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):
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."
Fox host Megyn Kelly hosted a group of conservative media personalities that have banded together against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Dana Loesch, Katie Pavlich, and Brent Bozell have contributed to a special edition of the National Review, dedicated to questioning Trump's commitment to conservatism. From the January 21 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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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:
Conservative activist Brent Bozell accuses Karl Rove of "ruining the GOP" in a new piece for Politico Magazine. The attack is the latest salvo in an ongoing war between Rove and numerous right-wing figures who consider him insufficiently conservative.
Bozell, who founded the conservative Media Research Center and chairs the conservative group ForAmerica, takes aim at Rove's recent advice for helping Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections. According to Bozell, "Rove has never cared about conservatism and has spent his entire career opposing any Republican who might be successful in promoting or implementing a conservative agenda."
He also claims Rove "kneecapped tea party candidates in 2010," and asserts, "It's now time conservatives make sure Karl Rove no longer has any influence on their party."
Bozell's anger at Rove and his attempt to quell his outsized influence in the GOP is nothing new. Last year, after the announcement of Rove's "Conservative Victory Project" -- a new political group that reportedly intended to "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts" -- Bozell and several other conservative activists wrote a letter discouraging donors from giving money to the new group. According to the letter, in the 2012 elections, Rove had "squandered hundreds of millions of dollars in what were arguably the most inept campaign advertising efforts ever."
And Bozell wasn't alone in recoiling at the formation of Conservative Victory Project. Other major conservatives, including several of Rove's Fox News colleagues, also called foul, labeling the group "absolutely repulsive" and calling Rove a "total loser" and a "propagandist." Whether it was due to conservative backlash or not, the group is seemingly defunct.
As Bozell's latest column indicates, conservative fury with Rove dates back years, including a number of acrimonious fights over people like Sarah Palin and former Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell. Conservative media figures have at various points called Rove "absolutely useless," "an effete sore loser," and someone with a "country club attitude."
As part of his attack on Rove, Bozell writes, "This is the same man Media Matters has dubbed the Republican 'voice of reason.'" While the 2011 piece in question does call Rove "Fox News' unlikely voice of reason," it's hardly complimentary of him. The point was that Rove -- whom the piece also labeled a "shameless political hack" with a "storied history of dishonesty" -- was standing out at Fox News for throwing cold water on "joke candidate" Donald Trump's non-existent 2012 presidential run while the rest of the network cheered him on, not that Rove was a fount of wisdom.
In 2013, after an aide to Rove's Crossroads groups called Bozell a "hater," numerous Bozell allies wrote a letter calling for the aide's firing, explaining that Bozell is William F. Buckley's nephew and "a beloved and critically important player in American history."
The Media Research Center (MRC) produced a video attacking Hillary Clinton for evolving on marriage equality, but that organization has no credibility on the issue, having promoted anti-LGBT messages for over two decades.
MRC released a video hosted by Dan Joseph in which he asked people on the campus of George Mason University to identify quotes out of context from someone opposed to marriage equality. When most of the people identified the unnamed speaker as a conservative or Republican, Joseph revealed that the quotes came from Hillary Clinton. The video portrayed Clinton's evolution on the issue - she announced support for marriage equality in a 2013 video produced by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group - as politically cynical.
The video was recently revived after a discussion of Clinton's position came up during the promotional tour for her book, Hard Choices.
From the March 6 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell slammed Hollywood for including too many gay characters in television programs and films, lamenting that gay characters "never face any real opposition to the gay agenda on these so-called 'inclusive' programs."
In an October 25 column for TownHall.com, Bozell criticized the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD's efforts to track the number of LGBT characters in television programs. Bozell mocked GLAAD for throwing a "tantrum" over the lack of LGBT characters on many networks, asserting that the group wants "children indoctrinated," because apparently it's "propaganda" to expose them to LGBT characters on their shows (emphasis added):
These cultural trend-enforcers went after the movies this summer, complaining that out of the 101 film releases by the major studios in the 2012 calendar year, "only 14 films contained characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. There were no films containing transgender characters."
In the 2012-13 TV season, GLAAD found a record number of LGBT characters -- 4.4 percent, or at least double their actual percentage of the population. Fox was honored for having these characters in 42 percent of their programming hours -- although that wasn't enough for "Excellent" status, merely "Good."
There's no wonder that a Gallup poll in 2011 found that on average, American adults estimate that 25 percent of Americans are homosexual. They're getting that crazy idea from TV.
They want children indoctrinated as well. GLAAD is also not shy when it comes to Teen Nick, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel. Apparently, children also desperately need the propaganda of gay characters in 42 percent of programming hours. They're extremely happy with the liberalism of "ABC Family" and have relayed that Disney Channel executives promised GLAAD they will "introduce LGBT characters in an episode of its original series 'Good Luck Charlie' set to air in 2014, a first for the network." The first of many, they expect.
Here's the catch: Gay characters never face any real opposition to the gay agenda on these so-called "inclusive" programs. There is no measure of Orthodox religious inclusion and no real debates. The victory of the left is assumed without thinking. When a conservative character is created -- like Ellen Barkin's "Nana" in "The New Normal" -- it's a vicious cartoon, the kind that those "against defamation" folks deeply enjoy.
Sean Hannity hosted the Media Research Center's (MRC) Brent Bozell on his Fox program Hannity, and together the pair weaved a distorted caricature of the ongoing government shutdown and the media coverage surrounding it. From their seats on one of the nation's largest news networks, Hannity and Bozell complained that liberal media bias was to blame for the public's low opinion of congressional Republicans' role in the shutdown, supporting their façade with a series of lies, omissions, and a dose of their own bias.
On October 1, the federal government shut down when congressional Republicans refused to pass legislation funding operations unless the funding was tied to the delay or defunding of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare).
On the October 3 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity and Bozell discussed media coverage of the shutdown, reflecting on "all the ways the mainstream media puts their liberal spin on the news," as Hannity put it. He proceeded to open the segment with his own conservative spin on the news, accusing President Obama of refusing to talk to Republicans about the shutdown and absolving Republicans of responsibility. But in fact, the president has called and met with Republican leadership, who are holding fast to their ACA demands.
Bozell stepped in to agree that media's focus on Republicans is inappropriate, complaining that, "In the media coverage -- 21 stories blaming Republicans, not one story blaming Democrats." Bozell's MRC study focused on network evening news stories, ignoring the multitude of Fox News segments blaming Democrats for the shutdown.
Bozell's study in fact confirms that network news is providing reality-based coverage of the shutdown, which persists because of a Republican refusal to extricate its opposition to the ACA from the nation's budget. Bozell fails to acknowledge this fact, and his complaints amount to little more than an argument in favor of journalistic "false equivalency."
From the August 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News hosted conservative activist and media critic Brent Bozell to defend a widely criticized interview by Fox's Lauren Green and continue the right-wing media's attack on Muslim scholar Reza Aslan.
During an interview with writer and scholar Reza Aslan, Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green ignored the content of his book and his academic credentials, instead repeatedly questioning the motivation and propriety of a Muslim writing a book about Jesus, suggesting a religious bias.
Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center, defended Green during the America Live segment, saying: "I'll be the first one to stand up and applaud Lauren Green for the question that she asked. It was the exact, correct question that needed to be asked." He went on to criticize Aslan's response to Green's suggestion of religious bias -- that he's a scholar of religions, that it's his job to write about religion -- calling it arrogant and further claiming that if Aslan was indeed writing without bias, then "he's not a very good Muslim."
Green has come under widespread criticism for the interview. As Media Matters pointed out, Green failed to meet her own standards since she, a Christian, has reported on Muslims in the past. Aslan responded to his interview with Green by pointing out Fox's "inherent anti-Muslim bias."
Green's interview has since been described by critics as "atrocious." Abe Levy, a religion writer for the San Antonio Express-News wrote: "anyone can scrutinize a particular faith if they have studied it, you don't have to be of that particular faith. In my line of work, you want to have a deep respect for a particular religion, even if it is not your own, but you don't have to be of a particular faith to cover it." A former writer for Christianity Today magazine said: "when it comes to the author, she could have looked at his credentials, she was trying to get at a controversy and wasn't sure what the controversy was."
The interview first gained attention after Buzzfeed posted it under the headline "Is This The Most Embarrasing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?" The segment was also described by Slate as "the single most cringe-worthy, embarrassing interview on Fox News."
Brent Bozell is getting pretty good at being ignored. Shortly after Barack Obama's reelection, the president of the conservative Media Research Center signed onto a letter warning congressional Republicans not to compromise with Democrats on taxes. The Republicans compromised. Then Bozell and his allies wrote a letter demanding that Karl Rove's American Crossroads fire a spokesman after he referred to Bozell as a "hater." No one lost their job. And all throughout 2012, Bozell's group erected billboards warning America: "DON'T BELIEVE THE LIBERAL MEDIA!" Yet according to Bozell's latest book, America spent most of 2012 believing the liberal media.
Collusion: How the Media Stole the 2012 Election -- and How to Stop Them from Doing It in 2016 is Bozell's (and co-author Tim Graham's) post-mortem of how the "liberal media" exerted its considerable influence to steal the 2012 election for the president. "Stole the 2012 Election" implies that the press behaved illicitly and in a way that contravenes the values this country holds dear, but that turns out not to be the case. "It's a free country -- at least for now, mostly -- and the national news media have the freedom to present Obama as the finest naked emperor that's ever lived," Bozell observes. "We must also salute that freedom, and defend it always." "Stole" would also seem to imply that Mitt Romney was a capable candidate who was wrongly denied the presidency, but Bozell apparently doesn't believe that either. "It was a testimony to the singular ineptness of their effort," Bozell writes of Team Romney, "that for the first time a presidential campaign chose to go into a prevent-defense crouch -- while losing."
So what happened? According to Bozell, it is "reasonable to conclude" that the media "provided four points for Obama -- his margin of victory." How he arrived at this conclusion is anyone's guess (he just sort of throws it out there after conducting a polling analysis "that, admittedly, is not entirely scientific"), but it's helpful to look at Collusion to get a sense of just how rattled and disjointed movement conservatism is in the second half of the Obama era.
"Barack Obama was a disaster," Bozell writes. "And he won reelection, handily." The tension between these two statements animates Bozell's analysis. That Obama's first term was a "disaster" is presented as a given: self-evident to anyone who was paying attention. The only plausible way to resolve that tension, per Bozell, is to point the finger once again at the media, which collectively decided to carry Obama into a second term and tear down any Republican who stood in his way.
Fox News continues to ignore its previously favored Republican Congressman who is currently being hailed as a civil rights champion for supporting the revitalization of the Voting Rights Act.
Fox News has been spending an inordinate amount of negative attention on race relations, anti-discrimination law, and civil rights advocates and organizations in the aftermath of the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial. High-profile Fox News hosts and personalities have dismissed any concern for the role that systemic racial discrimination played in the profiling and killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and have attacked anyone who suggests otherwise as "race hustlers" and part of a "grievance industry."
Simultaneously, another significant news event involving systemic racial discrimination is under way. Both houses of Congress just completed initial hearings on how to fix the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an event Fox News barely covered.
This hugely important civil rights law, which protects the right to vote against illegal voter suppression on the basis of race, was severely weakened by a conservative majority of the Supreme Court in the recent Shelby County v. Holder decision. But a bipartisan coalition seeking to repair the damage is currently forming, led on the Republican side by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee led the overwhelmingly bipartisan reauthorization of the VRA in 2006.
Sensenbrenner also was recently a frequent authority on Fox News due to his expertise on the interaction of civil liberties and national security, a topic Fox News repeatedly focused on after revelations about National Security Agency surveillance. During this time, Fox News host Sean Hannity was particularly effusive in praise of Sensenbrenner's principles and stature, even calling on the congressman to defend the Fox News host's character against charges of hypocrisy. However, in the wake of Shelby County and Sensenbrenner's immediate condemnation of the Supreme Court for striking down the core of the VRA, Fox News ignored their formerly favored guest, despite his obvious relevance to the many voting rights pieces it aired.
This absence of Sensenbrenner on Fox News now that he has renewed his strong defense of civil rights and condemnation of systemic racial discrimination was especially noticeable during the week when both the House of Representatives and the Senate held VRA hearings.
Sensenbrenner was an invited guest to the Senate hearing (a "civil rights icon" in his own right, according to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)) where he blasted Shelby County and reminded the senators that he "did not expect my career to include a third reauthorization of the VRA, but I believe it is a necessary challenge. Voter discrimination still exists, and our progress toward equality should not be mistaken for a final victory."
From the July 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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