Last week, several mainstream media journalists ran with an out-of-context quote from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. At first glance, it made it look like she was saying President Trump was willing to ignore science to get kids to return to public school classrooms in the fall.

To quickly recap, here’s an example courtesy of CNN’s Jim Acosta of what many reporters posted to their Twitter feeds shortly after the Thursday press briefing:

McEnany’s full quote, which you can read here, was two paragraphs long. The essence of what she said was that the science is on the side of those like Trump, who wanted to reopen schools with in-person attendance fully. Even Acosta’s colleague Jake Tapper, another reporter who is prone to displaying liberal bias, stepped in to correct all of the false reports about what McEnany said.

As of this writing, though, Acosta and the other reporters who misreported the quote left their tweets up. Acosta’s has nearly 50,000 RTs to date.

Fast forward three days to Sunday. Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd hosted a special edition of his show titled “The COVID Crisis,” which was little more than a 45-minute “bash Trump’s handling of the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak along with the red state Republican governors who support him” program.

During the first seven minutes of the broadcast, the shortened clip of McEnany’s comments about how science “should not stand in the way of this” ran twice. First at the 1:08 mark and then at the 6:10 mark, as you can see below (I’ve set the video to start at the first instance of it being shown):

In both cases where they played remarks, Todd gave no context. He used the deceptively shortened quote to lend credence to a claim Todd made at the opening about how Trump was allegedly “continuing to deny the reality on the ground” about the Wuhan Coronavirus. Except for the reality of it was that McEnany said more than what Todd included in the video montages shown at the start of Meet the Press.

George Washington University law school professor Jonathan Turley called out Todd’s deceptive use of McEnany’s quote in a post published at his website, as well as in a Twitter thread Sunday morning not long after the episode aired:

“There comes a point where you are no longer informing but indoctrinating the public.” Sadly, American journalism hit that point a long time ago.

There is an irony of Todd using the edited quote to prove his biased point about Trump supposedly living in an alternative reality. Last Wednesday, he claimed on live TV with a straight face that “there is no editorial view here on any of these newscasts on MSNBC in the daytime.” He said this just seconds after MSNBC anchor Katy Tur editorialized for a good 60 seconds after a heated back and forth with Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh:

Some people on Twitter took it as a veiled scolding of Tur, suggesting Todd’s disclaimer was an example of him showing a commitment to objective journalism. In reality, the only thing Todd was upset about was the fact that Tur was so open with her display of bias and made no attempt to hide it, as Todd often tries and fails to do himself on his Sunday shows.

Case in point: Two months ago, Todd was caught doing the exact same thing he did with the McEnany clip. Except in the May example, it was a shortened clip of comments made by Attorney General Bill Barr during an interview he did with CBS News’s Catherine Herridge.

Two days later, Todd apologized and stated that he and the Meet the Press staff should have checked the transcript instead of relying on two shortened clips, which he claimed were the only ones he’d seen of the Barr interview.

I didn’t give Todd the benefit of the doubt then, and I’m certainly not giving it to him now. There comes the point when you begin to understand that these are not merely innocent mistakes, especially when you consider staffers, and the anchors themselves have access to the full videos and transcripts for just about every public figure they quote.

Doing something like this once could maybe be considered a mistake. Maybe. But doing it a second time and so soon after the first constitutes a pattern, and it’s something that shouldn’t be forgiven even in the event Todd issues another apology.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —

 

 
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