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Middle East Issues

NBC Makes It Official: No Correction to Inaccurate Andrea Mitchell Tweet

A senior NBC official said today that an inaccurate post on Twitter by Andrea Mitchell would not be corrected. In January, Mitchell wrongly indicated Israel has only 13 Israeli-Arab Knesset members, and claimed the entire group was removed from the plenary chamber after a protest.

In response to the Mitchell's tweet, CAMERA informed NBC it is not true that the 13 Israeli-Arab members were removed from the Knesset floor during Vice President Pence's visit, because there are more than 13 Arab members of Israel's parliament, and because Arab MKs remained in the chamber after the incident.

While members of the predominantly Arab "Joint List" were indeed removed after violating Knesset decorum rules — this was planned as a theatrical way to enact the faction's previously announced decision to boycott Pence, Arab members of other political parties were not involved in the disruption, and were not dismissed from the Knesset floor. These include Zouheir Bahloul, an Arab member of the Zionist Union faction; Esawi Frej, an Arab member of the Meretz party; and the four Druze Knesset members. (While most Druze in Israel see themselves as ethnically Arab, some identify as a separate ethnicity.)

And although the predominantly Arab Joint List faction does have 13 members — this may be what confused Mitchell — one of the Joint List's members, Dov Khenin, who is Jewish, was not present during the disruption.

David McCormick, NBC's senior VP of standards and practices, told CAMERA that Mitchell's words are accurate, and would not be corrected. And what if the syntax of her sentence conveys an unambiguous, and inaccurate, meaning? (Consider this hypothetical example: You're informed that "The ten women in the room were not called on to speak," when in fact there were fifteen women in the room, and six were called on to speak.) This is mere "nitpicking," McCormick insisted.

Aside from the factual error, Mitchell's inflammatory analogy to the black congressional caucus amounted to an accusation of racism, a violation of NBC's social media policy that forbids taking positions on "controversial or political issues."

And regardless of that policy, the position she took was severely misleading. Contrary to her insinuation, is quite possible to imagine black members of Congress being removed from the house floor. Mitchell might have consulted her NBC colleague Brian Williams, who had reported on Representative Bobby Rush's removal from the House floor after a violation of the chamber's rules.

Moreover, it's not uncommon for Israeli MKs of all backgrounds to be removed from the Knesset as a result of disruptions. To cite just one example: Ze'ev Elkin, a Jewish MK and government minister, was recently removed from the Knesset floor by an Ahmad Tibi, an Arab deputy speaker of the Knesset — who happens to be one of the Joint List members escorted from the Knesset floor during the incident mentioned by Mitchell.

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