It's been several weeks since NBC disgraced itself by repeatedly airing doctored audio of George Zimmerman talking to a 9-1-1 dispatcher but the network has yet to apologize on the air, hoping instead that its paltry efforts of firing a lone producer and conducting an investigation into the matter but not releasing a report to the public would be sufficient.
Incredibly, it was a New York Times columnist, David Carr, who decided to confront the network on how that just isn't enough. NBC News president Steve Capus admitted his efforts have been insufficient but tried to spin away why his network hasn't bothered to tell viewers about its propagation of fraudulent journalism.
Following a series of anonymous leaks, NBC has released its first on-the-record statements regarding the internal investigation into its misleading audio clip of George Zimmerman's 9-1-1 call.
According to NBC, the controversial clip, which appeared during its "Today" morning news show, was edited deliberately by the producer to fit within time constraints and not for some other reason. Speaking to Reuters, NBC News president Steve Capus asserted that the individual, who has been fired but whose name has not been disclosed, had made "a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call."
Former National Public Radio president Vivian Schiller, who was at the center of a pair of controversies that roiled NPR in recent months, has reportedly taken a position with NBC News.
Schiller resigned from her post at NPR after footage surfaced showing two of NPR's senior fundraising executives making offensive comments towards conservatives. Though Schiller was not in the video, she accepted responsibility as president of the organization. Schiller also came under fire for her handling of the firing of Juan Williams late last year. She was forced to apologize for suggesting that Williams should seek psychiatric care.
Keith Olbermann and the heads of NBC - including former Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw - are apparently in the middle of a civil war over the "Countdown" host's recent campaign contributions that resulted in his brief suspension.
According to the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, the deepening sense of anger and frustration with Olbermann's behavior could lead to his eventual departure from MSNBC:
That's right. Brian's show has been biased for a long time. But there's more comedy in how NBC News chief Steve Capus tries to suggest it's unfair to see NBC as liberal because of the ever-increasing left-wing shrillness quotient of MSNBC in prime time:
Capus concedes that MSNBC's lefty lineup at night--Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and, as of next week, Lawrence O'Donnell--raises questions about NBC. But cable is "narrowcasting," he says, and "I think the audience gets it, pure and simple."
Fox News, he adds, is "trying to brand us" as a liberal broadcast network because of MSNBC. "It's a classic political tactic -- they don't like Keith Olbermann, they're going to come after us. It's annoying."
Keith Olbermann's recent cheerleading for the Obama adminstration's attacks on Fox News is in stark contrast to how the "Countdown" host felt about the Bush White House criticizing NBC last year for questionable editing done in a "Today" show report.
As NewsBusters' Geoffrey Dickens reported on May 19, 2008, NBC aired a piece that morning which "seemed to blame all of the Middle East's problems on the President's policies."
Later that day, White House counsel Ed Gillespie sent a letter to NBC President Steve Capus accusing the network of deceptively editing answers Bush had given during his interview with Richard Engel "to give viewers the impression that he agreed with Engel's characterization of his remarks when he explicitly challenged it."
Two days later, Olbermann made Gillespie one of his "Worst Persons in the World" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):
NewsBusters previously documented a claim made by NBC News correspondent Richard Engel on the June 22 Countdown show on MSNBC that the apparent murder of 27-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan during a crackdown by Iranian government forces, and the possibility that she will become the visual symbol for her country’s pro-democracy movement, was reminiscent of the Mohammed al-Dura video of September 2000 which, at the time, was claimed to show a Palestinian boy being shot and killed by Israeli troops. But, while evidence has mounted over the years that the al-Dura video was likely a hoax, Engel and host Keith Olbermann both spoke of the al-Dura "shooting" as if the event were not in dispute, and Engel recounted to viewers that Palestinians see the event as a "symbol of injustice" perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians. Engel: "I was thinking more, remember Mohammed al-Dura, the boy who was shot in Gaza in his father’s arms and who became a symbol of injustice? I think this is a similar moment."
The pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) recounts on its Web site that after the group's executive director, Andrea Levin, on June 25 sent a letter of complaint to Engel -- which was also copied to NBC News President Steve Capus -- requesting that NBC revisit and "clarify" Engel's assertions, Capus sent a letter of response accusing CAMERA of "taking a cheap shot" at Engel, even suggesting that the pro-Israel group was not "truly dedicated to advancing journalism," as the NBC News head did not revise Engel's claims about the al-Dura case. Capus, as quoted by CAMERA on its Web site: "If you were truly dedicated to advancing journalism, you would be going out of your way to praise Richard for his work – rather than taking a cheap shot." The NBC News head went on to praise Engel as "a non-biased, dedicated journalist. NBC News considers itself lucky to have him."
Politico reported moments ago that campaign manager Rick Davis has sent a strongly-worded letter to Steve Capus, president of NBC News, sharply criticizing Mitchell's suggestion that the Arizona senator had somehow cheated at Saturday's Saddleback Civil Forum.
In it, Davis expressed concern that: "the level of objectivity at NBC News has fallen so low that reporters are now giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims in order to undercut John McCain;" "Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points," and; NBC News was "following MSNBC's lead in abandoning non-partisan coverage of the Presidential race."
Peter Boyer's profile of Keith Olbermann in the June 23 New Yorker magazine, “One Angry Man,” contained a bunch of noteworthy revelations, such as:
♦ Olbermann wanted to be more vulgar in his “shut the hell up” insult of President Bush than TV allows. Boyer on Olbermann's May 14 “Special Comment” rant: “Phil Griffin, the senior vice-president in charge of MSNBC raised the matter of tone. Why did Olbermann need to end his commentary by telling the President of the United States to 'shut the hell up'?” Answer: "Because I can't say, 'Shut the f**k up.'”
♦ A focus group for CNN found “audiences didn't like him.” Shortly after Olbermann returned to CNN in 2003, “Griffin ran into an old colleague at CNN, who told him that that network had considered hiring Olbermann, but focus-group tests showed that audiences didn't like him.” (In fact, Olbermann did fill-in work for CNN in late 2001 through 2002. See screen shot from January 24, 2002.)
♦ After Olbermann delivered his first Special Comment in August of 2006 denigrating Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a “quack” pushing “fascism,” Boyer learned: “His bosses loved it. 'I think we're onto something,' the President of NBC News, Steve Capus, told me. 'That's what we keep hearing from the audience, more and more, is that they appreciate that we have people who are actually speaking truth to power...'” Olbermann wrote his diatribe after “downing 'a couple of screwdrivers'” while waiting for a plane at LAX.
The Hollywood Reporter's Paul Gough reports that MSNBC reporter David Shuster's exile from the airwaves now has a scheduled end:
MSNBC correspondent David Shuster will serve a two-week suspension for comments that angered the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. NBC News President Steve Capus confirmed on Thursday that Shuster will be back to work on Feb. 22.
Hillary Clinton's campaign confirmed on Wednesday that she would show up for an MSNBC debate on February 26 in Ohio.