A cyber security expert featured on the February 4 NBC Nightly News is alleging that producers edited the story in such a way as to sensationalize the threat that tourists at the Olympic Games in Sochi face from hackers.
Hadas Gold of Politico has the story in a piece at the paper's On Media blog:
On Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News and Thursday’s Today, NBC hyped the notion that Palestinian guerrilla leader Yasser Arafat “may have” been assassinated by poisoning. They let Palestinians accuse Israel, and bizarrely suggested only Israel “considered” Arafat a terrorist (forgetting decades where the U.S. officially agreed).
There was no NBC update Friday when NPR’s All Things Considered reported the Palestinian Authority released a separate Russian study that did not confirm the notion of poisoning with Polonium-210. NBC didn’t offer any journalist or government official who disagreed with the pro-Arafat line:
TV Newser reported NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is the 2013 recipient of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. “From the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Arab Spring and the West Bank, Richard Engel’s courage and integrity inform his reporting,” said Steve Coll, Dean of the Columbia Journalism School and a former editor of The Washington Post.
This is almost poetic: Engel routinely bad-mouthed U.S. wars in the Bush years, and as an NBC commentator after during the first Gulf War, Chancellor infamously announced in 1992 that it was “embarrassing” that more Americans didn’t die from Iraqi fire:
On Tuesday's NBC Today, during a report on a attack against Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison that freed hundreds of Al Qaeda terrorists, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel couldn't resist slamming the U.S. for past abuses at the facility: "Abu Ghraib prison, notorious for American abuses and humiliations that [turned] an untold number against the United States, remains an open wound." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Engel began the segment by dismissing the Iraq war as a futile effort: "Iraq is now back in a civil war U.S. officials tell NBC News. The hard-fought U.S. surge there, the benefits of an American war to stop Iraq's civil war, are being wiped out. In car bombs, ambushes and gun fights, more than 250 killed in ten days."
At the top of Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel forwarded anti-Israel sentiment during a segment about President Obama's trip to the Middle East: "I think the President went there to give Israel a big hug. Some people in the region think that he went too far, that he went too far to embrace Zionism as an ideology, not just the State of Israel." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Engel declared: "Israel feels very threatened, very unsure about its future. That's obvious by the way they are walling themselves in psychologically and physically....the idea was to make Israel feel secure in an increasingly insecure region." He lamented: "The Palestinians generally were disappointed with the trip, nothing concrete coming out of it."
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel described Israel's precarious position in the Middle East: "Israel sees the world just beyond its borders collapsing. The war in Syria....Hamas in charge in Gaza....The Muslim Brotherhood running Egypt." He proclaimed that the Jewish state "hasn't ever been popular in this neighborhood, but now its enemies are at the gate and angry." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Despite explaining the dangerous situation, Engel portrayed Israel as an almost paranoid nation cutting itself off from the outside world: "Israel is becoming a fortress. Fences along the borders with Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. More fences around the Gaza Strip, and a massive wall along the West Bank. A country the size of New Jersey with more than 500 miles of barricades. Israel is shutting out the Arab world and shutting itself in."
In a report on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War for Tuesday's NBC Today, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel was unable to conceal his contempt for the conflict: "Iraq's oil money was supposed to pay for the war. It didn't work out that way. From now on, the war set its own agenda, an insurgency erupted that became a religious civil war....Iraqis accuse the United States of invading to find weapons of mass destruction that were never there, and destroying a delicate religious balance." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Engel continued: "The [Bush] White House stopped claiming all was well in Iraq, and thousands more troops surged. The violence dropped, and Americans left. Nine years, almost 4,500 troops killed, 32,000 wounded, 130,000 Iraqi civilians killed. The cost, according to a new study, nearly $2 trillion."
On Friday's NBC Today, fill-in co-host Lester Holt hyped unfounded speculation surrounding the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI: "More than a week after his resignation became official, there are still a lot of controversial theories about why Pope Benedict XVI stepped down. NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is looking into them at the Vatican." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Previewing a report for Rock Center, Engel proclaimed: "What we still don't know, not definitively anyway, is why Pope Benedict decided to retire....[Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi] exposed some of the Vatican's most guarded secrets. A scoop seen in Italy as big as Watergate. Italians call it 'Vatileaks.'"
At the top of Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie suggested ulterior motives behind Pope Benedict XIV's abdication: "Vatican intrigue. Is there more to Pope Benedict's sudden decision to step down?" In the report that followed, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel also insinuated something more: "Although there's no evidence to suggest a motive, other than old age, the Pope's unusual departure has left some wondering." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Engel then turned to a random man on the street wearing a fedora, who speculated: "It could be deeper, you know, than what we've been told at the moment." Moments later, Engel provided more anonymous rumors: "Italians say his age and the weight of scandals, especially revelations of sexual abuse by priests, may have gotten to the scholarly Pontiff."
During the recent war in Gaza, NBC News used two images of which definitely one and possibly both qualify as deceptive propaganda against Israel's war effort.
The first example is the infamous image of a child who was killed by shrapnel from a rocket fired out of Gaza by the terrorist group Hamas, but which some news outlets, including CNN, attributed to an Israeli airstrike early on.
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, as Richard Engel informed viewers that the Israeli military drops leaflets in Gaza to warn civilians when airstrikes are about to happen so they can evacuate to safety, the NBC correspondent still managed to put a negative spin on the warnings that are meant to diminish civilian casualties. After recounting that frightened civilians frantically left from their homes, Engel observed:
Leading off Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams wrung his hands over Israel suffering fewer casualties than Gaza in the ongoing Mideast conflict: "It is a lop-sided fight right now, the estimated death toll is more than a hundred in Gaza, with three Israelis reported dead. The fusillade of rockets from Gaza into Israel is being answered by air strikes, many from drones, many aimed at individuals inside buildings, inside densely packed neighborhoods."
Williams's desire for a fairer fight was reminiscent of former NBC commentator John Chancellor's reaction to the Persian Gulf War in 1992, telling then-Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw: "Greenpeace, the public interest organization, believes that the Iraqi death toll, civilian and military, before and after the war, may be as high as 198,000. Allied military dead are counted in the low hundreds. The disparity is huge and somewhat embarrassing."
On Friday's World News on ABC, correspondent Alex Marquardt relayed without question a claim by "one of the militant groups behind" the rocket attacks on Israel that they "wouldn't fire rockets if Israel wasn't killing us," even though almost 700 rockets had already been fired out of Gaza into the Jewish state between January 1 and November 5, well before Israel's recent sustained military campaign began.
Reporting for Thursday's NBC Rock Center, chief foreign affairs correspondent Richard Engel ranted over the lack of infrastructure spending to protect against Hurricane Sandy and tried to blame it on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: "...the thing we've spent the most money on, a trillion-plus dollars, the most American lives on, and that has been bringing democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, with very questionable results." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Rather than be in Lybia covering the growing scandal over the Obama administration's botched response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Engel sat in the NBC News New York studio and proclaimed: "People I've spoken to, experts in this field, say we would be a lot safer, not just richer, if we had spent a lot of that money on improving infrastructure."
Quick! Get NBC's Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel a chair.
Engel claims that he was so shocked at Barack Obama's statement that he now considers Egypt neither an ally nor an enemy that he "almost had to sit down." So if this is true, why did Obama support the overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak who was very much our ally, Engel wonders. Here (and below the fold) in this video is Engel in desperate need of a chair over the shock administered by Obama's uncertainity about whether Egypt is friend or foe.
Introducing a report on the ongoing civil war in Syria on Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams made sure to promote PR from the White House: "...the State Department and the Pentagon are now working together on plans for Syria after Assad, hoping to avoid the chaos they believe broke out because of the lack of planning for a post-Saddam Iraq." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
However, the report that followed by chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel seemed to undermine the notion of a well-planned U.S. strategy in Syria against the Assad regime: "A rebel commander with a hundred fighters in [the city of] Aleppo told us today if the rebels don't receive a massive influx of weapons within the next 72 hours, they'll have to give up the fight."
On Saturday's Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC, NBC correspondent Richard Engel conveyed that the reform advocates who led the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt are distraught at the kinds of candidates that Egyptian voters are choosing to replace Mubarak, with both major presidential candidates likely to curtail freedom if elected. Engel recounted: (Video at bottom)
North Koreans appear even more prickly about criticism of their dear leadership as American liberals are of theirs.
On her MSNBC show last night, Rachel Maddow was interviewing NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel live from Pyongyang shortly after a long-range missile launched by the communist regime broke apart and crashed into the sea. (video after page break)
On Thursday, as NBC's Today show covered the eruption of more than a dozen bombings in Iraq just days after the pullout of U.S. troops, correspondent Richard Engel argued against the view that the Obama administration should have been more effective in negotiating an agreement with the Iraqi government for an extended U.S. troop presence which might have helped ward off such attacks. (Video below)
As Engel appeared on set, co-anchor Ann Curry posed:
At the top of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams sadly declared: "At a ceremony in Baghdad today, the Americans lowered the flag and it was a quiet ending to a war that went bad not long after its spectacular start." While Williams stressed the "high cost" of the war, citing figures of dead and wounded, the report that followed ignored accomplishments in the conflict.
Chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel followed Williams sorrowful tone: "For a big war, it was a remarkably small closing ceremony. A few hundred troops, a five-piece band on a base by the airport on the edge of Baghdad." He later rhetorically wondered: "Did America prevail? Iraq's future remains uncertain....What was conspicuously absent today, Brian, there were no parades among Iraqis, no victory celebrations, no thank yous."
Opening NBC's Nightly News on Wednesday, anchor Brian Williams touted the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq as an Obama administration accomplishment while slamming the war effort itself: "The President promised they'd be out by New Year's Eve and here they come....The war started with the event somebody called 'shock and awe' and it became a tragic and prolonged slog."
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker announced: "Mr. Obama has opposed the war since his days as a state senator. And today he said it's harder to end a war than to begin one....The President, facing a tough re-election battle, did not declare victory in Iraq, but has called the withdrawal a campaign promise kept."
NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel is my favorite frequent guest on "The Rachel Maddow Show" -- who knows what he might say. Certainly not Maddow.
Engel didn't disappoint in his last appearance on her program Oct. 20, subtly calling Maddow out for a conspicuous omission in her recounting of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi renouncing his weapons of mass destruction. (video after page break)
George W. Bush spoke out repeatedly during his term for the spread of democracy throughout the Middle East. He said it was insulting to assume that Arabs or Muslims were incapable of democratic reforms. Bush overthrew dictators in Iraq and Afghanistan and allowed elections to proceed. But NBC's chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, was adamant on National Public Radio on Friday: You cannot credit Bush policies for the "Arab Spring."
NPR Fresh Air host Terry Gross seemed to be hoping Engel would help her out and denounce Bush:
Just as they did right after the killing of Osama bin Laden back in May, NBC's Brian Williams and Richard Engel interrupted Sunday morning's ceremonies marking the tenth annivesary of the 9/11 attacks to pontificate against the war in Iraq.
At about 9:30am on Sunday, during live coverage of the events at Ground Zero, Williams instructed the audience: "Iraq had nothing do with this." Correspondent Richard Engel quickly echoed: "Iraq had nothing to do with this," before complaining: "And that message is still lost today." (Video and transcript after the jump; h/t Gerardo)
On Friday’s NBC Nightly News, as correspondent Richard Engel informed viewers that many thousands of Egyptians are again protesting against the government in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, he noted that organizers of the original protests fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will have too much influence in the new government, and recounted the Islamist group’s increased power in Egypt since January.
He went on to highlight the "staunchly anti-Israel" views of the Brotherhood and showed a clip of one of the group’s leaders making an anti-Semitic statement accusing Jews of wanting to "live in war," claiming that it is their "history":
Appearing on Sunday's Meet the Press, NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel worried about the cost of combating terrorism and took the opportunity to bash the effort: "You talk about money the U.S. spent fighting this global war on terrorism. I think, which is a terrible misnomer, it's like a war on fear or something like that. And I think in many ways it has been a war of fear." [Audio available here]
On NBC's Nightly News on Monday, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel used a report on the history of the war on terror to attack the Bush administration for going to war in Iraq: "...when civil war in Iraq broke out, American troops were stuck....it was a distraction from the United States' original mission to find Bin Laden, stop Al Qaeda, and prevent another 9/11."[Audio available here]
Engel began his report by describing the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11th attacks, but soon shifted into commentary as he mockingly proclaimed: "...regime change in Afghanistan, done with few troops and high technology, seemed so easy. The Bush White House tried it again in Iraq." He further ranted: "Afghanistan and Iraq were lumped together in what was called a 'global war on terrorism.' The truth was, there was never a connection between Iraq and Osama Bin Laden. There were no weapons of mass destruction, either."
On Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel informed viewers that he is "worried" that a major war between some of the Arab countries and Israel could be in the not too distant future because of the "ferociously anti-Israel" sentiment of the "Arab street" that is likely to gain power in countries like Egypt. He ended up concluding: "But I think, over time, this thing ends in Jerusalem."
After host Brian Williams and Engel had discussed the likely prosecution of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and the disappointment of Libyan rebels at the level of assistance to their cause supplied by NATO, Williams posed the question: "You’re back here in New York for a few days. The question I’ve seen most people ask you: Where does this all end?"
Engel sounded more pessimistic than he did during the protests in Egypt from January and February. Engel:
This whole movement in the Middle East, and I'm worried about it because while people in the region deserve more rights and they want more rights and they're embracing more of the will of the Arab street, well, the will of the Arab street is also ferociously anti-Israel, against Israel.