Above is a damning tweet from the Justice Department reacting to a stunning breach of journalism ethics, basic honesty and fairness by NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. It memorializes the descent of the once iconic Sunday news show, and indeed the nation’s entire mainstream media, into total corruption to a degree that was once, even a few years ago, unimaginable.
We had already discussed here the shocking disinformation advanced by Barack Obama, decisively debunked by law professor Jonathan Turley, as the former POTUS claimed that the dismissal of the charges against Michael Flynn over prosecutorial misconduct (that Obama appears to have had a hand in) posed a threat to the rule of law. Several of our more cynical commenters here opined that the news media would cover for Obama as they set out to smear Attorney General Barr and the Trump Administration in defiance of the facts. At the time, I had not learned about today’s debacle on “Meet the Press.”
Its host, ChuckTodd used a deceptively edited portion of Barr’s interview last week with CBS News investigative reporter Catherine Herridge to attack the Attorney General while misrepresenting his statement.
Todd commented on the following exchange between Barr and Herridge:
HERRIDGE: In closing, this was a big decision in the Flynn case, to say the least. When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written? What will it say about your decision making?
BARR: Well, history is written by the winner. 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.
Except that Todd used the introduction to Barr’s answer to the question and left out his actual response. All the NBC audience learned about what he said was, “Well, history is written by the winner. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history.”
The redaction alone is outrageously unethical, editing the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement official and materially altering his response to distort his answer regarding a major Justice Department decision. But Todd then attacked Barr based on the false and deceptive version of what the AG said, saying,
“I was struck … by the cynicism of the answer. It’s a correct answer. But he’s the attorney general. He didn’t make the case that he was upholding the rule of law. He was almost admitting that, yeah, this is a political job.”
The section of Barr’s answer that Todd hid from his viewers, was: “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.” Todd had the audacity to criticize Barr for not saying what he did say and that NBC cut from his answer.
I don’t know how broadcast journalism sinks lower than that. A lawyer who presented evidence in a trial that he had edited like that would be disbarred: that’s fraud on the court. A journalist who does this on national television should be fired; even being exiled to MSNBC like serial liar Brian Williams isn’t enough.
In addition to being unethical and disrespectful to his audience, Todd’s deception was stupid, not that this is any surprise regarding Todd, who has repeatedly proven himself to be a dolt. It may be true that all of the networks except Fox News share the same bias, but they are still competitors. Did NBC and Todd really think that CBS, on which the original, complete interview aired, would just sit back and not point out Todd’s hackery on a rival network?
Because it didn’t. CBS’s Herridge quickly posted a video of her interview with Barr that showed the full context of Barr’s answer and also included the following additional exchange:
HERRIDGE: When the special counsel report was released last year, you were accused by critics of putting your thumb on the scale in the president’s favor. Are you doing the president’s bidding in General Flynn’s case?
BARR: No, I’m doing the law’s bidding. I’m doing my duty under the law, as I see it.
Just as predictably, Barr spokeswoman Kerri Kupec responded to the segment by posting screenshots on Twitter of the transcript from what Todd said and what Barr said in his CBS News interview, writing: “Very disappointed by the deceptive editing/commentary by @ChuckTodd on @MeetThePress on AG Barr’s CBS interview. Compare the two transcripts below. Not only did the AG make the case in the VERY answer Chuck says he didn’t, he also did so multiple times throughout the interview.”
You know, I’m angry at my head for exploding over this. I don’t know why I am constantly surprised at the depth of the news media’s bias and lack of ethics. What’s left after this? We have no trustworthy journalism at all. There are apparently no limits to what journalists will do to mislead and manipulate.
I was depressed today before I learned about this. Now I’m more depressed, and have to duct tape my head together.
UPDATE: Caught red-handed, NBC posted this on Twitter in response to DOJ’s tweet;
You’re correct. Earlier today, we inadvertently and inaccurately cut short a video clip of an interview with AG Barr before offering commentary and analysis. The remaining clip included important remarks from the attorney general that we missed, and we regret the error.
Inadvertently my…eye. Does NBC expect us to believe that Chuck Todd didn’t review the whole interview he planned on commenting about? If so, his incompetence is almost as flagrant as his bias. Meanwhile, how does the network plan on undoing its misinformation? It’s not going to happen with a tweet.