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White House criticizes NBC for interview edit

May 20, 2008|From the Associated Press

The White House criticized NBC News on Monday for what aides to President Bush called "deceitful" editing of an interview in which Bush was asked whether comments about the president of Iran were directed at Sen. Barack Obama.

Bush aides were angered by the way the president's answer was portrayed when correspondent Richard Engel asked about his address to the Israeli parliament last week.

Bush had mentioned the president of Iran in the speech and said: "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along."

Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, considered that an attack on him. The White House denied it.

Engel asked Bush if he had been referring to Obama.

As it appeared on “Nightly News” on Sunday and the “Today” show#24696422 on Monday, Bush's response was: "You know, my policies haven't changed, but evidently the political calendar has. . . . And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you've got to take those words seriously."

NBC deleted the following passage between those sentences: "People need to read the speech. You didn't get it exactly right, either. What I said was that we need to take the words of people seriously."

Bush counsel Ed Gillespie, in a letter to NBC, said that "this deceitful editing to further a media-manufactured story line is utterly misleading and irresponsible."

The unedited Bush interview#24696309 is on the network's website, NBC noted, saying the reporting accurately reflected the interview.

Gillespie said: "It's simply absurd for people to have to log onto the Internet and stream video to get accurate information from NBC News."

In NBC's nightly newscast Monday, anchor Brian Williams noted that the White House objected to the editing.

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