According to FAIR, this is what Tom Brokaw said Sept. 24 (correction) on NBC News.
The Republican National Committee now has acknowledged sending mass mailings to two states that say liberals want to ban the Bible. Republican Party officials say the mailings in Arkansas and West Virginia are aimed at mobilizing Christian voters for President Bush. Some Christian commentators say liberal support for same-sex marriage could lead to laws that punish sermons denouncing homosexuality as sinful.
The FAIR alert doesn’t say so precisely but leaves the impression that this is the entirety of Brokaw’s story. I believe that’s correct.
This is a perfect example of how the mainstream media’s reporting of a charge that is clearly a lie helps give that lie legs.
But I sometimes don’t think mainstream reporters are intentionally trying to perpetuate the lie. In fact, sometimes I think they report such outlandish charges in a straight laced fashion because they think everyone will see, as they do, that this is outlandish. In other words, it’s delivered with a wink and a nod that these people are crazy.
But many in their audience don’t see it that way. If there is irony in the delivery or the script, they miss it. What they here, and I think FAIR rightly charges, is an accusation that is bolstered by the right, in this case the “Christian commentators” – a neutral term for right wing nuts. Meanwhile no one on the left is allowed to refute the charges.
Update: Sure enough, NBC News tried to claim that the FAIR transcript of the story was “incomplete” and left out a line in which a representative of a progressive religious group condemned the claim that liberals sought
to outlaw the Bible.
But then the NBC aide admitted that the line might have been in the script at one time but was edited out before airing.
This makes the story even more egregious. NBC apparently recognized the need for balance (if not the imperative to ignore the story altogether) but chose to disregard it.
The email address for NBC was no longer in service, as I found out when I sent my email. FAIR now has a new one for NBC. The second FAIR alert is in the extended portion of this post.
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism
NBC No Longer Saying FAIR Transcript Was Incomplete
September 28, 2004
Some callers to NBC Nightly News, responding to FAIR’s September 28 Action
Alert, were told that FAIR’s transcript of Tom Brokaw’s item (9/24/04) on
“liberals [who] want to ban the Bible” was incomplete. A spokesperson for
NBC told callers that FAIR had left out a line in which a representative
of a progressive religious group condemned the claim that liberals sought
to outlaw the Bible.
Reviewing a videotape of the broadcast, FAIR affirmed that the Nexis
transcript quoted in the Action Alert was accurate. The spokesperson now
acknowledges that the line she cited did not appear on the air, though it
may at some point have been in the script for the newscast.
The email address that appeared with the alert is no longer in use; the
correct email address for NBC Nightly News is firstname.lastname@example.org