The conservative Media Research Center often urges liberal news outlets to TELL THE TRUTH, but the Reston, VA-based press watchdog isn’t telling the truth about its own leader: Brent Bozell doesn’t write the syndicated column that appears under his byline.The Daily Beast has a follow-up:
It is longtime MRC media analysis director Tim Graham who writes “almost everything published under [Bozell's] name,” a former MRC employee tells me in an email. “That includes his weekly column. Same goes for his books, which at least carry Graham’s name in a secondary billing, but also aren’t written by Bozell (but Bozell keeps 80-90% of the advance and all profits!)”
Two other people with ties to MRC confirmed that Graham is Bozell’s ghostwriter – and that Graham is not happy with the assignment. [Emphasis added.]
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.”It's bad enough that the head of the a conservative media watchdog is being charged with, in effect, lying to his readers - all the while screaming for the rest of the media to "TELL THE TRUTH" but there's more to this.
The Graham-Bozell relationship can best displayed in this book talk for the book that the two nominally co-authored in 2008, Whitewash. At an event at the National Press Club, Bozell gives an introductory speech but then has Graham come up to take questions.
It's here in Romenesko's story. A defense of Bozell was given to Romenesko when his third MRC confirmation:
...defended the practice of “people signing off on agreeable words written for them.” He asked me: “How many speeches has Obama written the last ten years? Should he have prefaced the State of the Union with ‘My fellow Americans – I didn’t write this?’Here's the interesting part. It's the next two paragraphs:
I asked Pittsburgh Tribune-Review colunnist and National Society of Newspaper Columnists president Eric Heyl about this remark. He said:See that? Trib columnist Eric Heyl is quoted rejecting that defense of Bozell's ghostwriter. I wonder if Romenesko knows that Bozell has had some columns published in the very same paper that Eric Heyl writes for?
“The argument that the columnist should be allowed to use a ghostwriter because the president has speechwriters is as limp as pasta left overnight in boiling water. The comparison is ludicrous. The columnist doesn’t have to spend much of his time dealing with a dysfunctional Congress or fretting over Iran’s nuclear program.”
That would be the Richard Mellon Scaife's Tribune-Revue, (as if you didn't already know where I am taking this) and that's where Brent Bozell had a (ghostwritten, it seems) column published as recently as this past Christmas Eve.
I wonder of Romenesko knows that? I also wonder if he knows that Richard Mellon Scaife, by way of the foundations he controls, has given $3.7 million to Bozell's Media Research Center or how that's a little more than a fifth of the MRC's total foundation support.
So why is this such a big deal? For that I'll turn to a former National Society of Newspaper Columnists president, P-G columnist Samantha Bennett. to be clear, she's no longer an NSNC officer and she's not speaking for the NSNC. This is her own opinion:
I didn't know about the ghostwriter allegation; I don't read Bozell. Or his ghostwriter. I don't know whether it's true or not. But I do believe it's a serious breach of ethics for any columnist of any stripe to put his name on stuff he didn't write. If you wrote it, own it. If you are a celebrity or "face" of a cause, write your own damn diatribes/marketing/agitprop/whatever or give credit to the person who does. Everybody knows corporate CEOs and presidents have speechwriters, but Mike Royko, Maureen Dowd, Dave Barry, Ernie Pyle, Erma Bombeck, Ellen Goodman and all other professional columnists string their own words and ideas together or suffer terrible consequences. You get drummed out of the corps for violating that code. And rightly so. Readers trust you. You can't lie to them.It looks like Brent Bozell was lying to his readers on the pages of Scaife's Tribune-Review after his Media Research Center received $300,000 from the Scaife-controlled Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2011.
Any comments, Mr Heyl?