On NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, host Chuck Todd used a Letter to the Editor published 11 months ago in the Lexington Herald Leader to attack supporters of President Trump who believe the Bible.
“Show me a person who believes in Noah’s ark and I will show you a Trump voter,” Todd read from the letter, written by David Bowles of Lexington, Kentucky, and published on January 15, 2019 to set up his questioning of New York Times editor Dean Baquet and Washington Post editor Martin Baron.
Todd claimed the letter was “a fascinating attempt at trying to explain why some people support President Trump.”
You can read the transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s Meet the Press program here:
I want to read you guys a letter to the editor that we found in the Lexington Herald Leader. It was a fascinating attempt at trying to explain why some people support President Trump. Here’s what he says. “Why do good people support Trump? It’s because people have been trained, from childhood, to believe in fairytales. This set their minds up to accept things that make them feel good. The more fairytales and lies he tells, the better they feel. Show me a person who believes in Noah’s Ark, and I will show you a Trump voter.” Look, this gets at something, Dean, that my executive producer likes to say, is “Hey, voters want to be lied to, sometimes. They don’t, they don’t always love being told hard truths.”
Notably, Todd did not read the complete version of Mr. Bowles’ January 15, 2019 Letter to the Editor, nor did the screen shot of the text version of the quotes read by Todd contain a specific disclaimer that it had been selectively edited. You can read the full text of that letter here: (Note that the portions of the letter which were read on air by Todd are highlighted in bold.)
A FAIRYTALE WORLD
The question of the decade is: Why do people support President Donald Trump?
We all know why white supremacists do, that is obvious. But why do good people support Trump? It’s because people have been trained from childhood to believe in fairy tales.
From childhood, they were told stories that were fascinating but simply not true. This set their minds up to accept things that make them feel good. Later in life some people mature, study facts and cause and effect, and start thinking more logically, even if the results are undesirable.
So you have this population that loves Trump because he makes them feel good. The more fairy tales and lies he tells the better they feel. Trump is a master liar who knows what makes people feel good and that is what he goes with. Sure, it would be nice if climate change did not exist.
Show me a person who believes in Noah’s ark and I will show you a Trump voter. There are multiple solid scientific reasons the ark did not happen. Some people learn this and some don’t, and those who don’t will accept Trump. But can the world survive on fairy tales?
Todd conveniently omitted this important part of Bowles’ letter that immediately preceded the excerpt he read: “We all know why white supremacists do [support Donald Trump], that is obvious.” (emphasis added)
That omission disproves Todd’s claim at the beginning of the segment that the letter was “a fascinating attempt at trying to explain why some people support President Trump.” Including that sentence would have made it clear that the letter was intended to disparage supporters of the president, not explain why they support him.
It also raises two obvious questions:
(1) Why did Todd and the producers of NBC’s Meet the Press omit this important sentence from what they shared with the audience?
(2) Why did they reach back 11 months to an obscure Letter to the Editor in the Lexington-Herald Leader to make a point on Sunday?
Negative reaction to Todd’s comments began pouring in immediately.
Tre Goins-Phillips, editor of FaithWire, wrote:
But to make his point, it was wrong for the NBC host to pluck out of obscurity a letter disparaging people of faith and belittling those who believe in the biblical account of the flood, which includes not only Christians but Muslims and Jewish people, too.
Social media also blasted Todd’s attack on Bible-believing Trump supporters.
Trump campaign deputy communications director Zach Parkinson weighed in with this tweet on Sunday:
If Chuck Todd’s wondering why Trump voters don’t trust the mainstream media, one reason might be they don’t like supposedly impartial reporters insinuating the real reason they support the President is because they “want to be lied to” and comparing the Bible to “fairy tales” pic.twitter.com/jlkzYvE4Or
— Zach Parkinson (@AZachParkinson) December 29, 2019
Newsbusters added this tweet:
Chuck Todd plucks a Letter to the Editor to make the point that voters want to be lied to…especially numbskulls who believe fairy tales like Noah’s Ark. If it’s Sunday, it’s contempt for religious people. pic.twitter.com/l022cz8p9l
— NewsBusters (@newsbusters) December 29, 2019
On Monday, the Washington Examiner tweeted that Todd’s use of the Letter to the Editor was “a cheap shot” and “an act of extreme cowardice.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) December 30, 2019
As of Monday afternoon, neither Todd nor Meet the Press had publicly responded to any of these criticisms.