NBC's Chuck Todd just can't escape the backlash over a stray comment he made about the media earlier in the week.
The background, briefly: Todd was speaking with former governor Ed Rendell about obamacare on Wednesday's "Morning Joe." Rendell said that the White House had not sold the program successfully, and that most Americans opposed to Obamacare had probably been given incorrect information about it.
Todd replied that, "more importantly," that incorrect information "would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it." He continued, "They don't repeat the other stuff because they haven't even heard the Democratic message."
Then came the fateful words:
"What I always love is people say, 'Well, it's you folks' fault in the media.' No! It's the President of the United States' fault for not selling it."
That quote led to articles with headlines like " Chuck Todd: It's Not Media's Job To Correct GOP's Obamacare Falsehoods," and " MSNBC's Chuck Todd Explains Media Don't Need To Show You No Stinking Facts On Obamacare," and " Inform the Public? Not My Job, Says Chuck Todd."
Todd replied on Twitter:
Somebody decided to troll w/mislding headline: point I actually made was folks shouldn't expect media to do job WH has FAILED to do re: ACA-- Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 18, 2013
I was NOT saying it isn't job of journos to call out lies, I said it was not job of media to sell WH's health care message, it is WH's job-- Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 18, 2013
Unfortunately for Todd, the controversy isn't going away. The latest salvo: a petition on the website Credo Mobilize, which had drawn 50,000 signatures by Saturday afternoon, a day after it was posted online. The petition's author, Nicole Belle, accused Todd of having "completely abdicated his responsibility as a journalist." She also wrote a separate post on her blog at Crooks and Liars.
From the petition:
This shouldn't be hard. Journalists are supposed to inform their audience of facts. When lies are provided for partisan purposes, it is not "doing the job of the White House to sell" a government program to say that these are lies. That's reporting. That's journalism. Someone who just repeats what is said to him without placing it in context is called a stenographer, not a journalist.
Given NBC News' policy of not informing its viewers of the facts about the Affordable Care Act, it should come as no surprise that 70% of the American people don't understand what the law does.
Make no mistake, if Chuck Todd and his other colleagues at NBC News actually fact-checked all the lies that Republicans tell about the Affordable Care Act, that number would be much, much lower. NBC News must accept its culpability in Americans' poor understanding of the law. If NBC's job is to provide factual information to its viewers, it has totally failed the American people.
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