NBC News was called out late Sunday over a pair of tweets it sent about an hour apart that critics said showed bias when reporting on President Trump rallies and the protests that have emerged in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.
NBC News first tweeted a link to a protest in Brooklyn and wrote, “Rally for Black trans lives draws packed crowd to Brooklyn Museum plaza.”
About an hour later, the news outlet tweeted out another story, “President Trump plans to rally his supporters next Saturday for the first time since most of the country was shuttered by the coronavirus. But health experts are questioning that decision.”
Twitter users pointed out that it was only in the Trump tweet that mentioned the health risk of attending a rally during a global pandemic. Mark Hemingway, a senior writer at RealClearInvestigations, pointed out the tweets and wrote, “Little over an hour apart.”
Brian Stelter, the CNN anchor, retweeted Hemingway and wrote, “He has a fair, important point. Also: every time a reporter raises health concerns about Trump’s rally in Tulsa, the Trump camp is just going to bring up the recent protests in response…”
NBC News did not immediately respond to a request from Fox News.
The tweets come as the country is trying to emerge from devastating coronavirus lockdowns that have been blamed for essentially shut down much of the U.S. economy since March in order to prevent the disease transmission.
CNN and The New York Times were called out for similar “one-sided reporting” on the risk of contracting coronavirus, in an analysis published by Mediaite.
States and cities issued stay-at-home orders and modified church services to limit any spread. These orders were, in many cases, enforced with police departments.
Trump supporters have called out the apparent hypocrisy of Democrats who once insisted on these crackdowns, but who’ve encouraged these new demonstrations.
Rep. Val Demings, D. Fla., last week, told her Twitter followers that she would join a rally “to speak with our community as America grieves.” A few days later, she came out against Trump’s plan to hold rallies and called the decision “irresponsible and selfish.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had previously lashed out at protesters calling to reopen the state, saying, "you have no right to jeopardize my health ... and my children's health and your children's health."
Cuomo said he now "stands" with those defying stay-at-home orders: "Nobody is sanctioning the arson, and the thuggery and the burglaries, but the protesters and the anger and the fear and the frustration? Yes. Yes, and the demand is for justice."
Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, called the upcoming Trump rally “an extraordinarily dangerous move for the people participating and the people who may know them and love them and see them afterward.”
Trump supporters coming from neighboring cities and states could carry the virus back home, Jha said. “I’d feel the same way if Joe Biden were holding a rally.”
The Trump campaign itself acknowledges the risk in a waiver attendees must agree to absolving them of any responsibility should people get sick.
Health officials in New York have recently said that there has been little evidence that the Floyd protests in the city had any influence over the latest transition numbers. But warned that they will have a better understanding in the next two weeks.
“It is too soon to tell what public health impact the protests of the last few weeks will have on New York,” said Professor Summer McGee, the dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut, told the New York Post.
“We will have a much better picture of things in another week or two because positive tests and hospitalization lag behind exposure by a few weeks.”
The NBC tweet prompted debate on Twitter. Some said that the fight for civil rights is a more important social cause than a planned campaign rally, and point out that most of these protests are outdoors compared to the indoor Tulsa rally. Others called out hypocrisy.
“To justify this, Democrats have decided to claim being outside with masks is now safe,” tweeted Glenn Greenwald, a writer at the Intercept. “Would have been nice to have known that when the super-awesome Grim Reaper guy was shaming people for being at deserted beaches & billions were subjected to stay-home orders, but here we are.”
Fox News' Gregg Re, Brian Flood and The Associated Press contributed to this report