Deception & Misdirection

The personification of NBC News

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

First, a quick note about the federal holiday this week. No, it wasn’t President’s Day. It was George Washington’s Birthday. See my article on calendar manipulation at .


Why are people surprised that Brian Williams turned out to be a fabulist? After all, he was the anchor of NBC News, which has severed all connection to reality.

As legions of bloggers have shown in the past couple of weeks, Williams’s tales about his exploits in Iraq, Lebanon, and post-Katrina New Orleans got better as time went by. (See Matt Vespa’s account at []). Williams was a man of courage and action, a heroic figure who put his life on the line to bring the Big Story to you, the viewer, or, at least, that’s what he wanted you to believe.

It must really hurt that NBC has suspended him without pay for six months (six months that, most observers reasonably assume, will turn into forever).

This is the network that painted Richard Jewell, the hero of the Olympic Park bombing, as the guy who planted the bomb. Jewell, you see, was the kind of person the folks at NBC News would consider a redneck and, as we all know, it’s rednecks like Jewell who are the real threat to America, so his guilt was an easy assumption.

This is the network that edited a 911 tape to make George Zimmerman look like a racist, prior to his trial in the death of Trayvon Martin. (According to Martin’s friend who was on the phone with him during the incident, Zimmerman was attacked because Martin thought he was gay.)

This is the network that supported the mob that wanted to lynch a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. (It turned out that he was defending himself from a young man who had robbed a convenience store, assaulted an Indian-American clerk less than half his size, and then, when confronted by the officer, tried to grab the officer’s gun. By the way, a study by the Washington Post indicates that about ten percent of the fatal shootings of police officers are committed with the officer’s own guns.) Time and time again, NBC presented the lynch mobs as people who were just seeking “justice for Michael Brown.”

This is the network that hired Chelsea Clinton as an on-air personality at $600,000 a year even though she lacked the broadcasting talent of a typical college radio station DJ. So little of Chelsea’s work made it to air that, according to one calculation, the network paid her almost $27,000 for each minute of airtime.

This is the network that gives a regular show on its 24-hour cable network, MSNBC, to the racist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, tax-dodging hate-monger Al Sharpton, a man with whom no decent person would associate.

This is the network that, incredibly, offered one of its most prestigious news positions—host of Meet the Press, the country’s longest-running TV program—to Jon Stewart.  By one account, the network offered Stewart “a truckload of money” to take the job. Stewart, it is said, is the main source of news for young voters across the country, which is troubling given that his show is basically fiction. (I used to write a satirical daily comic strip, and I respect the work of satirists, but there ain’t no fact-checking in satire. Stewart’s program, while often funny, represented the ill-informed political opinions of Stewart and his writers, who were mostly One-Percenters, among the most privileged people in the world. It’s no mystery why they constantly expressed disdain for the views of working-class and small-business-class Americans.)

In turn, Williams, who has hosted Saturday Night Live, is reported to have lobbied for Jay Leno’s job as host of the Tonight Show.

Two stories in the past week show the degree to which NBC News has lost touch with reality.

In Oregon, Governor John Kitzhaber (D) resigned due to a scandal in which he worked to funnel taxpayers money to various “green” scams while his fiancée (whom he designated the state’s First Lady) was on the payroll of environmentalist groups. Those groups had ties to some of the most powerful left-wing institutions and individuals in the country, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Service Employees International Union (the union most closely associated with the President), and Tom Steyer, the billionaire pushing the Democratic Party to become an instrument of radical environmentalism.  But you wouldn’t know about any of those ties from the reporting I saw on NBC News, which presented the Oregon mess as a simple case of a governor who has worked really hard for the people of his state but was brought down by his love for a woman. The NBC reporter covering the case made a point of trumpeting a description of Kitzhaber’s Democratic successor as “supremely capable of leading the state to better days ahead.” (The quote, which went unchallenged, was from a press release from a gay rights group.)

In North Carolina, the apparent hate-crime murder of three young college-age Muslims, a newlywed couple and the bride’s sister, was presented as the result of an argument over a parking space, or, perhaps, as the result of anti-Muslim paranoia. As far as I have been able to determine, NBC’s reports never mentioned the publicly stated political views of the alleged murderer—that he was a fan of leftist commentator/host Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, of atheist crusader Richard Dawkins, and of the Southern Poverty Law Center (a group that, with its careless listing of same-sex marriage opponents as members of hate groups, may have inspired a terrorist attack in 2012 on the traditionalist Family Research Council), and that he hated the Tea Party. I saw one NBC News story that mentioned his strongly atheist, anti-religious views, but the overall impression of the NBC reporting was that the perpetrator was a redneck Muslim-hater who was, after all, from North Carolina—or, as Dawkins put it, “NRA-land.”

Yep, that’s right. Dawkins, of whom the alleged killer was a fan, managed to twist the story around and suggest the NRA was at fault. It reminds me of what happened after the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords and others. The left-wing Daily Kos website had posted an attack on Rep. Gabby Giffords that could have been taken as a death threat—one of its writers called Giffords “Dead to me” for her vote against Nancy Pelosi—but the Daily Kos folks managed, within a few hours following the shooting of Giffords by a George Bush-hater, to suggest that the shooting was the fault of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, a theme that was taken up by all three major broadcast networks.

As talk show host Chris Plante often notes, the media’s most insidious power is the power to ignore. The Kitzhaber affair could be an object lesson in the corruption of “green” politics, but that aspect is ignored by NBC News and by almost all the news media. The murder of three young Muslims could put the spotlight on the white-hot hatred that some left-wing atheists have for Muslims, Christians, and other religious people, but NBC, along with most of the other media, downplay that aspect to the point that most viewers probably think the alleged killer is some sort of redneck Tea Partier.

Brian Williams probably wonders why he, of all people, is singled out for punishment. He is the personification of NBC News—and that includes the lyin’ part.

Dr. Steven J. Allen

A journalist with 45 years’ experience, Dr. Allen served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton and as senior researcher for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. He earned a master’s…
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