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Primary Bias At The MRC

The Media Research Center injected its usual narratives into its coverage of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire presidential primary -- with added manufactured outrage over an early call by the media in Iowa.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/3/2024

The Media Research Center served up some prebutting of media coverage of the Iowa caucuses when contributing writer Stephanie Hamill appeared on Fox News — a channel whose caucus coverage the MRC would refuse to critique — on Jan. 12:
MRC’s Contributing Writer Stephanie Hamill was a guest on Friday’s Fox News at Night with host Trace Gallagher to discuss how the media is covering the Iowa caucuses and the 2024 election. 

During the segment Hamill brought up former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s recent comments about ‘chaos’ following former President Donald Trump after reacting to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s ‘never Nikki’ campaign. 

But does chaos actually follow Trump or is the media manufacturing it? 

We’ll let you decide.

This was followed by a Jan. 14 “flashback” post by Rich Noyes insisting that “the national media have always twisted their caucus coverage to fit their liberal political narrative.” Of course, Fox News and similar channels twist their caucus coverage to fit their right-wing political narrative, but Noyes will never complain about that bias.

In another coverage preview on Jan. 15, Curtis Houck complained that people were saying nice things about everyone other than Donald Trump and longtime MRC fave Ron DeSantis:

The “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC used their flagship morning news shows on Monday ahead of the Iowa caucuses to cheer Nikki Haley as their preferred alternative to former President Trump, boasting of her “new momentum” and desire “to work with Democrats” has “resonate[d]” with Republicans, independents, and “even Democrats” who are considering voting for President Biden in November.

That would leave Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) as the odd person out, but considering the liberal media’s fear and virulent hatred of DeSantis — especially ABC given its parent company, Disney — it’s par for the course as they’ve long reveled in, among other things, the campaign staff reshuffles and falling poll numbers as the number of Trump indictments rose.

Speaking of ABC, their show Good Morning America (GMA) was enthused with the notion of DeSantis further fading and/or dropping out. Senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott cheered Haley as having “gain[ed] new momentum, sharpening her attacks against Trump” about “chaos follow[ing] him” (which, in fact, is a line she’s used for weeks).

Nicholas Fondacaro spent a Jan. 15 post whining that Iowa was called irrelevant and that right-wing narratives weren’t advanced:

Hours before the doors to the Iowa Caucus closed for their proceedings on Monday, ABC’s World News Tonight teamed up with the Biden White House to write off any results to come and to paint any eventual GOP nominee as equally terrible as any other. It was a sign that ABC was itching to just move past the Republican nomination process, so they could focus on helping with the Democratic general election message.

“Tonight, the White House with an eye on Iowa. Vice President Kamala Harris telling me they are ready to take on whomever emerges the winner,” chief White House correspondent and President Biden’s chief apple polisher Mary Bruce boasted.


Of course, at no point did Bruce press Harris on her unpopularity, Biden’s sagging head-to-head poll numbers against every major GOP candidate (Trump, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis), nor the Democratic Party’s discontent with Biden heading their ticket.

Fondacaro isn’t going to mention that he and his fellow MRC co-workers are among Donald Trump’s chief apple-polishers. The next day, a post by Fondacaro whined that non-right-wing networks cut away from Trump’s victory speech:

Former President Trump gave a late-night victory speech on Monday after a historic showing in the Iowa Caucus. But despite the liberal media calling the results for him mere minutes after caucus doors closed and speeches were still ongoing, the liberals at CNN and MSNBC didn’t want viewers to hear his victory message to American voters. CNN’s Jake Tapper immediately cut away after Trump dared to mention the crisis at the southern border, while MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow opted to censor Trump’s speech in its entirety.

After Trump took a few minutes to commend the other candidates in the race for their strong showings and tout his campaign staff, Trump pivoted to talking about the issues. 

Fondacaro didn’t mention that Fox News has regularly refused to air speeches by President Biden.

Jorge Bonilla grumbled that MSNBC bashed Iowa voters as right-wing Trump-bots:

A common theme of MSNBC’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses was the network’s overall contempt for these voters who are largely out of their demographic. Evangelical voters, in particular, were singled out for scorn.

Watch as Alex Wagner practically calls evangelical Trump supporters a cult, and suggests that they are not attracted to anything attributable to former President Donald Trump as virtue, but to his “vice”: 


Conservative Midwestern evangelicals are the polar opposite of MSNBC’s target demographics: think what was formerly known as the “coalition of the ascendant”, and wealthy coastal liberals- the “AWFUL” voting bloc, if you will. And MSNBC has no qualms about signaling virtue to their audience by openly displaying their contempt for the kinds of evangelical voters that turned out in Iowa and, per results, for Trump.

Wagner’s contempt was not the brutish, racist contempt displayed by Joy Reid. Hers was a more florid contempt, couched in woke theology, but nonetheless grasping at an understanding of what makes these voters tick. 

The basis of such support goes far beyond the Supreme Court, but is incomprehensible to MSNBC’s viewers. 

We don’t recall the MRC complaining that Fox News doesn’t understand what makes liberal voters tick when it shows contempt for voters who don’t support right-wing candidates like Trump. Still, Fondacaro returned to parrot Bonilla’s argument as part of his daily hate-watch of “The View”:

In a time when the liberal media chorus sings in unison about how ‘democracy is in danger’ and there’s rampant ‘voter suppression,’ one would think they would be relieved and supportive of those who braved the worst mother nature could throw at them to exercise their right to vote. Of course, that’s only if they supported who the media wanted them to support. During their Tuesday reaction to former President Trump’s victory in the Iowa Caucus, the cast of ABC’s The View suggested Iowans were stupid to brave the cold and snow to vote for Trump.


Haines also scoffed at Iowa’s “first-in-the-nation” status for party nominations, suggesting her home state was overhyped. “Although, I’m a proud Iowan and we love our caucus time because it makes you feel seen…We didn’t ‘earn it,’ we just get it historically,” she chided the state.

Bitter Joy Behar lashed out at Iowans directly to smear their character. She suggested since they voted for Trump they’re pro-rape and falsely suggested they voted for a guy who called himself a “grand wizard” of the KKK.

Comedy cop Alex Christy chimed in when Jimmy Kimmel talked about the caucuses:

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel took the air on Tuesday to disparage the Iowa Caucus as “the polar opposite of MLK Day” and the way they count the votes because, to Kimmel, putting votes in a paper bag is hilarious, but the DNC’s 2020 app fiasco is something worth memory-holing.

Kimmel asserted that “Meanwhile, in Iowa, many caucuses were held yesterday” and “If you’ve ever wondered what is the polar opposite of MLK Day, it is the Iowa Republican Caucus.”

Moving on to how the caucus actually works, Kimmel played a video of caucus goers and talking over it, said, “You write a name on a piece of paper and you drop it in a grocery bag. same people who are screaming about the Dominion voting machines are digging through a brown paper sack from Stop & Shop to decide who will be president. Then they drop all the names into a popcorn bucket, they find the baldest guy they can to count them aloud.”

At least the Iowa GOP can count their votes in a timely manner, unlike Iowa Democrats, but speaking of vote counting, Kimmel then played a clip of a caucus official reading off some results which included one vote for Vivek Ramaswamy, one for Donald Trump, and two for Nikki Haley.

Mark Finkelstein played whataboutism when MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough pointed out an uncomfortable truth about Trump:

On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough repeatedly claimed that, judging by the big caucus results in Iowa, Republicans there “like candidates who have raped women,” as it was ruled by a New York judge in the E. Jean Carroll civil suit in New York.

Back in 2018, in a previous attack on Trump, Scarborough turned heads by asking “How did Democrats split the difference on Bill Clinton when they knew, or many believed and would tell me off the air that he raped Juanita Broaddrick?”

Broaddrick could name a date and a place, and NBC’s Lisa Myers placed Clinton there on that day. Carroll claimed Trump assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store, but cannot remember precisely when in 1995 or 1996 the alleged assault occurred. “I wish to heaven we could give you a date,” she replied in court. 

Finkelstein didn’t mention that Broaddrick is a liar — she spent nearly two decades denying that Clinton raped her, and even testified to that under oath, until she abruptly changed her story with the help of Clinton-hating right-wingers.

Finkelstein then tried to equivocate on Trump’s behalf: “The jury in the civil Carroll defamation case found that Trump did not commit rape, but had committed sexual abuse. The judge in the case — Lewis Kaplan, a Clinton appointee — expressed his view that the two terms are interchangeable.” Finkelstein didn’t explain why they weren’t, especially when a judge ruled that the claim Trump raped Carroll is “substantially true.”

Tom Olohan unironically touted a Fox News host complaining that other outlets didn’t air Trump’s victory speech:

Fox Business host Charles Payne bodied MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and legacy media setting themselves up as the gatekeepers of facts.

After playing a sanctimonious lecture by Maddow on why the media refuses to give Trump “an unfiltered live platform,” Payne derided this strategy as both wrong and ineffective on the Jan. 16 edition of Making Money with Charles Payne. Payne said, “No one ever gave them the job of deciding what was true or false.” 

Earlier this week, both MSNBC and CNN opted to silence former President Donald Trump during his victory speech following the Republican Iowa caucuses. CNN Anchor Jake Tapper opted to censor Trump at the first mention of immigration. Notably, Tapper has been known to freak out when Trump is given a chance to speak uninterrupted or portrayed in a positive light. 

Olohan was silent about the fact that the channel that employs Payne likes to silence Biden, nor did Payne apparently address that issue.

Tim Graham tried to serve up isolated, cherry-picked examples in an attempt to deny that the right-wing narrative of rampant Christian persecution in the U.S. has been debunked, as claimed by a Washington Post writer reporting from Iowa:

Several Washington Post stories reported from Iowa this week by staff writer Meryl Kornfield displayed an interesting double standard in proof. Republican concerns have been “debunked” that Christians have been persecuted like never before, but Republicans say “without evidence, that transgender people are a threat to children or have a mental health disorder.”

The first was a story on Christian Republicans headlined ‘Ordained by God’: Trump’s legal problems galvanize Iowa evangelicals.

Kornfield and several other reporters linked to a New York Times fact-check we challenged on Christian persecution, which means both papers ignored (as usual) the frightening FBI raid on pro-life Catholic Mark Houck’s home with his children at home, and the FBI field office in Richmond targeting traditional Catholics: 


Religious freedom has won some court victories, but that’s separate from what the Biden administration and blue states are doing.

When baseless right-wing attacks on transgender people was pointed out, Graham desperately resorted to justifying them by citing a hypothetical: “Couldn’t someone believe that some transgender people could be a threat to children?” Well, the MRC’s agenda is to make people believe that all transgender people are indisputably a threat to children — something it has never justified with evidence.

Manufactured outrage over early Iowa call

Trying to spin the results of the Iowa caucuses wasn’t the only duty the MRC had afterwards — it also spent a lot of time complaining that the caucus results were called early before the caucuses had ended. Curtis Houck declared that the early call was “election interference”:

Before many Iowa caucus sites even had attendees cast their ballots, most national news organizations projected former President Trump as the winner, leading to cries of election interference (despite most admitting that was already going to be the outcome), particularly from the campaign of Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL).

Early Tuesday, CBS Mornings and co-host Tony Dokoupil went against the grain and, unlike ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today, acknowledged the early call and conceded “there’s got to be a better way” for news organizations to make sure projections.

Houck did concede that everyone knew Trump was going to win, but he still insisted that the early call “depressed” turnout:

While a Trump blowout was a foregone conclusion, it’s no surprise that the press don’t have any remorse about possibly depressing the true intentions of voters if, say, they were contemplating a vote for one of the other candidates.

Alex Christy chimed in a little over an hour later:

On Tuesday’s installment of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, the eponymous host defended the media’s decision to project Donald Trump as the winner of the Iowa Caucus even before all precincts and started voting by claiming voters couldn’t change what they were going to do. Meanwhile, correspondent Vaughn Hillyard blamed modern technology for the media’s decision as if it was somehow compelled to make the call.

Mitchell began, “Vaughn, let’s talk about last night. The DeSantis campaign, they cried foul after the Iowa results were called before all the precinct halls wrapped up caucusing, but as you know better than anyone, when people walk into those halls, they are locked and voters can’t, you know, change what they’re going to do.”


Modern technology was not the reason why the media refused to wait a few more minutes until voting across the state began, it was the desire to be first and then to not be left behind. Hillyard, however, repeated his earlier point that it didn’t really matter, “Andrea, for Donald Trump, clearly though, he was well on his way to victory despite any notifications that anybody was getting on their phone here.”

That Trump was going to win by a wide margin regardless is not the point. The media should not be projecting races before voting even starts in several places across the state.

It seems that both Houck and Christy were more interested in manufacturing outrage than trying to figure out what really happened — or even to watch Fox News. As the actual journalists at Poynter reported, the Iowa caucuses are not like a typical election:

The New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum wrote, “While news outlets typically refrain from announcing a projection until after polls have closed, Iowa’s caucuses are not typical. Voters must be present by 7 p.m. (Central), when the caucus doors close, and The A.P. considers this moment the equivalent of a poll closing.”

Speaking on air, Fox News anchor Bret Baier said, “When the doors closed for the caucuses, that is the official time to be able to characterize the race. There’s a lot of controversy around it because people were inside and obviously had their phones, but that is how the rules go for Iowa."

And Fox News’ Brit Hume added, “We are talking here about people who come out on a cold night together at a caucus site, the doors are closed, and nobody can get in, so the opportunity to vote remains. It’s hard to believe very many people would say, ‘Oh, my goodness, the race has been called, I’m going home.’ I don’t think so.”

Meanwhile, The Associated Press explained why it called the race for Trump.

Robert Yoon, elections and democracy reporter at the AP, wrote, “The Associated Press declared the former president the winner based on an analysis of initial returns as well as results of AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who planned to caucus on Monday night. Both showed Trump with an insurmountable lead.”

Yoon added, “In traditional primaries, AP does not declare a winner in any race before the last polls are scheduled to close in the contest. It’s sometimes possible to declare a winner in those races immediately after polls close before any vote results are released. AP does so only when its VoteCast survey of voters and other evidence, including the history of a state’s elections, details about ballots cast before Election Day and pre-election polling, provide overwhelming evidence of who has won. The Iowa caucuses are different. There are no ‘polls’ and no fixed time when all the voting ends. Instead, there is an 8 p.m. ET deadline for caucus voters to arrive at their location, at which point deliberations among caucusgoers begin behind closed doors. Some caucus sites might complete their business in a few minutes, while others can take some time to determine the outcome.”

So, Yoon explained, “AP followed its past practice and did not make a ‘poll close’ declaration of the winner on Monday night. Instead, AP reviewed returns from caucus sites across Iowa and declared Trump the winner only after those results, along with VoteCast and other evidence, made it unquestionably clear he had won.”

That the actual facts were out there didn’t keep the MRC from grousing about it, of course. Clay Waters complained in a Jan. 19 post:

Even some in the liberal press were a bit bothered by the Associated Press’s decision to call the Iowa caucuses for Donald Trump at 7:30 p.m., just 30 minutes after the caucuses had begun and before some caucus-goers had even voted. (Shades of the 2000 presidential election, when the state of Florida was falsely called for Al Gore 12 minutes before the polls closed in the Panhandle part of the state.)

AP’s move likely didn’t affect the outcome, but the decision was significant given the handwringing in the pro-Biden press about the dangers a second Trump term would pose to free elections and democracy itself. Can’t the media let voters vote before they rush in with their proclamations? Who’s getting in the way of democracy? And just for a “scoop” that they now say was obvious? 

But the PBS NewsHour on Tuesday night was unfazed, defending their fellow media outlet against valid Republican complaints of election interference. Anchor Amna Nawaz tried to get her Republican strategist guest Kevin Madden (an aide in two Mitt Romney presidential campaigns) to defend the over-aggressive AP.

Waters included an excerpt from the AP’s “lame explainer,” but omitted the part where it stated the projections were released only after the caucusgoers were “behind closed doors.”

New Hampshire primary

The MRC led up to its coverage of the New Hampshire primary in the usual way, with a “flashback” post by Rich Noyes complaining about coverage of previous primaries. Nicholas Fondacaro then complained that “faux-conservative” co-host of “The View,” Alyssa Farah Griffin, had fallen victim to the “identity politics of the left” for not immediately boarding the Trump train he’s on: “Instead of reacting with glee to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bowing out of the GOP primary during the Monday edition of ABC’s The View, Farah Griffin whined and called him sexist for endorsing former President Donald Trump and not her preferred candidate: former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. She also lashed out at America for not electing a woman to be president yet and denounced the entire country.” Fondacaro followed with another hate-watch fest in a Jan. 23 post:

With the polls open for the New Hampshire primary, the Tuesday edition of ABC’s The View began with the Cackling Coven giving their worthless hot takes on the state of the Republican field they would never vote for. Confirming what many have suggested, co-host Joy Behar admitted that Democrats, including some of the cast, wanted former President Donald Trump to be the GOP nominee because they thought he posed an easier fight in the general election.

They also pleaded for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to stay in the race and at least just be a nuisance to Trump.

When MSNBC’s Joy Reid touted how President Biden won big in New Hampshire despite having to rely on write-in ballots, Jorge Bonilla complained:

MSNBC’s coverage of the New Hampshire primary has been weird to watch, to say the least. With no large number of white evangelical voters to malign, the network’s coverage quickly shifted to general election mode, which at MSNBC means shilling for President Joe Biden. 

Watch as host Joy Reid coughs up one of the more bizarre takes of the night by declaring Biden the grand winner of New Hampshire: 


This is a performance on the caliber of North Korean anchors extolling the virtues of Juché, and the strength and virility of the Dear Leader while riding a white horse atop Mount Paektu. 

An hour later, Bonilla once again tried to make “Acela Media” happen:

Every once in a while, you get to see the contempt that the Acela Media has for regular people- for voters who live normal lives and who might not think like them. Such was the case when NBC’s Garrett Haake interviewed a voter at the Trump victory party in New Hampshire.

Watch as Haake browbeats an elderly woman on the economy, and on the facts surrounding the 2024 presidential election, during NBC News Now’s coverage of the New Hampshire primary:


It is always fascinating to watch the media act as, in this case, Joe Biden’s praetorian guard, compelled to defend his job performance from everyday citizens- in this case, an elderly woman from New Hampshire. 


This contempt was further on display in subsequent questions on the legal challenges faced by President Trump. One always suspects that the Acela Media are contemptuous of their viewers and everyday voters. It is always something else to watch that contempt in real time.

Mark Finkelstein registered an odd complaint in a Jan. 24 post:

Morning Joe despises Donald Trump. So yes, the show would clearly be delighted to see him humiliated by Nikki Haley in the GOP primary. 

On the other hand, Morning Joe just as clearly wants Biden to win re-election. So why, on today’s show, were Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski so happy that Haley declared that she is staying in, despite losing the New Hampshire primary to Trump? After all, the strongest argument that the show made for Haley was that she can beat Biden, whereas Trump supposedly can’t. 

Why would Morning Joe be boosting the Republican who, in their opinion, has the best chance of beating their boy, Biden?

Could this be a Br’er Rabbit and the Briar Patch tactic by Morning Joe? Are they boosting Haley because they actually believe that Trump has a better chance of beating Biden, and thus would prefer Haley, whom they secretly think is the weaker candidate, to be the nominee?

Doubtful. Polls show Haley doing much better than Trump against Biden. And Morning Joe show reported on the Biden campaign declaring the GOP race over, with Trump as the candidate, precisely because they believe Trump to be the more beatable candidate.

We don’t recall Finkelstein questioning why his employer spent so much time boosting Robert Kennedy Jr.’s campaign last year (until he stopped running as a Democrat, anyway) when no MRC employee would be caught dead voting for him and would instead mindlessly cast their votes for Trump.

Jeffrey Lord spent his Jan. 27 column complaining that the “liberal media” will not report on just how good Trump supposedly performed in New Hampshire:

The bottom line here is simple. 

America is now one month into the election year. Clearly, Trump is winning. And just as clearly, the so-called “mainstream media”, aka the liberal/left-wing media, is already at work employing whatever they think will silence Trump news outright- aka censorship. And failing that there is the fallback of using omission journalism, simply not performing the central job of real journalism: reporting the facts. And not reporting them because they think to report the facts could help him.

Surprised? Of course not. 

So with ten full months and a couple days to go before the election, keeping a sharp eye on the conduct of the liberal media, specifically what they censor outright or simply choose not to report, is going to be a daily task.

A long year stretches ahead.

This from the guy who chose not to report the fact that Trump got less than 55 percent of the vote and refused to even speak Haley’s name in his column. A long year indeed.

As with its coverage of the Iowa caucuses, the MRC offered no scrutiny of right-wing channels, even though Fox News was caught repeatedly cutting away from Haley’s post-primary speech — something that would anger the MRC if a non-right-wing channel had done it.

Geoffrey Dickens wrote a Jan. 27 wrap-up post summarizing the MRC’s whining about coverage of Iowa and New Hampshire:

Donald Trump’s big victories in Iowa and New Hampshire sucked a lot of the suspense and drama out of those contests.

However those wins did give leftist media hacks a chance to insult Trump-supporting voters in Iowa and New Hampshire as fans of a racist who likes to “break the law and rape women.”

The departure of Ron DeSantis from the race gave leftist journalists one final opportunity to take swipes at the Florida Governor as a “spectacular failure” who deserved to lose because he “targeted” women, blacks and LGBTQ+ Americans.

Meanwhile, the liberal ladies of ABC’s The View called Senator Tim Scott’s endorsement of the “Grand Wizard” Trump, “cringe-worthy.” 

Dickens, of course, had nothing bad whatsoever to say about Fox News’ coverage of the primaries — a reminder that the MRC is a partisan political organization that has nothing at all to do with genuine “media research.”

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