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NBC's Chuck Todd causes Obamacare firestorm

 NBC Political Director Chuck Todd speaks during a taping of 'Meet the Press' at the NBC studios December 14, 2008 in Washington, DC
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Chuck Todd of NBC News created a controversy in the media yesterday when he stated on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program that false Republican talking points about the Affordable Care Act a/k/a "Obamacare" were "more importantly, ... stuff that the Republicans have successfully messaged." Todd went on to say that it's not the fault of "folks in the media" like Todd if Republicans get away with telling falsehoods about Obamacare, but rather, "it's the President of the United States' fault for not selling it."

The backlash against Chuck Todd's remarks was immediate. On Twitter, users created the popular hashtag #chucktoddexcuses and posted messages such as "if people like me called out politicians on lies, we wouldn't have had all that fun in Iraq." Likewise, a number of websites and publications took on Todd, accusing him of washing his hands of basic journalism. wrote:

Todd's logic falls apart, because he is missing the point of what people are trying to tell him. People aren't saying to the mainstream media that they want them to support Democrats. The message is that the media should be interested first and only in facts. People get frustrated with the media, because they give lies the same weight as facts.

Indeed, in 2009, gave its Lie of the Year award to Sarah Palin's statement that, under Obamacare, the federal government would set up "death panels" that would determine whether seniors and disabled Americans were worthy of continued care.

At the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting ("FAIR") website, the writers stated today that:

It's sad that NBC's White House correspondent thinks his job is merely to convey politicians' pronouncements, with no care about whether they are true or false. In fact, scrutinizing claims, particularly those from powerful officials, is an essential part of journalism.

At the Crooks and Liars political website today, Senior Editor Nicole Belle went a step further, penning an open letter to NBC News President Deborah Turness. In her post, Belle wrote:

You have clearly failed [Chuck Todd] (and the consumers of NBC News) by not providing him with a clear and unambiguous job description. It's not hard. A journalist informs his/her readers of facts. When non-facts are provided for partisan purposes, it is not "doing the job of the White House to sell" a government program to say that these are LIES. That's reporting. That's journalism. Someone who just repeats what's said to him without placing it in context is called a stenographer.

© 2013 Matthew Emmer -- All Rights Reserved

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