The Daily Beast reported early Monday night that NBC senior national correspondent Miguel Almaguer had been suspended by the network “pending an internal investigation” following a November 4 story on Today that said Paul Pelosi behaved strangely when police arrived during an alleged assault and home invasion by a mentally-disturbed nudist from Berkeley.
Daily Beast editor-at-large Lachlan Cartwright whined that the story “inflamed right-wing conspiracy theories,” but refused to concede the muddied waters and non-answers from both NBC and San Francisco Police have created a vacuum filled with questions.
Cartwright noted that, hours after it aired on Today, the story was “retracted and video of the segment was scrubbed from NBC’s website.” What he failed to point out (and what’s likely fueled further questions) was that NBC has yet to issue an on-air admission or correction.
All that remained on NBCNews.com was a quote claiming “[t]his piece has been removed from publication because it did not meet NBC News reporting standards” with the video scrubbed from the website and social media.
With NBC declining to comment, Cartwright again pinned blame for this questionable story on conservatives instead of NBC and San Francisco officials:
Right-wing media figures immediately took the report and its retraction as proof of a politically motivated cover-up—after a week of grasping at various conspiracy theories to dismiss the assault, which left Pelosi with a cracked skull.
In the original report, Almaguer claimed San Francisco police “had been called to the home of the Speaker of the House” and that, upon opening the front door, Mr. Pelosi “did not immediately declare an emergency or try to leave his home, but instead began walking several feet back into the foyer towards the assailant,” which then led to the suspect striking him in the head.
Click “expand” to see the transcript for the relevant portions of Almaguer’s report (click “expand”):
ALMAGUER: When officers arrived here at the Pelosi home exactly a week ago today, they initially didn't have any idea exactly what was going on. They knew they had a high priority call on their hand. What was unclear? What was happening inside the property just behind me. This morning, Paul Pelosi is home, back at the house that became a crime scene a week ago today. NBC News learning new details about the moments police arrived. Sources familiar with what unfolded in the Pelosi residence now revealing when officers responded to the high priority call they were seemingly unaware they had been called to the home of the Speaker of the House. After a knock and announce, the front door was opened by Mr. Pelosi, the 82-year-old did not immediately declare an emergency or try to leave his home, but instead began walking several feet back into the foyer towards the assailant and away from police. It's unclear if the 82 year old was already injured or what his mental state was, say sources. According to court documents, when the officer asked what was going on, “defendant smiled and said, ‘everything's good.’” But instantaneously, a struggle ensued as police clearly saw David Depape strike Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer. After tackling the suspect, officers rushed to Mr. Pelosi who was lying in a pool of blood.
ALMAGUER: Why Pelosi didn't try to flee or tell responding officers he was in distress is unclear.
RETIRED FBI OFFICER DAVID FREIHON: Fear takes over. Fear freezes people.
ALMAGUER: We still don't know exactly what unfolded between Mr. Pelosi and the suspect for the 30 minutes they were alone inside that house before police arrived. Officials who are investigating this matter would not go into further details about these new details.
Over on Newsmax’s National Report, our friends Shaun Kraisman and Emma Rechenberg teed off with Kraisman noting the constant confusion from the beginning exasperated the situation.
“Show us the body cam footage, much like it’s been requested in the past for something — an incident, especially something as major as the Speaker’s husband and then also the 9-11 call from the Speaker’s husband,” he added.
Rechenberg was similarly surprised: “When...you’re, you know, broadcasting for the Today show, there are a lot of eyes on the story...It made it to air. It made it online and then there was so much backlash that it had — had, I guess not lived up to NBC standards.”
Kraisman followed that thread and called out NBC for throwing Almaguer under the bus when such stories (especially as major as this one) involve layers of editing with multiple supervisors having to sign off (click “expand”):
Look, this is how it works. As you were pointing out, you write a story. We've done this for — for almost two decades now. You write a story. Then you submit it to the producer of that show. The producer reads through your story, tells you what to take out, what not to take out. Then, that draft goes the executive producer and a story like that one goes to the news director, typically. Any story I have ever written, and there have been so many. They have went through at least two or three edits from people higher up than me to get approved for air.
Did you notice the story has graphics? Miguel is not making his graphics, okay? That goes to a whole another team who also had eyeballs on it to write this out, create the fonts put it on his story. And then all of a sudden this doesn't meet our standards. And now this reporter suspended. This guy's known for — well known as a journalist, and he's been steadfast in his reporting. I’ve been watching this guy for years. So, again, when you pull the story, you've only created even more questions that were already there in the first place. But here we are.