NBC News Uses Twitter To Divide & Misinform Americans

Rather than take steps to restore their credibility and promote journalistic integrity, many in the mainstream media have embraced their role as fake news makers.

To be clear, there is one right way for journalists to clean up their fake news on Twitter…

  1. Take a screenshot of the incorrect tweet
  2. Delete that tweet
  3. Include the screenshot in the corrected version

I’d written about this before, most notably when The Associated Press used their [waning] credibility and trusting audiences to push a thoroughly debunked story that, in the end, served only to promote a hate group while inspiring ferocity and division among Americans. Rather than delete the tweet, The AP left it up and of course it is still sitting out there today in peoples’ timelines, being shared and emailed and talked about. It’s a lie. And The Associated Press knows it’s a lie. And rather than take the simple steps outlined above to correct the record responsibly, the powers that be at The Associated Press would rather leave their hatred-inspiring lie sitting out there so it can cause yet more division and destruction among our nation.

I also wrote about this in early 2017, citing several examples of allegedly impartial journalists’ fake news tweets going viral. Most notably in that piece, we saw a relatively unknown journalist named Spencer Woodman do the right thing (delete his viral but disproven tweet, and share the screenshot of the deleted tweet in his mea culpa), and rather than be praised for it — he was attacked by Politico’s Bill Scher.

There have been countless examples since then.

And the mainstream media offenders will laughably compare themselves to politicians like, for example, President Trump. They imply “Well the politicians aren’t always honest so why should we be held to a different standard?”

That’s their implicit logic. That’s how far allegedly impartial journalists have come from their once-respectable mission. There’s no other explanation for their lazy, willful dissemination of demonstrably disproven “news.” They don’t see themselves as professionals whose only job is to get the facts right. They see themselves as opposition to President Trump and his supporters. And if President Trump gets support after saying or tweeting something inaccurate, then they believe it’s their right — or even their duty — to do the same thing; to fight fire with fire.

Most recently we saw NBC News’ Leigh Ann Caldwell do the right thing. She tweeted out a story that turned out to be false/misleading. (I think it goes without saying, but like everything else the mainstream media produces the story was obviously a negative one about President Trump.) Her tweet went viral almost immediately, with thousands of eager political activists spreading the anti-Trump fake news far and wide. But rather than issue a separate correction and let the original tweet continue to spread, Leigh Ann took a screenshot of her tweet, then deleted it, then included the screenshot in her corrected version. It was pitch perfect media responsibility and accountability, and I told her so in an email…

LAC

Here is her tweet…

Enter NBC News White House Correspondent Geoff Bennett.

Bennett pushed the same inaccurate story, and his tweet quickly racked up 15,000+ retweets. But rather than delete his tweet, he did what the rest do: He left it up so it could keep spreading, while offering a “correction” that hardly got any traction.

Here’s the email Geoff got, with a little extra visibility for some NBC News upper management (Noah Oppenheim and Andrew Lack)…

GB

And here’s the laughable “correction,” which had only 6 retweets compared to the fake news tweet’s 15,000+…

image

I emailed Geoff again and included that screenshot…

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And when I woke up this morning and saw Geoff retweeting that insufferable swamp parasite Jonah Goldberg, my blood started to boil. Rather than cleaning up his fake news, he was swinging for the fences with yet another of the swamp’s most transparently useless grifters (Goldberg). It was just painful to watch, and another — more strongly worded, admittedly and unfortunately less hinged — email went out…

GB3

Low and behold, shortly thereafter (actually while I was writing this piece), Geoff actually did the right thing. He took a screenshot of his inaccurate tweet, deleted it, and then included the screenshot in his mea culpa. See below…

I highly doubt my emails had anything to do with this. But I almost never see anyone actually do the right thing. Some will delete a tweet and issue a correction. Others will delete a tweet and issue no correction. But most will just leave the false/misleading tweet up so it can continue to spread. Almost nobody deletes the tweet and then includes a screenshot of it for accountability purposes in the correction/clarification.

But Leigh Ann Caldwell did it almost immediately. And Geoff Bennett did it…eventually. But it’s hard to credit Geoff with having done the right thing. And given the amount of time he let his fake news tweet sit out there, I’m almost positive that it wasn’t his choice but rather it was dictated to him by his bosses who saw the damage he was doing to NBC News’ brand. Regardless, he was dragged for it appropriately…

Meanwhile, NeverTrump morons like Jeff Blehar and Erick Erickson were busy attacking Leigh Ann Caldwell who actually did the right thing right away…

I discussed this with a highly respected and very famous person in conservative media, and she said Leigh Ann deserves to be attacked for initially promulgating the fake news. I don’t disagree, obviously. Manufacturing and ultimately publishing fake news is not okay, and deserves scorn. But the bigger infraction — the more immediate, prevalent and broadly destructive infraction — is letting that fake news linger and spread, rather than responsibly accounting for it.

Everyone is going to screw up. Everyone is going to make mistakes. The media who don’t responsibly account for those screw-ups are doing the most damage. We’ll never stop people from screwing up. But if they can responsibly account for the screw-ups in a timely manner, thus cutting off the spread of the fake news, that’s a really good thing. And it’s really important. Yes the weird Krassenstein brothers (here and here) will still capture and spread the fake news. But when the original source of it deletes their tweet rather than letting it continue to spread, that is the big move that needs to happen. And if the offending journalist cares about his/her record, then including the screenshot of the deleted tweet along with an explanation about why they deleted it is without question the best way to leave a papertrail of responsible accountability.

So kudos to Leigh Ann Caldwell. But Geoff Bennett, you were just a lot too late. No kudos for you. All you get is the absence of ongoing ire for this particular incident.

It’s a problem that goes well beyond Leigh Ann and Geoff. In fact, one of the greatest offenders is another NBC News personality: Peter Alexander. Here is just the most recent example of Alexander spreading fake news that serves only to misinform and divide our nation, and refusing to delete it.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press claims to be the arbiters of journalistic integrity and procedure. They should adopt the 3-step-process outlined in this piece for cleaning up fake news on Twitter from journalists whose only job is getting the facts right. But as eagerly guilty offenders who spread the most divisive fake news that inspires the most hatred and ferocity, I don’t see The AP doing that any time soon. And the media will just keep losing credibility, which I guess is a good thing because given their behavior and laziness they sure as heck don’t deserve to keep it.


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