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.
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.
“Tim just resents having to do it,” says a former employee.
Graham’s wife, too, is so angry about the arrangement that she refuses to attend Media Research Center events.
“She hates Bozell,” I’m told. “The forced ghostwriting is the issue,” says an ex-employee. (Laura Haugan Graham did not respond to an email sent Wednesday via Facebook. I also emailed Bozell and Graham for comment on Wednesday, but did not get responses. I called the Media Research Center offices on Wednesday and left a message that wasn’t returned.)
I was advised to contact a third MRC employee who, I was told, would confirm Graham’s ghostwriting duties. He did that, but 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?’”
I asked Pittsburgh Tribune-Review colunnist and National Society of Newspaper Columnists president Eric Heyl about this remark. He said:
“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.”
The column with Bozell’s name is distributed by Creators Syndicate. Earlier this week I asked Creators about its ghostwriting policy, but did not name Bozell at the time because I was still trying to get additional confirmation. I sent my email to Aimee Kuvadia at Creators — the column is emailed to her by Graham — but got a response from Creators president Rick Newcombe. He wrote:
Aimee sent me your email, which I found strange. Obviously someone is spreading malicious gossip about someone else, whether it is true or not. If you know of one of our columnists who supposedly is not writing the column but rather “assigning an underling to pen them (an underling who is not credited),” I think it only fair that you tell us who has been accused of this so we can talk to the columnist. Yes, we expect all of our columnists to write their own columns, though we understand that some work closely with researchers.
On Wednesday afternoon, I gave Bozell’s name to the Creators president. Newcombe responded this morning (with my boldface):
It is absolutely false to say that Brent Bozell does not write his column. … I remember years ago when Brent suggested that he share the byline for his column with Tim, and I said it would be better for us to promote a single individual. We have decided, however, that since Tim works so closely with Brent on the column, we have changed it to a joint byline. But I will say it again, it is absolutely incorrect to claim that ‘Brent Bozell does not write the column you distribute.’”
I read that statement to the ex-MRC staffer who tipped me off about the column. His response:
“Oh wow, that is classic” — and wrong, he said. “What they really need to do is make it Tim’s column and take Brent’s name off it.”