The MRC's Summer of Hunter Biden Derangement
The Media Research Center spent the summer of 2022 pushing right-wing narratives attacking President Biden's son -- and desperately searching for more Hunter sleaze and complaining his ex-wife's memoir lacked sufficient dirt.
By Terry Krepel
The Media Research Center has spent the past few years suffering a collective outbreak of Hunter Biden Derangement Syndrome, which focused largely on the the contents of Hunter's laptop, which the MRC repeatedly whined wasn't covered before the 2020 election -- even though its its pro-Trump promoters never offered independent verification of it at the time.
Let's go back in time and see how the MRC continued to peddle the bogus spin that the story was unjustly "censored" by the media. Geoffrey Dickens wrote in an April 18 post:
It was a bombshell story that could have swayed the 2020 presidential election.
But rather than blame the New York Post for not providing independent verification that might have overcome reasonable accusations that the claims were questionably sourced -- and they arguably were, given the Post's status as a pro-Trump newspaper owned by Fox News' Rupert Murdoch and pro-Trump lackey Rudy Giuliani among the story's biggest promoters -- Dickens attacks the non-right-wing media for not running with a clearly partisan story that could not be verified. Still, Dickens went on to whine:
It all worked. Research conducted by The Polling Company for the Media Research Center after the 2020 election found that the media’s censorship of Biden scandals had a significant impact on the election. The survey found that 45.1% of Biden voters in seven key swing states said they were unaware of the financial scandal enveloping Biden and his son, Hunter. According to our poll, full awareness of the Hunter Biden scandal would have led 9.4% of Biden voters to abandon the Democratic candidate, flipping all six of the swing states he won to Trump, which would have given the former president 311 electoral votes.
That, of course, is the MRC's version of Trump's Big Lie about the election purportedly being stolen from him. Dickens didn't mention that The Polling Company was founded by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, raising reasonable questions about bias and trustworthiness.
Dickens did not explain why the media is obligated to treat as true a story it cannot verify and for which no verification has been provided.
An April 20 post by Brian Bradley was devoted to whining that "big tech" had "suppressed" the story:
Twitter and Facebook worked in lockstep to restrict the flow of the Hunter Biden laptop story just before the 2020 presidential election. These platforms stifled the spread of that story at the same time that Big Media did, as MRC research found.
As with Dickens, Bradley's rage is misdirected. He did not demand that the Post offer independent verification of the story. Instead, he continued to whine:
Facebook “fact-checker” Lead Stories released at least 15 so-called “fact-checks” in direct support of Joe and Hunter Biden in the two weeks before the Nov. 3, 2020, Election Day. Those “fact-checks” sought to rebut claims of Hunter’s alleged drug use and alleged sexual misconduct, along with assertions that corporate media didn’t give the Hunter Biden story enough coverage.
Bradley offered no evidence that there was anything inaccurate about Lead Stories' fact-checks -- something you'd think he would want to do if he's accusing Lead Stories of falsely besmirching the story. Also: Fox News is part of a large corporation; why doesn't Bradley consider it part of the "corporate media"?
Of course, the MRC will never blame its fellow members of the right-wing media bubble for failing to offer independent verification of the story so that it could have been taken more seriously. If the "liberal media" can be blamed, it will be -- even if they were following good journalistic practice by raising questions about a story that lacked verification that its promoters refused to provide.
Indeed, the MRC continued to manufacture "scandals" regarding Hunter Biden that it demanded must be covered outside its right-wing media bubble, declaring every single negative attack, no matter how small, as its own "scandal." A June 8 item by Geoffrey Dickens complained under the headline "Seven NEW Hunter Biden Scandals the Networks Refuse to Report On":
The scandalous hits from Hunter Biden keep coming, but you wouldn’t know it if you get your news primarily from the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) broadcast networks.
Dickens ramped up the numbers in a July 12 post headlined "Ten NEW Hunter Biden Scandals the Networks Are CENSORING":
ABC, CBS and NBC still refuse to cover the latest Hunter Biden scandals, even as they pile up on an almost daily basis.
Of course, Dickens and the MRC would be vociferously denying such scandals if this was "a son of a Republican president" and accusing the media of "liberal bias" for reporting them, so perhaps Dickens' rhetoric is not terribly based in reality.
Dickens ran up the numbers to an almost logic-defying extent in an Aug. 30 post under the screaming headline "Ten BRAND NEW Hunter Biden Scandals the Nets Are Censoring":
When will the dam break?
In between (and a little before) all that dubious inflation -- 27 separate "scandals"? Really? -- the MRC continued to blare every attack on Hunter it could find over the spring and summer of 2022 and whine that non-right-wing outlets weren't as obsessed with them as it was. For example:
Many of the Hunter attacks the MRC is hyping come from highly biased anti-Biden bubble outlets like Fox News, the Daily Mail and the Washington Examiner -- outlets that are just as biased and dubious as the New York Post. The MRC did not explain why these outlets deserve to be trusted at face value given their obvious biases.
This attitude surfaced again in the lead of a Sept. 7 post by Brian Bradley:
Two liberal rags pooh-poohed a letter sent Thursday by House Republicans to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that seeks more information from Facebook about its communication with the federal government that led to censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
It's a testament to just how far-right the MRC is that it thinks any media outlet not as right-wing as them is a "liberal rag."Indeed, Bradley labeling either of those outlet as "liberal rags" is utterly ridiculous. According to AllSides, the right-leaning checker that is apparently the only bias-checker the MRC trusts, The Hill is rated in the "center," though one could make a case that it leans farther right given that its most prominent writer is right-wing "media critic" Joe Concha, whom the MRC loves so much he's a featured guest on their upcoming Mediterranean cruise. AllSides lists Bloomberg as "leans left," though given AllSides' bias, that means it's quite center. Further, given Republicans' (and the MRC's) obsession with Hunter Biden, it's entirely reasonable to believe that Republicans targeting of Facebook is all about trying to "nab" Hunter.
Bradley's factually deficient tirade came in the wake of Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg stating on Joe Rogan's podcast that Facebook limited the spread of the New York Post story making claims about Hunter Biden's laptop because the FBI warned it to be aware of misinformation being spread online. Of course, the MRC had its own biased framing of this story, screeching that "Facebook censored the Hunter Biden laptop." This leaves out the important fact that the New York Post refused to provide independent verification of the story in a way that would suggest it was anything other than an October surprise that had the hallmarks of Russian disinformation of the kind that was found to have happened in the 2016 presidential election.
Bradley eventually got to the nub of his attacks on Bloomberg and The Hill -- complaining that they wouldn't push the right-wing narrative on this story:
Rather than focus on alleged corruption between Facebook and the government, Bloomberg focused on political ramifications of Republicans retaking the House next year. The rag warned the GOP would “focus heavily” on censorship, potentially by using its “subpoena power” and presenting a “risk” to tech companies “reviled by conservatives.”
The MRC also tried to further inflate that purported scandal list with an Oct. 13 piece by Geoffrey Dickens declaring, "Eight Brand New Hunter Biden Scandals the Nets Are CENSORING." That inflated the number of MRC-declared Hunter "scandals" to 35.
The fact that the MRC is still citing this ridiculously biased conspiracy theory -- and its silly dismissal of reputable publications who refuse to blindly push right-wing narratives as "liberal rags" -- shows just how unserious and untrustworthy the MRC has become in putting partisan attacks ahead of any sort of real "media research."
Thirsting for Hunter sleaze
You don't have to be Hunter Biden to be obsessively attacked by the MRC -- merely having the Biden name will do. A June 1 post by Scott Whitlock tried to attack the president's brother:
If you thought that Hunter Biden was the only First Family member with disturbing financial dealings and foreign connections, you would be wrong. But you could also be forgiven for not knowing about James Biden, brother to the President. Just like his son Hunter, the networks have mostly failed to ask questions about this sibling.
By contrast, when Donald Trump's sister Mary Trump came forward to make credible charges about Donald's dealings with his family, the MRC tried (and failed) to discredit her. In other words, it doesn't always consider presidential siblings to be important.
The MRC even lashed out at Hunter Biden's ex-wife not hating him to the extent it (and the rest of the right-wing media bubble that's equally and bizarrely obsessed with Hunter). Tim Graham whined in a June 14 post that an interview with the ex wasn't salacious enough for the demands of right-wing media (and perhaps his own personal proclivities):
ABC’s Good Morning America put Hunter Biden into the news a rare event with an interview with his ex-wife Kathleen Buhle, who has a new memoir out on their turbulent life together.
Curtis Houck similarly demanded more porn and sleaze in a June 16 post:
Two days after ABC’s Good Morning America and co-host Amy Robach aired what our Tim Graham called an interview with Hunter Biden’s ex-wife Kathleen Buhle featuring “preposterously vague” questions and “carefully curated” answers, Thursday’s CBS Mornings sunk lower in ignoring topics such as Hunter’s infamous laptop and his alleged child out of wedlock.
In the promotion for his June 17 podcast, Graham whined further that his sleaze demands weren't satiated by the interviews with Buhle:
Excerpts from a new memoir from Kathleen Buhle, Hunter Biden's ex-wife, were posted by People magazine on June 1, but ABC and CBS didn't air their softball interviews with Kathleen until this week.
Not as weird as Graham demanding constant mention of porn every time Hunter's name comes up. Is there something Tim would like to share with the class?
Graham spent a June 18 post being mad at the Washington Post for pointing that Buhle's book is seemingly for right-wing Hunter obsessives like himself though it lacks the dirt people like him have been demanding, and as usual, he has nothing but whataboutism to offer in return:
On Friday, The Washington Post published a book review of Kathleen Buhle's memoir about being married to Hunter Biden. But Post writer Karen Heller didn't like the book -- or the audience she thinks is interested in it.
Graham then huffed that it is "a very partisan question" for the reviewer to ponder if Buhle's tome is "really a book the public is asking to read." For sleaze-hunters like Graham, it clearly was -- though he went on to attack Lena Dunham's memoir from way back in 2014.