NBC News falsely depicted rioting in Charleston in the aftermath of the mistrial involving former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, who was charged with murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott. On Wednesday, Today Show anchor Matt Lauer said Charleston leaders urged calm while an image of a Baltimore riot was displayed on the screen.
The false image led to a social media firestorm, as people captured the NBC News website archive, which has since been taken down, and sent it out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with comments on the lack of veracity. Since the mistrial was declared Monday afternoon, nobody has taken to the streets in Charleston or North Charleston.
The local news channels did show a small group of protesters on the sidewalk near the Hampstead Mall Playground in Charleston’s East Side area on Wednesday evening. One protester wielded a bullhorn, a trademark of National Action Network founder Al Sharpton. No reporters asked the protesters if they represented a group or even if they lived in the Charleston area.
NBC has a track record of inaccurately reporting news stories. Former NBC anchor Brian Williams was suspended for six months for falsely claiming he was in a helicopter receiving enemy fire during the Iraq war.
National news coverage seemingly aimed at fomenting racial tension following a police shooting incident in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of a criminal suspect while in police custody in Baltimore. In both cases, there were days of rioting, looting and property destruction. The media has never investigated how many of the protesters who were arrested were brought in from other areas or which organizations funded their efforts.
An NBC spokeswoman issued a brief apology Wednesday, citing the Charleston report was a “mistake”. It was announced on News 2 Today, the Charleston NBC affiliate, that the Today Show would issue an apology on the air Thursday morning, but it did not come until the program’s second hour. How long are people going to watch fake news? Will sponsors stand by these biased news sources who wish to create false narratives in their reporting?