NBC News’ Meet the Press was forced to acknowledge Sunday that it had edited an interview of Attorney General William Barr in a way that made it look like he did not care about the rule of law, leaving out his comments on exactly that point.
Host Chuck Todd introduced a clip from CBS This Morning last Thursday, when reporter Catherine Herridge asked Barr about the decision to drop the prosecution of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn:
Todd: You brought up Bill Barr. Peggy Noonan, I want you to listen to this Bill Barr answer to a question about what will history say about this. Wait until you hear this answer. Take a listen.
[Clip from CBS begins]
Herridge: When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written?
Barr: Well, history is written by the winners, so it largely depends on who’s writing the history.
[Clip from CBS ends]
Todd: I was struck, Peggy, by the cynicism of the answer. It’s a correct answer, but he’s the attorney general. He didn’t make the case that he was upholding the rule of law. He was almost admitting that, yeah, this is a political job.
Here is the transcript from CBS, showing that Barr specifically addressed the rule of law (altered for format, and emphasis added):
Herridge: When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written? What will it say about your decision making?
Barr: Well, history is written by the winner. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history. But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice.
Barr joked about how history is written, then made the case that dropping the Flynn prosecution meant that the Department of Justice had “upheld the rule of law.”
Today on Meet The Press, @chucktodd wildly took context out of an answer AG Bill Barr gave about his decision to drop the case into Gen. Michael Flynn.
I cut Todd’s segment along with Barr’s full answer together. Look at how blatantly dishonest this is. pic.twitter.com/tODOEwL48V
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 10, 2020
Todd left that out, portraying Barr’s remarks as a purely cynical observation.
Barr’s spokesperson, Kerri Kopek, complained on Twitter, and Meet the Press had to admit it was wrong:
Compare the two transcripts below. Not only did the AG make the case in the VERY answer Chuck says he didn’t, he also did so multiple times throughout the interview. pic.twitter.com/PR1ciceMmE
— KerriKupecDOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) May 10, 2020
You’re correct. Earlier today, we inadvertently and inaccurately cut short a video clip of an interview with AG Barr before offering commentary and analysis. The remaining clip included important remarks from the attorney general that we missed, and we regret the error.
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 10, 2020
In fairness to Todd, it was not the first time the deceptive edit had aired on an NBC network.
Cable news network MSNBC aired a similarly edited clip on Morning Joe on Friday. Host Mika Brzezinski slammed Barr’s history comment: “And that tells you everything you need to know. Might makes right.”
Brzezinski, like Todd, did not include the full context of Barr’s remarks.
In 2015, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) defended lying about Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s taxes during the 2012 election by telling CNN: “Romney didn’t win, did he?”.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.