Media Research Center
Media Research Center Inc. (MRC) is a conservative media watchdog group run by president and founder Brent Bozell. In 2011 the MRC had total revenue of $12.3 million and 89 employees. It is predominately funded by larger right-wing foundations (see below) with other comparatively minor sources of income from rental income and investments. In its 2006 annual report, the group's founder wrote that MRC "continued to regularly provide intellectual ammunition to conservative activists, arming them with the weapons to fight the leftist press." Its 2011 annual report prominently features a picture of a bus full of members of "MRC's Action Team," who "descended on Madison, Wisconsin in April 2011 to show their support for Governor Scott Walker." (For context, see the SourceWatch article on the Wisconsin Protests.)
The MRC operates a number of subsidiary projects including the Business & Media Institute (formerly known as the the Free Market Project); CNSNews.com, a conservative news service; the NewsBusters blog; TimesWatch, a website focusing on the New York Times; the Culture and Media Institute and the MRC Action Team.
(The Parents Television Council was founded in 1995 as a MRC project but, in 2000, was split off to become a separate legal entity. Brent Bozell, who founded the MRC, was president of both organisations until January 2007, when he resigned as President of the PTC but remains a member of the board of directors.)
From MRC's website: "The mission of the Media Research Center is to bring balance and responsibility to the news media. Leaders of America's conservative movement have long believed that within the national news media a strident liberal bias existed that influenced the public's understanding of critical issues. On October 1, 1987, a group of young determined conservatives set out to not only prove - through sound scientific research - that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values, but also to neutralize its impact on the American political scene. What they launched that fall is the now acclaimed --- Media Research Center (MRC)."
In November of 2000, MRC and a subsidiary, Parents Television Council (an advocacy group also founded and run by Mr. Bozell), were sued by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). MRC/PTC settled out-of-court for $3.5 million. See Parents Television Council for more information about this lawsuit.
Then one day in the summer of 1981 I found myself at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine. I was a correspondent in the White House in those days, and my work -- which consisted of reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy -- saddened me....My parents raised me to admire generosity and to feel pity. I had arrived in our nation's capital [in 1981] during a historic ascendancy of greed and hard-heartedness....Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it.
But the quotes were cobbled together from two different sections of the book; the span of the ellipsis between "hard-heartedness" and "Reagan couldn't tie" is 28 pages. Further, the statement "Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it" refers in context to Reagan's fly-fishing skills, not his IQ. The MRC later appended a "clarification" putting the statements in their proper context.
Extra!, the magazine of the progressive media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, has criticized the MRC for selective use of evidence--the MRC had complained, for example, that there was more coverage of government death squads in right-wing El Salvador than in left-wing Nicaragua, without mentioning that there were roughly a thousand times more extra-judicial killings in El Salvador. Extra! also characterized the MRC as wanting to force out of the media any opinions that it disagreed with, even tracking the off-screen political comments of actors in a project that the magazine said "bore an uncomfortable resemblance to Red Channels, the McCarthy Era blacklisting journal." 
The liberal media watch group Media Matters for America has also repeatedly criticized the MRC, charging that they view the media "through a funhouse mirror that renders everything--even the facts themselves--as manifestations of insidious bias." 
Campaign against the "Liberal Media"
In January 2012 MRC founder Brent Bozell announced that the MRC is going to invest $3-$5 million in a campaign to attack the mainstream media. Bozell claimed that the goal is to defeat the "onslaught of character assassination against anyone who dares to challenge Obama." The campaign was allegedly inspired by Gingrich's forceful rebuke of moderator John King in the South Carolina Republican Presidential Debate. 
Defense of ALEC
Following the publication of a Bloomberg Businessweek article examining and criticizing the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC), MRC immediately came to ALEC's defense. MRC's Iris Somberg accused the authors of the article of accepting "the liberal mantra that corporations are evil and buy support through shadowy groups" and asserted that the article "is thick with one-sided caricatures of conservative policies could have easily been written by a left-wing blogger." 
But the MRC piece itself is almost a caricature of the Businessweek article. It alleges that Businessweek authors Brendan Greeley and Alison Fitzgerald find ALEC sinister because it is a "non-profit that promotes limited government, free markets, and federalism." But it ignores the authors' pointed critiques that show ALEC is less about limited government and free markets and more about using government to benefit ALEC's corporate members. For example, the Business week article discusses how the Republican mayor of Lafayette, Louisiana had plans to provide high-speed internet to his rural constituents, but was thwarted by a lobbyist pushing a corporate-sponsored ALEC bill through the Louisiana legislature that would block local government efforts to expand broadband. The Businessweek article points out the bill "was not designed to level the playing field," but to protect entrenched telecommunications interests at the expense of the public interest.
But rather than criticizing the Businessweek article on the merits, or countering the claims that its author's make, MRC's Somberg sets up a convoluted ad hominem. Somberg writes that groups cited in the article had received funding from the Open Society Foundations of George Soros, but does not actually dispute any thing those groups say. (One of the groups Somberg criticizes is the Center for Media and Democracy, which publishes ALECexposed.org as well as Sourcewatch.org. CMD's Open Society grant is not used for its ALEC project, and instead goes towards the national security and surveillance research of CMD's Executive Director, Lisa Graves, who has testified before Congress on such issues.)
The MRC article condescendingly states that the Businessweek authors say that ALEC receives funding from Exxon Mobil ("Nothing says evil like Big Oil cash," Somberg writes), perhaps to set up some sort of false equivalency with other groups indirectly receiving Soros money. But Exxon Mobil is only one of many corporations mentioned in the Businessweek article that fund ALEC. MRC does not mention that ALEC is led by lobbyists, and gets 98% of its funding from corporate interests. The problem with ALEC's corporate funding is not just with the funding per se, but with the fact that those dollars are being used to influence elected officials, and to push laws that govern the lives of all Americans designed to benefit the corporate bottom line. That is hardly comparable to a philanthropist helping fund online investigative journalism organizations.
The original Businessweek article can be found Here
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
- Brent Bozell, President and Founder
- David Martin, Executive Vice President
- Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis
- Brent Baker, Vice President for Research and Publications, Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow
- Terry Jeffrey, CNSNews.com Editor-in-Chief
- Dan Gainor, Vice President of Business & Culture, T. Boone Pickens Fellow
- Rich Noyes, Director of Research
- Matthew Sheffield, NewsBusters Executive Editor
- Clay Waters, TimesWatch Director
- Stephen Gutowski, MRCTV Content Editor
- Ed Molchany, Chief Marketing Officer
- Bill Toye, Grassroots Coordinator
- Business & Media Institute (formerly the Free Market Project)
- Culture and Media Institute
- Exxon Mobil
- The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.
- The foundation donated $1.65 million to Media Research Center between 2001 and 2010. 
- Sarah Scaife Foundation
- Castle Rock Foundation
- John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.
- The Carthage Foundation
- JM Foundation 
In its 2011 annual report, MRC lists the following as "Foundation and Corporate Support":
- Above All Advisors
- Edward and Wilhelmina Ackerman Foundation
- Adams Insurance Service Company
- Alpaugh Foundation
- Andrews & Kurth
- The Armstrong Foundation
- Bachman Foundation
- Bal Harbour Shops
- Balfour Lumber Co.
- Beaumont Iron and Metal Corporation
- Bell Charitable Foundation
- Doris & Stanley Berenzweig Charitable Foundation
- BLR Trust
- Bonide Products Inc.
- The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
- Brae Burn Construction Co.
- The Branyan Family Foundation
- The Brayman Family Fund
- Brodie Charitable Funds
- The George and Janet Brown Foundation
- Calvert K. Collins Family Foundation, Inc.
- Capital Community Foundation
- The Carwill Foundation
- Cassara Family Charitable Trust
- CBS Imaging
- CC Industries, Inc.
- Challenger School
- Charles and Ann Johnson Foundation
- Clifford Stanton Heinz Trust
- Cly-Del Mfg Co.
- Compass Ventures, LLC
- G. L. Connolly Foundation
- Contran Corporation
- Earlane and Sam Croom Foundation
- Crossoak Family Dentistry
- Curran Foundation
- Darr Equipment Co.
- The Davidson Bruce Foundation
- The Charles & Melissa Davis Foundation
- Ken W. Davis Foundation
- Davis-Lynch, Inc.
- Deltec Incorporated
- Doberto Corporation
- Dorset Charitable Trust
- Dreisbach Enterprises
- E. Stewart Mitchell, Inc.
- Eagle Publishing
- Ed Uihlein Family Foundation
- The Edgerly Foundation
- Eric Javits Family Foundation
- Estrella Ranch
- Fareway Stores, Inc.
- The Lundy Fetterman Family Foundation
- Lynn and Foster Friess Family Fund
- Garvey Kansas Foundation
- The George’s Family Foundation
- GLACS Endowment Fund
- GM Ridge Corp
- The Griffin Family Foundation
- Griffith Interests
- The Guetz Foundation
- Guggenheim Brothers
- Guilford Foundation
- H. E. Neumann Co.
- Henry E. Haller, Jr. Foundation
- Hanson Family Foundation
- Hayden Foundation
- Hickory Foundation
- Glen and Gloria Holden Family Foundation
- The Holman Foundation Inc.
- Horned M Ranch
- Barbara N. & Don N. Howell Foundation
- Howell Family Foundation
- International Health Foundation
- J.J.C.T.M. Foundation
- The Jackson Family Foundation
- Jalapeno Corporation
- Johnsonville Foods
- John P. Kavooras Charitable Trust
- Kenneth Groefsema Ranch
- A.P. Kirby, Jr. Foundation
- F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc.
- Kistler O’Brien Fire Protection
- Lerner Family Foundation
- Lindemann Well Service, Inc.
- The Litwin Foundation, Inc.
- Loeb Partners
- The Edward A. and Catherine L. Lozick Foundation
- Luckie/Birmingham, Inc.
- Maranatha Foundation Inc.
- Marlin Oil
- Massie Clarke Dev
- Matey, Inc.
- The Amy Shelton McNutt Charitable Trust
- McWethy Foundation
- Mechanical Contractor of Gainesville Inc.
- The Melin Family Foundation
- The Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Foundation
- New Era Cleaners
- The Ochsman Foundation Inc.
- Olympus Imported Auto Parts Corp.
- The Page Foundation
- The Charles Maxfield and Gloria F. Parrish Foundation
- Patridge Knoll
- Pioneer Gasket Company, Inc.
- The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation
- R. K. Mellon Family Foundation
- Ralph & Lois Hendricks Family Charitable Fund
- Register & Company, P.A.
- Richard & Mary Ellen Reuling Charitable Fund
- Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation
- The Robert S. & Star Pepper Foundation, Inc.
- Roberts Family Foundation
- The Rothschild Charitable Foundation, Inc.
- Arthur N. Rupe Foundation
- Same Line Foundation, Inc.
- Sarah Scaife Foundation
- John & Kathleen Schneider Family Foundation
- Prewitt and Valerie D. Semmes Foundation
- Shapiro & Swertfeger
- The Shepherds Hand
- Sivyer Survivors Trust
- Thomas W. Smith Foundation
- The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation
- Herbert and Peggy Stockham Family Foundation
- Roger and Susan Stone Family Foundation
- Stuart Family Foundation
- Sumter & Ivilyn Lowry Charitable Foundation
- Sunbelt Management
- Symbolic Systems, Inc.
- Thank Heaven Foundation
- The John Templeton Foundation
- Thompson Realty Company
- Three Rivers Group, Inc.
- TKBW Foundation Trust
- Triad Energy Corporation
- Trizm Services, Inc.
- The True Foundation
- The Trzcinski Foundation
- Tsang Family Foundation
- Daniel P. and Grace I. Tully Foundation
- Urban Projects, Inc.
- Valis Associates
- Vanberg Family Foundation
- Virginia H. Deane Trust
- Vulcan Corporation
- W.R. Burgess Foundation
- Webco Industries, Inc.
- Weekley Properties
- Whitcomb Charitable Foundation
- The William C. & Cindy L. Scott Foundation
- William H. Donner Foundation
- WINREP Foundation
- Wirt A. Yerger, Jr. Foundation, Inc.
- Wold Corp.
- The Woodhull Family Foundation
- Wright Tool Company
- The Young Family Trust
Non-MRC media contact
The May 11, 2006, MRC press release "Public Demands Networks to 'Tell the Truth!' about Iraq War. Media Research Center delivers over 140,000 petitions demanding fair media coverage" directs inquiries to either Colleen O'Boyle or Tim Scheiderer at 703-683-5004, which is the phone number for Creative Response Concepts of Alexandria, Virginia.
Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Ph. (703) 683-9733
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Media Research Center, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2011, filed June 18, 2012, accessible via Guidestar.org, accessed October 2012.
- Media Research Center, 2011 Annual Report, organizational document, 2012, accessed October 2012.
- L. Brent Bozell III, "A Message from L. Brent Bozell III", 2006, Annual Report, Media Research Center, accessed February 2008, page 3.
- Parents Television Council, "PTC President Bozell Announces Decision to Step Down and Welcomes Tim Winter as New President", Media Release, September 1, 2006.
- Media Research Center, "About the Media Research Center: Bringing Political Balance to the Media", Media Research Center, accessed February 2008.
- Right Launches Giant Campaign Against Media, Buzzfeed, January 26, 2011
- Iris Somberg, Soros Cash, Left-Wing Talking Points Fuel ALEC attack, Media Research Center Network, December 6, 2011
- "Factsheet: Media Research Center", ExxonSecrets website, accessed October 2009.
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Accessed December 6, 2011.
- Howard Kurtz, "Bias Watch," Washington Post, June 28, 2004 (scroll down to mid-page): Bozell's Media Research Center has raised $2.8 million for newspaper ads in 15 markets, billboards in 40 cities and a talk-radio blitz aimed at countering what he sees as a "liberal jihad" that is unfair to President Bush. The slogan (also on T-shirts and mugs) is not exactly subtle: A finger-pointing Uncle Sam declares: "Don't believe the liberal media!"
- Jeff Jarvis, "FCC -- and Media -- Duped by Brent Bozell's Complaint Factory," Buzz Machine, December 6, 2004.
- Bill Berkowitz, "Media Research Center Takes on The West Wing: Conservative Philanthropy-Supported Group Claims Show Had Liberal Bias", Media Transparency, May 22, 2006.
- Peter Hart and Steve Rendall, "Meet the Mythmakers", Extra!, July/August 1998.
- Paul Waldman, "MRC Studies That 'Prove' Media's 'Liberal Bias' Collapse Under Scrutiny", Media Matters for America, May 11, 2005.
- Terry Krepel, "Fairly Unbalanced", ConWebWatch, May 2, 2007. Details how appearances by MRC representatives on Fox News Channel tend to be solo, unbalanced, and the MRC spokespeople unidentified as conservative.
- Matthew Balan, "CNN Bashes Conservative Ads With 'Industry Insider,' Omits His Far Left Affiliation," Media Research Center, July 2, 2009.
- Laurie Bennett, "Conservative media monitor attracts the big bucks," Muckety.com, August 11, 2009.