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NBC’s Weekend of Creative Journalism

NBC bookended Mother’s Day weekend by spreading deception about key players in the Trump Administration.

Former Republican congressman, turned MSNBC morning show host, Joe Scarborough kicked it off on Twitter Friday evening, retweeting a false narrative about Vice President Mike Pence. Late night television host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted a video of Pence carrying empty boxes into a hospital, claiming that it was all a ruse for the cameras. In fact, Pence had just finished carrying full boxes of protective gear, then jokingly picked up an empty box and suggested he carry it for the benefit of camera operators. The video was called “phony” by the Washington Post and tagged “manipulated media” by Twitter.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz pounced on Scarborough, calling him dishonest and corrupt. Scarborough took the low road, invoking Cruz’s wife and father and embellishing on some things President Trump insinuated on the campaign trail in 2016.

The back-and-forth continued, as Cruz said Scarborough chased after Trump like “a teenage girl throwing her panties at the latest boy band,” an analogy to Scarborough’s early praise of Trump in the 2016 cycle. Cruz gave it a rest after that, but the Morning Joe host got in two more shots, insisting that Cruz is a sellout whom nobody believes.

To his credit, Scarborough issued apologies to Pence and Cruz the next day, possibly while nursing a hangover.

Not to be outdone, NBC’s flagship political program, Meet the Press, misrepresented Attorney General William Barr’s comments to its 4 million viewers on Sunday morning. MTP’s later admission and apology to its 631,000 Twitter followers didn’t likely right the wrong.

Host Chuck Todd played a clip of Barr’s interview with Katherine Herridge of CBS. Herridge asked Barr, “When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written?”

Barr answered, “Well history is written by the winners. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history. 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, and it undid what was an injustice.”

Only, Todd cut off everything but the first two sentences of Barr’s reply, then went on to say that he was “struck by the cynicism of the answer.” Todd added, “He didn’t make the case that he was upholding the rule of law. He was almost admitting that yeah, this was a political job.”

Hello… In Barr’s very next sentence – the point where NBC decided to edit – the Attorney General says exactly what Todd claimed he didn’t say. This is one of the most salacious acts of deceptive journalism, by one of the oldest and most respected political news vehicles anywhere. To put it another way, this is the epitome of “fake news.” And it took DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec to call them out on it before NBC owned up to their “inadvertent” error.

This is why the American media has never been less trusted than they are today. Terms like “fake news,” “liberal media” and others get tossed around, sometimes a little too easily. But examples like this one drive home the notion that you just can’t believe what you watch, read or hear anymore, without a giant shaker of salt.

There are lots of angles the media can take to legitimately criticize President Trump and his administration. They don’t have to advance false narratives and broadcast lies (it really was a lie to contend that Barr didn’t say something he actually said). Their credibility with anyone other than those who live three clicks left of center might also be helped if the media were to cover successes of the administration – there actually have been quite a few. But that’s just my once youthful optimism talking. I’d settle for honest, factual news coverage. I guess I’ll be looking somewhere other than NBC.

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