NBC News' Chuck Todd aired a deceptively edited clip of Attorney General Bill Barr discussing the Michael Flynn case during his "Meet the Press" broadcast on Sunday, prompting the network to concede the mistake hours later -- but there is still no word on whether Todd will apologize on-air.
Asked by CBS News' Catherine Herridge how history would judge the DOJ's decision to move to dismiss the Flynn case, Barr initially responded, laughing: "Well, history is written by the winners, so it largely depends on who's writing the history."
After the brief clip aired, Todd remarked that he was "struck by the cynicism of the answer -- it's a correct answer, but he's the attorney general. He didn't make the case that he was upholding the rule of law. He was almost admitting that, yeah, this was a political job."
In the full clip, which the NBC show did not air, Barr immediately went on to state explicitly that, in fact, he felt the Flynn decision upheld the rule of law.
"I think a fair history would say it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law," Barr said. "It upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice."
The Daily Caller's Greg Price had called out the edit earlier Sunday.
"Very disappointed by the deceptive editing/commentary by @ChuckTodd on @MeetThePress on AG Barr’s CBS interview," DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec wrote. "Compare the two transcripts below. Not only did the AG make the case in the VERY answer Chuck says he didn’t, he also did so multiple times throughout the interview."
In response, the "Meet the Press" Twitter account posted: "You’re correct. Earlier today, we inadvertently and inaccurately cut short a video clip of an interview with AG Barr before offering commentary and analysis. The remaining clip included important remarks from the attorney general that we missed, and we regret the error."
"'Inadvertently strikes again!'" tweeted independent journalist Mike Cernovich.
But, the show did not say it would apologize on-air. NBC News did not respond to Fox News' request for information about an on-air apology, either.
"A tweet in no way covers the error," wrote The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway. "A lot of people are rightly angry at @chucktodd for willfully lying about AG Barr’s comments on rule of law — but @JoeNBC also did it days ago. These intentional lies in service of false narratives have gone on for years. Infuriating." (That was a reference, in part, to NBC's Joe Scarborough sharing a debunked, deceptively edited clip of Vice President Mike Pence handling boxes of PPE.)
Late Sunday, President Trump tweeted that "Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd" should be fired, saying he "knew exactly what he was doing."
Separately, CBS News' "60 Minutes" also aired a deceptively edited clip falsely implying that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said the coronavirus was man-made. The State Department called the edit a deliberate effort to mislead.
On the recommendation of U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen, who served as an FBI agent for more than a decade, the Justice Department on Thursday moved to drop its case against Flynn. The stunning development came after internal memos were released raising serious questions about the nature of the investigation that led to Flynn’s late 2017 guilty plea of lying to the FBI as his legal fees mounted.
One of the documents was a top official's handwritten memo debating whether the FBI's "goal" was "to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired"; other materials showed efforts by anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok to pursue Flynn on increasingly flimsy legal grounds.
The FBI possessed word-for-word transcripts of Flynn's December 2016 conversations with Russia's ambassador, and publicly admitted to reviewing those transcripts and clearing Flynn of any wrongdoing. The FBI's leak to The Washington Post that claimed the FBI cleared Flynn -- which was published just a day before the Flynn White House interview -- may have been an effort to lower his guard.
Both during and before the Jan. 24, 2017 White House interview that led to Flynn's prosecution for one count of lying to the FBI, the bureau acknowledged having those full transcripts, raising the question of why agents would need to ask Flynn about what he said during the calls with Kislyak, except potentially as a pretext to obtain a false statements charge.
Flynn was accused specifically of giving equivocal and evasive answers to FBI agents in the White House during a casual interview concerning those phone calls, but no transcript of the conversation existed. Instead, after-the-fact FBI notes of the interview with Strzok and Joe Pientka were the primary evidence.
Strzok later was removed from then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team when his anti-Trump text messages surfaced, and Pientka has been under scrutiny for his role in various Trump probes.