NBC's 'Meet the Press' Makes, Breaks Promise to Inspiring Marathon Bombing Survivor
Adrianne Haslet-Davis is a Boston Marathon bombing survivor who insists that she not be called a "victim" ("I am not defined by what happened in my life. I am a survivor, defined by how I live my life").
The Boston Herald writes that "Haslet-Davis became a symbol of Boston Strong when she made good on her vow to dance again in a front-page Herald story last year. This past month she performed a rumba on a bionic leg designed by an MIT brainiac who is himself a double amputee. The performance was at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Vancouver." On Friday, NBC News, which three weeks ago posted a story on Haslet-Davis's first post-bombing performance, deliberately and by its own admission broke a promise it had made to her as a condition for her appearance in a taped panel discussion in advance of the network's next Meet the Press program.
She said NBC staffers promised to not name the accused bombers while she was on the show. When that didn't happen, she got up and walked out of the Boston taping.
Haslet-Davis's open letter to NBC is at her web site and at Joe Dwinell's and John Zaremba's Herald story. It reads, in full (bolds are mine throughout this post):
To whom it may concern,
I need to follow up on what I expressed to the coordinator, the host and the executive producer before I left the studio.
I needn't apologize for leaving you this morning, as you made your decision. I am not one to ask for people to wait on me hand and foot, for people to bend over backwards and leave their own well being to take care of mine...this is not my character nor is it my intent.
But I did specifically ask of two things for this interview, one being that his name (and you know to whom I refer to) not be mentioned in my presence. Your decision to back out on that promise you made and the horrific way you brought that decision to my attention just minutes prior to taping was not only a cowardice move but a dishonorable one as well. To say that I am hurt is an understatement, for you not only disrespected me, you disrespected the survivors of the bombing and the victims memories by blatantly disregarding this request and putting the value of a terrorist's name, who put a city in turmoil and caused irrevocable damage physically and emotionally to people of this city, over Boston's integrity, fortitude, and my personal well being.
My second request you know of, to be referred to as a survivor, not a victim. This one you honored, but I think you forget what a victim truly is defined as. For I will not be a victim, not on anyones level, whether it be from a terrorist, or the press.
Haslet-Davis also tweeted: "I feel so disrespected @meetthepress. I asked politely yesterday and you said yes. Now you choose to use the name instead."
The responses from David Gregory and NBC tell you all you need to know about their lack of integrity.
A commenter at Twitchy perfectly described Gregory's non-apology:
Gregory didn't apologize. He said he was sorry the lady was insulted. An apology is not indirect. It says "I am sorry." It doesn't lay off part of the blame on another party. Typical MSM speak.
NBC's response, as reported at the Herald, was just as cowardly:
An NBC News spokeswoman issued the following statement:
“Adrianne Haslet-Davis is an inspiring survivor with an important story to share. She was due to take part in a roundtable discussion for Meet the Press with three other participants. She requested that the alleged bombers’ names not be used in the entire program, but given the nature of the discussion we couldn’t make that guarantee. We regret any distress caused by this miscommunication.”
... The spokeswoman said NBC News president Deborah Turness "personally called her afterward to express regret."
"NBC News is very invested in covering Boston – especially the stories of the survivors," the statement said.
There was no "miscommunication" — at least not to Haslet-Davis.
Perhaps a staffer made an unauthorized promise the higher-ups decided they couldn't, or wouldn't, keep. But if that were the case, one would think that the irreconcilable problem would have been communicated to Haslet-Davis before she traveled to wherever the show's taping was to take place.
It seems far more likely that NBC made a promise, got Haslet-Davis down to its studios, and then cynically calculated that it could break it ("oh, she won't really mind"), thereby capitalizing on the appeal of having an inspiring Boston survivor on its program. Perhaps they even thought they could generate footage of a victim's tears to further boost their precious ratings.
There is room for debate as to whether NBC should have made such a promise in the first place. But there shouldn't be any controversy about whether it should have kept it once Haslet-Davis arrived at its studios.
A tweet captured at Twitchy summarized the situation nicely:
Some people forget how to be human. They lost a viewer and others will follow.
Losing viewers is something NBC and David Gregory can ill afford.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.