NBC News was hammered Sunday for tweeting out a half-quote from President-elect Donald Trump’s chief of staff that made it seem as though the new administration was leaving the door open to a Muslim registry.
During an interview with Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus, Trump’s newly named chief of staff, on NBC News’ Meet the Press, moderator Chuck Todd asked if he could “rule out a registry for Muslims.”
“Look, I’m not going to rule out anything,” Priebus told Todd.
However, after those first eight words, Priebus immediately added, “But we’re not going to have a registry based on religion. But what I think what we’re trying to do is say that there are some people, certainly not all people, Chuck, there are some people that are radicalized. And there are some people that have to be prevented from coming into this country.”
The network’s public relations department, however, posted only the first eight words in a tweet to promoting the segment.
“WH Chief of Staff @Reince ‘not going to rule out anything’ when asked about a possible Muslim registry,” read the tweet.
— NBC News PR (@NBCNewsPR) November 20, 2016
A tweet from NBC News was similarly misleading.
Reince Priebus on Muslim registry plan: ‘I’m not going to rule out anything’ https://t.co/YN2EIWJmdd
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 20, 2016
Mainstream outlets picked up on the NBC promotion, with Time magazine releasing an article titled, “Reince Priebus Says Donald Trump’s Team Won’t ‘Rule Out’ Muslim Registry.”
The article, written by Mahita Gajanan, gives the false impression in its title that Priebus was indicating that the Trump administration would consider instituting a Muslim ban, when the full quote of his exchange with Todd clearly shows the exact opposite.
In fact, the article immediately contradicts its own premise, starting with the sentence, “But Priebus also said they’re not planning to create a Muslim registry,” before adding, “Reince Priebus, soon-to-be-White House Chief of Staff, said Donald Trump’s team is not planning to establish a Muslim registry.”
The New York Daily News ran an article titled, “Reince Priebus declines to ‘rule out’ Muslim registry,” which also contradicted its own premise immediately with the first sentence stating, “Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday President-elect Donald Trump is not planning to create a Muslim registry — but declined to rule anything out.”
The disingenuous nature of the NBC promotion and articles that followed up on it with sensationalist headlines was not lost on many readers.
— Atlas Manly (@GunnyMalone) November 20, 2016
— Brian Barton (@barton_brian) November 20, 2016
— Brenda Joyce (@onlybrenda1) November 20, 2016
Even others in the liberal media called out NBC News, including The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman.
This quote is in fact opposite of what PR tweet indicates https://t.co/oCysHiiMgW
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 20, 2016
Charlie Warzel of BuzzFeed also called out the dishonest nature of NBC News and those who piled on.
this = an irresponsible half-quote w/o even a link for context full quote continues “We’re not going to have a registry based on a religion” https://t.co/tllX68Jobs
— Charlie Warzel (@cwarzel) November 20, 2016
NBC has yet to offer a retraction, instead telling people they can watch the full interview for context while insisting it did nothing wrong because Priebus said he wouldn’t rule anything out.
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