A petition posted Sunday at causes.com demands that NBC and MSNBC be investigated for presenting what the petition creator called a “false reality” through the use of deceptive editing, and specifically targets Executive Producer David McCormick.
“We are calling on David McCormick – Executive Producer, Broadcast Standards & Ombudsman for NBC News – to issue a public statement explaining how deceptive editing continues to happen, a commitment to conduct an internal investigation, and NBC Universal’s plans for preventing this from happening in the future.” the updated petition says.
The petition cites several examples of deceptive editing, the most recent taking place in June when the network edited a video to make a Hassidic rabbi appear to hide child abuse when the opposite was true.
Eliyahu Federman, a civil rights activist whose work has been published in several places, said in an article at the Huffington Post that NBC’s “Rock Center” broadcast an interview of Avraham Berkowitz, an Orthodox rabbi he said “defied their preconceived narrative that Hasidic communities advise sexual abuse victims to turn to rabbis instead of police.”
According to Federman, NBC edited the interview with Berkowitz, taking the rabbi’s words out of context and grossly distorting his views.
“Though the rabbi advocates reporting sexual abuse to the police, NBC’s selective editing left the opposite impression,” Federman said.
Newsbusters’ Noel Sheppard provided a transcript of the video used by NBC.
DR. NANCY SNYDERMAN (OFF-CAMERA) But last year, the Hasidic community could no longer deny its own problems. A young women came forward to tell police her Rabbi, Nechamya Weberman, had sexually abused her for years. It was a rare instance of a Hasid going to outside authorities to report a crime.
AVRAHAM BERKOWITZ: The community leaders within are dealing with this.
SNYDERMAN (OFF-CAMERA): Avraham Berkowitz is a local Rabbi in the community and he says people are now acknowledging sexual abuse is happening and insists they can handle the problem themselves.
BERKOWITZ: Whatever these types of crimes are have to be eradicated, and in order to eradicate them, we have to do it within the way the community knows how to solve its problems. Because sometimes when you come banging with drums from the outside, the community becomes more insular.
SNYDERMAN (OFF-CAMERA): Nechamya Weberman was ultimately convicted of sexual abuse, and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
The interview, as presented by NBC, left viewers with the impression that Berkowitz wants such incidents handled internally rather than report them to the police.
Berkowitz, however, made an audio recording of the interview with Snyderman’s permission. As Federman pointed out, the actual interview presented a completely different story.
“In our community, for example, when it comes it’s a much more open and public debate. We are one of the largest Chasidic communities in Brooklyn, the Rabbis work together hand in hand with the authorities, and the children are now taught that if someone is doing something inappropriate to you, you have the ABC’s. And I was so pleased with my six year old daughter tells me, ‘Daddy, the ‘D’ of the ABC’s, do tell. Someone does something inappropriate I’m gonna tell,'” Berkowitz said, presenting a much different picture from what NBC showed its viewers.
In another segment, Snyderman said, “We have images of a young girl who was molested being heckled by adult men as she was going to court and even so disturbing to see a young girl who had suffered being made the villain.”
Berkowitz’ answer was quite different from what NBC originally broadcast.
“I’m very disturbed by those images,” he said. “But again, there, we have to remember one thing. Whatever these types of crimes are have to be eradicated and in order to eradicate them they have to do it within the way the community knows how to solve its problems because sometimes when you come banging with drums from the outside the community becomes more insular. So the community needs to face this, the community leaders within are dealing with this, but sometimes what they say to the outside seems as if they’re covering up for it. But I must say again these deviants must be punished and they now know because of the awareness that’s happening they now know that they cannot continue to commit these crimes.
“They know that they’ll be caught and our children are also taught because of like I told you, you say that we are separated… they are now taught what is considered inappropriate …And I must say as a parent it’s the number one thing that I worry about in our camps, in our schools, what are you teaching your staff, our teachers to make sure that our children are protected. And I’m very pleased that the new programs that the Chasidic schools are teaching within our, with their sensitivities, to teach our children about the differences,” he added.
Federman said a producer with NBC admitted in an email that Berkwoitz did not advocate that victims turn to rabbis instead of the police.
After multiple emails, NBC producer Robert Buchanan agreed to remove the inaccurate segment and said in an email that “some are misinterpreting your … [Rabbi Berkowitz] … comment- we are going to take the story off the web.”
But Federman says the clarification was not enough.
“NBC damaged this rabbi’s reputation without taking full responsibility for creating a misperception about his views on reporting sexual abuse to the police,” he said. “Whether NBC’s deceptive editing stems from a political bias, stereotypes about Hasidic Jews, or an attempt to make material more salacious to attract more viewers, NBC should seek to restore its journalistic integrity by conducting an internal review to explain how and why these things happened.”
Federman told Examiner NBC agreed to do another — unedited — interview with Rabbi Berkowitz and issued an updated “editor’s note” on the web story.
“We want to clarify our online report about the Hasidic community, which included comments made by Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz. The story did not reflect his views on reporting sex abuse to law enforcement authorities. We apologize for any misimpression our previous online report created for Rabbi Berkowitz and the Hasidic community. Rabbi Berkowitz told us he is committed to the prevention and the reporting of suspected sex abuse to law enforcement,” NBC said.
But Federman said NBC’s actions do not address the core problem.
“NBC taking action to repair the Rabbi’s reputation is commendable but that does not address the core of the issue which is how and why this even happened,” he told Examiner.
Sheppard says there’s a bigger issue.
“NBC News and its affiliate MSNBC continue to do this,” he wrote.
In December, George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer on trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, sued the network over edited audio of a 911 call.
Last April, NBC was caught using edited audio to imply Mitt Romney was dodging a question on his religion.
In September 2012, MSNBC was caught using edited video to attack Mitt Romney.
In January, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said NBC demonstrated that Americans cannot trust the network to provide truthful, unbiased news after it used edited video to imply that Neil Heslin, father of a Newtown shooting victim, was heckled or interrupted by supporters of the Second Amendment.
“There is now a clear pattern of deception at NBC News,” Bozell said in a statement. “It is the most egregious violation of journalistic ethics. First they edited the Trayvon Martin 911 call to fabricate a racist motive. Then Andrea Mitchell tried to invent a fake ‘supermarket scanner moment’ for Mitt Romney. Now MSNBC is deceptively editing footage of Sandy Hook testimony in order to smear gun rights advocates.”
This June, prior to using edited video of Berkowitz, MSNBC used an edited video clip that implied Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, believes food stamp recipients are rapists, pedophiles, and murderers.
Incidents like these are the reason a vast majority of voters said they have no confidence in the so-called “mainstream media.”
“Regardless of political affiliation the media has an obligation to present accurate information. NBC is failing miserably,” the petition says.
“Mr. McCormick, the public deserves a statement immediately!” the petition adds.
Update: The petition was edited since this article was first published. Those edits are reflected in the article.
By Joe Newby- Examiner.com