After cable news channels CNN and MSNBC made 22 references to Nazi concentration camps and other human rights atrocities during coverage of illegal immigrant detention centers along the U.S. southern border over the past few days, on Tuesday, NBC decided to join in touting the extreme rhetoric. Specifically, the Nazi death camp comparison was repeated four times in three hours, across two of its morning shows.
At the top of the Today show, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt reported from the border and highlighted: “Some have argued that these detention centers are reminiscent of Japanese internment camps or even concentration camps in Nazi Germany. A comparison [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions rejects.” A soundbite followed of Sessions telling Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “Well, it’s a real exaggeration. Of course in Nazi Germany they were keeping the Jews from leaving from country.”
During a follow-up segment early in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, correspondent Craig Melvin noted: “Sessions also trying to downplay comparisons to World War II concentration camps.” That line was repeated at the top of the 9:00 a.m. ET hour as Melvin’s taped report was replayed at the start of Megyn Kelly Today.
In the midst of a panel discussion on the topic following Melvin’s story, anchor Megyn Kelly remarked: “I understand, you know, you’ve got Jeff Sessions out there saying, “Well, it’s not as bad as Nazi Germany because there they were keeping them in. It’s always bad when you’re having to, you know, distance yourself from Nazi Germany.” PBS host Amy Holmes chimed in: “You never go down the Nazi route, okay? That’s just rule number one.”
Sessions was of course reacting to others making the outrageous comparison and Kelly concluded: “But, as an emotional matter, it seems like the President’s critics are winning. They’re winning.”
In addition to NBC’s repetition of the Holocaust references on Tuesday, coverage on Monday’s Nightly News included a clip of Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal making this vile declaration: “This policy of family separation reminds us of the cattle cars of Nazi Germany when children were separated from their parents. It reminds us of the Japanese internment camps.”
NBC wasn’t even the first broadcast network to seize on such comparisons. On ABC’s World News Tonight on Saturday, correspondent Stephanie Ramos touted: “The president catching heat on social media. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, a trump critic, tweeting this picture of what looks like a Nazi concentration camp. Writing, ‘Other governments have separated mothers and children.’”
A Media Research Center study found that over the course of six days, June 13 -18, all three networks combined devoted an astonishing 176 minutes of air time to immigration detention centers. As Tuesday’s coverage illustrated, that trend has continued and the tone has gotten even more severe.