Add CNN's Jack Cafferty to the list of those infuriated by NBC's omission of "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance in its coverage of Sunday's U.S. Open. The CNN contributor pulled no punches Monday afternoon as he blasted the "morons" at the network responsible.
"Who does this?" Cafferty asked incredulously after he described the segment opening NBC's golf coverage – a patriotic montage with the recitation of the Pledge by children in the background. The words "under God" and "indivisible" were carefully edited out of the production, but Cafferty reported that many viewers were furious and called into NBC affiliates to vent over the omission.
"And it boggles the mind that a bunch of morons at NBC can take it upon themselves to decide which part to include and which part to omit. Those responsible ought to be fired, post-haste," Cafferty exclaimed.
The Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer agreed with Cafferty and called it a "major blunder." He added that "you don't just start taking the Star Spangled Banner live and then cut away in the middle of it. You take the whole thing. If you're going to take it live, you take the whole thing. You don't start editing it in any way, and the same with the Pledge of Allegiance."
The anchor of NBC's golf coverage did apologize later for the omission, and NBC released a statement calling it a "bad decision." Cafferty ranted that an apology was not enough – those responsible needed to be fired.
"The original Pledge of Allegiance didn't have those words, 'Under God.' They were added by Congress in the 1950s," Cafferty expounded. "But as a result, they are every bit as much a part of our salute to our flag as the rest of the words in the pledge."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on June 20 at 5:14 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
JACK CAFFERTY: 22-year-old Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland won the U.S. Open golf championship yesterday at Congressional Country Club outside Washington, D.C., in a stunning performance – the kid is awfully good. It's too bad the same can't be said about NBC, the network that televised our national championship.
At the beginning of yesterday's telecast, NBC aired a patriotic montage, featured video clips of national monuments, soldiers raising an American flag. It was all cut around a group of school-aged kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Only during the pledge, the words "under God" and "indivisible" were edited out, twice. The piece was supposed to play up the whole patriotism theme with the golf course hosting our national championship so close to our nation's capital and all. But a lot of people couldn't get past the missing lines. Who does this?
Angry viewers immediately took to Twitter bashing NBC, suggesting a boycott of the network. Others called into NBC affiliates around the country and complained. And before the broadcast ended, one of the announcers Dan Hicks issued an on-air apology of sorts, saying the omission was not meant to upset anyone and that the network was sorry to those who were offended. It wasn't nearly enough.
Today, NBC went a step further. They released a statement saying quote:
"We are aware of the distress this has caused many of our viewers and are taking the issue very seriously. Unfortunately, when producing the piece – which was intended to capitalize on the patriotism of having our national championship played in our nation's capital – a decision was made by a small group of people to edit portions of the Pledge of Allegiance. This was a bad decision."
The network also said that if disciplinary action is taken, it'll be handled internally and not be made public.
The original Pledge of Allegiance didn't have those words, "under God." They were added by Congress in the 1950s. But as a result, they are every bit as much a part of our salute to our flag as the rest of the words in the Pledge. And it boggles the mind that a bunch of morons at NBC can take it upon themselves to decide which part to include and which part to omit. Those responsible ought to be fired, post-haste.
Here’s the question: Why would NBC edit out part of the Pledge of Allegiance before the U.S. Open golf championship? (...) When your political correctness starts getting up my nose, that's wrong, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER: Yep. It's a major blunder, as we say. You know what? Ever since I've been working in television, 21 years here at CNN, whenever we're doing a live event, live coverage of a political convention or anything else, and they're playing the Star Spangled Banner, you don't just start taking the Star Spangled Banner live and then cut away in the middle of it. You take the whole thing. If you're going to take it live, you take the whole thing. You don't start editing it in any way, and the same with the Pledge of Allegiance. I think that was –
CAFFERTY: When that happens, do you get up from behind your desk and stand at attention?
BLITZER: Of course I do. At political conventions –
CAFFERTY: Absolutely. Hand over your whole heart, the whole deal.
BLITZER: You stand up and you do the patriotic thing.
CAFFERTY: Now this was a major screw-up.
BLITZER: This was a major blunder, as we say.