The Chuck Todd apology. "That was not our edit"

When we discussed the deceptively edited video of Bill Barr that Chuck Todd played on Meet the Press this weekend, I noted that a rather vague apology had been offered. But the apology wasn’t from the host himself. It was posted to Twitter on the show’s account. It also left unanswered some key questions about how the video wound up being chopped the way it was, who did it, and if Todd was aware of the full quote from Barr before offering his opinion of it.

To his credit, Chuck Todd stepped up to the plate on MSNBC yesterday and offered a full and seemingly sincere apology. He also answered the questions I mentioned above. (National Review)

MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd on Tuesday apologized on-air for playing a clip of Attorney General William Barr that was edited in a misleading way during his Sunday show, saying he is “very sorry” for the mistake while stipulating “that was not our edit.” …

“We did not edit that out. That was not our edit,” Todd said during his apology, adding that the show did not include Barr’s additional remarks because “we only saw the shorter of two clips that CBS did air.”

“We should have looked at both and checked for a full transcript, a mistake that I wish we hadn’t made and one that I wish I hadn’t made,” Todd continued. “The second part of the attorney general’s answer would have put it in the proper context, and had I seen that part of the interview, I would not have framed the conversation the way I did. And I obviously am very sorry for that mistake.”

And now it’s my turn to offer something of an apology. There did indeed seem to be two different versions of the clip at CBS’s website. One had the full interview and one was more of an abbreviated highlight reel. I had originally posited that the only two likely options were that some production assistant at NBC had edited the clip without telling Todd or that he had known that the clip was misleadingly edited and went with it anyway. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me that CBS might have chopped it up in that fashion themselves. Sorry about that.

I agree with Chuck Todd that he should have sought out the full interview and it was his responsibility to do so. But he’s acknowledged that and taken responsibility for the error. That’s about the most we could expect from him under the circumstances.

With all that out of the way, however, that brings the mystery to yet another twist in the road. The question of who did the editing for the shorter version that wound up being used on Meet the Press has been answered, at least in terms of which network did it. But what we could really use now is an answer as to why it was edited in that fashion.

If you go back and look at the clip they used, it’s obvious that the place where they cut off Barr’s answer to Catherine Herridge made him come off as callous and out of touch. There is zero chance that anyone working for a professional news-gathering organization that deals with politics did that innocently, without understanding the tone that would be conveyed. This was an intentional choice that someone made. And any viewer who chose to watch the shorter version would have been left with that negative impression of Barr.

I’m willing to take Chuck Todd at his word when he says that NBC grabbed the shorter clip accidentally. But somebody at CBS News made the conscious decision to edit that interview the way they did and publish it. The people involved in that decision were playing partisan politics in an effort to make the Trump administration look bad, not reporting the news as it happened. And if anyone owes the public an apology for this entire debacle, it’s them.