NBC News Twists Its Network’s Pledge Censorship Into Slam at Rick Perry’s Intolerance

Trying to submerge its own network’s “under God” censorship into a greater narrative, Monday’s NBC Nightly News managed to combine into one disjointed story, pegged to “a tough slog” over the weekend “when it comes to the campaign to get along in our public discourse,” the NBC Sports decision to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance in its opening montage for the U.S. Open golf tournament, “distress” by “Republicans at a leadership conference over an Obama impersonator’s racially tinged jokes,” how “on conservative network Fox News, anchor Chris Wallace and liberal comedian Jon Stewart went at it” and that “Texas Governor Rick Perry won the loudest applause with this line.”

The awful remark, which NBC aired as its last example in a story which carried “BAD DECISIONS” as the on-screen tag: “Let's speak with pride about our morals and our values. Let's stop this American downward spiral!”

Anchor Brian Williams, at least, set up the jumbled story by acknowledging “our own network took a justified beating for something that was omitted during sports coverage.” 

From the Monday, June 20 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: A few incidents that took place this past weekend made it a tough slog when it comes to the campaign to get along in our public discourse. Our own network took a justified beating for something that was omitted during sports coverage. There was an attempt at comedy that may not have been judged that funny and some comedians who were downright angry. NBC’s Mike Taibbi has our report.

MIKE TAIBBI: The capper to an ideologically contentious weekend was actually a sports event, NBC’s Sunday broadcast of the final round of the U.S. open. It began with a patriotic montage featuring children reciting the pledge of allegiance.

CHILDREN: One nation-

MILITARY VOICES: Order.

CHILDREN: -with liberty and justice for all.

TAIBBI: But edited out, twice in the segment, the words “under God.” NBC was swamped with complaints from a digital universe. “Unpatriotic” and “godless” were the most frequent criticisms, prompting an on air apology.

VOICE OF NBC SPORTS HOST: It was not done to upset anyone.

TAIBBI: And today a second apology from NBC Sports calling the “under God” omissions a “bad decision,” saying “we are aware of the distress this has caused many of our viewers.” Also distressed, Republicans at a leadership conference over an Obama impersonator’s racially tinged jokes. This one about black history month:

OBAMA IMPERSONATOR: Michelle, she celebrates the full month and I celebrate half.

TAIBBI: And then other jokes bashing Republicans. He got the hook. And on conservative network Fox News, anchor Chris Wallace and liberal comedian Jon Stewart went at it.

JON STEWART ON FOX NEWS SUNDAY: You really think that's a political comment?

CHRIS WALLACE: Yes.

STEWART: You're insane.

TAIBBI: Back at the Republican Leadership Conference, Texas Governor Rick Perry won the loudest applause with this line.

TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Let's speak with pride about our morals and our values. [Edit jump] Let's stop this American downward spiral!

TAIBBI: Right-left, red-blue, it seems our cultural divide is as divided as ever.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center