, the talking heads on broadcast and cable news networks have been pedantically scolding their viewers that “counting votes takes time,” “this is normal,” and everyone needs to please “calm down.”
P.J. Gladnick got similarly huffy in a Nov. 12 post when the Washington Post pointed out how right-wingers were spreading conspiratorial disinformation about the slow Maricopa vote count:
Are you among the increasing number of people wondering why Maricopa County, Arizona can't count their votes on time? As of this writing, three days after the midterm elections, there are still over 400,000 ballots yet to be counted in Maricopa County. In fact, most of the votes might not even be counted until after the weekend according to KTAR-News radio in Phoenix, "Maricopa County now says most ballots won’t be counted by Friday: ‘The goalposts have changed.’"
Gladnick followed that with a post the next day bashing an Arizona Republic columnist for calling out Fox News and losing Republican candidate Kari Lake (and even the New York Times) for spreading misinformation about the slow vote.
What Houck and Gladnick couldn't be bothered to do, however, was tell their readers the reason why the vote count in Maricopa County was slow. Meanwhile, an actual news organization did look into it -- and found that right-wing conspiracy-mongerers are in part responsible, quoting former Maricopa County election official Tammy Patrick:
For one, Patrick says she thinks voters in Arizona have changed their voting behavior in response to all the misinformation that has been circulating about mail-in ballots.
Patrick added that all those mail-in ballots delivered in person have to be manually opened and have their signatures verified by bipartisan teams, which also takes time.
But facts don't matter when a bogus narrative is so much easier to spread, so Kevin Tober was on narrative patrol in a Nov. 14 post:
On Monday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, anchor Andrea Mitchell said with a straight face that the wildly dysfunctional election board in Maricopa County, Arizona has "some of the best vote-counting processes" despite the fact that it's been nearly a week since the election and we still don't have the complete election results reported. Apparently, Mitchell thinks this is normal behavior in a functioning democracy.
Paiten Iselin whined in a Nov. 17 post:
As multiple videos and reports emerged of “printer issues ” and other technical problems in Maricopa, The New York Times scolded Americans for exercising their free speech rights and sharing election-related concerns online.
Not that Iselin exhibited any interest in dispelling such misinformation, of course -- she has a hive-mind narrative to perpetuate. In reality, the "printer issues" in Maricopa did not keep anyone from lawfully casting their votes, and it appears the cause of the issues was the thickness of the paper and the high volume of in-person voting -- not anything nefarious.
But why report the facts when conspiracy theories and whining about getting called out for spreading them get so many more clicks? That's the path the MRC chose.