Concha Rips Chuck Todd’s Failure as Political Director on BuzzFeed Story

Over the weekend, NBC News political director and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd lashed out at those who would “tar all media” for their enthusiastic sprint to push impeachment following BuzzFeed’s false report. In a Monday appearance on Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Hill's Joe Concha blasted Todd for failing in his duty as political director and allowing MSNBC to mention impeachment 97 times.

After playing a soundbite of Todd lamenting how people would use this against the media writ large, Tucker pointed out that it exposed how Todd thought like a “political operative.” “Their first concern is always, how will the other side benefit from this? How can we win the next campaign? And that's how they think because that's exactly what they're doing,” he chided.

Concha was then brought on to discuss those points. “Everybody, all those anchors and pundits you just show had ample warning that there was a serious problem with this story…” he said, pointing to how the BuzzFeed co-authors had conflicting accounts of whether or not they’ve seen the underlying documents.

“That is your red flag right there,” Concha continued, “where Chuck Todd, as a political director, then needs to get the troops together and say, ‘Guys, look, our own news organization, NBC News, could not verify this report independently, and therefore, we should go about this with extreme caution.’

After noting that MSNBC had mentioned impeachment 97 times in one day, Concha proclaimed: “That falls at Chuck Todd's feet as a political director when in the morning meeting -- morning editorial meeting he should have made sure that didn't happen.

 

 

“And on CNN, same thing. They couldn't verify the report independently, and it was said on there, 82 times,” he added.

Concha then informed Carlson that one of the BuzzFeed’s authors had essentially gone into hiding. “Jason Leopold, the other reporter in the story, who said he saw the evidence, is like Edward Snowden. You can't find him. He hasn't tweeted for three days. He hasn't written any tweets anyway. And he isn't doing any interviews. You see Ben Smith on CNN yesterday but you don’t see him,” he said.

Leopold once admitted he had a “checkered past” when it came to publishing false reports and Concha observed that they all went against Republicans. “When was the last time you saw a major media outlet make a mistake or a major error in a story about a Democratic lawmaker,” he asked Carlson.

“I've only been watching for 30 years I've never seen that happen ever. Not one time,” Carlson laughed at the realization. “I want to be honest about it. You know, if you see Nancy Pelosi unfairly impugned by Chuck Todd, will you let me know? And we'll do a segment on it, just to correct the record,” he joked.

In the led up to Concha’s appearance, Tucker mocked the liberal media for believing anything that came out of BuzzFeed News. “Now, if you were a normal editor or reporter, you might pause before repeating this because BuzzFeed is a joke. This is the outlet that gives us stories like ‘19 husbands who sent the most hilariously random texts ever,’ and ‘10 signs your cat is a wizard.’” Really Todd?

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight
January 21, 2019
8:23:35 p.m. Eastern

TUCKER CARLSON: Well the coverage of the Covington High School boys and whether or not they should be killed, which you've seen unfold for the last few days, was pretty bad.

But it may not be the worst thing, the most embarrassing thing the press has done in the last five days, which tells you a lot. Last Friday, news outlets really humiliated themselves by their endless coverage of a BuzzFeed report, BuzzFeed being a cat website, a story that claimed that the President had ordered his Attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress.

Now, if you were a normal editor or reporter, you might pause before repeating this because BuzzFeed is a joke. This is the outlet that gives us stories like "19 husbands who sent the most hilariously random texts ever," and "10 signs your cat is a wizard."

So, you might have thought, well how could BuzzFeed have gotten the one story that nobody else can replicate but that everybody else has been searching for? You might have asked yourself that question before repeating the key assertions in the story mindlessly, and as if they were true.

But nope. Nobody did. Everybody assumed BuzzFeed had landed an exclusive scoop that would bring down the President and that was so thrilling, they couldn't hold back.

If you were playing a drinking game last Friday, and you took a shot every time you heard the word, "Bombshell," you would have wounded up dead. Watch.

(…)

CARLSON: Bombshell! Dumb people have small vocabularies. There was a problem though with BuzzFeed's reporting. None of it had been confirmed at all. Even the authors suggested they hadn't seen the documents in question. Actually, there were two authors. It was co-bylined. One said he'd seen the documents. And the other said he hadn't. That was never really resolved. But it didn't matter because the dumb people on TV so badly wanted it to be true that they repeated it.

(…)

CARLSON: If true! If true! It's actually a pretty tricky rhetorical stunt. If you think about it, you could preface any statement with "If true," and then go ahead to accuse anybody of anything without any evidence at all.

Of course, you'd just be speculating but wild speculation is exactly what the press did all day last Friday. Between them, CNN and MSNBC mentioned the word impeachment nearly 200 times in one day. In the end, if true turned out to be not true at all.

We know this because late Friday, the Mueller investigation itself issued a rare statement calling BuzzFeed's reporting inaccurate. Talk about a bombshell, you might say.

The Mueller team almost always refuses to comment publicly about things that it's doing. It was a humbling moment for the press. They were not humbled though.

 

How do we know? Because on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, the host, said the problem wasn't that the press was foolish and reckless and bad at their job of reporting, and the story wound up being untrue. That wasn't the real problem. No. The real problem was that having an untrue story exposed might help Conservatives.

(…)

CARLSON: That's, by the way, not neutral-thinking, and it's not clear thinking. It's not the way that journalists think. It's the way that political operatives think. Their first concern is always, how will the other side benefit from this? How can we win the next campaign? And that's how they think because that's exactly what they're doing.

Joe Concha covers media for The Hill, and he joins us tonight. So Joe, do you think that the real problem with Buzzfeed is that it has given rise to segments like this where mean right-wingers on Fox News criticized NBC. Is that - is that really the core problem of the story, would you say?

JOE CONCHA: Well, Tucker, let me address Chuck Todd there because people don't realize this. But he's not only the moderator of Meet the Press, but he is also the political director of NBC News.

So, here's the thing. Everybody, all those anchors and pundits you just show had ample warning that there was a serious problem with this story because on Friday morning before all the impeach and if trues came out, as you mentioned, you had Anthony Cormier, who was one of the authors in this piece, on CNN saying he hadn't seen the evidence that was used as a foundation for the story. And then, minutes later, on MSNBC, Jason Leopold, the other author on here said he had seen the evidence.

That is your red flag right there where Chuck Todd, as a political director, then needs to get the troops together and say, "Guys, look, our own news organization, NBC News, could not verify this report independently, and therefore, we should go about this with extreme caution."

Instead, you mentioned the number, nearly 200 times, on MSNBC alone, the word impeach or impeachment was said 97 times. That falls at Chuck Todd's feet as a political director when in the morning meeting -- morning editorial meeting he should have made sure that didn't happen.

And on CNN, same thing. They couldn't verify the report independently, and it was said on there, 82 times. And now, look, where are we at now? Jason Leopold, the other reporter in the story who said he saw the evidence is like Edward Snowden. You can't find him. He hasn't tweeted for three days. He hasn't written any tweets anyway. And he isn't doing any interviews. You see Ben Smith on CNN yesterday but you don’t see him.

[Crosstalk]

CARLSON: So, Cormier has always struck me as a real reporter, you know, actually to be honest about it. But this Leopold kid--

CONCHA: I agree.

CARLSON: --has like a long history of - of really reckless behavior. I mean he's the one who publicly reported, and it turned out to be false, that Karl Rove had been indicted. I think he was fired for plagiarism another time. The guy's a political activist. Why would you ever put someone like that on a story of this magnitude?

CONCHA: Precisely. And it's - it's funny because with Leopold and so many in the media, the mistakes only seem to go one way, towards--

CARLSON: Right.

CONCHA: --Republicans or Conservatives or Trump, in this case. I mean ask yourself this question. When was the last time you saw a major media outlet make a mistake or a major error in a story about a Democratic lawmaker? I - I'm - I'm - I'm, you know, racking my brain and--

CARLSON: [Laughter] That's such a good point

CONCHA: --I think a couple years ago--

CARLSON: Never.

CONCHA: --yes.

CARLSON: Yes. I've only been watching for 30 years I've never seen that happen ever. Not one time.

CONCHA: Yeah.

CARLSON: By the way, will you keep a list? I mean I want to be - I want to be honest about it. You know, if you see Nancy Pelosi unfairly impugned by Chuck Todd, will you let me know? And we'll do a segment on it, just to correct the record.

CONCHA: I'll - I'll - I'll be over - I'll be all over it. And, by the way, Glenn Greenwald has a great piece today in The Intercept. He lists 10 major stories that the media's gotten wrong on Russia. So, this isn't a one-off like it's being portrayed by some that are saying, "Oh, this just an excuse to attack the media."

We've seen this over--

CARLSON: Yes, it's unbelievable

CONCHA: --and over and over again and, as I mentioned, going in the same direction.

(…)


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