NBC Under Fire For Editing Out Key Info in Report on Columbus Shooting

From bodycam footage of Columbus police shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant

“NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt came under a lot of fire for its report last night on the police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio.

Media Research Center’s Newsbusters pointed out how the show left out important facts in describing what had occurred. Newsbusters then contrasted the show’s report with how other networks handled the event.

MRC News analyst Nicholas Fondacaro explained that while the show reported a portion of the 911 audio call where it says, “We need a police officer here now,” they left out the rather important part of the call where the 911 caller says, “It’s these grown girls over here trying to fight us, trying to stab us, get here now!”

While the show did display a chyron saying that she was holding a knife and did show a still shot with the knife on the ground, they did not show clearly the moment of her lunging toward the other girl with the knife in her hand. They did say “a police officer shot and killed a 16-year-old Black girl in Columbus, Ohio saying she was threatening others with a knife” and they did have a further police official say she was threatening two girls with the knife.

But leaving out the important part of the 911 call, and not showing clearly the actual threat Bryant was posing with the knife, leaves out critical information as to why the officer did what he did. It wasn’t just the police “saying she was threatening,” it was the people Bryant was threatening saying it and the video that showed it.

By contrast, ABC and CBS did air the important part of the 911 call and did show the moment that Bryant trying to stab the girl in the pink with the knife.

Many weighed in to bash NBC’s take as deceptive.

Lester Holt’s speech is ironic, but it’s also a window into his problematic understanding of journalism and what his role is in reporting.

From Fox:

“[I]t’s become clear that fairness is overrated,” and [he] added that “the idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.”

“That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention,” Holt said. “Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Providing an open platform for misinformation, for anyone to come say whatever they want, especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake, can be quite dangerous. Our duty is to be fair to the truth.”