ICYMI: PBS Newshour Cut Part Of Jill Stein's Interview Where She Criticized Hillary

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Sep 07, 2016 12:45 PM
ICYMI: PBS Newshour Cut Part Of Jill Stein's Interview Where She Criticized Hillary

This occurred during the tail end of August, but fits in the ongoing antics we see from the media regarding this election cycle. CNN edited Donald Trump’s tweets, removing “crooked” when referring to the Democratic candidate. In another instance, HLN, CNN’s sister network, blurred out a Trump t-shirt of an ex-police officer who saved a baby from a hot car. The funny thing is that the initial interview showed the Trump 2016 for president, but the replay of the interview an hour later had it censored. Now, it appears that the PBS NewsHour decided to cut parts of their interview with Green Party candidate Jill Stein when the third party candidate decided to criticize Clinton on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Tom Blumer noted this at Newsbusters and provided a transcript of what was left out [bold text indicates what PBS edited out]:

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS: You've made it clear you think both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would be terrible presidents for the country. So are you saying that literally that Hillary Clinton is every bit as bad for the country as Donald Trump?

GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JILL STEIN: I wouldn't say there are no differences, but the differences are not enough to save your job, because Hillary Clinton, you know, and now her transition director Ken Salazar, y'know, they're big proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is basically NAFTA on steroids. And, uh, most observers believe that it will send our jobs overseas, as well as undermine American sovereignty by bringing in these international tribunals that get to pass judgment on our laws, on our public health protections, on our worker protections. So we, you know, we can't count on saving our jobs, saving our lives — 1 in 3 Americans now cannot afford health care under Obamacare — or saving the planet, because Hillary has been a big proponent of fracking, as is Ken Salazar, her transition director.

So we feel that in this election, we're not just deciding what kind of a world we're going to have, but whether we're going to have a world or not going forward, and knowing that the majority of Americans is unhappy with these two party choices, this is the time for us to open up. Americans have not only a right to vote, but a right to know who we can vote for.

So we're pushing for opening up the debates, and then let's see how the chips fall.

WOODRUFF: Dr. Jill Stein, with the Green Party. We thank you.

STEIN: Thank you, Judy.

At the time, PBS’ Ombudsman Michael Getler confirmed the cuts and even provided the transcript of what was cut during the Stein interview, which is exactly what you’ve read above. He does, however, say that a) PBS offered the full interview on their Facebook page; b) he does not believe that the cuts were made to shield Hillary from criticism, noting that the NewsHour’s commitment to journalistic fairness has been too good to allow that to be a reason; and c) Stein was able to criticize Clinton (and Trump) during the interview. I’m sure many of you would beg to differ on this second point. He also admitted that not many people might have flocked to their Facebook page to see the full interview. He also said that news organizations must avoid even the appearance of any undue editing within a political bias context to prevent a distraction from their journalism. His main objection was that PBS should’ve left the interview untouched since it might be the only one the network has with Stein.

Here is the response from Nick Massella, NewsHour's director of audience engagement & communications: “Sometimes when an interview is prerecorded, the producers must make some edits before air time as the rest of the pieces of our program come into place and timing is finalized. That is what happened here with our interview with Jill Stein and is commonplace in broadcasting. With the advent of Facebook Live, we can also offer viewers immediate access to the full interview, and in this case, the opportunity to pose questions to the guest. Judy Woodruff told the television audience that the full interview, including audience generated questions, was available online on Facebook at the end of the segment.”

I also asked if program officials could shed any light on why it was decided to cut that particular portion but was told, “That is our only statement on this.”

[…]

First, I should say that as a viewer watching what I thought at the time was the entire interview, I felt this was a worthwhile session that told me a lot about how Dr. Jill Stein thinks about things and that it was good of the NewsHour to invite her on to the program.

It is also true that broadcast and print media both, at times, have to trim interviews due to either time or space constraints. And it is also true that at the end of the interview Woodruff told viewers, “you can watch our extended Facebook Live interview with Dr. Stein online.

[…]

I have no way to challenge the NewsHour’s explanation that the cuts were necessary due to timing, and no way to know, for sure, why these specific comments were chosen to cut.

[…]

News organizations, of course, must not make decisions for fear of being criticized—and in today’s media environment those criticisms are frequently immediate, harsh, widely disseminated on the web and social media and often have more to do with politics and ideology than concerns about journalism. On the other hand, news organizations need to be especially alert, as I see it from my more distanced perch, to be beyond reproach in their reporting and editing in this environment so as not to enable distraction from the journalism.

[…]

Maybe the NewsHour didn’t answer my question about why this particular segment was cut because they didn’t want to discuss their internal decision-making or news judgment with me and you.

[…]

I do not believe that NewsHour editors removed that section of Stein’s comments from the on-air broadcast because they were critical of Hillary Clinton. That just would not make sense and the program is and has always been routinely too good and committed to journalistic fairness to do something like that. There has been so much criticism of Clinton that has been aired in various ways—in questions asked and in other interviews with her critics and in film clips for a year now—that some additional critical commentary from a candidate getting three percent in the polls is not likely to move the needle.

But as long as the NewsHour doesn’t care to explain itself more fully I will offer my opinion.

Forty seconds or so is not nothing in TV time but in a 55-minute broadcast it would seem to me to have been worth finding those seconds somewhere else so as not to cut the first and perhaps only interview with Dr. Stein and to let her finish answering—and let NewsHour television viewers see and hear—one of the more provocative questions Woodruff asked.

Well, let’s just put this to be: the media is biased. Full stop. MSNBC was caught many times editing the 911 calls from George Zimmerman during the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. CNN and its sister networks are editing social media posts, even Trump t-shirts worn by folks participating in interviews that are far from political. There’s been virtually zero reporting on the Big Three’s (ABC, NBC, and CBS) evening news programming on the dismal Obamacare news. Everyone needs to be watched, even PBS, which the Media Research Center and other outlets do often.