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NBC Belatedly Corrects Fake News Story on Trump and Robert E. Lee

NBC Fake news (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

NBC News issued a correction Sunday of its inaccurate tweet Friday that President Donald Trump had praised Confederate General Robert E. Lee at a rally in Ohio, misquoting the president and leaving out the context that he was setting up praise of Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

NBC initially reported:

On Sunday morning, Trump responded:

A few hours later, NBC corrected its first tweet, and reported:

However, the initial NBC error set up an entire news cycle of criticism of the president, painting him — once again — as a Confederate sympathizer and a racist.

Time (via Yahoo! News) published a story titled, “Robert E. Lee Descendent Attacks President Trump’s Comments on Confederate General.” In it, Times referenced the Charlottesville riots last summer, in which Trump was (falsely) accused of siding with white supremacists.

Several other outlets also ran with similar stories (see tweet below).

Politico noted that Trump had praised both Lee and Grant, but ran with the headline, “Trump praises Robert E. Lee during Ohio rally,” though the point of Trump’s speech had been to praise Grant for defeating Lee.

Rolling Stone did the same (via Yahoo! Entertainment): “Donald Trump Is a Big Fan of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Huge.

The Washington Post reported that Trump praised Lee — and only reported the Grant part of Trump’s speech in quoting Trump’s tweet Sunday morning.

The Southern Poverty Law Center piled on, repeating NBC’s fake news:

Left-wing politicians made full use of NBC’s fake news.
Democrat Aftab Pureval, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) in Ohio’s first congressional district, appeared alongside civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) on Sunday and blasted Trump for praising Lee, and Chabot for not challenging the president.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a possible Democratic contender for president in 2020, attacked Trump for his reported remarks about Lee on Friday, alleging that Trump was “releasing a cancer into the body politic of America,” adding that “when you start to unleash hate, when you fan the flames of racism and division, you can create a fire that is out of control.”

Trump, at least, was magnanimous, thanking NBC for the correction.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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