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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
More Selective Editing From Finkelstein
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein is becoming quite the master at selectively editing the transcripts he posts to bolster his claims. He does so again in a Jan. 8 post depicting a debate between MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and "smart and plucky" author Bob Kohn (who repeated a false MRC claim about ex-New York Times editor Howell Raines in his WorldNetDaily-published Times-bashing book). From Finkelstein's item:

Kohn kicked off the exchange with Joe this way:

"I watched NBC Nightly News, and Brian Williams this evening had a story about Bush's proposal to increase troops in Iraq. He had three experts on the air discussing that proposal. Not one of those experts supported Bush's plan. They all were against it. So that's bias."

Scarborough's first ploy was to assert that in light of weak public support for the surge "it's kind of hard to get somebody that's going to go on as an expert that's going to support a troop surge."

Kohn laughed that lame line out of the water: "Oh, come on, Joe. Tell me that NBC News couldn't find one person in Washington, one expert, who could have supported the administration. Give me a break."

Defeated on that notion, Scarborough hit a new low with this outlandish assertion: "I guess the more important question is: should they? When you're talking about a surge where all five Joint chiefs are opposed to it, where 12% of Americans support it?"

Finkelstein abruptly ends his transcript there. But the exchange continued, and Scarborough hinted at why he took that position:

KOHN: Three of—no, that's not fair and balanced. You have three experts on.  You can have one of them that supports it.

SCARBOROUGH: You know what? I will remember this, Bob, the next time we have a position where conservatives are on the side of 90 percent of the American population, and you complain because NBC News puts one liberal and one conservative on there. 

Finkelstein apparently doesn't disagree with Scarborough's contention that conservatives regularly complain when a liberal is allowed to weigh in on a conservative issue that most of the country supports.

Finkelstein went on to assert that Scarborough engaged in "panel-packing ... with Kohn left to assert NBC's liberal bias alone," but he doesn't note how Scarborough ended the segment, laughing as he did so:

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We've got to go.  Bob Kohn, I'm usually with you.  You're usually on the side of the angels.  Tonight, though, we knew that you were so powerful, we teamed up on you three to one, just to prove how liberal we really were.  Well, I'm a conservative, right?  So I think it's two conservatives, two liberals.  But you did a great job.  I appreciate you being here tonight.  Sorry to team up on you.

Finally, in calling Scarborough "so sycophantish, even Keith Olbermann might have been embarassed by it" in defending his network against "charges of liberal bias" by Bill O'Reilly, Finkelstein ignored the claim by panelist Paul Waldman from Media Matters (full disclosure: my employer) that it had found "over 1,100 instances of conservative misinformation" on NBC and MSNBC.

The full clips and transcripts of shows like these are easily found online. Finkelstein should know better than to edit out stuff that conflicts with his argument.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:22 PM EST

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