A video doctored by MSNBC featuring the grieving father of one of the children who died in the Sandy Hook tragedy from has set the Internet aflame this week. The video, which first aired on the Monday, January 28 broadcast of the liberal network's "Martin Bashir"show is only the latest video controversy to include NBC and its crazy liberal stepchild MSNBC.
We're now three days -- and counting -- into the scandal and MSNBC still hasn't come clean and admitted what it did.
The video showed Newtown, Conn. father Neil Heslin's testimony about guns speaking at a legislative hearing. Bashir then claimed Heslin was heckled by a gun supporter at the hearing. "A father's grief, interrupted by the cries of a heckler," Bashir declared.
Bashir's declaration was at best wrong and at worst outright misrepresentation by the network. The video cut out the part of Heslin's testimony where he posed a question to the crowd. Hearing no response, Heslin then appeared to act like no one was able to challenge his argument, which is why some present did so.
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This latest controversy has made MSNBC the target of criticism from AP, The Washington Post and even some commentators like David Frum. After Tweeting about the alleged heckling incident, CNN's Anderson Cooper then deleted his Tweet and clarified the situation, much to his credit.
The Washington Post's media blogger Erik Wemple provided a nice transcript of the original exchange as it occurred at the hearing:
"Heslin: I don't know how many people have young children or children. But just try putting yourself in the place that I'm in or these other parents that are here. Having a child that you lost. It's not a good feeling; not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. I ask if there's anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question: Why anybody in this room needs to have an, one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips.....Not one person can answer that question."
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Public official: "Please no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking. Or we'll clear the room. Mr. Heslin, please continue."
It's only human to feel for Heslin. No one should ever experience the murder of their child. But at the same time, he posed a question and the response clearly was not heckling. To chop up video of Heslin's testimony -- to make it look bad -- was a horrible act by MSNBC. This excellent video (Yes, a co-worker of mine at the Media Research Center put it together. So sue me.) shows exactly how the doctoring took place.
Wemple quoted an "MSNBC source" saying: "We're reviewing the video in question." He added his own critique. "Smart move, considering that Heslin wasn't, in fact, heckled. Audience members merely answered a challenge that Heslin posed from the microphone."
According to the AP's David Bauder, "Bashir was out sick on Wednesday," but fill-in Ari Melber gave a lame defense while playing the full video. "Martin and others have called that interruption heckling," Melber reportedly said. "Some disagree. He wanted you to hear that in full so you can draw your own conclusions." It's unclear if MSNBC is still reviewing the video or is just trying to sweep the controversy under the rug.
MSNBC and parent NBC have had two other high-profile editing scandals in recent memory. In one the networked modified what the crowd was chanting at a Romney/Ryan event and then that was used to mock Romney. The network is also being sued for its editing of the 911 call by George Zimmerman, as part of the Trayvon Martin case. The edits there depicted Zimmerman as racist simply because he responded to a question from the dispatcher.
Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.