MRC’s Graham, FBN’s Asman Blast Media Double Standard on Presidents Criticizing the Press

Late Thursday afternoon, the Media Research Center’s Tim Graham appeared on the Fox Business Network (FBN) program After the Bell to slam the media for their double standard in reacting to President Barack Obama’s media criticism versus whenever President-elect Donald Trump does the same.

FBN host David Asman set the scen e with a quote from an interview in The Atlantic where President Obama’s offered his latest attack on conservative media, Fox News, and Rush Limbaugh. 

“In 2008 I was never subjected to the kind of concentrated vilification of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the conservative media ecosystem, and so as a consequence, even for my first two years as a senator, I was polling at 70 percent,” complained Obama to interviewer Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Before turning to Graham, Asman astutely pointed to how the President is currently enjoying high approval ratings, “so even if you accept his logic about Fox News and Rush Limbaugh as being hypercritical of him, he wouldn't have approval ratings this high if it actually was us that was responsible for his bad ratings.”

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Graham agreed and added that “Republicans have made a decision basically to not challenging him on anything, in terms of the budget in the last two years” prior to making his point about the media double standard: 

[B]ut here you have a media which suggests that Donald Trump is somehow almost authoritarian like Lenin for attacking the press, but they've always let Obama attack Fox News. They've always let Obama attack Rush Limbaugh, and they've always — well, basically support him on that, but when you attack The New York Times, somehow, you're a communist.

When Asman inquired about the biggest media blunders of 2016, Graham agreed with the FBN host that the media’s inability to see a Trump victory was a major mistake, but the treatment of Trump’s primary opponents was also egregious.

“I think again, the media's treatment of the other Republican candidates was bad there. For example, the PBS shot where they both — the pundits agreed that Ted Cruz and his father came from Satan,” Graham opined.

Graham provided another example of bias from 2016 in the case of Lester Holt’s interview with Hillary Clinton:

GRAHAM: Right, and he also had an interview with Hillary Clinton where he told her when a Democratic voter suggested she had a credibility problem, he winced, he cringed — 

ASMAN: Oh, this is it.

GRAHAM: — of how dare anyone suggest Hillary Clinton didn't tell the truth.

ASMAN: “A young man, Bernie Sanders supporter stood up and said, ‘young people don't trust you.’ And when he said, that I winced. Do you et your feelings hurt sometimes?” Talk about soft balls. It’s very hard to find the press acting in the way the press used to act towards politicians, isn't it?

Once Asman read the quote in question from Holt, Graham mentioned how this was Holt’s first presidential news cycle as a top network evening news anchor, but he blew his chance to stand out from how predecessor “Brian Williams handled Obama — just puff, puff, puff.”

Here’s the transcript of Graham’s appearance from FBN’s After the Bell on December 22:

FBN’s After the Bell
December 22, 2016
4:39 p.m. Eastern

DAVID ASMAN: Okay, meanwhile, talking about President Obama passing the blame. President Obama saying conservative media vilified him throughout his presidency. The President telling The Atlantic magazine: “In 2008 I was never subjected to the kind of concentrated vilification of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the conservative media ecosystem, and so as a consequence, even for my first two years as a senator, I was polling at 70 percent.” Here now is Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, and Tim, there's a big problem with the President's logic here, which is that right now, he is polling higher than he has at any point since 2009, so even if you accept his logic about Fox News and Rush Limbaugh as being hypercritical of him, he wouldn't have approval ratings this high if it actually was us that was responsible for his bad ratings. 

TIM GRAHAM: I think you could probably suggest it has something to do with there hasn't been much motion on anything in the last two years. The Republicans have made a decision basically to not challenging him on anything, in terms of the budget in the last two years, but here you have a media which suggests that Donald Trump is somehow almost authoritarian like Lenin for attacking the press, but they've always let Obama attack Fox News. They've always let Obama attack Rush Limbaugh, and they've always — well, basically support him on that, but when you attack The New York Times, somehow, you're a communist. 

ASMAN: Right, right. There was one instance where the White House tried to shut out Fox News from a presser and the media got together and objected to that, just once, for all the times that we were criticized. Let's switch gears if we can, to a fun part of what we do at the end of the year. We have seen a year in which the media have gotten so many things wrong. It's kinda hard to pick which one stands out the most. For me, by the way, it's just the election itself, which is right up until election night itself, the media was saying it was impossible for Hillary to lose. What stands out in your mind as some of the biggest blunders that the media made this year? 

GRAHAM: Well, that's certainly true, but you could argue on some sense that both Republicans and Democrats were always perhaps too negative about Trump's chances. I think there were other moments that were bad. I think again, the media's treatment of the other Republican candidates was bad there. For example, the PBS shot where they both — the pundits agreed that Ted Cruz and his father came from Satan.

ASMAN: That's right, that was David Brooks and David Corn, David Brooks from The New York Times, Corn from The Nation magazine. That was pretty notable comparing him to Satan, comparing Cruz to Satan. There was another case, though, where Lester Holt had an interview with the President, and after many, many weeks of the president not granting interviews to anybody finally gave one to Lester Holt and he asked him the most softball questions imaginable.

GRAHAM: Right, and he also had an interview with Hillary Clinton where he told her when a Democratic voter suggested she had a credibility problem, he winced, he cringed — 

ASMAN: Oh, this is it.

GRAHAM: — of how dare anyone suggest Hillary Clinton didn't tell the truth.

ASMAN: “A young man, Bernie Sanders supporter stood up and said, ‘young people don't trust you.’ And when he said, that I winced. Do you et your feelings hurt sometimes?” Talk about soft balls. It’s very hard to find the press acting in the way the press used to act towards politicians, isn't it? 

GRAHAM: Yeah, I mean, this again was Lester Holt's first cycle as a major anchor, and he really didn't distinguish himself from the way Brian Williams handled Obama — just puff, puff, puff.

ASMAN: Tim Graham, from the media — MRC — the media analysis corporation. Thank you very much for joining us. Good to see you.

Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Media Bias Debate Double Standards Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Fox News Channel Fox Business Network Video Government & Press Tim Graham President Obama President Barack Obama David Asman Ta-Nehisi Coates Donald Trump Rush Limbaugh Barack Obama

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