In an era in which there are all sorts of public controversies about race, media outlets are often criticized for not referring to comments as “racist,” instead using such euphemisms as “racially inflammatory,” “racially charged,” or even “controversial.”
Now, there’s been another such incident, growing out of the instance in which Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King appeared to praise white nationalism in a New York Times interview. Said interview ended up with King being condemned by much of the Republican Party, and also cost him all of his committee assignments.
Now, a memo has leaked from one media outlet laying out this tendency as a matter of policy — and the leaking of the memo has led the network to reverse the decision.
An email from NBC News‘ standards department, obtained by reporter Yashar Ali of the Huffington Post and published Tuesday, described how employees of the news division should describe King’s remarks.
“Be careful to avoid characterizing [King’s] remarks as racist,” said the email from an NBC standard executive. “It is ok to attribute to others as in ‘what many are calling racist’ or something like that.” Two NBC employees shared the email with Ali who, in his own story, referred to King’s “long history of making racist remarks.”
However, the decision was later reversed by NBC, Ali reported via Twitter.
“We revised our guidance on Steve King’s comments,” a new memo said. “It is fair to characterize King’s comments as ‘racist,’ and point out that he has a history of racist comments, and the context can be shared that others hold that view as well.”
.@yashar results— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) January 15, 2019
NBC: “We revised our guidance on Steve King’s comments. It is fair to characterize King’s comments as ‘racist,’ and point out that he has a history of racist comments, and the context can be shared that others hold that view as well.”https://t.co/Ekc8BOn28w
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in the New York Times interview, which was published last week, per previous reporting from the Inquisitr. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King has frequently made headlines for shocking comments, most frequently about undocumented immigrants. He called for an electrified fence on the U.S.-Mexico border as early as 2006, and in 2013 he said of undocumented Mexican immigrants that “for every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” the Atlantic reported at the time.
NBC Memo: Don’t Call Steve King’s White-Supremacy Comments ‘Racist’. Followed by a leak of the memo. Followed by a second memo reversing the first. Nice work, NBC standards department. https://t.co/r1QgIwwF9U— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) January 15, 2019
King, the only remaining Republican in Iowa’s House delegation following his narrow re-election last year, has long been a singularly powerful member of the House, largely because his endorsement is always highly sought by presidential candidates in the quadrennial first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. King co-chaired Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in 2016, and while Cruz condemned his remarks, the senator refused to rule out future support for King, the Huffington Post reported.
According to the Inquisitr, Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, a Democrat, introduced legislation this week to formally censure King for the remarks.