ConWebWatch home
ConWebBlog: the weblog of ConWebWatch
Search and browse through the ConWebWatch archive
About ConWebWatch
Who's behind the news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
Letters to and from ConWebWatch
ConWebWatch Links
Buy books and more through ConWebWatch

Tim Graham's Revisionist History

The Media Research Center executive still wants you to believe that right-wing radio didn't influence Timothy McVeigh, asking Sarah Palin about what newspapers she read was unfair, and that Matthew Shepard totally had it coming.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/5/2024

Tim Graham

The Media Research Center has spent years peddling certain right-wing narratives, and executive Tim Graham is not about to let facts get in the way of them. Thus, he's continuing to push those well-worn narratives years after facts have chipped away at their effectiveness and proven them at least somewhat wrong.

For instance, the MRC has long been sensitive about the idea that burgeoning right-wing activism in the 1990s — particularly radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh — helped inspire Timothy McVeigh to bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, even though right-wing ideology indisputably influenced McVeigh beliefs and motivations and radio has long been the easiest way to transmit such ideology to an audience. Graham whined about this yet again in his May 5 column:

One way you can tell our most undeservedly prestigious media outlets are liberal is that Liberalism with a capital L has never been blamed for anything heinous. Mass killing – like the more than 60 million abortions since Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion – would never be blamed on their political movement.

On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma was blown up by a truck bomb, killing 168 people, including 19 children. It took just two days after the FBI tied Timothy McVeigh to the bombing for those prestigious media outlets to blame conservatives. The Sunday shows were unofficially indicting a “climate” of rhetoric.

Why is Graham bizarrely portraying abortion as “mass killing” akin to terrorism? Is he trying to justify the murders of abortion doctors like George Tiller and Barnett Slepian?

What is prompting Graham’s revival of an ancient grievance? The release of a new book:

That old smear is now being renewed by liberal legal pundit Jeffrey Toobin, who is shamefully associated with the words “Zoom masturbation incident.” He has a new book titled Homegrown: Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism. The publisher touts his thesis with a blurb from The New Yorker, Toobin’s long-time employer before the indecent incident. “In Toobin’s view, it wasn’t just militarism that made McVeigh—it was Republicanism.” The book reviewers hailed it as “depressingly relevant” to today.

Politico’s “Playbook” team helpfully promoted Toobin’s statist thesis, warmly touting “Jeff emailed Playbook with a preview.”  Toobin explained his book is meant to show “that the conventional view of McVeigh — as an ‘antigovernment’ ‘lone wolf’ — is wrong.” He was “part of the conservative movement opposing Bill Clinton’s federal government, not all government,” and that’s just like today’s conservatives “seen most dramatically on January 6, 2021.”

Just as the media-Democrat complex have been using January 6 as a political weapon against Republicans in the post-Trump era, they used McVeigh to re-elect Clinton.

Graham made no effort to prove that pointing out the fact that McVeigh’s extremism was of the right-wing variety is a “smear” — it’s not a smear if it’s true, after all. Instead, he descended yet again into Clinton Derangement Syndrome:

Of course, Toobin would make Clinton the “hero” of his book — two exposed sexual harassers trying to remake themselves into noble public servants. But as The New Yorker piece on Toobin’s book pointed out, McVeigh was obsessed with the disastrous Waco standoff in 1993, which ended in a federal raid that caused the deaths of 76 people, including 28 children. Was President Clinton the “hero” of that fiasco?

Graham blaming Clinton for what happened at Waco would seem to confirm that this was a right-wing talking point at the time — and, thus, not so far from McVeigh’s extremism as he would like us to believe.

Graham concluded with a boilerplate rant:

The liberal elite’s first draft of the Clinton presidency was ridiculously self-serving, and Toobin is providing the second verse, same as the first. That doesn’t make it accurate.

In the broadest sense, this is why liberal journalists cannot be trusted. They offer no respect to conservatism as a legitimate philosophy. How can you tell conservatives to trust you at the same time you associate them with domestic terrorism? Toobin is underlining the problem. Liberal journalists don’t want the conservatives to trust them. They only want conservatives to be defeated and exiled from Washington, scattered to their cartoonish fringes.

Graham, of course, is a right-wing activist and denier who wants liberals defeated and exiled, and he provides no reason anyone should trust him.

In a related kerfuffle, Graham -- who had gotten thoroughly ratioed in late 2022 when he tried to slut-shame Monica Lewinsky via tweet -- lost on Twitter again a couple months later when the analyst whose words he falsely framed called him out on it. It began with a December 2022 post by Graham that began:

On Thursday’s Deadline White House, Nicolle Wallace suggested she was interested in the “truth” about domestic terrorism and January 6, but MSNBC analyst Donell Harvin uncorked a wild claim that somehow, the national media were “ignoring” violent right-wing extremists like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph since the 1990s. That is completely false, but this is MSNBC, so no one questioned it. No “fact-checkers” evaluate MSNBC bloviations.

But Harvin never said the “national media” ignored McVeigh and Rudolph. What he said was this: “And I want to push back on the on the narrative of Republicans that I generally don`t get political, but strictly from a Homeland Security and Intelligence standpoint, the radical violent right is not nearly as dangerous or well-equipped to attack the Homeland as the left. We’ve been ignoring the violent right for decades. You can go back to Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph.” Nevertheless, Graham ranted:

In reality, the networks were intensely interested in Timothy McVeigh for his mass-murder with a truck bomb at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. They smeared McVeigh on Republican politicians — we had an article sarcastically headlined “McVeigh: Newt’s Protege?” — and they smeared his attack as emerging from conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh.

Harvin never said that either — and he responded to the NewsBusters tweet promoting Graham’s post in order to point that out:

This is hilarious, thanks.

You misquote me when everyone can hear the video: “the national media were “ignoring” violent right-wing extremists like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph since the 1990s.”

The “national media” was never said. You made that up.

Happy new year

Then Graham himself got involved, quoting the NewsBusters post on his item and sneering at Harvin: “Sounds like @donell_harvin was born yesterday.” Harvin retorted: “Sounds like you can’t even properly quote someone. As far as being born yesterday? You tell me brother.” His tweet was accompanied with a picture of him working at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center.

Graham then went on Newsmax to rage at Harvin some more:

First of all, it’s a lie to suggest that somehow ‘we’ ignored Eric Rudolph or that ‘we’ ignored Timothy McVeigh. I mean, we wrote an article at the time with the headline “Timothy McVeigh: Newt’s Protege?” because they tried to smear Timothy McVeigh all over the Republican Party, and this is what they’re doing today. They’re suggesting that those hotheads, those Trump-loving hotheads who, you know, went and beat up cops, oh, that’s the Republican Party, guys, And they use a term like domestic terrorism, which is very loaded, and bloodbath? You know, again, who was shot on January 6? One person was shot by a Capitol policeman, so there was a little bit of a bloodbath there, and they never want to discuss her.

Graham didn’t mention that Ashli Babbitt was breaking and entering into the Capitol. But Harvin responded to Graham’s rant: “This is amazing reporting. Thanks!” Graham lamely huffed: “Your sarcasm game is just as impressive as your pundit game.” Harvin then harshly called him out:

I’m hardly a pundit, nor a reporter.

I am someone that’s placed my body in harm’s way for over 30 years to protect the public.. And I don’t misquote people and manipulate video to create a story for myself.

There’s far more honorable ways to make a living, my friend.

And he added:

I’ll make you an offer. Happy to go on Newsmax w you and apologize to the world.

You just have to:

1. Find the part where I said the “media”. I was referring to those in homeland security

2. Find the part where I or anyone calls Republicans “terrorists”

I’ll wait, my friend

Unsurprisingly, Graham never responded — he doesn’t apologize, and he doesn’t go on Newsmax to have an honest debate with anyone; it’s where he goes to spout his daily talking points unchallenged because he knows whatever Newsmax host has him on will never challenge him.

Presumably, Harvin is still waiting in vain.

Newspaper finances

Graham was overly gleeful in a July 24 post:

The New York Times buried the lede in a story about Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos owning The Washington Post. It isn’t quite profitable, you learn in the eighth paragraph: “The Post is on a pace to lose about $100 million in 2023, according to two people with knowledge of the company’s finances.”

The headline doesn’t include that eye-grabbing detail. It’s just this:
A Decade Ago, Jeff Bezos Bought a Newspaper. Now He’s Paying Attention to It Again.

The Amazon founder, who purchased The Washington Post for $250 million in 2013, has taken a more active role in the paper’s operations this year.
Yes, you can imagine he’d take a “more active role” with this nagging problem. Post employees were delighted a liberal billionaire bought the paper, so they didn’t have to be too worried about profits. “Prestige journalism” for the liberals isn’t working out right now, even as the paper extends its Trump obsession forward.

In his happiness that the Post is losing money, Graham is not going to mention that losing money has long been the norm for right-wing print journalism. As ConWebWatch has documented, the Washington Times, the Post’s perennial also-ran competitor in the city, received more than $2 billion in subsidies from the Unification Church to keep it alive since its founding in 1982, a flow disrupted only when the family of Rev. Sun Myung Moon cut off the spigot in 2010. The paper survives in a highly stripped-down form after being sold to a Unification Church front company a couple years later, and finally, in 2015, claimed to have its first-ever month of not losing money (though one can assume that was likely a blip and it has returned to its money-losing ways). Similarly, the right-wing New York Post has pretty much never made money — it exists due to subsidies from Rupert Murdoch’s other operations simply because he wants to be able to say he has a newspaper in New York (though it claimed to have made a profit, its first in modern history, in 2020).

It’s ironic that Graham is bashing the Washington Post for being dependent on a deep-pocketed owner who can absorb losses, when right-wing newspapers would have gone out of business years ago if they had to work within a free market and not rely on benevolent moneybags.

Still, Graham insisted on whining that “the Times still wants to imply that this financial problem isn’t a media-bias problem.” Of course, Graham offered no evidence that the Post’s alleged bias is solely responsible for the financial loss, and he completely ignored that newspapers across the country are losing money. He was again silent on the fact that the newspapers with the most pronounced right-wing bias have pretty much never made money. There is a “media-bias problem” — just not the one Graham wants you to think it is.

Graham is quite happy with newspapers dying, because their destruction has been an MRC agenda item for decades over their purported liberal bias, and he’s more than happy to see them be replaced with low-quality right-wing websites (even as the MRC rages against ratings firms like NewsGuard for pointing out that inconvenient fact).

Sarah Palin and Katie Couric

Talk about holding a grudge. Media Research Center executive Tim Graham proved himself to still be angry about something that happened 15 years ago in a Sept. 30 post:

Fox News media reporter Joseph Wulfsohn reported on Friday that former CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric boasted at the liberal Texas Tribune Festival last weekend about how she helped Barack Obama get elected in 2008 with her infamous attack interview on Republican Gov. Sarah Palin. “You’re welcome, by the way,” Couric told the audience, sparking laughter and applause.

She added, “I always thought that Barack Obama should have sent me a big-ass bouquet of flowers for that interview.” Then-White House battle-axe Helen Thomas said Couric “saved the country” with that interview. 

She justified sticking it to McCain for health reasons, and for his poor judgment in picking Palin. “I think people were concerned that here she would be a heartbeat away from the presidency, John McCain had cancer, I believe, four times. And I think suddenly, they were not only questioning her abilities, but also his judgment in selecting her,” Couric said. “So I think that had a big impact on the election, on the campaign. And so I thought I did a good job.”

So did liberal-media types. She earned several awards — but was it for the journalism or for “saving the country”? Liberal journalists think those are synonymous.

In fact, the interview was not terribly challenging, and it’s not Couric’s fault that Palin could not give a coherent answer to a simple question about what newspapers she read. Further, Palin herself has admitted it was “a fair question” and that she “had a crappy answer” to it. But it’s an article of faith at the MRC that the interview was biased and proved Couric to be some kind of liberal activist, despite the actual facts. Also: Helen Thomas has been dead for years, and Graham is still apparently traumatized by her.

He’s also apparently traumatized by Couric as well. He took a shot at her by asserting that she “never earned a reputation as a powerful intellect” but “still felt she could trash Palin’s brains,” then complained that she said the interview “stood the test of, of being objective. Even Republicans afterwards thought it was extremely fair, a certain kind of Republican.” Graham seems to have forgotten that his own MRC colleagues put out a report after the 2008 election admitting that “Most observers agree that Palin did not perform well in the Couric interview.”

Graham is engaging in dishonest revisionism by calling it an “attack interview” when it clearly wasn’t. This is yet another instance where  the MRC is putting its preferred narrative before the facts.

Matthew Shepard revisionism

The Media Research Center’s Tim Graham complained that “The 25th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder in Wyoming became another opportunity to promote the LGBTQ agenda and denigrate conservative opposition” in an Oct. 22 post:

All this 25th anniversary hoopla overlooks major problems for the “gay hate crime” angle. Billy Binion at Reason posted a piece headlined “Matthew Shepard’s Murder Was Almost Certainly Not an Anti-Gay Hate Crime.” Something didn’t add up.
It wasn’t until the prominent gay journalist Stephen Jimenez published his 2013 book, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, that those gaps started to narrow significantly. [Aaron] McKinney and Shepard reportedly were connected by the drug trade, with Shepard set to receive a $10,000 shipment of methamphetamine around the time he was killed. Also relevant is that McKinney was allegedly not traumatized by advances from Shepard, as the two had been sexually involved.
Anyone care to challenge those allegations? The Jimenez book has been ignored for 10 years now.

Binion added that the AP reported in 2018 that Shepard assailant Russell Henderson claimed “neither he nor McKinney was motivated by anti-gay hatred when they offered Shepard a ride home from a bar. Instead, he said, they were out to rob him of money and possibly drugs when they drove him to the edge of town on the night of Oct. 6, 1998.”

Graham omitted the fact that the AP article also reported that McKinney tried to mount a “gay panic” defense at his murder trial, but the judge blocked it. If he wasn’t “traumatized,” why did he push such a defense? Graham probably doesn’t want to answer that question.

He also probably doesn’t want to talk about how problematic Jimenez’s book is.  As one reviewer noted, he plays fast and loose with quoted material, admitting that he invented dialogue “I did not personally hear; nor could the characters themselves recall every word exactly from memory,” and he did not identify in the book what dialogue is real and what is invented. Jimenez also failed to offer credible evidence to back up his claim that Shepard was a major drug dealer. The lead sheriff’s investigator on  Shepard’s death stated that Jimenez’s book contains “factual errors and lies.” Then there’s also the question of motive behind the book, given that Jimenez is a longtime friend of one of Henderson’s defense attorneys — it comes off a bid for leniency for the killers, given how they have changed their stories.

Nevertheless, Graham went on to whine that “when the Left has made a legend, they ‘print the legend’ and ignore inconvenient facts.” But what he’s portraying as “facts” is nothing but a right-wing legend, designed to ignore facts inconvenient to right-wingers in order to perpetuate the legend that LGBT people don’t face violence because of who they are. Despite working for decades in his job, he still doesn’t (or deliberately won’t) understand that just because a right-wing narrative may advance the story of the day, that doesn’t mean it’s true.

William F. Buckley and Yale

Graham began his Oct. 4 column with a lecture:

On an average day, the Left tries to dominate our culture and our politics by pretending it doesn’t actually exist. By that, I mean our media outlets and Hollywood propagandists rarely speak in public about being “liberals” or “progressives” or ideologues of any kind. They organize for nebulous-sounding causes, like “women’s rights” (abortion) and “civil rights” (racial quotas/equity) and “the planet” (fossil fuel abolition).

The exception came on CBS Mornings on September 29, during a segment promoting a new book by Republican-loathing leftist historian Heather Cox Richardson titled Democracy Awakening. The Left routinely insists they are “Democracy,” and “Democracy” is them.

CBS lauded Richardson upon arrival as a “one-woman Time magazine,” which certainly implies liberal propaganda. But they pretend it doesn’t.

Graham thinks he and his fellow right-wingers aren’t ideologues, even as he dismisses any idea that’s even slightly less conservative than he is as coming from “the Left” and that any publication that isn't right-wing must be "liberal propaganda." He continued by noting that Richardson was asked about the purported liberal tilt of higher eduction, and he hated the answer she gave because she invoked a prominent right-wing figure to rebut:

Richardson took that opportunity to unpack a box of lies. She suggested “one of the foundational documents” for conservative politicians is William F. Buckley’s 1951 classic God and Man at Yale: The Superstition of Academic Freedom. Let’s hope that’s still true.

Then she described Buckley’s argument in the most ridiculously inaccurate terms: “And what his position was that we should not focus on fact-based arguments when we tried to move the country forward. Because if you use fact-based arguments, people voted for the terms of the New Deal, the idea that the government should regulate business, protect a social safety net, promote infrastructure, and protect civil rights.”

The Left thinks they are Democracy, and they are also Facts. Richardson underlined the Stephen Colbert position with a straight face: “That what we’re really talking about is the idea of basing our reality in reality, you know. And that — you know, what do they say? Reality has a liberal bias. But I think all of us want to get back to a world that has our feet under us with actual facts.”

Graham thinks right-wing ideology is Facts and that anything that counters it is, by definition, not “fact-based.” He continued:

She claimed Buckley’s thesis was anti-factual: “Instead of actually using fact-based arguments, what we really should do was indoctrinate them, and that’s my word not his, but push the idea of Christianity and free-market capitalism.”

Richardson typically suggests it’s not “indoctrination” for professors to use the classroom to advocate for the superiority of atheism, socialism, and critical race theory. That’s just building “democracy” with “fact-based arguments.”

In 1951, the leftist tilt of America’s elite colleges was just beginning. By now, the Left’s “long march through” academia is complete. Today, professors have to worry that woke youngsters will get them fired, and “academic freedom” would save no professor from the mob.

But Graham offered no evidence that Buckley’s book is anything but an anti-liberal screed. He also ignores the fact that the conservatives’ plan for countering purported liberal “indoctrination” in higher ed — which he doesn’t prove is actually happening — is to replace it with right-wing indoctrination, which is what Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is currently doing to Florida’s New College.

Graham concluded by huffing: “In the end, the Left doesn’t tolerate dissent. Everyone who speaks against them should be punished.” He’s projecting, of course; the very modus operandi of his employer is intolerance of anything that dissents from right-wing dogma and to punish anyone who speaks against those preferred narratives.

Send this page to:

Bookmark and Share
The latest from

In Association with
Support This Site

home | letters | archive | about | primer | links | shop
This site © Copyright 2000-2024 Terry Krepel