L. Brent Bozell | Media Matters for America

L. Brent Bozell

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  • “The Empire strikes back”: Right-wing media defend Alex Jones after Infowars is banned from several major platforms

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & ZACHARY PLEAT

    After Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and iTunes all removed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Infowars pages from their platforms, several right-wing media figures leapt to the extremist’s defense. Jones’ defenders responded by criticizing and threatening “the entire rotten tech machine” and invoking a wide range of comparisons to support him, including Star Wars, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, reality TV star Kylie Jenner, and the Holocaust.

  • Right-wing media are defending Rep. Jim Jordan against accusations that he knew about -- and ignored -- sexual abuse at Ohio State University

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) has been accused of knowing about, and failing to act on, sexual abuse by the team doctor during his tenure as assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. Multiple former athletes have accused Dr. Richard Strauss of sexual misconduct and have claimed that Jordan knew or must have known about the abuse yet failed to act.

    Jordan, who is also the co-founder of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, has denied the accusations, claiming he was unaware of any abuse. During a July 6 appearance on Fox News’ Special Report, he was quick to attack multiple accusers, criticized CNN for hosting a former wrestler to discuss the claims, and stoked conspiracy theories by claiming that “the timing” of the accusations “is suspect” because he’s about to launch a campaign for speaker of the House. Allies of the conservative congressman have been equally resolute in their defense, with both President Donald Trump and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) backing Jordan, and the entire Freedom Caucus voting to officially support him.

    Unsurprisingly, right-wing media have also jumped to Jordan’s defense, suggesting that the accusations are no more than a politically motivated smear. Here are some of right-wing media’s defenses:

    • Fox Business host Lou Dobbs criticized Ryan for failing to immediately defend Jordan from “suspiciously timed smear campaigns.” He also called the accusations “a smear campaign of the vilest sort” and said Jordan has been “dishonorably attacked by the left."

    • The Daily Caller ran an article attacking some of the accusers, arguing that their “sketchy history” raises questions about their “authenticity.”

    • Fox News contributor David Bossie tweeted that Jordan is “an honest man of unparalleled integrity” and “the scurrilous allegations against him are absurd - perpetrated by the fake news media and liberals with an agenda to stop Congressman Jordan.”

    • Radio host Wayne Dupree claimed the accusations were a “hit job” and argued that the story “seems like an inside job from our side that doesn't want a conservative becoming Speaker of the House.” He also called the accusations a “sex smear” and said that they have solidified his “unequivocal support” for Jordan.

    • Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter called the accusations “sudden” and “convenient,” claimed multiple times that the story was “bullshit,” blamed the victims, and suggested there was a “coordinated” liberal response to the wrestlers’ claims.

    • Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell said the accusations reek of “dirty tricks” and implied that they were made to derail Jordan’s campaign to join Republican House leadership.

    • During Rush Limbaugh’s July 6 radio show -- titled “With Paul Manafort in Solitary, Deep State Targets Jim Jordan” -- the radio host argued that the accusations against Jordan are just the result of “opposition research” and claimed they emerged “because he’s had a successful interrogation period with [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein and is being mentioned for possible speaker.” Limbaugh also attacked the victims’ histories and stoked conspiracy claims by noting that the “the leading Democrat law firm in all of fascist Democrat America,” Perkins Coie, is investigating the wrestlers’ accusations. Gateway Pundit made similar accusations, blaming the deep state, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) also told Dobbs that the deep state was to blame.

    • The Daily Wire ran an article that called the “timing of these allegations… suspect,” because they have come out only when “Jordan was considering a run to replace Paul Ryan (R-WI) as speaker of the House.”

    • Infowars’ Owen Shroyer claimed “intimidation tactics” were being used against Jordan, argued there are “a bunch of holes in this” story, and said, “It seems to me like this is just another case of the Clinton crime machine trying to intimidate Americans who are standing up to them.”

    • Infowars’ Roger Stone rejected the accusations as a “smear tactic” and “a hit piece” and argued that Jordan is being targeted for his criticism of Rosenstein.

  • When The Trump Bar Is Set So Low, He’s A Success Even When He Threatens To Imprison Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    Conservative media figures have succeeded in setting the bar so low for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that they were astonishingly able to champion his October 9 debate performance as a success despite his threat to “jail” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, his admission that he evaded paying federal income taxes and that he hasn’t spoken with his running mate on crucial foreign policy issues, and his claim that his caught-on-tape sexual assault boasts were just “locker room” banter.

    Many right-wing media figures have spent the entire election aiding the Trump campaign by lowering the bar for Trump to declare success -- saying that so long as he doesn’t “vomit all over himself and [he gives] a decent” performance, he’ll succeed.

    The October 9 debate at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, was no exception. Right-wing media figures declared Trump’s debate performance a “win” despite numerous low points:

    It's not just right-wing pundits. Even CNN’s Jake Tapper called the debate “a wash” immediately afterwards, saying that Clinton won on policy and temperament while Trump was “erratic,” and CNN’s Michael Smerconish asserted that “the night belongs to Donald Trump” because “he was able to pivot away” from the tape of him boasting about committing sexual assault and was “barely controlled.” Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz said that “when you consider the sheer media hell that Donald Trump has been through in the last 48 hours, [his debate performance] has to be considered at least a moral victory.”  

    Several conservative media figures championed Trump for “exceed[ing] expectations” of a “crash and burn,” saying he won because he “stayed alive,” and “did well enough to not drop out”:

  • Megyn Kelly Defends Rush Limbaugh After Radio Host Says He Never Took Trump Seriously On Immigration

    Kelly: "Some In The Republican Party Want To Demonize" Rush Limbaugh And Sean Hannity "For Getting Behind Trump"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the August 30 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:

    MEGYN KELLY (HOST): Listen, there's been a lot of finger pointing, right, in the GOP and a lot of what feels like a civil war between the people who support Trump in the party and the people who don't. And that was just a reflection of some of that. Your thoughts?

    BRENT BOZELL: Exactly. This isn't about Rush. This is about the fractured nature of the Republican Party, and the fractured nature of the conservative movement. Look, anything Rush says is going to trigger a reaction from someone calling himself a conservative, saying that Rush Limbaugh has betrayed the conservative movement. This is the nature of the politics this year.

    That caller -- if Rush were that impactful in this crazy year, when Rush Limbaugh said that Ted Cruz was the single most conservative candidate in the race, then Ted Cruz would have won the nomination. Look, the Trump people, Rush is absolutely right. The Trump people are lock step with Trump, and the people who aren't with Trump, I think they're going to be with Trump. But right now, like this caller, they're having a very hard time. Rush is caught in the crosshairs.

    KELLY: You tell me -- I mean, there's no question Rush is incredibly powerful and incredibly successful, but he -- he's not omnipotent, and he's not all -- you know, he can't do it all. I know Rush rather well. Back in 2008, he was behind John McCain. Back in 2012, he was behind Mitt Romney. It didn't carry them over the finish line.

    You know, I mean I think some in the Republican Party want to demonize, let's say Rush, or Hannity, or whoever it is for getting behind Trump, or not condemning Trump, just the same as, you know, it's happening the other way as well. People want to condemn the never-Trumpers for not getting behind a party nominee who's obviously extremely controversial.

    BOZELL: And if Rush were to say something critical about Trump, then there would be the furious backlash in the opposite direction about how he is costing the Republicans the election by going after the nominee. This is what I mean, you can't win this year. It is the craziest year ever. And I think what people have to do is take a deep, deep breath and understand Rush was advocating conservative principles long before any caller was calling him.

    KELLY: Mm-hmm. And he is a broadcaster. I mean that's what he is at heart. He's not a campaign manager who needs to get a non-Trumper elected. He's a broadcaster. In any event, the recriminations have only just begun.

    Previously:

    Hannity v. The World: Here Are The People Sean Hannity Has Attacked To Defend Trump (So Far)

    BEDLAM: Hannity, National Review, WSJ Editor Go To War Over Donald Trump

    Hannity: Glenn Beck Is On "A Holy War" Against Me For Supporting Trump

    Sean Hannity Has Given Donald Trump $31 Million In Free Publicity

    Hannity Praises Trump For Using A Teleprompter After Years Of Demonizing Obama For Using Them
     

  • Conservative Media Lash Out At John Boehner For Calling Ted Cruz “Lucifer In The Flesh”

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media condemned former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) for referring to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) as “Lucifer in the flesh” and the most "miserable son of a bitch” he has ever worked with.

    Former House Speaker John Boehner Calls Ted Cruz “Lucifer In The Flesh”

    NY TimesBoehner Described Ted Cruz As Lucifer In The Flesh, The Most "Miserable Son Of A Bitch” He Ever Worked With. The New York Times reported on April 28 that Boehner “described Senator Ted Cruz as ‘Lucifer in the flesh’ … and said that he would not vote for” Cruz if he became the Republican presidential nominee:

    Former House Speaker John A. Boehner described Senator Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh” during a forum at Stanford University on Wednesday and said that he would not vote for the Texas Republican if he is the party’s presidential nominee.

    [...]

    Mr. Boehner’s harshest assessment was saved for Mr. Cruz, who he has not forgiven for spearheading the 2013 government shutdown.

    “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends,” Mr. Boehner told David Kennedy, an emeritus history professor, at the event. “I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” [The New York Times4/28/16]

    Conservative Media Lash Out At Boehner, Call His Comments A “Witless Cheap Shot”

    National Review Editors: Boehner’s Comments Are “A Witless Cheap Shot” And “Petty Grudge-Holding. National Review’s editorial board wrote on April 28 that Boehner’s characterization of Cruz was a “witless cheap shot.” The editors said the comments were “petty grudge-holding” and speculated that these “knee-jerk responses … though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals”:

    We get it. John Boehner doesn’t like Ted Cruz. In a witless cheap shot, Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh” at an event at Stanford University. Boehner’s attitude is widespread among Republican insiders who are foolishly allowing personal ill will to cloud their reasoned judgment about who, among the candidates left in the GOP race, is the best representative of conservative principles and policies, and about who would be the best candidate in the upcoming general election.

    [...]

    [P]rominent conservatives who might not be counted among Cruz’s friends — Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush come to mind — have urged the party to rally around Cruz as the only reliable conservative left in the race.

    They’re right to do so, and not to give in to the petty grudge-holding of John Boehner. In 2013, when Cruz was engineering his ill-fated government shutdown, his Republican critics, including us, warned against interpreting tactical disagreements as evidence of disagreements about objectives. We encouraged conservatives not to indulge in knee-jerk responses that, though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals. That argument works in both directions. Whatever his personal feelings, Boehner agrees with Cruz on most questions of principle and policy, and it’s a shame he can’t act accordingly. [National Review4/28/16]

    Sean Hannity: “John Boehner, Shut Up … You Failed The Republican Party.” On the April 28 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity told Boehner to “shut up,” calling his performance as speaker “weak, timid, feckless, visionless.” Hannity asserted that Boehner “failed the Republican Party,” concluding, “We don’t need lectures from you”:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST):  All right, I’ve got to tell you something. I can't say this strongly enough. John Boehner, shut up. You know what? You gave us $4 trillion in debt. You were weak, timid, feckless, visionless. And I’ve got to be honest, you want to know why Cruz and Trump are doing so well? Look in the mirror, because you are afraid of your own shadow that you might get blamed for a government shutdown, so you wouldn't defund Obamacare, you wouldn’t use the power of the purse, you wouldn’t defund executive amnesty, which was -- which Republicans ran on in 2014. You failed the Republican Party. We don't need lectures from you against presidential candidates that are resonating with the American people, thank you very much. [Fox News, Hannity4/28/16]

    Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter: Boehner “Today Just Demonstrated His Utter Contempt For” The People On The Right. During the April 28 edition of NRA News’ Cam & Company, conservative Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter said Boehner’s remarks “proved” that he was “a giant waste of air.” Schlichter concluded, “The people on the right are angry … at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them”:

    CAM EDWARDS (HOST): How about that? “Lucifer in the flesh.” So, I saw that description today, and for whatever reason, Kurt, the phrase “Goldwater’s baby” came to mind --

    KURT SCHLICHTER: Its eyes! Its eyes! What did you do to its eyes!

    EDWARDS: I want somebody to use that as an insult this year, I just want to hear somebody call someone else “Goldwater’s baby.”

    SCHLICHTER: Oh my gosh. You know, with Boehner, sometimes it's like, you know, we all knew it, and then it happens. This guy literally says he would vote for Hillary Clinton before one of the nominees by the other Republicans. This was our speaker. We were all saying you know, this guy is a giant waste of air, and then he comes out and just completely proves it.

    [...]

    SCHLICHTER: The people on the right are angry. They’re angry at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them. And they always knew it, and there were people saying, "No, no, no, he really doesn’t feel that way." And well I said, “You know, I kind of think he does.” And now he’s kind of proved it. I think people are justifiably angry. They’re not going to -- to quote Roger Daltrey, "won't be fooled again!" [NRA News, Cam & Company4/28/16]

    Fox’s Laura Ingraham: “I Don’t Like That Comment By John Boehner. At All.” On the April 29 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group’s The Laura Ingraham Show, host Laura Ingraham decried Boehner’s comments as “not helpful.” Ingraham called Boehner and “establishment” Republicans “devils,” saying, “I have the idea it’s devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different”:

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): This John Boehner comment about Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh"? Not helpful. I said yesterday when I saw that this had been said that, I mean, John Boehner should just button it. It's not helpful. Now, you see, I have the idea it's devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different. I think that's very deceiving, as the devil is deceiving. Ted Cruz actually said he was going to run on some basic principles, and for the most part it seems like Ted Cruz actually, you know, tried to fulfill his Senate duties with those principles in mind. Now that's “Lucifer in the flesh”? What? It seems like the revolt against the establishment is making it pretty clear who people think the devils are. The devils are the people who say they’re going to oppose Obama only to fund his entire budget. The devils are the people who say they’re pro-life only to fund Planned Parenthood. The devils are the people who spend most of the good part of an entire year pushing Obama's Trade Promotion Authority. The devils are the people who say they’re going to get rid of Obamacare only to allow Obamacare to be funded. Those are the devils. The devils are the people who call the people the loud people, or make fun of them and say “it’s too hard,” like John Boehner did. So I don't like that comment by John Boehner. At All. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show4/29/16]

    Conservative Radio Host Hugh Hewitt: “Despicable Is My Term For [Boehner’s] Attack On [Cruz].

    [Twitter, 4/29/16]

    Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell: “Boehner Doesn’t Have The Guts To Apologize. He Is A World-Class Coward.”

    [Twitter, 4/29/16]

    The Blaze’s Dana Loesch: “John Boehner Gets Along With Every Beltway Elitist -- But Not The Average American. This Is Why He’s Out To Pasture.”

    [Twitter, 4/28/16]

     

  • Strange Days: Conservatives Criticize "Liberal Media" For Being Too Soft On GOP Front-Runner Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Following CNN's Republican Party primary debate last week, the conservative site NewsBusters, which exists to bash the press for its supposed liberal bias, quickly published a piece focusing on the debate moderators' prime-time performance. No doubt NewsBusters was furious with CNN, right?

    Recall that last November, following a raucous Republican debate hosted by CNBC, Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell released a scathing critique of the moderators, insisting they were dripping with contempt for the GOP candidates and trying to throw the election to the Democrats. (Bozell's group publishes NewsBusters.)

    So what was the collective sin of the CNN moderators last week? According to NewsBusters, they had failed to press Donald Trump for a response regarding documented claims that a reporter had been manhandled by Corey Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager, at a public event.

    NewsBusters was also upset that the alleged assault had received minimal time on the network evening newscasts: "The main broadcast networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC largely remained silent on Lewandowski's alleged actions toward a female reporter until Thursday."

    Wait, what?

    It's true: Following a Republican debate, the conservative NewsBusters pointed out that the media wasn't paying sufficient attention to a news story that reflected poorly on the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

    And with that, we're officially through the looking glass, to the point where conservative critiques of the campaign press now read like Media Matters essays: Journalists are too soft on Trump, rewarding him with too much airtime and allowing him to dictate access ground rules. 

    Does a lot of that sound familiar?

    This Trump campaign has produced all kinds of regrettable firsts this season (regular outbursts of violence at rallies, for starters). But one of the strangest twists has to be the fact that some conservatives who have spent generations denouncing the press for being unfairly critical of Republicans have now completely flipped the script.

    Grasping at conspiratorial straws in an effort to explain away Trump's control over Republican voters and the media's apparently soft treatment of a prominent Republican politician, conservatives remain convinced the "liberal media" is still out to get the GOP. Only this time, the press is torpedoing Republicans by ... being too nice to the Republican front-runner.

    Convinced that Trump is not a true conservative and that he's a surefire loser in November, more and more conservative commentators are desperate to derail his nomination. So they're demanding pundits and reporters sharpen their knives when covering the Republican front-runner; that they tell The Truth about Trump and reveal him for the phony they insist he really is.

    NewsBusters has also objected to networks not covering news that the Trump campaign had given press credentials to a prominent white supremacist and underplaying the controversy over Trump University. 

    There's obviously deep irony in these newfound complaints. It was just five months ago that the conservative media revolted against CNBC for hosting its allegedly biased Republican debate. Beating the "liberal media bias" drums quite loudly, critics pounced on the network because moderators were unfair to the candidates, including Trump. So it's a bit disingenuous to now blame that same press simply because lots of Republican supporters are suddenly freaking out about Trump's likely nomination.

    Meaning, conservatives can't just unring the "liberal media bias" bell. Republican-friendly critics have told the press, in no uncertain terms, that when it comes to presidential campaigns, lay off our guy -- or else. (Because of the CNBC fracas, the Republican Party yanked NBC's sponsorship for a subsequent debate.)

    Well, this year, the press has too often laid off Trump (and even indulged him), and now lots of conservatives, for purely political purposes, wish the press had moved sooner and more aggressively to properly vet him.

    The anxious right-wing press is belatedly discovering that its reckless campaign over the years to berate the political press comes with a price; that trying to defang the media means that when suddenly, during a truly bizarre campaign season, conservatives want a famous Republican vetted, there's nobody around to do it.

    And to date, the in-depth vetting just isn't happening. "If Donald Trump were to become president, he is the first person I know of who would be in the White House in modern times with deep, continuing associations with mobsters, con artists, drug traffickers, convicted felons -- gratuitously involved with these folks," author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston recently told Huffington Post. "That deserves enormous inquiry."  

    Think back to last year and the conveyor belt of endless press investigations into Clinton Foundation finances, and then compare that to media investigations into Trump's possibly unseemly business connections. Notice the difference?

    And yes, some Republicans and conservatives (including NewsBusters) still see liberal media bias at play in Trump's coverage. The theory goes like this: The media want Trump to be the Republican nominee because they think he'll lose in November and the press wants another Democrat in the White House.

    That's why Ted Cruz recently suggested some reporters were sitting on Trump bombshells but not planning to publish or air them until Trump has won the GOP nomination. (Cruz: "The media knows Donald can't win the general, that Hillary would wallop him.")

    And Marco Rubio also criticized the Trump coverage for not shedding enough light on the candidate's past. "He's being treated with kid gloves by many in the media, in the hopes that he's the nominee," said the candidate before he suspended his campaign.

    But even considering that conspiracy theory, the truly remarkable media complaint from conservatives is that Beltway press is going too easy on the Republican front-runner. 

    Talk about a message with bipartisan appeal.

  • Cruz, Carson To Attend Right-Wing Media Convention Featuring Anti-LGBT, Anti-Muslim Extremists

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson are scheduled to attend the National Religious Broadcasters' "Proclaim 16" Convention, which will run from February 23 to 26 in Nashville, TN. The annual convention has a history of anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim content, and this year convention will feature three anti-LGBT hate groups, a panel sponsored by the Islamophobic extremist organization behind Trump's proposed Muslim ban, and multiple notoriously anti-gay extremist speakers.

  • INFOGRAPHIC: The Conservative Civil War Over Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative pundits are bickering over Donald Trump's campaign, especially after National Review's "Against Trump" issue and the backlash it engendered. On one side are pundits who want to stop Trump's candidacy in its tracks. On the other are conservatives who are lauding Trump's candidacy, even if they have not officially endorsed him. Media Matters breaks down exactly who is on which side (click for the full-sized image):

    Civil War over Donald Trump

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko, Research by Eric Hananoki
     
  • National Review Launches Conservative War On Donald Trump

    National Review And 22 Conservative Media Personalities Call Trump A "Philosophically Unmoored Political Opportunist"

    ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP, ANDREW LAWRENCE, BRENDAN KARET, BRENNAN SUEN & DAYANITA RAMESH

    The conservative National Review Online (NRO) released a comprehensive feature of conservatives attacking current GOP front runner Donald Trump, highlighting the divisive 2016 Republican primary season. National Review editors and right-wing personalities such as Glenn Beck, Bill Kristol, and Erick Erickson criticized Trump as a "philosophically unmoored political opportunist" and "the very epitome of vulgarity."

  • "Hollywood Asshole": The Celebrities Conservative Media Went After In 2015

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CYDNEY HARGIS

    Right-wing media spent much of 2015 lashing out at celebrities. From seething over celebrities who spoke out against sexism and pay inequality in Hollywood and supported the Black Lives Matter movement, to objectifying female bodies, bashing the Pope, and telling an actress to "deport herself," Media Matters looks back at some of conservative media's most outrageous temper tantrums of 2015: