NBC apologizes for 'inaccurately' quoting Barr over Flynn, Trump wants host Chuck Todd to be fired
Ø NBC News on Sunday issued an apology over “inaccurately” editing a portion of the interview of Attorney General William Barr that left a false impression with viewers of “Meet the Press.”
Ø Chuck Todd was the moderator of the show, which aired on Sunday. The show was discussing the Justice Department's decision to drop its case against former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Ø During the show, Todd showed a clip of an interview that Barr gave to CBS News last Thursday. In the clip, CBS reporter asks Barr on how history would view the act of dismissing charges against Flynn.
Ø To this, Barr says that “history is written by the winner. So it largely depends on who's writing the history.” The clip stops and Todd remarks “I was struck, Peggy, by the cynicism of the answer.”
Ø However, the “Meet the Press” show did not air the full clip where Barr gives a justification of his actions. In the original clip, Barr went on to say “But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice.”
Ø After NBC issued an apology, President Donald Trump called for Chuck Todd to be fired. "Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd should be FIRED by 'Concast' (NBC) for this fraud,” Trump said in a tweet late Sunday.
Ø Kerri Kupec, director of communications and public affairs for the Department of Justice also slammed Todd in a tweet.
Ø There is no information if Todd will apologize on-air.
A Faux Pas
Chris Todd, host of "Meet the Press", makes an embarrassing blunder in a critique of Attorney General William Barr over the dismissal of the case against Michael Flynn. On the air Todd offered a blistering criticism of Barr, essentially implying the Attorney General admitted to the dismissal being a "political job". However, after further analysis of the interview, key context and elements were omitted from the clip that Todd had shown.
Barr indicated that history is "written by the winner". Todd wanted to end the clip there to imply that Barr felt himself as the "winner" and thus gets to "write" the history. But Barr continues and contrasts that mantra with "fair history" in which the decision would be seen as a "good" one, and one which undid an injustice.
As a historian, I am very cognizant that history isn't always written by the winner. There was no way to retell the Vietnam War in a way that would imply an American victory, no matter how much we want history to be favorable to us in all our military conflicts. And in the case of this media blunder, there is no way to revise the sad history of Chris Todd's blatant disregard for actual facts. So let the loser write history from time to time, as a lesson to avoid such error in the future.
The greatest shame lies not in admitting an error, but in not doing so. We can't try to bend truth in order to score political points against our opponents; many people are intelligent enough to see through propaganda, and when caught, such stunts are met with more negative political consequences against the intended positive benefit.
"Meet the Press" tried to gloss it over with an attempt to say it was "inadvertent", but let's be frank. That is a load of garbage. Hopefully your damage control division is effective, NBC, because if you sow the wind, you'll reap the whirlwind. Those of us on the Left can do much, much better than that.
Chuck Todd committed something more egregious than a simple faux pas on Sunday. He purposefully attempted to deceive millions of people on national TV. There is absolutely no way that NBC and Chuck Todd—and consequently the, perhaps, dozens of producers who approved of the clip—made a simple mistake. It was deliberate and disgraceful.
In the clip, Attorney General Bill Barr responded to a question asked by a reporter about the DOJ’s decision to drop the charges against former NSA Michael Flynn and how history will view that decision. AG Barr responded by saying that “history is written by the winners. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history.” At this point, Todd and NBC cut the clip to make it appear Barr was saying the DOJ had dropped the charges against Flynn for political reasons. AG Barr’s next statement is the most important, however: “But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, ad it undid what was an injustice."
I agree with your statement that “the greatest shame lies not in admitting an error, but in not doing so.” But a simple tweet is not going to cut it. Sunday’s Meet the Press show had a viewership north of four million people. Contrast that with their “apologetic” tweet that has less than five-thousand likes. Chuck Todd needs to make an on-air apology for his blatant attempt at misleading his viewers.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. For instance, last week on CBS News, a clip of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was edited to make it appear that he claimed the Coronavirus was a manmade disease—something scientists have proven is false.
Mainstream media outlets need to realize that viewers will not put up with this kind of demagoguery for long. Americans want a free and honest press, and they will eventually find it somewhere.
Full Responsibility and Nothing Less
Many people are familiar with what it’s like to have to correct what you said about something after a friend or colleague accidentally misrepresents you. Imagine trying to correct what you said to not just one friend or colleague, but to an entire nation. And imagine that instead of it being an accidental mistake where full responsibility is taken, it’s a malicious attack on your reputation.
This is the situation in which attorney general Barr finds himself. There are multiple problems with the way that NBC handled themselves throughout the course of this predicament. First, is the initial offense, and second is the way they dealt with that offense after they were caught.
When quoting people, it’s essential to only use that quote in a way that accurately represents what they were trying to say at the time. Kids as young as middle schoolers are taught when learning how to quote evidence inside an essay that they should NEVER take a phrase or quote out of context. And that’s exactly what NBC did.
When handling the situation after they were called out, they did admit that they did something wrong. However, they have not yet shown that they really care about it, because a tweet bounds the extent of their apology. Now, this would be acceptable if they had wronged the attorney general in a tweet. However, they wronged him on-air, and so that is where the apology needs to happen. Anywhere else shows that they don’t take the issue seriously.
It’s almost impossible to get away from the bias in the media(however, I hope you have found refuge from that at leftright.news), but the least that we can do, on the right and on the left, is to let people accurately represent themselves, and when mistakes are made we need to take full responsibility.
I suppose I am in the lone minority here. There was no "inaccurate quoting" and the backlash against this is entirely overblown. If one has ever sat in the editor's chair they'd understand. Quotes are very often slimmed down or cut entirely.
Now, I would've been in agreement that the edits were unacceptable if there'd been an attempt to string words together into sentences that Barr never said. He said what he said. More importantly, the first two sentences of his statement deliver the message that the sentences that follow continue to expand on. But the core "thesis" was correctly left in by whoever edited this bit.
So Barr holds an opinion, expresses his opinion, which isn't materially different with the inclusion or exclusion of the full statement, so what's the issue here? Trump's lambasting of NBC and the right-wing "uproar" is so ridiculous.
Could someone even tell me why exactly his statements are so controversial in the first place? It's not all that inaccurate, lest we pretend to live in a fantasy land where history is written in a Kumbaya circle where we all have a say about what gets left in and what gets tossed out.
Barr is not saying "I write the history" or "I am the winner." Barr is saying: "History is written by the winners. So it largely depends on who's writing the history." As a woman who has spent the majority of her life in academic settings, that's something I'm used to. From courses in history, philosophy, literature, to politics, the vast majority of material I studied was written by men. Meanwhile, there were millions of women alive and well whose stories and contributions are still reluctantly incorporated into course materials (lest it be designated to a "special" category of women and gender studies). That's why we have revisionist history. I hope to see a world in a few decades where women's contributions are canonized alongside their male counterparts. Now that's something worth talking about.