‘The Thrust of this Article Is No Longer Correct’: NBC News Backs Down from Fake News Hit on Trump, Troops, Christmas

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Washington, D.C.

NBC News has finally, a full day after being called out for printing the fake news, admitted that its article published on Christmas alleging President Donald Trump snubbed the troops during the holidays this year is incorrect.

NBC has altered its headline and story, changing their meaning to remove the original anti-Trump thrust, and added an extended editor’s note beyond the original editor’s note appended when it was first discovered to be an inaccurate piece. The new editor’s note admits in no uncertain terms that NBC News printed fake news, and that it was only leaving the article up in the interest of transparency despite the fact that “the thrust of this article is no longer correct” according to NBC News’s own editors.

The embarrassing mistake for NBC News comes as the media industry as a whole has attempted to critique Trump’s visit to Iraq, bashing the troops for bringing red “Make America Great Again” hats for the president to sign, and much more. It also comes as hostilities between Trump and the media are as intense as ever, with the president ribbing the media on Christmas Day via Twitter:

NBC News continues to, despite claims of being interested in transparency via its editor’s note, resist journalistic integrity and accountability on this front, and will not through a spokeswoman name the editor or editors involved in the publication of this fake news hit on Trump. NBC News also, through a spokeswoman, will not answer if there will be any accountability at all when it comes to the reporter on the byline of the article or the editors involved in publishing the fake news attacking the president.

On Christmas Day, NBC News printed a headline and article that turned out to be inaccurate, alleging that Trump had, for the first time for a U.S. president since 2002, snubbed the troops at Christmastime. As Breitbart News reported on Wednesday afternoon when President Trump was on his way home from Iraq, where he visited troops in the active combat zone for the Christmas holidays:

NBC News and a variety of other media outlets falsely reported that President Donald Trump did not visit U.S. troops in a combat zone during Christmastime. NBC has yet to retract its demonstrably fake headline, and has left the fake story up on its website as of publication of this article.

On Wednesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that President Trump and first lady Melania Trump made a surprise secret Christmas visit to U.S. troops in Iraq.

It is customary for the White House to be secretive when it comes to presidential travel to war-torn areas and active combat zones. The White House did not confirm the trip until mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

But, a variety of media outlets–chief among them NBC News–jumped the gun and on Tuesday published critiques of Trump for not visiting the troops.

“Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmastime,” was the headline on an NBC News article from reporter Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner.

The sub-headline of the story reads: “Though he called military personnel on Tuesday, Trump did not visit a hospital or a military base.”

The original NBC article also used this language to claim Trump had snubbed the troops this year:

On Christmas Day, President Donald Trump took part in a long-running practice of presidents who called troops stationed around the country and the world.

But he broke from a recent tradition of actually visiting troops and wounded warriors. He did so in 2017, when he visited wounded troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Dec. 21 (and invited Coast Guard service members to play golf at his course in West Palm Beach, Florida).

By staying home on Tuesday, Trump became the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel around Christmastime.

NBC originally tried to brave it through the storm of criticism and stand by its false headline and article, as Breitbart News also reported on Wednesday:

After the White House confirmed that President Trump was indeed in Iraq with the first lady, per the White House’s Sanders, NBC News added an “Editor’s Note” to Perlmutter-Gumbiner’s article that says: “On Wednesday, a day after this article was published, President Trump made a surprise visit to Iraq to greet U.S. troops. It was his first presidential visit to a combat zone.”

But, now, under intense scrutiny from not just Breitbart News but also the Washington Postwhich called for NBC News to correct its inaccurate article and headline–NBC News has backed down and altered its headline and article and appended a more detailed editor’s note admitting in effect that its story as published is inaccurate.

The new headline on the NBC article now reads: “Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops on or before Christmas.” That significantly alters the meaning and content. The new article text also alters the phrase “Christmastime,” changing the third paragraph of the above-excerpted section of the article to this instead: “By staying home on Tuesday, Trump became the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel on or before Christmas.”

What’s more, NBC News’s extended editor’s note, while attempting to still argue that the article was “correct” at the time of publication, admits now that Trump’s unannounced visit to Iraq means that “the thrust of this article is no longer correct.”

Here is the full text of NBC News’s extended editor’s note:

On Wednesday, NBC News compiled a list of every Christmastime visit to active troops by a president since 2001. That list, as detailed in the article below, showed that former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama visited troops on or before Christmas every year since 2003, and President Donald Trump did so in 2017. As of the end of Christmas Day 2018, Trump had not visited troops during the holiday season, and had announced no plans to do so. The article was correct, but on Dec. 26, the situation changed. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, made an unannounced visit to troops in Iraq. As a result, the thrust of this article is no longer correct, even if it was at the time. In the interest of transparency, we are keeping the article on NBCNews.com so that the record will reflect the situation on the day the article was published, and are directing readers to the article about Trump’s Iraq visit here. We are also altering one line in the article, as well as the headline, to be more specific and to note that Trump was the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel on or before Christmas, rather than at Christmastime.

For a major news network like NBC News to admit in writing in an editor’s note that an article it published is “no longer correct” is remarkable. What remains to be seen is how NBC News handles it from here. In addition to keeping quiet about which personnel from the network besides the bylined reporter were involved in the story, and in the network’s handling of this matter since the story was determined to be inaccurate, an NBC News spokeswoman has not replied to requests for comment on whether the network will release a full public accounting of exactly what happened and how and why, in the interest of transparency.

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