Inside D.C. entertainment

Portrait Gallery censorship: Conservative group organizes Washington Post letter campaign

December 10, 2010 - 03:28 PM
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The conservative site Media Research Center — the same organization that owns CNS, the site that broke the story of the ant-covered Jesus in the Portrait Gallery — has begun a campaign to encourage readers to complain to the Washington Post about art critic Blake Gopnik's coverage of the controversy. A memo from MRC was posted on ResistNet, claiming that their efforts to encourage readers to e-mail complaints to Gopnik have overwhelmed the Post's servers.

"With thousands of emails pouring into their offices, we were contacted by Post officials who demanded that we stop overwhelming their servers! They accused us of spamming their offices. While our legal team sorts this out, we will not stand down," says the blog post.

The group announced their intention to hand-deliver letters of complaint to the Washington Post. A form on their site makes it easy for conservatives — many of whom, presumably, have never seen the art to be personally offended by it — to complain. One of three talking points offered to letter-writers is a demand for an apology from the Post. "Your reporting has offering nothing but glowing praise while failing to point out the blatant obscenity — or the fact that this exhibit was openly marketed to children! You owe it to your readers to provide a truthful report — not a biased puff piece that supports your political or cultural agenda," says the sample text.

Media Research Center's Executive Vice President David Martin did not respond to an interview request. Gopnik's voicemail states that he is out of the office until Dec. 12. Ned Martel, Style's editor, says that he personally has received no complaint letters or e-mails about Gopnik's writing, but Lynn Medford, another Style editor, says that she received about 600 e-mails and a few angry calls after her phone number was listed on the MRC site. Medford says she wasn't sure how many were connected to ResistNet and MRC.

"I am glad passionate people speak up and I'm glad there are passionate people," says Medford. "I do wish the discourse was more civilized."

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