Under Fire for Selective Editing, MSNBC Insists It Is 'Reviewing' Newtown Father's Testimony

Over the past two days, MSNBC has been busy bashing pro-gun rights advocates as craven ghouls in light of a video they insist shows the father of a child slain in the Newtown massacre as being "heckled" during official testimony. But a review of the full videotape testimony shows that, in fact, Neil Heslin was not heckled, but that a few spectators in the hearing room answered a question Heslin posed. Both conservative sites like Twitchy and liberal outlets like Slate have come to the conclusion that there was in fact no heckling.

So what is MSNBC doing now in response? Well, the liberal network is "reviewing" the video, Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple noted in a January 30 item posted this morning:

MSNBC is reviewing its portrayal of the testimony of Neil Heslin, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, at a legislative hearing in Hartford on Monday. The 33-second video clip in question, embedded above, features a graphics box saying “Mocked and Loaded. Sandy Hook Victim’s Father Heckled by Gun Rights Advocates.”

“We’re reviewing the video in question,” says an MSNBC source.

Smart move, considering that Heslin wasn’t, in fact, heckled. Audience members merely answered a challenge that Heslin posed from the microphone.

Apparently MSNBC hasn't learned its lesson from its selective editing practices of last year.

As of the publication of the original blog post, MSNBC.com writer Jane Timm has not corrected her article to remove references to heckling, even though an editor's note at the bottom of the January 29 story reads thusly:

Editor’s note: This story has been amended from the original version to clarify the context of the remarks; the original video has been replaced with a fuller version.

In other words, Timm has gone back and retroactively placed in a longer video giving the context of the remarks and the response from members of the audience. She's also reworded her article accordingly, yet she stubbornly clings to the discredited "heckler" meme:

Heslin asked why anyone needs assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Gun rights activists replied, “Our rights will not be infringed!” and “Second Amendment!” Local news sources reported that there were nearly a dozen hecklers, who were quickly silenced.

Indeed, the headline for Timm's piece [see screen capture] still reads, "Emotional father of Sandy Hook victim heckled at gun hearing."

Additionally, MSNBC's Twitter account yesterday afternoon insisted that Heslin had been "heckled." Yes, "Really," it noted, in disgust. At press time, @msnbc has not tweeted a correction.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.