Given that the NBC network is currently conducting an internal review of its selective editing of a 911 call from the Trayvon Martin case, it would be reasonable to assume that other networks in the NBCUniversal family would take heed. But then, that would take all the fun out of working for a network like MSNBC.
On his April 2 program Martin Bashir played a clip from a Mitt Romney campaign event which made it seem as though Romney was dodging a question about his faith. The distorted clip was then used as a jumping-off point for Bashir and liberal contributor Krystal Ball to lament a perceived double standard on reporting on the religious faiths of the president and the former Massacusetts governor. [Click here for video.]
However, if you read the full transcript the description of the event by Garrett Haake on MSNBC's website, Romney does indeed answer a pointed "gotcha" question from a participant, who reportedly is a Ron Paul partisan. Transcribed from video:
BRET HATCH: In the Mormon book it says there were a blackness cast upon all the children --
MITT ROMNEY: I’m sorry, we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view, but if you have a question, I’ll be happy to answer your question.”
HATCH: I guess my question is, do you believe it’s a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black?”
ROMNEY: No. Next question.
Bashir, who loves to attack Republicans on a daily basis, has decided to deliberately distort Romney and selectively edit his words so as to create a controversy where none exists. Such journalistic malpractice is unacceptable and MSNBC needs to be held accountable.
To be fair, Bashir notes the video was from "a few moments ago," so it's entirely possible that he hadn't seen the full video in context and was trusting that his producer(s) was giving him the full story. But even if that is true, it shouts volumes about the journalistic integrity of Bashir's staff.
Here's the relevant transcript:
April 2, 2012
3:35 p.m. EDT
MARTIN BASHIR, host: Krystal, I want to play you a clip [from] just a few moments ago. It’s Mitt Romney taking questions at a campaign event. Listen to this.
BRET HATCH: In the Mormon book it says there were a blackness cast upon all the children of Canaan--
MITT ROMNEY: I'm sorry. We ‘re just not going to have a discussion about religion.
BASHIR: Can I ask you how it is that people are allowed to impugn the president's religion, but when Mitt Romney faces a polite question on the contents of his faith, he refuses to answer?
KRYSTAL BALL, political strategist: It’s a double standard. And one thing that’s going to be really interesting to see down the road is there's no question that Mitt Romney is going to have that same moment that John McCain had where someone stands up at his rally and says something that is patently false and offensive about the president. How is he going to respond in that circumstance? Will he, as John McCain did, courageously call that person out and say that's not acceptable, or is he going to --
BASHIR: Copy Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum:
BALL: And Rick Santorum
BASHIR: Who allow people to say these kinds of things.
BALL: And then just try to change the subject.
BASHIR: Michael, what would you say to that? What Krystal says. There appears to be some double standard. No one’s allowed to question Mitt Romney on the contents of his beliefs. And yet the president must be subjected to endless silence when his own personal faith is smeared and slurred.
MICHAEL STEELE: Well I think you know the idea that somehow now that there's a double standard is a little bit, you know true, yeah, but the double standard goes back to 2008 when you know, no one really wanted to have those kinds of questions about Barack Obama and his faith tradition. The reality of it is this is a part of the debate here in the country--