NEW YORK - September 28 - On the September 24 NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw gave this brief report:
"The Republican National Committee now has acknowledged sending mass mailings to two states that say liberals want to ban the Bible. Republican Party officials say the mailings in Arkansas and West Virginia are aimed at mobilizing Christian voters for President Bush. Some Christian commentators say liberal support for same-sex marriage could lead to laws that punish sermons denouncing homosexuality as sinful."
It's clear how one should describe the claim that "liberals want to ban the Bible": It's a lie, and a blatant and incendiary one. But not only does Brokaw not tell his viewers that the RNC smear isn't true, he gives "Christian commentators" a chance to justify that deceit with another, that gay marriage could lead to censorship of sermons. Why does such an unsubstantiated and frankly bizarre claim deserve space on a national newscast?
Meanwhile, the victims of the lie don't get any chance to speak in Brokaw's report; the entire item is sourced either to Republicans or to the religious right.
It's a crucial function of journalism during an election campaign to expose and correct political distortions. Brokaw's report did nothing to set the record straight, however, but simply served to amplify the RNC's dirty tricks, while lending to the false claims whatever credibility NBC has. The election is too important for this kind of lazy and destructive journalism.
ACTION: Please call Tom Brokaw and tell him that it's a journalist's job to correct lies, not to give them national distribution.
NBC Nightly News
Phone: (212) 664-4971
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