Ed Gillespie, counselor to the president emails Steve Capus, the president of NBC, to ask why President Bush’s comments were selectively edited by NBC correspondent Richard Engel:
Mr. Capus, I’m sure you don’t want people to conclude that there is really no distinction between the “news” as reported on NBC and the “opinion” as reported on MSNBC, despite the increasing blurring of those lines. I welcome your response to this letter, and hope it is one that reassures your broadcast network’s viewers that blatantly partisan talk show hosts like Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann at MSNBC don’t hold editorial sway over the NBC network news division.
Counselor to the President
I think we can safely answer that one–Engel, by admitting publicly in 2006 that “War Should Be Illegal; I’m Basically A Pacifist“, is keeping pace with the sea change throughout his industry (and his employer is far from immune, of course), which has finally eschewed the 80-year old “objectivity” model that hamstrung journalism throughout the 20th century. That’s also the subtext that underlies this recent Howard Kurtz article, even if it’s a topic that Kurtz himself is unusually reticent to tackle, for understandable reasons.
Of course, that doesn’t excuse the selective distortion of a quote, whether written or recorded. But then that’s a pretty well established old media trend popularized by another institution that’s increasingly happy to admit its own biases.