Media Research Center

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Media Research Center
FoundedOctober 1, 1987
FounderL. Brent Bozell III
Type501(c)(3) nonprofit[1]
FocusAllegations of liberal media bias
MethodEditorials, online newsletters, reports, conservative activism, right-wing activism
Key people
Tim Graham, Rich Noyes, Brent Baker, Dan Schneider

The Media Research Center (MRC), formerly known as Culture and Media Institute (CMI), is an American conservative content analysis and media watchdog group based in Herndon, Virginia, and founded in 1987 by L. Brent Bozell III.[2]

The CMI promoted its mission through editorials and research reports. In March 2007, the CMI published a "National Cultural Values Survey" and concluded from its results that most Americans perceived a decline in moral values.[3] One study released by the organization in June 2007 claimed that television viewing time correlated directly with one's liberal attitude, even possibly degrading to moral attitudes.[4] In 2008, it published a report detailing its opposition to reinstatement of the FCC fairness doctrine, a policy requiring broadcasters to present differing views on controversial issues of public import. The MRC claims the rule had been politically weaponized by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to suppress conservative radio, before being abolished by a bipartisan FCC in 1987.[5]

The nonprofit MRC has received financial support primarily from Robert Mercer,[6] but with several other conservative-leaning sources, including the Bradley, Scaife, Olin, Castle Rock, Carthage and JM foundations, as well as ExxonMobil.[7][8][9] It has been described as "one of the most active and best-funded, and yet least known" arms of the modern conservative movement in the United States.[10] The organization rejects the scientific consensus on climate change and criticizes media coverage that reflects the scientific consensus.[8][11]

Foundation and funding[edit]

L. Brent Bozell III founded the Media Research Center in 1987.

Bozell and a group of other American conservatives founded the MRC on October 1, 1987. Their initial budget was at US$339,000.[12] Prior to founding the MRC, Bozell was the chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee; he resigned from that position a month before establishing MRC.[13] A wealthy donor whose name has been kept anonymous helped set up the MRC.[14] The MRC has received financial support from several foundations, including the Bradley, Scaife, Olin, Castle Rock, Carthage and JM foundations.[7] It also receives funding from ExxonMobil. The organization rejects the scientific consensus on climate change and criticizes media coverage that reflects the scientific consensus.[8][9][11] The MRC received over $10 million from Robert Mercer, its largest single donor.[6]

As of its 2015 reporting to the IRS, the organization had revenue approaching $15 million and expenses in excess of $15 million. Bozell's salary during this year was reported as close to $345,000, with nearly $122,000 in additional compensation from the organization and related organizations.[15]


Reports on the media[edit]

From 1996 to 2009, the MRC published a daily online newsletter called CyberAlert written by editor Brent Baker. Each issue profiles what he perceives as biased or inaccurate reports about politics in the American news media.[16] Prior to CyberAlert, MRC published such reports in a monthly newsletter titled MediaWatch,[17] from 1988 to 1999.[18] Media analysis articles are now under the banner BiasAlert.[19] Media analysis director Tim Graham and research director Rich Noyes regularly write Media Reality Check, another MRC publication documenting alleged liberal bias.[20] Notable Quotables is its "collection of the most biased quotes from journalists".[12] In Notable Quotables, editors give honors such as the "Linda Ellerbee Awards for Distinguished Reporting" based on the former CNN commentator, who Bozell considered "a liberal blowhard who has nothing to say".[21] Other features on its website include the weekly syndicated news and entertainment columns written by founder Bozell.

MRC staff members have also written editorials and books about their findings of the media. Bozell has written three books about the news media: And That's the Way it Isn't: A Reference Guide to Media Bias (1990, with Brent Baker); Weapons of Mass Distortion: The Coming Meltdown of the Liberal Media (2004); and Whitewash: How The News Media Are Paving Hillary Clinton's Path to the Presidency (2007, with Tim Graham). Research director Rich Noyes has also co-authored several published books.[22]

MRC Business[edit]

In 1992, the MRC created the Free Market Project to promote the culture of free enterprise and combat what it believes is media spin on business and economic news. That division recently[when?] changed its name to the Business & Media Institute ( and later to MRC Business and is now focused on "Advancing the culture of free enterprise in America." BMI's advisory board included such well-known individuals as economists Walter Williams and Bruce Bartlett, as well as former CNN anchor David Goodnow. BMI is led by career journalist Dan Gainor, a former managing editor at, the website for Congressional Quarterly. It released a research report in June 2006 covering the portrayal of business on prime-time entertainment television during the May and November "sweeps" periods from 2005. The report concluded that the programs, among them the long running NBC legal drama Law & Order, were biased against business.[23] Another report of the BMI accused the networks of bias in favor of the Gardasil vaccine, a vaccine intended to prevent cervical cancer.


Bozell founded CNSNews (formerly Cybercast News Service) in 1998 to cover stories he believes are ignored by mainstream news organizations.[24] provides news articles for and other websites for a subscription fee. Its leadership consists of president Brent Bozell and editor Terry Jeffrey. Under editor David Thibault, questioned the validity of the circumstances in which Democratic Rep. John Murtha received his Purple Hearts as a response to Murtha's criticisms of the U.S. War in Iraq. The Washington Post and Nancy Pelosi have commented that this approach is similar to the tactics of the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, which opposed John Kerry's candidacy in the 2004 election.[25]


In the summer of 2005, Media Research Center launched NewsBusters, a website "dedicated to exposing & combating liberal media bias," in cooperation with Matthew Sheffield, a now-former conservative blogger (who now works at involved in the CBS Killian documents story. NewsBusters is styled as a rapid-response blog site that contains posts by MRC editors to selected stories in mass media.[26] Although the site is advertised chiefly as a conservative site, it frequently defends neoconservatives as well.[27] The site highlights journalists and non-journalists (writers, musicians, producers, scientists, etc.) perceived as having liberal viewpoints.[28][29][30][31]

MRC Culture[edit]

In October 2006, the MRC created the Culture and Media Institute, the mission of which is "to advance, preserve, and help restore America's culture, character, traditional values, and morals against the assault of the liberal media."[32] Robert H. Knight was the institute's first director. MRC VP Dan Gainor is now in charge of that department. In 2018, the MRC started a new project in the Culture Department to monitor online censorship of conservatives called MRC TechWatch.


MRC sponsors MRCTV (formerly Eyeblast),[33] a conservative-leaning YouTube-like video-hosting site.[34]

CBS crime drama Cold Case[edit]

The CBS crime drama Cold Case has been twice criticized by the CMI for alleged anti-Christian prejudice in two episodes.[35] In May 2008, CMI released another report, one that claimed a moral decline in "Dear Abby" columns.[36][37] The CMI website remained online through the end of 2010,[38] before it was folded in the Media Research Center website in 2011.[39] In November 2014, the MRC renamed the institute MRC Culture.[40]

Brent Bozell ghostwriting[edit]

In February 2014, former employees of the Media Research Center alleged that the center's founder L. Brent Bozell III does not write his own columns or books and instead has used a ghostwriter, Tim Graham, for years.[41]

"Employees at the MRC were never under any illusion that Bozell had been writing his own copy. 'It's an open secret at the office that Graham writes Bozell's columns, and has done so for years,' said one former employee. In fact, a former MRC employee went so far as to tell The Daily Beast, 'I know for a fact that Bozell didn't even read any of the drafts of his latest book until after it had been sent to the publishers,' The Daily Beast reported."[42]

One newspaper, the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, dropped Bozell's column as a result, saying, "Bozell may have been comfortable representing others' work as his own. We're not. The latest disclosure convinces us Bozell has no place on our print or web pages."[43]


In 2018, the Media Research Center criticized journalist Katy Tur for introducing the issue of climate change into reporting on Hurricane Florence, while its director of media analysis bemoaned what he described as the use of "spin" to politicize media coverage of natural disasters.[44] In 2017, MRC sponsored a conference by the Heartland Institute, an organization known for its effort to cast doubt about the scientific consensus on climate change.[45] In November 2021, a study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate described Media Research Center as being among "ten fringe publishers" that together were responsible for nearly 70 percent of Facebook user interactions with content that denied climate change. Facebook disputed the study's methodology.[46][47]

In 2002, MRC said CNN was "[Fidel] Castro's megaphone".[48] In 1999, the MRC said that network news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC largely ignored Chinese espionage in the United States during the Clinton administration.[49]

In MRC reports released from 1993 to 1995, it was claimed that such programs made more references to religion each later year, most of which became more favorable.[50] In 2003, the MRC urged advertisers to pull sponsorship from The Reagans, a miniseries about President Ronald Reagan to be shown on CBS. The network later moved the program to its co-owned premium cable network Showtime.[51]

The MRC has been a critic of the video game industry, arguing that there is a link between violent videogames and real-world violence; in this capacity, they (along with the Parents Television Council, a subsidiary) were invited to President Donald Trump's 2018 summit on video games and gun violence.[52][53]

MRC released a report in 2007 claiming that the network morning shows devoted more airtime to covering Democratic presidential candidates than Republican ones for the 2008 election. Producers for such shows criticized the MRC's methodology as flawed.[54] During the 2008 US presidential election, MRC claimed that the vast majority of news stories about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had a positive slant.[55] MRC president Bozell praised MSNBC for having David Gregory replace Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann as political coverage anchor beginning September 8, 2008, but MSNBC president Phil Griffin disputed the statements by Bozell and others who have accused the network of liberal bias.[56]

ThoughtCo named MRC one of the top 15 conservatives to follow on Twitter.[57]

Bozell was an outspoken critic of Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primaries, describing him as "the greatest charlatan of them all", "a "huckster" and "shameless self-promoter".[14] He said, "God help this country if this man were president."[14] After Trump clinched the Republican nomination, Bozell attacked the media for their "hatred" of Trump.[14] Politico noted, "The paradox here is that Bozell was once more antagonistic toward the president than any journalist."[14] Bozell singled out Jake Tapper for being "one of the worst offenders" in coverage of Trump. However, several senior MRC staff told Politico that they considered Tapper a model of fairness,[14] although that viewpoint has since changed.


Extra!, the magazine of the progressive media watch group FAIR, criticized the MRC in 1998 for selective use of evidence. MRC had said that there was more coverage of government death squads in right-wing El Salvador than in left-wing Nicaragua in the 1980s, when Amnesty International stated El Salvador was worse than Nicaragua when it came to extrajudicial killings. Extra! also likened a defunct MRC newsletter, TV etc., which tracked the off-screen political comments of actors, to "Red Channels, the McCarthy Era blacklisting journal."[58]

Journalist Brian Montopoli of Columbia Journalism Review in 2005 labeled MRC "just one part of a wider movement by the far right to demonize corporate media", rather than "make the media better."[59]

On December 22, 2011, Media Research Center president Bozell appeared on Fox News and suggested U.S. president Barack Obama looks like a "skinny ghetto crackhead".[60]

The Media Research Center has also faced scrutiny over the group's $350,000 purchase in 2012 of a Pennsylvania house that a top executive had been trying to sell for several years.[61]

In 2013, Media Research Center president Bozell appeared on Fox News to defend a Fox interview in which Fox journalists conducted almost no research into the background of Reza Aslan to prepare for its interview with him, and its putative biases.[62]

When the Media Research Center bestowed an award named for William F. Buckley to Sean Hannity, Bret Stephens, a neoconservative columnist for The New York Times, wrote an editorial in which he lamented, "And so we reach the Idiot stage of the conservative cycle, in which a Buckley Award for Sean Hannity suggests nothing ironic, much less Orwellian, to those bestowing it, applauding it, or even shrugging it off. The award itself is trivial, but it's a fresh reminder of who now holds the commanding heights of conservative life, and what it is that they think."[63]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Media Research Center, Inc. – GuideStar Profile". Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  2. ^ Goldmacher, Shane; Alberta, Tim (December 8, 2014). "The Right Wing's Facebook Army: How ForAmerica became a force to be reckoned with in politics". The Atlantic. National Journal. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
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  4. ^ Fitzpatrick, Brian (June 12, 2007). "Does Watching TV Damage Character?". Human Events. Archived from the original on June 13, 2007. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  5. ^ "Report: Unmasking the Myths Behind the Fairness Doctrine" (Press release). Media Research Center. June 10, 2008. Archived from the original on October 24, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Cadwalladr, Carole (February 26, 2017). "Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "MRC funders". Media Matters. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c Webster, Ben (July 19, 2010). "Oil giant gave £1 million fund climate sceptics; ExxonMobil broke its pledge to halt payments Oil giant gave £1m to fund climate change sceptics". The Times. London (UK). p. 1.
  9. ^ a b "Put a Tiger In Your Think Tank". Mother Jones. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  10. ^ Alberta, Tim (April 26, 2018). "The Deep Roots of Trump's War on the Press". Politico. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Report: Big Money Confusing Public on Global Warming". ABC News. January 8, 2007. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "About the MRC". MRC. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
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  15. ^ "Media Research Center Inc – Nonprofit Explorer". ProPublica. September 5, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  16. ^ Baker, Brent. "CyberAlert". Media Research Center. Archived from the original on March 5, 2009. Retrieved March 15, 2009.
  17. ^ Queenan, Joe (August 5, 1991). "The Media's Wacky Watchdogs". Time. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008.
  18. ^ "MediaWatch". Media Research Center. Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved March 15, 2009.
  19. ^ "BiasAlert Archive". Media Research Center. Archived from the original on March 17, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
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  23. ^ Ahrens, Frank (June 23, 2006). "On TV, There's a Killer Corporate Image Problem". The Washington Post. p. D1.
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  25. ^ Kurtz, Howard; Murray, Shailagh (January 14, 2006). "Web Site Attacks Critic of War". The Washington Post. p. A5.
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  27. ^ Finkelstein, Mark (July 19, 2006). "Take the Anti-Neo-Con Test: Who Said It – Matthews or Buchanan?". Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  28. ^ Meister, Pam (October 29, 2009). "Leftist Rocker John Mellencamp: First Amendment More of a 'Collective' Thing". Archived from the original on January 23, 2010. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  29. ^ "George Soros". Archived from the original on August 15, 2010. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  30. ^ Sheffield, Greg (October 29, 2009). "Barbara Streisand: Psychoanalyst Extraordinaire". Archived from the original on September 12, 2006. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  31. ^ Shepherd, Ken (October 29, 2009). "Ted Turner: China's Population Control Scheme Is Not 'Draconian'". Archived from the original on January 1, 2010. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  32. ^ "MRC Launches Culture & Media Institute". Archived from the original on May 22, 2008. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  33. ^ "About Eyeblast". Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  34. ^ On a shoestring, Web videos reshaping race, Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times, June 30, 2008.
  35. ^ De Leon, Kris (October 21, 2007). "'Cold Case' Upsets Conservative Group". Archived from the original on April 10, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  36. ^ Widhalm, Shelley (May 1, 2008). "Two faces of Abby". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  37. ^ Terkel, Amanda (May 2, 2008). "Right wing attacks 'Dear Abby.'". Think Progress. Archived from the original on May 2, 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  38. ^ "Welcome to the Culture and Media Institute". Archived from the original on October 19, 2010.
  39. ^ "About Us". Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  40. ^ "Media Research Center". Archived from the original on November 5, 2014. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  41. ^ Jacobs, Ben (February 13, 2014). "Ex-Employees of Conservative Figure L. Brent Bozell Say He Didn't Write His Books or Columns". The Daily Beast. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
  42. ^ "Ex-employees of conservative figure L. Brent Bozell say he didn't write his books or columns," The Daily Beast, February 13, 2014 (updated April 14, 2017)
  43. ^ "WANTED: A replacement for Brent Bozell". Quad-City Times. February 15, 2014.
  44. ^ Bauder, David (September 19, 2018). "Florence shows how storm coverage is politicized". AP News. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  45. ^ "The Mercers, Trump mega-donors, back group that casts doubt on climate science". The Washington Post. 2017.
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  50. ^ Suman 1997, p. 119
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  52. ^ Price, Dawnthea. "Trump's Video Game Summit Looks Like a Farce Before It's Even Happened". Slate Magazine. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  53. ^ Siddiqui, Sabrina (March 8, 2018). "Culture crusaders: who's who in Trump's gun violence roundtable". The Guardian. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
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  55. ^ Kurtz, Howard (August 20, 2008). "Conservative Group Finds Networks Positive on Obama". The Trail. Retrieved September 10, 2008.
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  57. ^ "Top Conservatives to Follow on Twitter". Archived from the original on December 30, 2016. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  58. ^ "Meet the Myth-Makers". Extra!. FAIR. July–August 1998.
  59. ^ Montopoli, Brian (March 23, 2005). "Propaganda Clothed as Critique". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved July 15, 2011. False equivalence is at the very root of MRC's beliefs.
  60. ^ Shaw, Lucas (December 23, 2011). "Barack Obama: Now He's a Skinny, Ghetto Crackhead?". Reuters. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  61. ^ Jacobs, Ben (October 2, 2013). "The Media Research Center's Strange Investment". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  62. ^ "Fox News Thinks Fox News Did a Great Job With That Reza Aslan Interview". Slate. July 31, 2013. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  63. ^ Stephens, Bret (July 6, 2017). "Conservatives Go Third 'I' Blind". The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]