NBC Airs, Then Repeatedly Censors 'Racist Image' Left By Escapees

June 8th, 2015 6:39 PM

NBC News censored itself on Sunday, after it broadcast the "have a nice day" message left by two prison escapees from New York State on Today. The Post-It note included a caricature of an East Asian man with slanted eyes, a bucktooth grin, and wearing a stereotypical conical hat. Hours later, when NBC Nightly News covered the manhunt for the fugitives, the newscast blurred out the "racially-offensive Post-it note," as John Yang labeled it, three separate times during the correspondent's report. [video below]

The following morning, Monday's Today also aired the censored version of the prisoners' note. Miguel Almaguer spotlighted that "they left behind a Post-it note with a racist image – reading, 'Have a nice day!'" By contrast, CBS This Morning and ABC's Good Morning America both ran the message completely uncensored. CBS's Don Dahler spotlighted how the prisoners "left behind a note with a racist drawing." Gio Benitez didn't give the note a label during his report:

GIO BENITEZ (voice-over): Officials say the men were last seen in their adjoining cells at 10:30 pm Friday night for bed check, and reported missing at bed check the following morning at 5:30 am – leaving this note behind – reading, Have a nice day!'

The transcripts of the relevant portions of NBC's coverage of the prison break from Sunday and Monday's Today, and Sunday's NBC Nightly News; along with the relevant portion of Don Dahler's report from Monday's CBS This Morning:

08:11 am EDT
NBC – Today

JOHN YANG: Now, all sorts of complicating factors in this search: we're in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains – thick forests around; just to the west is an Indian reservation with its own sovereignty; twenty-five miles north: the Canadian border. Before they left, the two convicted killers left a note for officials – urging them to 'have a nice day.'

NBC Nightly News

JOHN YANG (voice-over): They left behind a racially-offensive Post-it note – reading, 'Have a nice day!'

07:03 am EDT
NBC – Today

MIGUEL ALMAGUER (voice-over): He [New York Governor Andrew Cuomo] says the prisoners, in side-by-side cells, stuffed their bunks with clothes to avoid detection. They cut holes through the steel wall behind their beds; crawled onto this catwalk six stories up; broke through a brick wall two feet thick; cutting holes into and out of a 24-inch steam pipe; shimmying beneath the prison wall; then breaking out of a manhole more than a block away. They left behind a Post-it note with a racist image – reading, 'Have a nice day!'

07:04 am EDT
CBS This Morning

DON DAHLER (voice-over): Sometime before 5:30 am Saturday, investigators say the two escaped their adjourning cells through holes they cut using power tools. They then broke through a brick wall, climbed onto a six-story-high catwalk, and made their way into a steam pipe – weaving through a complex series of tunnels. They left behind a note with a racist drawing and the words, 'Have a nice day!' Authorities say the two emerged from a manhole three blocks away from 150 year old prison.