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The MRC's Election of Failed Narratives

The Media Research Center pushed stories of an assaulted GOP campaign worker (who was a white supremacist), high crime (which wasn't actually happening) and a candidate's Muslim faith being ignored (which the MRC did too).

By Terry Krepel
Posted 1/25/2023

The Media Research Center's coverage of the 2022 midterm elections was, in retrospect, all about failed narratives. It worked to float several narratives designed to boost narratives of right-wing victimhood and liberal evil, but the election results showed that voters didn't buy into to them -- or they were debunked in real time.

Let's look at a few of the narratives the MRC pushed, starting with one that fell into the latter category. Kevin Tober huffed in an Oct. 24 post:

A canvasser for Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was reportedly assaulted and seriously injured late Sunday night while going door-to-door for Rubio’s reelection campaign, according to a statement put out by Rubio’s campaign. On Monday, all three evening newscasts ignored the vicious politically motivated attack on an innocent Republican volunteer.

Instead, ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News had plenty of time to report on local weather forecasts, the Powerball Jackpot numbers hitting $625 million, and a recall of various dry shampoo products.

“Last night one of our canvassers wearing my T-shirt and a DeSantis hat was brutally attacked by 4 animals who told him Republicans weren’t allowed in their neighborhood in Hialeah, Florida,” Rubio said in a tweet Monday morning.

“He suffered internal bleeding, a broken jaw & will need facial reconstruction surgery," the tweet went on to say.


On Fox News’s Jesse Watters Primetime, host Jesse Watters and radio host Dana Loesch tore into the media for their failure to report on this horrific political attack.

According to The Daily Wire, “Hialeah Sgt. Jose Torres revealed that the victim was “an unidentified 27-year-old,” and was struck “multiple times in the face and the head causing the injuries.”


If this was a Democrat campaign volunteer who was assaulted like this by a Republican, the media would be howling over it nonstop, and it would be on the front page of every newspaper in the United States.

Tober noted that the victim was unidentified, and it turned out there was a good reason for the victim being unidentified at this point -- one that made Tober's manufactured outrage age very poorly very quickly. A few hours after Tober's post went live, it was revealed by the Miami New Times that the victim was identified as Christopher Monzon, who is well known in the area of Florida where he was canvassing as a white supremacist who was known as the "Cuban Confederate," and that he attended the 2017 far-right protest in Charlottesville, Va., that ended with a counterprotester being killed. (He has claimed to have expressed regret for some of his racist hate.) And contrary to Tober's parroting of Fox News types who portrayed Monzon's assault as politically motivated, no such motivation was mentioned in the police report on the incident. The New Times also reported that members of the far-right Proud Boys were guarding Monzon's hospital room.

This seems like something Tober would want to add to his post to avoid looking like he's defending a white supremacist. But, no, his post remains live, uncorrected, and non-updated.

And after these unsavory revelations about the victim, you'd think the MRC would steer clear of the story -- but you'd be wrong. Kathleen Krumhansl doubled down in a post the next day, asserting that reporting Monzon's white supremacist background amounted to victim-shaming (no, really):

A volunteer for Senator Marco Rubio (R) Fla., was in the hospital after being brutally attacked during a midterm campaign event, and just like Rubio predicted over a Univision interview following the incident, the very network ended up victim-shaming the Republican to the point of implying that perhaps he deserved to be beaten.

The assault, which happened in Hialeah over the past weekend, left canvasser Jesús López with a broken jaw and internal bleeding. Yet the viciousness of the attack, as Rubio anticipated, mattered little to anchor Satcha Pretto, who made sure to emphasize that “the victim had previously been involved in some protests and had publicly spoken out in favor of white nationalism.”

Watch as the main national Spanish-speaking network covers up political violence from the left - like Rubio warned would happen.


Note how the anchor uses ´alleged´, ´appears to´ and ´allegedly´ when referring to the attacker, who in Pretto´s words, was apparently “upset that the victim was handing out Republican flyers in his neighborhood while wearing a Governor Ron DeSantis cap and a Senator Marco Rubio T-shirt.”

In contrast, when talking about the victim, Christopher Monzón, there is no ´alleged´, ´allegedly´, or apparently: instead, as per the anchor, it is a given fact that the Republican volunteer “had previously been involved in some protests and had publicly spoken out in favor of white nationalism.” No ifs, ands or buts.

Krumhansl offered no evidence that Monzon wasn't a white supremacist -- perhaps because she knows that the public record is pretty clear on that, to the point that no "allegedly" is required. And we thought that one of the few things people across the political spectrum could agree on is that white supremacists deserved to be shamed; Krumhansl didn't explain why she thought Monzon shouldn't be. Then again, she's clearly not someone who's into facts, given that she went on to push the unsupported narrative that Monzon was the victim of a political attack:

Like Rubio noted, “The difference that exists here today is that when there is political violence from someone who they say is a supporter of the right, they devote hours and hours of coverage to it. When it comes from the left, either it is not covered, or the victim is blamed, or it is not talked about anymore.” Rubio has a point, given Univision’s non-coverage of the Congressional baseball practice shooting once it became known that the shooter was a deranged Sandernista.

On mark: So far at Univision, the violent beating of Monzón has been granted exactly 1:02 minutes of air time, and this during their morning kaffeeklatsch. Most probably, that will be all that Univision audiences will hear about the leftist political violence that left López seriously injured and in need of facial reconstruction surgery, simply for being a Republican.

The MRC was somehow so proud of Krumhansl giving a pass to white supremacism that her post was translated into Spanish.

Meanwhile, the Rubio narrative the MRC parroted continued to fall apart -- Florida Republicans had paid thousands to Monzon for get-out-the-vote efforts, and it turned out that Monzon started claiming the attack was politically motivated only after Rubio tweeted the claim, the alleged assailant has never voted, and the assailant's mom said the attack had nothing to do with politics.

Not only has the MRC not told its readers about this, it hasn't addressed the story since. Even it can see no benefit in pushing this story further -- though, apparently, also no benefit in correcting the record.

Narrative: "skyrocketing crime"

In early October, Washington Post writer Philip Bump documented how coverage of crime sharply increased on Fox News before the midterm elections, creating the perception of a rampant crime wave that didn't mesh with reality -- and, thus, helped to elevate crime as a issue with Fox News' conservative viewers. Unsurprisingly, the MRC bought into that narrative as well -- their goal is to help conservatives get elected, after all -- and they got huffy any time someone pointed out the flawed narrative and the manipulation behind it. An Oct. 31 post by Brad Wilmouth labored to spin away an uncomfortable crime-related truth, that crime rates are higher in red states than blue states:

On Tuesday, MSNBC hosts Nicolle Wallace and Chris Jansing both picked up on misleading statistics trying to link high crime levels to Republicans. Without informing viewers that even Republican-leaning states have crime-ridden cities run by Democrats, both anchors recited a list of the top 10 states by crime rate in which most of the states are run by Republicans statewide.

Speaking with gun control activist Fred Guttenberg on Deadline: White House, Wallace brought up the topic: "When you look at Republicans running on crime, the most deadly places to live in America -- the places where gun crime is the worst, where you have the greatest risk of dying, are all states run by Republicans. So I just don't understand how we communicate that in the two weeks left to go before the midterms."

Guttenberg accused Republicans of promoting a "big lie" on the crime issue, and blamed them for more shootings:


Over at, Buck Sexton recently responded to a similar argument against Republicans made by liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, with Sexton noting that the crime-ridden areas in Republican states tend to be run by Democrats, and citing a Washington Post op-ed by Marc Thiessen..

Wilmouth didn't disclose that both Sexton and Thiessen are right-wing commentators, which makes the argument more partisan than factual.

Kevin Tober used a Nov. 1 post to try and shout down CNN's Jake Tapper for telling the truth about crime:

On Tuesday's CNN Tonight host Jake Tapper gave an in-kind contribution to the Democrat Party [sic] by kicking off his low-rated program insisting that crime is not skyrocketing across the country. Despite all available reputable evidence crime is indeed up. Tapper can't admit that because that would upset his friends in the Democrat Party [sic].

"The notion that violent crime is on the rise has left millions of Americans scared," Tapper moaned. Adding that the GOP is trying to "harness the power of that fear" for political gain.

Going into sanctimonious lecture mode, Tapper asked "is life in America actually more dangerous than it used to be?"

The question was rhetorical of course since he then claimed that "after years of decline, national rates of violent crime did rise during the COVID-19 pandemic."

He ended his fact-free monologue by lecturing Americans that their personal experiences aren't based on reality. "Your personal experiences might not be reflected in data. If you don't feel safe, if you or someone you care about has been accosted or assaulted, that's your experience. Fear is primal. It's a crucial emotion."

Tapper is basically saying: Who do you believe? Me or your neighbors who informed you that your house was broken into when you were at work?

Of course, Tapper is wrong. Crime rates continue to surge even according to the flawed crime report from the FBI that Tapper quoted from.

The question, of course, is not whether crime has increased; it's whether that increase matches the hype Fox News and the MRC have been spouting. He also did not factually back up he claim of a rash of people's houses being broken into while the owners were at work.

Clay Waters got mad at the New York Times in a Nov. 4 post for pointing out the Fox News-GOP hype on crime with ... COVID whataboutism:

The front page of Friday’s New York Times admitted voters were worried about crime, which may bode well for Republicans in Tuesday’s elections – but the reporters also did their best to chip away at that argument in “Fear of Crime Looms Large for Voters, to Republicans’ Advantage.”

After anecdotes from three crime-concerned voters from across the country, reporters Julie Bosman, Jack Healy, and Campbell Robertson consistently worked to deflate the Republican arguments, as if the American people were suffering false consciousness and just imagining a crime wave around them.

The report even suggested crime wasn’t really affecting most people, just those in certain cities, or their “friends and neighbors”:


Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was also found guilty of baselessly scaring voters: “Ms. Lake often accuses Democratic-run cities like Phoenix or Tucson of failing to support the police and of coddling criminals. But her attacks are less about data than about stoking voters’ feelings of unease”.

The real irony, though? It's that this came from the paper that has been trying to scare readers with COVID hysteria for almost three years.

Nicholas Fondacaro went on a tirade in a Nov. 5 post when NBC's Lester Holt pointed out the difference between GOP hype and reality:

With Election Day just four days away, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester “Fairness Is Overrated” Holt was desperate to keep Democrats afloat. So desperate that his last option on Friday was to tell Americans not to trust their lying eyes and ears and that the nationwide crime wave didn’t actually exist. He openly scoffed at Republican campaign messages and suggested fears of crime were not “fueled” by “reality” but rather “by videos,” as if they weren’t real. And he leans on a “civil rights attorney” he failed to disclose was a liberal activist.

As is Holt’s way, he opened the segment with one of his holier-than-thou lectures. “As candidates fine-tune their closing messages ahead of Tuesday's vote, an issue finding traction for many campaigns is voter worries about crime. But as we found, the state of crime in America is not always what it appears to be,” he began.

At the top of the video report he filed, Holt lamented that “fear is on the ballot. Crime now the centerpiece of campaigns across the country.” He then played a soundbite of New York Congressman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin campaigning to crack down on crime. But Holt openly scoffed, saying, “[Fear] fueled, some argue, not by reality but by videos of rampant lawlessness … and some unsettling headlines.”

Is Holt saying the viral videos showing swarms of people looting stores, people getting pushed onto subway tracks, carjackings, and drive-bys are all fake? Does he think they’re staged? Zeldin was nearly assassinated at a campaign event and his family was almost shot in their home. He knows first-hand that crime is a problem in New York.

Fondacaro made no effort to prove that Holt was, in fact, wrong outside of citing isolated anecdotes. Instead, he lashed out at an interviewee who said "Any candidate who tells you that bail reform is causing crime is lying to you," trying to smear her as "a far-left-wing group that advocates for destructive bail reform policies" without proving any of that to be true either. Then again, name-calling is what passes for "media research" at the MRC these days.

The Post's Bump recently pointed out how references to crime on Fox News dropped substantially after the midterms -- further proving that it was only a partisan narrative. The MRC hasn't said a thing about that.

Narrative: lower gas prices as an election ploy

ConWebWatch has documented how the Media Research Center repeatedly blamed President Biden for high gas prices but refuses to give him credit for gas prices dropping. That hypocritical narrative continued as the midterm elections neared. Curtis Houck spent an Oct. 19 post attacking Biden for trying to lower gas prices and dismissed it as an election ploy:

Hours before President Biden’s formal announcement that he’s releasing a puny 15 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the major broadcast networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC heralded this nonsensical effort to take oil from a collection meant for serious emergencies and use it to try and rescue Biden and his party’s chances in the midterm elections.

ABC’s Good Morning America was most enthused. Co-host Robin Roberts gushed in a tease that they’ll cover “[h]ow President Biden is taking on” and “tackling” “rising prices and the other major issues taking center stage as we count down to the midterm elections.”

Tossing to senior White House correspondent Mary Bruce, Roberts reported with the same objectivity as if she was a staffer with the Democratic National Committee: “[W]e’re going to begin with President Biden set to address the issue of gas prices later today announcing action from the administration in an effort to drive prices down with inflation, as we know, rising across the board.”

Always one to peddle Team Biden’s narratives, Bruce shared that Biden would “be announcing more steps to try to ease gas prices and voters’ concerns about rising costs” with 15 million barrels of oil from reserves even though the U.S. goes through “about 20 million barrels every day.”

Houck didn't mention how his post read like he was a staffer with the Republican National Committee.

Houck repeated his attack on Biden (and the media who wouldn't follow his right-wing talking points) in a post the next day:

For yet another day, the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC used their Thursday morning news shows to fluff the White House up in their hapless attempt (which some argue is purposeful) to save their party’s midterm prospects and lower gas prices through a puny release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

ABC’s Good Morning America again played the starring role, offering praise akin to what you see on state-run media in authoritarian countries. Co-host Michael Strahan had this embarrassing tease: “Gas price push. President Biden taking action to ease the pain at the pump. What he says could come next as he gets set to hit the campaign trail ahead of midterm elections.”


White House correspondent Kristen Welker said “there’s a lot of concern about gas prices which have ticked up a bit over the past month” before hilariously claiming “it’s not clear” if the SPR release “will have a big impact on gas prices.”

She added that it does give Biden a political talking point to insist he cares about struggling Americans. Better yet, the proof she presented was clownish: “I talked to the White House chief of staff Ron Klain. What’s the first thing he does every morning? Check gas prices”.

Talk about being stenographers for power.

You mean like Houck and the rest of the MRC was during the Trump presidency?

Alex Christy contradicted Houck's description of the SPR release as "puny" by calling it a "raid" in an Oct. 20 post:

During his opening monologue on Wednesday’s All In, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes defended President Biden’s decision to raid the Strategic Petroleum Reserve because gas prices have to be lowered in order to save American democracy from Republicans and their allies in Saudi Arabia and the fossil fuel companies.

The SPR exists to provide an oil infusion in case of emergency, but for Hayes, it exists to save him from the consequences of his terrible energy policy and lack of diplomatic skill, “You know, there is not a lot that American presidents can do to control gas prices, even though their political fate often depends on whether they’re going up or down. They do have the one trick up their sleeve. ... It’s known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserves... a kind of emergency source to protect the U.S. from having to deal with a sudden supply crunch, which is basically what we’re dealing with now.”


After playing a montage of presidents of both parties being criticized for high gas prices, Hayes claimed Republicans actually want high gas prices, “Republicans for their part are pretty mad about Biden’s move because of course, they don’t want lower gas prices, they want to be able to attack Democrats on the price of the pump. And again, there’s good reason for that. There is really robust evidence the price of gas is one of the -- if not the most important factors in a President’s approval rating.”

No, Republicans are mad because Biden is using the SPR as his electoral plaything.


Or maybe, if Biden had better energy policies and wasn’t a lousy diplomat, we could have lower prices without having to raid the emergency stockpile.

In typical MRC fashion, Christy refused to identify any Biden energy policy he could blame for a specific increase in oil and gas prices.

Houck returned for a Nov. 1 post whining that oil companies were being called out for their exorbitant profits this year:

ABC's Good Morning America did its best Tuesday to earn brownie points from its friends in the Biden White House as they touted their hapless attempt to trash oil companies and threaten them with new taxes if they don’t (artificially) lower prices and surrender their profit margins.

As we’ve repeatedly covered ... multiple attempts from Fox’s Peter Doocy, Jacqui Heinrich, and Edward Lawrence to point out either they can’t simply lower prices (to whatever Biden views as reasonable), that there hasn’t been price gouging, or explain why the administration’s stance toward fossil fuel companies have harmed domestic production. But that didn’t matter to ABC.

“Biden versus Big Oil. The President accusing companies of war profiteering, his new threat, and the response from Big Oil,” boasted co-host and former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos.

Fellow co-host Michael Strahan also did his part and gushed that “President Biden is trying to take on Big Oil, threatening to impose new taxes on the industry's record profits,” since there’s “just seven days until those midterm elections” and half of voters saying in a new ABC News poll that the economy and inflation are their top issue.

Houck didn't dispute that oil companies were making record profits, which would indicate that they do indeed have some say over pricing.

Bad-faith praise of (one) Muslim

The MRC doesn't like Muslims. It generally writes about them only in the context of attacking them -- i.e., Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib -- and whining about conservatives being (accurately) described as Islamophobic. So when the MRC suddenly wanted to talk about Muslims in a nice way -- for instance, touting the Muslim faith of its favored Pennsylvania Senate candidate, Mehmet Oz -- one must assume bad faith is part of the argument. And that's exactly what we got in a Nov. 4 post by Jason Cohen:

Dr. Oz is a Muslim and would be the first ever Muslim senator if elected. But based on media coverage, there is a good chance you didn't even know about this.

In fact, HuffPost had the nerve to leave him out of their piece titled "American Muslims In The Midterms Aren't Long-Shot Candidates Anymore."

FOX News reported that “A spokesperson for HuffPost declined to comment.”

Hm, interesting.

Mike Cernovich pointed out this lack of coverage in a tweet saying, “If the regime media thought Republicans hated Muslims, they’d be touting that Dr Oz could become the first Muslim Senator in U.S. history. But they are quiet about that. Says it all.”

Glenn Greenwald also noted how groundbreaking this would be:


It seems to show how accepting the right is that they are not making any issue of Oz’s religion whatsoever. And it shows the left is disingenuous in regard to diversity.

Leftists only like diversity when they support the same sentiments.
Cernovich likes to fearmonger about "Muslim rape culture," so maybe he's not the best guy Cohen could be citing to praise Muslims. Also missing from Cohen's post: any questioning of why his fellow right-wingers haven't been celebrating Oz's Muslim faith the way they would if he was an evangelical Christian. Indeed, there was no mention whatsoever of Oz's Muslim faith at the MRC before Cohen's post.

There's also another question missing from Cohen's post: If this achievement is so historic, why wasn't Oz himself touting it? Because he didn't want to. In contrast to Cohen's portrayal, the non-right-wing media has noted Oz's historic status -- and also noted how Oz is downplaying his faith. For example, on Oct. 14 -- three weeks before Cohen's post -- ABC News reported:

Dr. Mehmet Oz rarely talks about his faith on the campaign trail – but, if he wins, the son of Turkish émigrés could make history as the first Muslim elected to serve in the U.S. Senate.

"Pride and honor," Oz, the Pennsylvania GOP nominee, said in an interview last month when asked by ABC News' Linsey Davis what being the first Muslim in the chamber would mean to him.

He is already the first Muslim ever to be nominated by a major party for a Senate seat.


"Sufism is just kind of like, 'I'm spiritual,'" Imam Abdullah Pocius, the leader of a mosque in Philadelphia, explained to ABC News. "It's like when an American says, 'Well I'm not really into organized religion, but I'm spiritual,' you know?"

Pocius, who is not politically affiliated and said he has never voted, said Oz is rarely discussed among Muslims in Pennsylvania that he knows. Oz, too, rarely discusses his Muslim background on the campaign trail unless asked.

Despite his historic nomination, Oz feels distant from the Muslim community in Pennsylvania and is not "visible" in that role, Pocius said: "He definitely does not excite us. He's not even a blip on the radar."

Clay Waters served up a similar argument -- this time attacking the New York Times -- in a Nov. 9 post:

On Sunday, New York Times religion correspondent Liam Stack became the latest Times reporter to devalue what would have been a historic achievement by a minority group politician, due to the politician in question being a conservative: “Oz Could Be the First Muslim U.S. Senator, but Some Muslim Americans Are Ambivalent.”

In quite the twist, a Times reporter is suspicious of a political figure (Dr. Mehmet Oz, running for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania as a Republican) for not pushing or emphasizing their religious beliefs. This after years of the paper bashing the supposedly dangerous theocratic tendencies of the Christian Right.

While Waters did include article excerpts pointing out that Oz has downplayed his Sufi Islam faith and refused to take part in events at mosques that would emphasize it, he went on to play whataboutism anyway:

Stack used Oz’s lack of firebrand religiosity to fault the Republican Party en masse and Trump especially, while blatantly fawning over a controversial Muslim Democratic figure.


Ellison, now Attorney General of Minnesota, weathered sexual harassment controversies and accusations of links to the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Lewis Farrakhan, which Stack conveniently failed to mention.

Even after Oz lost the election, the MRC tried to push this narrative. In a Nov. 12 post, Alex Christy attacked history professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat for noting that Republicans care mostly about helping white Christian men. Rather than offering a coherent argument, Christy chose instead to make personal attacks on Ben-Ghiat, sneering that she proves that "PhDs are too easy to obtain nowadays" (not that Christy would know, since all he has is a poli-sci degree). He went on to huff:

It's telling that Ben-Ghiat is just a hack with a fancy degree when she cites someone who was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, but that she and the rest of the media couldn’t be bothered to tout the potential Dr. Mehmet Oz had to be the first Muslim senator or, speaking of Georgia, their attacks on Herschel Walker.

Christy didn't mention that his own employer had suppressed the fact of Oz's faith until just a week before.

It appears right-wingers like Cohen, Waters and Christy care only about diversity when they can use it as a cudgel against liberals to push a political narrative.

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