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The Target of the MRC's Transphobia

The Media Research Center helped vicious far-right gay-basher Matt Walsh spread lies about Pride Month merchandise sold at Target -- but it refused to similarly attack conservative-friendly Chick-fil-A for not sufficiently hating LGBT people.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/1/2023

Matt Walsh

The Bulldog Award it gave to vicious transphobe Matt Walsh shows how virulently hateful the Media Research Center's anti-LGBTQ agenda has become. It's been a promoter and defender of Walsh for a while, of course:
  • In the aftermath of a November gun massacre at a gay nightclub, Jason Cohen defended Walsh from suggestions by "twits on Twitter" who suggested that Walsh would like to have seen more dead gay people: "Just because someone is critical about something does not mean they want violence." But he never quoted Walsh explicitly disavowing the sentiment.
  • An April 13 post by Tim Graham complained that PolitiFact ruled Walsh to be "mostly false" in trying to directly link gender-affirming care to suicide, maliciously framing such care as "gender-denying care" and complaining that PolitiFact used facts he didn't like: "Debating causation is tricky, but it's weird that radical activist groups like the Trevor Project constantly warn that the "trans" kids are much more likely to commit suicide, but it's constantly blaming that on "transphobia," not on gender dysphoria." Graham made no effort to actually disprove any of those "radical activist groups."
  • Catherine Salgado touted Walsh's pronoun meltdown in an April 25 post:
The Daily Wire host Matt Walsh blasted YouTube for attempting to force him to use Dylan Mulvaney's preferred pronouns last week.

In a speech at the University of Iowa, Walsh described YouTube’s draconian policy that barred him from using biological pronouns. “YouTube has decided that I’m not allowed to use biologically accurate language when discussing Dylan [Mulvaney] or presumably any other trans-identified person,” Walsh said, later adding, “Basically what they've told me is '[If] you want to keep the money that's fine, keep the platform, just give up your integrity and your soul in its place.' And to that I say, 'Hell no.'"

In that same speech, Walsh also said, “I would rather be demonetized than use someone’s preferred pronouns one time. I’d rather you kick me off of every platform and banish me to Mars than use someone’s preferred pronouns.” Hence he will no longer post his full show on YouTube, despite the considerable amount of revenue he previously received from YouTube ads.

Quite the petulant child, isn't he? Yet the MRC decided that this immature rant was award-worthy -- and it eagerly signed on to promote a new anti-trans rage campaign. Tom Olohan merged hate with rah-rah in a May 24 post:

Conservative podcast host Matt Walsh is calling on conservative women to launch a Bud Light-style boycott to rebuke another woke company pushing the rainbow mafia agenda on children.

On May 23, The Daily Wire host Matt Walsh issued a call to action, asking conservative women to boycott Target after the chain store promoted “pride” month merchandise from a Satanist designer to children, including “tuck-friendly” swimsuits. Walsh responded to an account encouraging women to boycott Target by tweeting, “Yes. Women need to get in the fight. Some of them have but not nearly enough. It’s time to get serious. There’s only so much men can do to defend womanhood. You all need to step up.” He added: “It’s up to conservative women to make the Target boycott work. If you guys mobilize, you could crush Target. It’s up to you.”


Prior to his call-to-action tweets, Walsh condemned Target’s “pride” merchandise on “The Matt Walsh Show” on May 16. Walsh highlighted how Target not only marketed “pride” clothing and other merchandise to children, but also placed them in the front of the store to make a statement. As for the small “tuck-friendly” bathing suits, Matt didn’t mince words:

“We can clearly see that the bathing suits, though not in the kids section, are available in kid sizes. Either those are sizes for kids, or for very, very, very small adults,” Walsh said before brutally mocking Target. “Which I guess is the excuse they are going to go with, ‘No it's not, this is just for extremely undersized adults, I mean you could buy it for your kid, but that’s not what it's meant for’. That’s obviously what it is meant for.”

Olohan and Walsh are lying about the designer, Erik Carnell, by calling him a "Satanist" -- he considers himself an atheist, and none of his vaguely Satan-adjacent stuff (done to make a political point, not to promote Satan) was ever sold by Target. They are also lying by claiming that "tuck-friendly" swimsuits were being marketed to children; kids' swimsuits are constructed differently.

But facts don't matter when there are people to be demonized and companies to attack for a partisan hate agenda. Kevin Tober expanded on the lies later in the day:

On Wednesday, NBC Nightly News dedicated an entire segment of their newscast to Target being forced to remove some of their clothing from their stores which visibly worship satan. In addition, Target announced they were reviewing some of their other clothing which caused a national uproar. Most notably, their "tuck friendly" bathing suits in which men are able to "tuck" their private parts in their bathing suit bottoms to pretend they're women.

In fact, not even the MRCTV post to which Tober linked offered evidence that anything sold at Target "worshipped Satan." He went on to whine that "The left-wing correspondent parroted leftist gender ideology vocabulary like “gender-affirming operations.” --though he didn't explain how being transgender is an "ideology" -- then complained that things were fact-checked and others admitted they felt threatened by the hate campaign:

He then spoke to Ben Collins, NBC’s senior reporter who proclaims he’s on the so-called “dystopia beat.”

“The misinformation here was that kids were being targeted with this stuff,” Collins proclaimed. “They realize if they can threaten enough people. If they can scare enough people in real-life locations that maybe support for the LGBTQ community will diminish among corporations.”

He provided no evidence that anyone has been “threatened” over this controversy.

Not to be outdone, Sarah Kate Ellis of the LGBTQ group “GLAAD” parroted the leftist line that different opinions from theirs constitute “violence.”

“I think there's this really small group who has an outsized voice at this moment in time and it's of hate and it's of discrimination and it's violent,” Ellis cried.

NBC allowed her to cry discrimination and allege violence without any pushback.

Alex Christy managed to avoid repeating any of the lies from Walsh and his co-workers in a May 25 post, but he complained that a hate-filled transphobe didn't get enough airtime on CNN:

The View’s Alyssa Farah Griffin and Rolling Stone’s Jay Michaelson teamed up on Wednesday’s CNN Tonight to attack conservatives for wanting to boycott Target for certain Pride-themed merchandise aimed at children. In things never said about liberal boycotts, Farah Griffin labeled it “very totalitarian,” while Michaelson warned of “stochastic terrorism.”

CNN did have an actual conservative voice in Joe Pinion to go up against Farah Griffin, Michaelson, and senior political analyst John Avlon. However, the three-on-nature of the panel—four-on-one if you count host Alisyn Camerota—meant that after references to various insanities coming out of Washington and New York he was sidelined as the other three ganged up on him.

Christy went on to dismiss Michaelsen as a "liberal rabbi and former Merrick Garland clerk," then tried to play whataboutism: "One wonders if Michaelson, who once accused Antonin Scalia of all people of inciting terrorism, thinks Nashville was “stochastic terrorism” or does that label only get applied to hypothetical right-wingers? Either way, people aren’t going to suddenly believe that boys can suddenly become girls because that’s not hate, that’s just science." Christy is referencing the Nashville gun massacre, which Christy and the MRC care about only because the shooter was allegedly transgender, not because guns were used to kill both adults and children.

Tim Graham repeated those lies in a May 26 column that tried to blame the victim, insisting that it's somehow Target's fault for making right-wingers lie about it:

Some might claim that Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is part of his “right-wing media machine,” but not when it comes to the news pages. The front page on May 25 included an article headlined “Target Is in Bull’s-Eye Of the Culture Wars.” Inside the paper, it’s “Culture Wars Snare Target.”

One of the most annoying tendencies of liberal journalists is defining the term “culture wars” as conservative resistance to the left-wing war on America’s Judeo-Christian heritage. Target has lowered itself from typical progressive “Pride Month” pandering to partnering with a British Satanist to push an agenda in their stores.

Satanists aren’t culture warriors, only the Christians are? Target isn’t engaging in culture war, but Hobby Lobby is?

“Trans man” Erik Cornell’s Abprallen brand sells apparel that includes satanic imagery, including pentagrams, horned skulls, and references to the devil. One design on their T-shirts and pins carries the message: “Satan respects pronouns.”

Last year, Cornell wrote on his brand’s Instagram account: “Being called a demon is something I can cope with, and the idea of a trans demon is pretty damn cool, most of my work focuses on gothic or dark and satanic imagery juxtaposed with bright colours and LGBT+ positive messages.”

Again, Cornell is not a Satanist, but Graham couldn't be bothered to telling his readers that. He did grudgingly admit that "The edgy Satanic gear isn’t on sale at Target," but insisted on blaming Target or it anyway: "Are their executives so dense that they can’t imagine this Satanist-adjacent promotion might be a publicity problem?" Graham also failed to mention that this war on Target was not organic but manufactured by people like Walsh -- a fact one of his writers gleefully touted.

Graham also conceded that no "tuck-friendly" swimsuits were ever marketed to children, but Target was again somehow to blame because someone under the age of 18 might wear one:

The Target story first kicked into prominence when the Associated Press and PolitiFact “fact checkers” rushed in to defend Target against those anti-groomer right-wingers who were spreading “misinformation.” They insisted that the swimsuits being sold with “tuck-friendly construction” were only in adult sizes. But it should be obvious that many teenaged children would fit into adult sizing.

Then it was also shown that swimsuits for younger children were tagged in the store as “thoughtfully fit” for “multiple gender expressions.” Obviously, young male children don’t have as much need for a “tuck-friendly” suit.

Graham concluded by raging that not hating transgender people is somehow making people want to be transgender:

The number of youth identifying as transgender has doubled in recent years, and all these leftists want to pretend that none of this happened because of their crusades waged on the Internet and their urgent “Pride” marketing from “woke” corporations.

The Left pretends this surge of gender confusion and amputation is “organic,” that it’s just people finding their “true selves” by the thousands. But it’s the result of a gender-denying culture war.

In fact, social contagion is not causing more youths to be transgender. Graham didn't explain why transgender people must always be hated and vilified in the media.

Christy tried to play whataboutism with right-wing attacks on Target in a May 26 post:

Apparently, colleges just hand out PhDs to anyone who wants one because on Thursday’s The 11th Hour on MSNBC, economics Prof. Justin Wolfers wondered if Target is “cowardly” for backing off slightly on the store’s display of LGBT products for children or simply the victim of “economic terrorism.” Meanwhile, the pot called the kettle black as senior reporter Ben Collins called the Target boycott a “terminally online” phenomenon.

Host Stephanie Ruhle led Wolfers by warning, “if you’re Target and you cave here, this is a slippery slope because this anti-LGBTQ movement, they’re not going to stop here. They want to sue every company out there that has any sort of diversity and inclusion initiative.”

Wolfers agreed, “I think there is something really quite scary here and it comes from the Target CEO saying the reason they were backing off is they were worried about the safety of their employees.”

For Wolfers, there are only two options, “it could be they're cowards and used that as protection and a smokescreen so they could make a cowardly decision, or it could be that they're actually genuinely concerned about the well-being of their employees and have had credible threats.”


Wolfers almost certainly did not refer to the left pressuring Target to remove Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage from their website as “literally terrorism” or "cowardly." Only conservative-inspired boycotts get such treatment.
Christy didn't mention that Schrier's book is a poorly written work that advances right-wing anti-transgender narratives at the expense of actual science.

Christy then trampled on his employer's messaging, complaining that Collins (accurately) identified Walsh as the "leader of the movement," though he did make sure to tout Walsh as a "MRC Bulldog winner." But then he complained that "Collins’s entire job is to submerse himself in the deepest backwaters of the internet and claim those weirdos represent and have outsized influence on the Republican Party." If Walsh is such a fringe "weirdo," why did the MRC see fit to give him a major award?

Another May 26 post, by Nicholas Schau, attacked non-right-wing media outlets for reporting accurately on the furor while repeating those right-wing lies (again):

While the rest of America was busy being appalled, leftist media hacks celebrated Target’s disturbing line of LGBTQ-themed merchandise designed by an avowed Satanist.

Various news outlets, including TheStreet, NBC, CNN and Forbes, went to bat for Target and its woke antics. TheStreet provided an absurd defense of Target’s CEO and the Satanic designer it partnered with, saying that the CEO thinks that “inclusion is just good business.” NBC came out in full support of the disgusting merchandise. CNN’s coverage of the situation zeroed-in on the right-wing backlash, mourning that it harms Target’s cause. Forbes tried to attack reasonable laws against drag shows for kids, which the outlet cites as a reason that Target tries to sell its despicable merchandise.

Target’s despicable merchandise advertised for “pride month” included onesies, “tuck-friendly” swimsuits, mugs, books with LGBTQ messages for babies, and t-shirts with the word “queer,” sometimes featured with obscene messaging. This is consistent with Target’s past wokeness, including the 2016 “transgender” bathroom policy. Fortunately, common-sense Americans kicked back against the evil attack on children, and the woke corporation is beginning to pull some of this grotesque merchandise. Target lost a whopping $9 billion in market value following the controversy. But media outlets seemed more intent on erroneously painting Target as some kind of victim.

Schau's lies continued:

CNN similarly wrote a blatantly biased piece claiming that “Target is being held hostage by an anti-LGBTQ campaign.” In its absurd article, CNN blames “right-wing personalities” for creating this campaign which “became hostile.” CNN defended Target’s actions and claimed that “the campaign misrepresented Target’s ambitions,” adding that much of the totally reasonable criticism was based on “misinformation.”

In another report, CNN buried Target’s partnership with the Satanist in the ninth paragraph. The outlet also buried any mention of the abhorrent pride-themed merchandise marketed to children in the tenth paragraph.

Only in the MRC's right-wing bubble is it "absurd" for a media outlet to report facts. Indeed, despite all his ranting, Schau did not dispute a single fact in any article he attacked.

Olohan returned for a June 16 post parroting right-wing commentator (and Walsh's boss) Ben Shapiro's complaint that a Washington Post article on bomb threats at Target stores that failed to note to his satisfaction that at least some of the threats came from left-wingers and not that "fans of Matt Walsh, upset over Target’s grotesque pride month collection, were responsible for the threats." But, of course, they are responsible in a way: They fell for Walsh's lies and spread them in order to inflame hatred of LGBT people, yet they are now surprised that others are using those inflammatory tactics. Olohan also repeated the falsehoods that Erik Carnell is a "Satanic designer." So the lies continue, because the MRC thinks it's OK to lie about your enemies.

Giving conservative companies a pass

By contrast, when companies that have a reputation for catering to conservatives run afoul of the new new conservative correctness, they get treated differently. A June 2 post by Tom Olohan started out with righteous anger:

After Chick-fil-A drew attention to its diversity, equity and inclusion program, prominent figures across Twitter reacted to the news while leftist media exaggerated criticism or missed the problem entirely.

On Tuesday, May 30th, many Twitter users noticed that Chick-fil-A had created a “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” page on its website and spread the word about Chick-fil-A promoting Erick McReynolds to Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the restaurant chain.

Following a quote by Erick McReynolds, the DEI page includes this line: “Chick-fil-A, Inc.'s commitment to being Better at Together means embedding Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in everything we do.” Twitter users from Michael Knowles, to Allie Beth Stuckey, to Jack Posobiec, Erick Erickson, and Charlie Kirk reacted to the hire, criticizing Chick-fil-A and DEI more broadly.

Olohan is misleading by claiming that Chick-fil-A wasn't the one that "drew attention" to its DEI program -- as he admits, it was "many Twitter users." But having done this, he seems to want to distract from it:

Leftist news sources like The Hill exaggerated this criticism, uplifting smaller accounts calling for a boycott, while others like The New York Times and CNN aggressively missed the point on what DEI is and why conservatives object to it.

This uproar also led to many accounts sharing a video from 2020 where Chick-fil-A owner, Dan Cathy, shines the shoes of rapper Lecrae Moore, while telling white people to do likewise with a “contrite heart, a sense of humility, a sense of shame, a sense of embarrassment, beget with an apologetic heart.”

But if DEI is so evil, how can The Hill (which, contrary to Olohan's assertion, is not a "leftist" publication) be exaggerating the issue? Olohan didn't explain. Instead, he called on vicious transphobe Michael Knowles to try and absolve Chick-fil-A further:

Daily Wire columnist, Michael Knowles, agreed with the idea that creating a DEI department is a problem in and of itself. On his show Wednesday, Knowles told his audience, “The exact verbiage does not exactly matter. It’s all pretty much just gobbledygook anyway. The disconcerting thing is not the exact wording. The disconcerting thing is that Chick-fil-A has embraced DEI at all, and now while some conservatives are calling for a boycott of the openly religious, generally relatively conservative company, as far as I’m concerned this story has almost nothing to do with Chick-fil-A.”

Knowles went on to add that this incident demonstrates the ubiquity of liberal ideology in our culture.

Most conservatives who mentioned a boycott, spoke in opposition to it. Radio host Erick Erickson opposed a boycott, suggesting that adding a boycott of Chick-fil-A would discredit conservatives with the general public and before noting by omission that Chick-fil-A’s DEI page does not promote gender theory.

Actually, Erickson didn't say that. Here's what he actually said: "Y’all really gonna boycott @ChickfilA? When you start boycotting every business as 'woke' the average American will think you’re full of crap," adding that the company's stated mission is to "glorify God" and stating that conservatives need "discernment in your targets." In other words, he was pointing out that conservative anger in general was discrediting them. But wouldn't carving out an exception for Chick-fil-A also discredit conservatives when they target other companies for doing the same thing? (WorldNetDaily also gave Chick-fil-A a pass as well.)

And that attitude is why the MRC was completely silent when it was revealed that Cracker Barrel -- another restaurant chain beloved by right-wingers -- has embraced DEI and not hating LGBT people.

It seems that, despite Olohan's headline, the media did not miss the point, and Olohan is the one who needs to explain why he's hypocritically giving certain "woke" companies a pass based on their past friendliness to conservative agendas.

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