On November 4, NBC’s “Today Show” had a blockbuster report on the strange attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In the report, National Correspondent Miguel Almaguer cited an anonymous source close to the ongoing criminal investigation into the home invasion and assault that claimed Pelosi didn’t immediately ask for help or seek protection from police when he greeted them at his door the fateful night of the attack.
“After a ‘knock and announce,’ the front door was opened by Mr. Pelosi. The 82-year-old did not immediately declare an emergency or try to leave his home. Instead, he began walking several feet back into the foyer toward the assailant and away from police,” Almaguer reported. “It’s unclear if the 82-year-old was already injured or what his mental state was, say sources.”
Later that afternoon, the report, the video, and the accompanying article were scrubbed from NBC News’s website and their social media platforms and replaced with the following notice:
“Editor’s note: This piece has been removed from publication because it did not meet NBC News reporting standards.”
Luckily, I conducted a live stream discussion on the bizarre story and its removal that afternoon, so you can see the entire report right here: (While you’re there, subscribe to my channel so you can catch every episode of “O’Connor Tonight” on Salem News Channel).
This was obviously a very significant story because it called into question the bizarre nature of this incident. Why would Pelosi walk several feet back toward his would-be assailant rather than seek protection immediately from the police whom he had summoned?
None of it made any sense.
NBC News has now suspended Almaguer as they continue to investigate the matter.
When asked to comment on the situation, a spokesman said, “We don’t comment on personnel matters,” but I’m afraid that’s not really good enough.
You see, this is not just a personnel matter; this is a journalistic matter. And if NBC News wants to be taken seriously, they owe the American public answers to a couple of key questions. And these answers should not take long to figure out.
In fact, they already know the answers.
The first one is easy and obvious. What exactly was wrong, inaccurate, or factually incorrect about the original piece? You see, they haven’t actually said the original story was wrong, per se. They just said it “didn’t meet their standards.”
If the story is inaccurate, don’t they owe it to the readers to clear up what, specifically, was inaccurate about it? And report the truth instead of the damnable lies the original report contained?
The second question is, frankly, even more important. NBC News should reveal who their anonymous source was that burned them on this story.
If you take NBC at their word, this story was wrong and should never have been reported to the public. Their journalist is now on suspension. This is a man who has served them for many years as one of their top reporters. If he’s now suspended for getting a story wrong, it can only mean that his unnamed source lied to him or got their facts wrong. Either way, the source no longer deserves the protection of anonymity.
This needs to become the norm for journalism.
After years and years of anonymously sourced blockbusters about Donald Trump and other Republicans in Washington that all ended up fizzling out or disappearing completely because they were complete and total fabrications, it’s time to set a new standard for these secret sources.
Reporters need to be less eager to run with whispered-in-the-shadows gossip presented as seriously investigated news. If a source is not willing to go on camera or on the record with their story, then they need to run the risk of exposure if their story doesn’t pan out.
It’s really that simple.
As long as there are no repercussions for telling an anonymous lie to the media, then we will continue to be fed lies.
NBC News could start a very healthy and productive trend here, and they’d build back some trust with their viewers while they’re at it. Reveal the source that lied to their ace reporter. It’s really that simple.
Unless… unless the story is factually accurate, and they merely pulled it because it endangered their political standing with Pelosi and the Democrats because it called into question the veracity of the party line.
The Daily Beast article that first reported the suspension of Mr. Almaguer hints that this may, in fact, be the case.
Right-wing media figures immediately took the report and its retraction as proof of a politically motivated cover-up—after a week of grasping at various conspiracy theories to dismiss the assault, which left Pelosi with a cracked skull.
“Conservatives pounce on the truth!”
If the story is accurate, it shouldn’t matter that “Right-wing media figures” are using it to their political advantage. The truth is the truth, whether it helps conservatives or hurts them. But, until NBC News reveals what, exactly, they got wrong in this report and who the anonymous source was that burned them, we are left with their tepid statement that this report did not “meet NBC News reporting standards.”
That’s right. Absent more information from the suits at 30 Rock, we are left with the conclusion that the truth doesn’t “meet NBC News reporting standards” which is… hilarious.