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The Sour State Of The MRC's Union

The Media Research Center used President Biden's State of the Union addresses to bash him and to lash out at any media outlet that didn't hate the speeches as much as it did -- while also pretending to read the minds of correspondents.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/23/2024

The Media Research Center’s coverage of President Biden’s State of the Union addresses has been what you’d expect from a right-wing narrative factory — lots of emphasis on denigrating Biden and trashing his address.

For the 2022 address, Nicholas Fondacaro pretended he could read the minds of people he hates, claiming in one post that  ABC was “lamenting that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 'forced' Biden to change his speech and was “bemoaning how, ‘this is going to be a very different speech than the one the President was probably envisioning, just a few weeks ago.'" He offered no evidence of how he was able to interpret a simple reporting of facts into “lamenting” and “bemoaning.”

The next day, Mark Finkelstein whined that “David Frum has gone from being a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, to being a cable-news speech adviser for Joe Biden.” One of those suggestions was to “try to shift the blame for inflation from Biden to Putin, and accuse any politician who dares mention inflation of hurting Ukraine!” and Finkelstein didn’t like this disruption of right-wing talking points:

Nice attempted two-part Democrat spin, David! Take the inflation onus off Biden, and silence critics who hold Biden responsible for inflation.

It’s not going to work, because Americans have already suffered enough inflation pain to know who is really responsible. And good luck when it comes to silencing Biden critics. Nobody’s going to believe that it is “undermining” Ukraine to hold Biden responsible for his domestic failures.

Kevin Tober served up his own attempt at mind-reading in another post:

This is where the leftist media’s priorities lie. On Tuesday evening, while previewing President Joe Biden’s upcoming State of the Union address Tuesday, both CBS’s Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell and NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt worried that Russian President Vladimir Putin could potentially “upstage” Biden during his speech by launching a “deadly attack” on Ukraine. 


You can bet that if a Republican was President today, O’Donnell and Holt would not be worried about the President getting upstaged. Instead, they would hope for it. 

Like Fondacaro, Tober didn’t explain the apparent divine revelation he received that showed him that reporting on something equated to being “worried” about it. Or why such reporting equates to making one “leftist.”

After the speech, the MRC predictably lashed out at anyone who didn’t hate the speech as much as it did:

Tim Graham served up another of his fact-check fails:

The CNN “Facts First” fact-checkers evaluated 12 claims from President Biden’s State of the Union address but only found one of those that they would describe outright as “false.” It looked like an A for effort. They sounded notably tougher on three claims from the Republican rebuttal from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, and tagged one as false — that “the Department of Justice treats parents like domestic terrorists.”

CNN’s Marshall Cohen claimed it was previously “debunked.” It is correct that the “terrorist” language was used in a letter by the National School Boards Association, and not in official memos by the Attorney General. But the NSBA letter was requested by the Secretary of Education and they sent it to the president.

Neither of which have nothing to do with the fact that the NSBA never referred to all parents who spoke out at school board meetings as “terrorists” — which Graham surprisingly concedes. Graham failed to mention the fact that, as the CNN fact-check also noted, Attorney General Merrick Garland also never used the word “terrorist,” making Graham's claim doubly false. And as ConWebWatch noted when the MRC originally pushed this bogus narrative, only parents who made threats to school boards were the subject of concern, not all parents who ever spoke at a school board meeting.

Graham used his column a few days later to defend extremist Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert for heckling Biden during the speech:

Biden was speaking about soldiers getting cancer from serving in areas with toxic burn pits. He said “When they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors were never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin. I know.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert yelled “13 of them,” referring to the U.S. service members lost in a terrorist bombing in Kabul during the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Democrats booed energetically. So Biden was heckled before Beau was mentioned.

Then Biden added “One of those soldiers was my son, Major Beau Biden,” and then he said “We don’t know for sure if a burn pit was the cause of his brain cancer.” No one asks whether Beau was anywhere near burn pits in Iraq. No fact-checkers stir.

Heckling a president during the State of the Union (especially a Democrat [sic] president) is not polite or politically smart. But the liberal journalists who were scandalized by the heckling never take exception to Biden’s very repetitive citations of his son, so much it reeks of exploitation.

Note that Graham does not explicitly criticize Boebert for her heckling — she’s a fellow pro-Trump Republican, after all, and the MRC doesn’t criticize their ideological peers (even if she’s as much of a nutjob as Marjorie Taylor Greene).

2023 address

Before Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address, the MRC was in prebuttal mode, as exemplified in this post by Fondacaro a few weeks before:

Hours ahead of President Biden’s Tuesday State of the Union address, the ladies of ABC’s The View shared their demands for what they wanted him to talk about. But their shrieking was willed with disinformation, misinformation, and lies about what was going on in the country, and smears against Republicans. So, NewsBusters thought it was pertinent to address and debunk the poison they were pumping into the public discourse.

Racist Whoopi Goldberg kicked off the segment by boasting that Biden would give the address with “historically low unemployment, more jobs with higher wages, lower gas prices, and less inflation than the previous months.”

FACT CHECK: Misleading. Workforce participation was still below pre-pandemic levels, gas prices had been going up again as well the fact they’re far above what they were when Biden took office, and inflation (which was way up since Biden took office) was still hurting Americans and would continue to hurt for some time.

Focusing on workforce participation instead of unemployment rates to make Biden look bad? That’s a trick Fondacaro picked up from his employer’s then-“news” division, He’s also following in the narratives of his employer by blaming Biden for higher gas prices despite naming no policy that could be directly tied to them.

After the address, Tober tried desperately to set up an anti-Biden narrative by insisting that he was “bitterly partisan and divisive”:

In the immediate aftermath of President Joe Biden’s bitterly partisan and divisive State of the Union address, MSNBC host Alex Wagner went after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for not showing enough allegiance to the left’s latest obsessions like the war in Ukraine and “democracy” at home and abroad. Wagner was outraged that McCarthy didn’t stand up when he clapped for Biden’s applause lines and went after his House members as being against democracy and wanting to “subvert the will of the people.”

Of course, the actual partisan and divisive people at the address were the right-wing Republicans who petulantly heckled Biden. Fondacaro tried to play cleanup by playing whataboutism:

Immediately following the conclusion of President Biden’s State of the Union address, the commentary cast of CBS News attempted to clutch their pearls into diamonds as they decried heckling of Republicans in the chamber. Ignoring how Democrats routinely used former President Trump’s address to protest, heckle make statements, and tear up his speech, the Biden-friendly network declared Republicans “chaos entrepreneur[s].”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy is trying to present a new image, standing on many occasions but there were a lot of disruptions from the crowd,” huffed CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell.

Chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes framed the heckling as something only Republicans do at these addresses:

Tober lashed out at a person who committed the offense of saying something nice about Biden:

During the midnight hour of MSNBC’s State of the Union address coverage, pseudo-historian Michael Beschloss made a fool of himself during his analysis of Biden’s speech. After being asked by MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle what he thought of Biden’s speech, Beschloss declared Biden to be “Mr. Smooth.” Biden is many things, but everyone can agree that smooth isn’t one of the adjectives most Americans would use to describe him. 

“That was a wonderful speech. Didn’t you think he was sort of Mr. Smooth? This guy’s been in national politics for 50 years. You don’t always see the result of that, but you sure saw it tonight,” Beschloss proclaimed. 

“He was elegant, he was civilized, he was conciliatory, he was reasonable, and maybe most of all, he sounded like a centrist, which is exactly where he wants to be,” Beschloss added. 

It’s unclear what speech he was watching but it’s safe to assume that he wasn’t watching Biden’s State of the Union address. Since Biden’s speech was extremely divisive and partisan, and at times incoherent.

Tober clearly knew he had to work in that “bitter and partisan” narrative, though he cited the highly biased and partisan Daily Caller to back up the claim.

Alex Christy further whined at another non-right-wing outlet that wasn’t following the right-wing media narrative:

Amid plenty of laughter from the panel, MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough’s Wednesday reaction to the State of the Union was more cathartic group therapy than serious analysis as he wasted no time in calling Republicans “stupid” and “the dumbest political party that’s ever existed” while labeling them “jackasses” for daring to object to President Biden’s lie about them cutting Social Security and Medicare.

Morning Joe kicked off the program with a highly and selectively edited montage of Biden’s speech as well as Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s response. The quick edits made it look like Biden was an uplifting unifier while Sanders was a bitter divider.

Of course, Sanders’s whole job was to provide a rebuttal to Biden’s self-congratulatory speech and five second clips can be deceiving, but facts were in short supply as co-host Mika Brzezinski led off, “Very different tones last night between President Biden’s mostly optimistic looking State of the Union—”

An overly theatrical Scarborough then interrupted, “Wait, wait, wait! Can’t anybody play this game! Why is my former party so stupid?”

Brzezinski then tried to claim that Biden plaid Republicans like a fiddle, “he fed it to them and they – boop.”

Curits Houck served up the same tone about another non-right-wing show:

ABC’s Good Morning America pitched a torrent of slobber Wednesday over President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address, gushing over Biden as “fired up and fiery” offering “a message of hope” in “one of the best speeches” ever with the White House “riding high” against raucous” Republicans who were bitter”, childish, and “rude” in “jeering” Dear Leader.


[Correspondent Mary] Bruce framed Biden as the statesmen and not the taunter, saying he started “with a hand extended across the aisle” even though Republicans replied with “outbursts.” In response, she bragged that Biden “seiz[ed] the moment to turn the tables on Republicans trying to get them to commit” to protect entitlements.

Houck similarly attacked another morning show a couple hours later for not adhering to right-wing narratives:

While ABC’s Good Morning America was swooning over a “fired up and fiery” President Biden’s “message of hope” in his State of the Union address, NBC’s Today was similarly at a fever pitch of enthusiasm Wednesday as they proclaimed the “[made] an appeal for…unity” to an “unserious” Republican Party that created a “spicy” atmosphere inside the House chamber.

Co-host Savannah Guthrie came off like a state-run news reader, boasting in the opening tease that “Biden deliver[ed] his message to Congress and the American people” and “urg[ed] the parties to come together to finish the job in a boisterous House chamber.”

Again: The MRC’s rage is solely partisan, because it can’t handle anyone in the media saying anything nice about a Democrat and because it believes that all news should have the same right-wing bias as Fox News. Speaking of which, MRC chief Brent Bozell ran to Fox Business to push that anti-Biden narrative because he knows he will never be challenged on it:

Media Research Center Founder and President Brent Bozell joined the Wednesday edition of the Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co. to analyze the media’s over-the-top praise of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address. 

Substitute host Ashley Webster aired highlights of journalists hailing Biden’s performance with the likes of CNN’s Jake Tapper claiming Biden seemed “invigorated from the address.” 

Webster turned to Bozell and inquired: “Well into his eighties. I think he’s already there. Isn’t he? Brent Bozell joins me now. Brent? Did that speech invigorate you?”

Bozell had fun mocking the media’s feeble attempts to prop-up Biden: “Invigorated is code word for not senile….He’s into his eighties. He’s invigorated. Which means….the defibrillator worked, he’s alive.”

Bozell then offered what the media’s take should have been, if they weren’t so in the tank for this administration:

Apparently Bozell does not consider Fox News to be part of “the media,” because he offered no critique of its biased coverage. Further, Bozell’s interviewer was so in the tank for Bozell that he served up a softball that allowed Bozell to rehash the MRC’s conspiracy theory about the election being stolen from Donald Trump because not enough people purportedly knew about Hunter Biden’s laptop: “National surveys show had they known 9.4 percent would not have voted for him, Donald Trump would have won 317 electoral votes, would have won an absolute landslide. This is dynamite! This is kryptonite for the Democrats and for Joe Biden.” That conspiracy theory is based on polls it bought from Trump’s 2020 election pollster and the polling firm founded by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, so it is not remotely credible.

2024 address

For Biden's 2024 address, Trump apple-polisher Curtis Houck unironically smeared an ABC reporter as an “apple polisher” for merely reporting a preview of the address:

ABC’s Good Morning America set the table on Thursday for President Biden’s fourth (and possibly final) State of the Union address by doing what ABC and chief Biden apple polisher Mary Bruce do best: polish apples for the regime. Between her two liveshots, Bruce offered all the usual talking points about Biden needing to “sell skeptical voters on his accomplishments” and “tout his record” vs. a possibly “rowdy” GOP.

In the first hour, co-host and former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos set the table by touting the “a critical moment for the President” and “[h]is best chance with the biggest audience to make his case for four more years and the defeat of Donald Trump.”


Bruce closed with a word about Senator Katie Britt (R-AL) being selected to give the Republican response, calling her “an interesting pick”, knocking both her as somehow a fake representation of the GOP because she’s “intended to show the next generation of the aging-male-dominated Republican Party”.
Houck did not explain how he supposedly knows so much about Bruce’s inner life or the the intent of her words — or perhaps he’s just making it up.

Christy objected to another speech preview: “MSNBC presidential historian Michael Beschloss dropped by Thursday’s Andrea Mitchell Reports to preview President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address and to warn that ‘we could be a dictatorship next year,’ which means that Biden is akin to FDR warning about the Nazis and the Japanese prior to World War II.”

The MRC then decided that any media outlet that did not spew the kind of right-wing Fox News-esque hate it demanded at the address was working for the Biden campaign:

When it was pointed out that Republicans were being jerks during the speech, the MRC got mad about that too, in the form of a March 8 post by Graham:

The PBS NewsHour team wore their Democrat donkey ears after the president’s speech on Thursday. Co-host Geoff Bennett touted Joe Biden in his first post-speech sentence: “That was a forceful and feisty State of the Union address!” Then the Republicans were criticized for…mostly not heckling.

By contrast with Biden’s hour-plus of screaming at Republicans, PBS gave a demerit to House Republicans for...not listening? Overall, they were remarkably disciplined, so they had to hammer that from the other direction.

PBS congressional reporter Lisa Desjardins spoke from her cell phone with her personal opinion: “You may have seen this on the screen. House Republicans were not listening to that speech, by and large. Not just out of defiance, they just seemed not to be paying attention. They were almost only here physically, almost bordering on a disrespectful way, and is something I’ve never seen to this degree before.”

Christy, the comedy cop, lashed out at CBS’ Stephen Colbert and his guest for failure to hate the speech:

CBS chief political analyst John Dickerson joined Stephen Colbert on Thursday for a special live edition of The Late Show, where the two fawned over President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address by claiming that simply by giving the speech, Biden “reknits those bonds” of democracy.


Dickerson continued in his admiration, “You can’t– if you are going to set the stakes for a political moment, you can’t set them any higher than 1941 fighting before World War II. So, he set them immediately, he started in fifth gear.”

After a quick Colbert quip about Biden’s Corvette, Dickerson continued, “The only other historical moment that you would pick that has equal weight is the Civil War and he name-checked that too and why? He’s calling on the ghosts of January 6, which aren’t even ghosts. There are people in that room there who helped that happen.”


Despite all the pomp and circumstance, Biden’s address was simply a Democratic stump speech, so of course CBS loved it.

Christy didn’t explain how the views on a single comedy show suddenly represents every single CBS employee, the vast majority of whom do not work on the show.

Clay Waters played whataboutism with rude Republicans in a March 9 post:

An interactive slide show posted to the New York Times site on Wednesday, the day before President Biden’s State of the Union address (“How the State of the Union Became a Picture of Disunion”) relayed a slanted history of partisan scrapping at recent State of the Union addresses that suggested Republicans were almost wholly responsible for the turn to incivility.

The slideshow featured historical text by Peter Baker, White House correspondent.

Here’s the entry for George W. Bush suggesting nothing untoward had happened at a SOTU before at least 2007: “Even at the height of the Iraq war, decorum still reigned. In 2007, George W. Bush called it a “high privilege” to address the first female speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, even though she was a vocal critic of his war policy.”

But Baker completely skipped over the start of the present-day SOTU partisanship: The booing of George W. Bush by Democrats during his State of the Union addresses in both 2004 and 2005.

And one anti-Republican point Baker included, Obama’s 2009 speech in which Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You Lie” when Obama said illegal immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for Obamacare, was not even made at a State of the Union but at a joint session of Congress. It made the slideshow anyway.

Geoffrey Dickens assembled a March 11 summary post rehashing all these complaints: “The bar was so lowered for him that all Joe Biden had to do was finish his State of the Union address for the in-the-tank leftist media to declare it a successful launch to his 2024 campaign. But they went overboard as they celebrated Biden’s ‘fiery’ and ‘feisty’ speech and his ‘punch in the face’ to the GOP.” He didn’t explain why such analyses were factually wrong.

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