NBC News standards department asks staff to lay off racist Iowa Rep. Steve King

#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/15/nbc-news-standards-department.html

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#2

“Comments that even racists are calling racist.”

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#3

So I hope they fire whoever put that memo together. That’s the only way to send the right message here. They ought to know by now that when you lie with rats you get fleas, look at the infestation over at Fox!

*edit to change dogs to rats, dogs are just too good for that metaphor

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#4

Actually, it makes perfect sense - linguistically, legally, in every way. If you say “People say this guy is a racist,” you are reporting news. If you say “This guy is a racist,” you are issuing a personal value judgement. News reporters are supposed to report news, not try to espouse their personal feelings under the disguise of reporting. People misusing and abusing their position in broadcast media to misrepresent their own personal feelings as “news” is one of the reasons we’re in this stinking mess.

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#5

NBC’s Racist Standards Department.

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#6

Once again:

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#7

Right. Which is why a lot of ‘cable news’ shows aren’t actually news shows, but opinion shows.

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#8

Hmm if that’s what’s meant here then I’ll revise my initial reaction… somewhat. Because factually, it’s dishonest to deny the truth. And that part still bothers me. “Say anything but don’t tell the truth because people don’t like it” has been the mantra of news orgs for too long IMO. Because when espousing genocidal ideas is less problematic than calling those ideas what they are… then there is no point in pretending anymore to be anything but a part of the problem.

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#9

His comment, which was an advocacy of white supremacy, WAS a racist comment though. Calling his statement racist is not the same as calling HIM a racist (though I have no doubt that he is a racist, and am a bit bewildered that we need to see the KKK robes or the swastika tats for us to call someone such).

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#10

Unfortunately, it is frequently the position of corporate media lawyers to not worry about what is defensible or correct, but what is likely to cost them money or get them sued. If this means they have to take more weaselish positions, they’re okay with that. They’re lawyers, after all.

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#11

I’ve got $20 that says SNL Weekend Update addresses this issue in the coming weeks.

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#12

That’s key, his comment is factually a racist comment. The standards department’s guidance is tantamount to requiring reporters to NOT call him “Representative Steve King,” but “the person that some people are calling Representative Steve King.”

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#13

I can see how they are trying to maintain a neutral voice in general reporting. We do need more of that not less. There is enough editorial content out there already

#14

There’s “maintaining a neutral voice in general reporting” and then there’s “reporting an inflammatory, racist statement as if it was a neutral statement.”

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#15

You are not. You are issue a statement of fact. White supremacy and white nationalism meet literally the most unambiguous definitions of racism. The denial of reality is not neutrality, it’s delusion.

“2+2=4 in what some people are calling arithmetic. We report, you decide!”

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#16

Interesting. So things that are not opinion, according to some:

  • What constitutes a recession.
  • Unemployment statistics.
  • Whether a crime is “savage.”
  • Whether what’s happening in the market is good or bad.
  • If the government is shut down right now.
  • That a protester “was harmed in an altercation with police.”

Things that are “a matter of opinion.”

  • Racism.
  • The rebound from recession being tough on people.
  • That maybe mugshots aren’t the best way for the news to present a picture of someone who was shot by police.
  • Unemployment Statistics not reflecting actual unemployment.
  • "That a protestor “was hit in the face with a baton by a police officer.”

Or maybe what what constitutes an opinion is also matter of opinion?

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#17

So if you’re reporting on a fire you should say it appears to be a fire? If a duck waddles in to the oval office and shits on trump you should say it appears this duck doesn’t give a fuck. God damn what happened to stating the honest facts. King’s a racist piece of shit, isn’t that pretty obvious?

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#18

Right, that’s the reason US and other Western media never use terms like “Muslim fundamentalists” or “radical clerics”, or “anti-semite” for example /s

The fictional neutral reporting stance is a tool of hegemony. Ideology is what you think when you don’t think you are espousing an opinion.

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#19

Kinda too late for al that, King shot himself in the foot twice this time

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#20

Fair enough, and I do not want my comment to be construed as minimizing what the man was saying. It was merely intended to see where the NBC editors were coming from.