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The MRC's Heathering Games Continue

The Media Research Center attacked Republican former members of Congress Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney for writing books about how they held Donald Trump and other Republicans accountable for helping to incite the Capitol riot.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/8/2024

As it did with Alyssa Farah Griffin, the Media Research Center is playing its Heathering games against former Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger for failing to stick to the right-wing script and admitting that Donald Trump is a bad person. Kevin Tober had a small meltdown when Kinzinger became a CNN commentator in January 2023:
In the most predictable breaking news possible, on Wednesday evening, CNN host Erin Burnett announced on her eponymous program Erin Burnett OutFront that former anti-Trump Republican and Pelosi-picked January 6 committee member Adam Kinzinger had been hired as a "senior political commentator" on the network. This, of course, makes perfect sense because other than our friends Scott Jennings and Stephen Gutowski, Adam Kinzinger is the type of "Republican" voice that gets a lot of airtime on CNN.


Kinzinger, if you recall, was redistricted out of his Congressional seat by Democrats despite doing everything he could to suck up to them and act as their puppet.

This, of course, is Kinzinger's reward for abandoning his own party and helping to legitimize Nancy Pelosi's January 6 show trials. He can't keep his seat in Congress, but he gets a cushy commentator job on a failing cable news network. 

As NewsBusters Managing Editor Curtis Houck summed up perfectly on Twitter, "the fact that Chris Licht's CNN has hired liberal wine mom simp Adam Kinzinger as not only a political commentator but senior political commentator is proof that nothing has changed at CNN from Zucker. By and large, CNN still hates a large part of the country."

Right-wingers like Tober and Houck used to reliably hate the part of the country that were credibly accused or convicted criminals, though that all changed when Republicans staged an insurrection on behalf of credibly accused criminal Donald Trump, another Republican. They also alienate the part of the country annoyed with so-called "media researchers" who spew insults like "liberal wine mom simp" rather than actually trying to substantiate their criticism.

It wasn't until later in the year, though, that the MRC began seriously Heathering Kinzinger for failing to be a right-wing shill. Tim Graham spent a Nov. 1 column ranting about Kinzinger's new book:

Former congressman Adam Kinzinger has a new book out for Halloween titled Renegade. This implies he’s a daring rebel against Republicans, instead of simply switching parties. In some dictionaries, “renegade” is defined as “a person who abandons a cause or organization, usually without right,” like a “mutineer.” That fits.  

When asked by liberal interviewers, Kinzinger volunteers he voted for Democrats in the midterms and will vote for Biden and Democrats in 2024. He says it’s a simple decision between democracy (Democrats) or authoritarianism (Republicans). That fits the Democrat narrative perfectly.

He'll claim he's still a Republican. Professionally, Kinzinger is now a “CNN Republican,” just as for his last two years in Congress, he was a “Pelosi Republican” on her personally-picked panel on January 6. She was his leader. He followed her orders. Just like those hearings, his book interviews are all pre-packaged anti-Republican talking points.

ABC and NPR and other liberal media outlets were eager to interview him and promote his book. When you draw a softball interview with Clinton press secretary George Stephanopoulos, you look like a Democrat. When you’re celebrated on the Stephen Colbert hootenanny, it’s the same look.

Even at a time when Hamas terrorists can slaughter hundreds of innocent people and still cause “professional” journalists to refrain from using the T-word, Kinzinger knew he could call conservative Republicans “terrorists” and get rewarded for it.

Graham made no attempt to rebut anything Kinzinger said or even why he's not allowed to criticize the far-right drift of Trump and his fellow Republicans -- it was all about the Heathering.

It was Alex Christy's turn to whine that Kinzinger was not spreading the required right-wing talking points in a Nov. 2 post:

Former GOP congressman turned CNN political analyst Adam Kinzinger likes to say that his move away from the party is because of Donald Trump, January 6, and election denial, but on Wednesday, he took his book tour to CBS and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where he compared Speaker Mike Johnson’s statements that his worldview is found in the Bible to the Taliban.

Colbert has been harping on the idea that Johnson’s statements that the Bible is the foundation for his worldview is particularly scary on Wednesday was no exception, “Now, one of the things that Mike Johnson has said is that if you want to know his worldview, like how he feels about issues specifically, you should go pick up a Bible. I pick up Bibles all the time. I'm a big fan. It's a very good book, but what do you make of the Bible as a legislative tool?”

Indeed, Colbert will frequently cite the Bible to defend left-wing economics so he knows that there is a big difference between imposing a theocracy and pursuing policies you believe are in line with the Word of God, but when it comes to Republicans he plays dumb and pretends that theocracy is imminent.

As for Kinzinger, he suggested that Johnson doesn’t know how America works, “The Bible is what—the Bible is something that, you know, for me, I use it as a guide for my life. I'm a Christian, right? The Bible shows me how to live my life, but I think this country was founded on the idea that a representative represents not just people that share his faith or her faith but people that you represent-- 700,000 people that I represented, they all don't believe the same thing I do.”

Johnson isn’t suggesting that everybody should be forced to go to church or anything like that, but Kinzinger still reached for the Taliban card[.]


Kinzinger was first elected to Congress in 2010 when same-sex marriage was not yet legal in all 50 states, was America like the Taliban then? Is protecting the integrity of women’s sports like the Taliban? Is believing that a man is a man even if he thinks and says he is a woman like the Taliban? Is the downfall of Roe v. Wade like the Taliban, because Colbert thinks it is.
The Heathering baton moved later that day to Clay Waters:
The Adam Kinzinger media lovefest rolls on, as the former Republican congressman sells his book boasting about how he became a "traitor" to Republicans, serving on the House January 6 committee (hand-picked to serve by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

He retained his anti-Republican talking points on Wednesday’s Amanpour & Co., which airs on taxpayer-funded PBS. The liberal media’s ideal Republican, groomed for CNN, the former Illinois congressman now votes Democrat and wants you to to as well, warning in his new book Renegade: My Life in Faith, the Military, and Defending America from Trump's Attack on Democracy that the Republican Party no longer believes in democracy.

Is it any wonder the mainstream media is so eager to talk to him as the 2024 presidential campaign approaches?

Host Christiane Amanpour called Kinzinger “an outcast in his own party” while setting up his talk with journalist Michel Martin, who quizzed him about the election of Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana as Speaker of the House. Martin noted Johnson “was one of the 147 House and Senate Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 election,” setting up the former congressman to call it “a frightening moment.”


Kinzinger again admitted he’s not really a Republican any more (even as the press treats him as the conscience of the party) and urged listeners to vote Democrat in 2024.

Waters didn't discuss the fact that -- as the transcript showed but he didn't highlight, let alone try to disprove -- Kinzinger said he's voting Democratic because "because in my mind, there's only one issue on the ballot, that issue is, do you believe in democracy or do you not believe in democracy? If you don't, I got a party for you. If you do, right now, there's only one party that shows a real commitment to democracy."

Waters followed that an hour or so later with another complaint about Kinzinger appearing on another PBS show, huffing that he has become  "the liberal media’s ideal 'Republican,' one who votes Democrat and urges you too as well." Waters didn't explain how Kinzinger's refusal to endorse the Capitol riot and Trump's incitement of it warranted putting "Republican" in scare quotes.

Graham returned to rehash all this Heathering of Kinzinger in his Nov. 3 podcast:

Adam Kinzinger smears Republicans on his liberal-media book tour. No "fact checkers" moved a mental muscle.

On NPR's All Things Considered, Kinzinger described the conservative House Republicans as a "terrorist caucus" taking "hostages." On CBS's Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he compared House Speaker Mike Johnson to the Taliban. On NPR's Fresh Air, he compared the GOP to "fundamentalists" like ISIS. And everywhere, he said the Republicans were the party of authoritarianism, not democracy. 

You can suggest conservatives are all authoritarians, or they represent "Jim Crow 2.0," and the fact-checkers don't lift a finger. This slime is considered fair game.

You know who else didn't fact-check Kinzinger? Graham and his MRC subordinates, no matter how much they whined about his words. And Graham would not want anybody fact-checking its narrative that Kinzinger isn't a real Republican because he opposed the Capitol riot and Trump's wannabe authoritarianism.

What a bunch of hypocrites. (And he's certainly not going to complain that his subordinate Houck smeared Kinzinger as a "liberal wine mom simp.")

Graham complained further about Kinzinger in a Nov. 5 post:

In promoting his Republican-trashing memoir, ex-Rep. Adam Kinzinger not only was awarded two PBS interviews, but two NPR interviews. First on NPR, he trashed Republicans as the "terrorist caucus." In an hourlong Halloween tongue-bath on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Kinzinger compared the GOP to ISIS, and he suggested Sean Hannity and Mark Levin fans have "brain rot." Your tax dollars at work.

Here's how it was summarized on
The former Illinois congressman reflects on confronting the "fanaticism of the hardcore" of his own party. Kinzinger served on the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.
Terry Gross wanted to underline the tale of how Kinzinger's own family disowned him because they listen to too much conservative talk radio:
When Kinzinger noted that he was accused of having "lost the trust of great men like Mark Levin and Sean Hannity. And it goes to show, to me, the brain rot - right? - the rot going on, the absolute abuse of people that put their trust in some of these - you know, these radio folks or these TV folks," Graham only sneered, "NPR fans believe that, deeply."

Instead of actually trying to address anything Kinzinger said in a substantive way, Graham played whataboutism, huffing that "What's amazing is the NPR interviewer seemed to have brain rot, asking Adam 'Republicans Are Terrorists' Kinzinger um, shouldn't his enemies tone down their rhetoric?" He concluded by whining that Kinzinger was "a showboat who has been bathing in laudatory liberal interviews all over TV and radio and cashing in on a book deal."

It was Christy's turn to whine about Kinzinger in a Nov. 18 post:

Former GOP Rep. and current CNN political analyst Adam Kinzinger continued to prove that his turn against the GOP isn’t just related to the aftermath of the 2020 election and January 6 when he traveled to HBO and Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday to once again compare Speaker Mike Johnson to the Taliban.

The liberal atheist Maher had some crazy analogies of his own, “So, here's something really scary, Mike Johnson, he’s the Republican Party new head chief over there in the House. This came out, he was talking to a prayer group. He said ‘depraved America deserves God's wrath’ -- came out there, exactly sounds like Bin Laden. Now, the Republican guy sounds like bin Laden and Trump sounds like Hitler, and the kids sound like—”

Christy rushed to Johnson's defense pretending that what he said wasn't really what he said:

It should be noted that “’Depraved’ America deserves God’s wrath” is a Rolling Stone headline summation of what Johnson said, but “deserves God’s wrath” is not in quotes. What Rolling Stone actually quotes Johnson as saying is, “The only question is: Is God going to allow our nation to enter a time of judgment for our collective sins? ... Or is he going to give us one more chance to restore the foundations and return to Him?... We have to ask ourselves: How long can His mercy and His grace be held back?”

It’s honestly a question every country should ask itself because sin has consequences, but by reaching for the bin Laden card, Maher seemed to suggest that Johnson would justify terrorism or acts of war against America which is not at all what he was saying.

Actually, it pretty much is, but Christy is being paid not to acknowledge that fact. Instead, he rehashed an earlier complaint that Kinzinger portrayed Christian nationalism of the kind Johnson advocates as little different from the Taliban:

Deep down even Kinzinger probably knows just how absurd that is because he would immediately proceed to tie himself into a pretzel, “Now, maybe the end is different maybe the means are different but there's no difference in saying this is a government run on religion.”

So, Kinzinger logic says that things are the same except for all the ways that they are different. This is the man the media demands Republicans listen to and take seriously.

Again, Christy made no effort to explain why Christian nationalism -- which, at its heart, is about forcing a specific religion on Americans through government imposition -- is not Taliban-ish, and he offered no evidence that such a thing would not happen.

Liz Cheney gets Heathered again

Liz Cheney has long been a Heathering target of the MRC because she refused to march lockstep with right-wing ideology, instead holding Donald Trump and other Republicans accountable for their role in inciting the Capitol riot. When Cheney returned to the spotlight with a new book, the MRC -- just as it did with Adam Kinzinger, another Republican who committed the similar offense of holding Republicans accountable for their behavior -- lashed out with a new round of Heathering. Jorge Bonilla complained in a Dec. 3 post:

On CBS Sunday Morning, correspondent John Dickerson sat down with former Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who has a book to promote. But they also have a shared interest in pushing the idea of Republicans as authoritarians. Predictably, the interview was pillow-soft.

Watch as Cheney dutifully takes Dickerson’s bait, and dutifully offers that Republicans defending Trump do not support the Constitution:


Oddly enough, and by “oddly” I mean quite customarily, you never hear Acela Media frame a vote for Joe Biden as a vote against the Constitution, despite the fact that his administration is currently being sued for literal First Amendment violations, and has tagged parents opposed to the sexualization of children in schools as “domestic terrorists”. 

In this warped worldview, the only authoritarians are Trump and his supporters, who must be stopped by any means necessary. This narrative frame is then turned upon Speaker Mike Johnson, who Cheney singles out in her book. Here, she suggests that Johnson cannot be trusted to preside over an electoral count, and that only a Democrat House can guarantee the 2024 election.

Note that Bonilla made no attempt whatsoever to defend Trump -- perhaps because even he, a committed right-wing activist, cannot credibly do so -- and instead played whataboutism. He did use the outdated term "Acela media" twice, however, whining that "The Acela Media’s obsessions with January 6th and with the 'authoritarianism' narrative will ensure that Cheney remains in front of their cameras, long after her constituents decided that they’d already heard enough." He did not explain why Americans should suddenly stop caring about an attempted insurrection incited by the former president.

The next day, Tim Graham did his own bit of whining that Cheney is promoting her book like every other author does:

The Liz Cheney book tour has begun, and it’s very pleasing to Democrats to hear her demand everyone vote against Republicans. On the second hour of Monday’s Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie gave Cheney nine-and-a-half minutes of book promotion -- for this "staunch conservative," as she put it.

The first six minutes (and seven questions) were along the expected line of “please underline how dangerous Trump and his GOP enablers are.” This portion had all the “if Trump wins, democracy ends” bluster.

It was more interesting when Guthrie pressed her on just how much she wants Democrats to win. “You said the Republican Party of today has made a choice, has not chosen the constitution. Do you think Democrats, it would be better for Democrats to regain control of Congress in 2024?” Cheney said yes. Some "staunch conservative," pushing for an all-Democrat Washington.

Given that Graham's definition of "staunch conservative" is unquestioning support for a criminally indicted candidate -- even if he, like Bonilla, is too scared to publicly defend him -- Cheney is mor honestly owning that description that Graham or any other MRC employee.

In another Dec. 4 post, Bill D'Agostino complained that MSNBC "teed up faux Republican Charlie Sykes to amplify faux Republican Liz Cheney’s claim that if Donald Trump was elected, he would seize the White House for a third term." He at least attempted a defense, however lame: "Donald Trump is not imbued with some unique immunity to constitutional checks and balances, as we saw numerous times throughout his presidency." Graham returned to whine some more about Cheney in his Dec. 4 podcast:

It's not just another Republican Debate week. It's Liz Cheney Book Week, and it's going to be insufferable. CBS and NBC touted Liz Cheney as a big "conservative' even as she called for Trump and the Republicans to be denied office in 2024. The staunch conservatives want Democrats to win everything? How does that compute? 

On CBS Sunday Morning, Jane Pauley introduced the feature with "Call her a very concerned conservative." On NBC's Today, Savannah Guthrie began by touting "a staunch conservative who voted with Trump 90 percent of the time"...while he was president.

CBS interviewer John Dickerson set the table just as Cheney wanted. Gee, Republicans can't back the Constitution and back Donald Trump, can they? Why, no. Only voting for the Democrats preserves democracy and the Constitution. Cheney said the country was "sleepwalking toward dictatorship," and later on Face the Nation, CBS host Margaret Brennan bizarrely presented that as a "fairly straight assessment."

Graham did not indicate in his writeup whether he attempted to defend Trump or just continued to whine about Cheney.

Nicholas Fondacaro picked up the whining baton for a Dec. 5 post as part of his daily hate-watch of "The View":

Tis the Christmas season, so naturally the liberal ladies would be praising the birth of their “savior,” but it wasn’t Jesus they were praising, on Tuesday. It was former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney who announced that she was thinking about running as a third-party candidate if former President Trump won the GOP nomination in 2024, with the goal of spoiling the election in favor of Democrats.

“Former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney continues to ring alarm bells about keeping you-know-who from ever getting back in the White House. She's holding members of her party accountable and claims she's even willing to split a third-party ticket,” announced moderator Whoopi Goldberg at the top of the show.

Faux conservative and former Trump staffer Alyssa Farah Griffin agreed with Cheney that the worst was coming for America. “If you thought the first term of Trump was bad, buckle up,” she warned.

She did disagree with Cheney on how imminent the danger was. “Liz Cheney said we're sleepwalking into dictatorship. I’d say we're careening into it,” she critiqued. “Donald Trump is telling us what he’s going to do in a second term and we need to listen to it.”

Like his co-workers, Fondacaro made no attempt to defend Trump.

Bonilla returned for more Cheney-bashing (and non-Trump-defending) in his own Dec. 5 post:

It was one thing to hear our friend Curtis Houck refer to MSNBC’s Deadline White House as “Rich Liberal Wine Mom Story Hour” but hoo boy, it’s entirely another to actually sit through an episode of this dreck. Beyond dreck, today's episode featured extremely dangerous rhetoric. 

Today’s episode featured Nicolle Wallace hosting A HALF HOUR of Liz Cheney’s book tour: just a couple of Bush alumni doing the “look at us” meme, comparing the Capitol riot of January 6th, 2021 to the Al-Qaeda terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001, and as you’ll see in this clip below- bemoaning the lack of a domestic equivalent of the Patriot Act with which to persecute domestic political opponents.

Bonilla then tried to twist Cheney's words, bizarrely claiming that her warning of violence is itself incitement of violence:

The rhetoric advanced here is extremely dangerous, and the talk of violence will actually beget violence. It wasn’t that long ago that a deranged, MSNBC-binging Sandernista shot up a baseball field full of GOP congressmen, nearly killing Rep. Steve Scalise. The constant threat of violence and demonization of half the country as dangerous extremists may very well end up creating a permission structure for political violence towards conservatives. 

Look very closely at the transcript. The proposal to emerge from this exchange is “tools” with which to “address the threat” from “enemies”, and “enemies” is defined as those who “collaborate with the former president”. That’s half the country. In very short order, we’ve gone from “bucket of deplorables” to denouncing half the country as domestic terrorists. Small wonder Cheney didn’t propose sending Trump voters to Gitmo.

Authoritarianism is already here, under the guise of “protecting democracy”. Chilling.

Bonilla, of course, was silent about the violent and bigoted words spoken by Trump himself and whether they will beget violence. Perhaps that's because he is such a committed right-wing activist, he sees Trump's hateful words as comforting instead of "chilling" like a normal person would. Also note that Bonilla offered no evidence whatsoever of inciting rhetoric on any MSNBC show that could possibly have incited the guy who shot Scalise; it's just a bogus version of the never-proven claim (which the MRC loves to make) that Rachel Maddow somehow inspired the shooter.

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