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NBC News gets pass from liberal media watchdogs despite ‘clumsy handling’ of retracted Paul Pelosi story

Liberal media watchdogs Poynter and Columbia Journalism Review have given a pass to NBC News for its mysterious retraction of a report on the Paul Pelosi attack.

NBC News has gotten a pass from media watchdogs Poynter and Columbia Journalism Review despite baffling the industry with its handling of its retracted Paul Pelosi report. 

NBC News national correspondent Miguel Almaguer reported on Nov. 4 that police who responded to a 911 call from the Pelosi residence didn’t realize the House Speaker lived there, and that Paul Pelosi didn’t attempt to escape or declare an emergency before walking away from cops and back toward alleged attacker David DePape, who is accused of then assaulting him with a hammer.

Once the details went viral, NBC News retracted the stunning report by that afternoon, scrubbing it from the internet and effectively vanishing Almaguer since then. NBC has declined comment throughout the process and refused to explain why the story was quashed aside from a vague line about not meeting standards. A local NBC affiliate in San Francisco reported highly similar details on Nov. 11 in a piece that was not retracted, making the entire ordeal even murkier.


The Poynter Institute bills itself as "a global leader in journalism," and claims to "hold powerful people accountable and promote honest information in the marketplace of ideas." However, Poynter has not covered the NBC News scrubbing its Paul Pelosi report without explanation, as of Thursday.

Poynter did not immediately respond when asked a series of questions, including whether NBC News needs to explain what exactly violated standards. 

The Columbia Journalism Review’s website says its "mission is to be the intellectual leader in the rapidly changing world of journalism," and "the most respected voice on press criticism." Despite the lofty goals, CJR didn’t mention NBC News’ mysteriously retracted report through Thursday morning, either. 

CJR editor-in-chief and publisher Kyle Pope did not immediately respond when asked if NBC owes viewers an apology or explanation.

NBC insiders have expressed puzzlement over the handling of the story to Fox News Digital. A source with direct knowledge of what occurred on Nov. 4 said some NBC News digital staffers received a vague email informing them to remove Almaguer's video report from the website because it didn’t meet company standards.

"There was no reason given," the insider told Fox News Digital. "The whole thing just seemed very strange, just because of the pulling of the video and then adding the editorial note, it definitely seemed weird."

While the pair of liberal media regulators have ignored the controversy, some journalism professors have sounded off on the strange saga.


DePauw University journalism professor Jeffrey McCall believes "NBC's mismanagement of this situation is quite obvious and shows a disregard for professional standards and news consumers" given the political and sensational nature of the story. 

"NBC owes it to the public to fully explain what parts of Almaguer's story were inaccurate, how the mistake happened, and which journalistic standards were violated. If NBC can't do that, then it appears Almaguer is being punished for reporting accurately, but in a way that upset certain powerful interests, either within or outside of the NBC hierarchy," McCall told Fox News Digital. 

"Further, if this story was so bad, news consumers need to know if anybody at NBC besides Almaguer is being punished. Sure, Almaguer was the on-camera reporter, but this story had to have cleared several editorial and production hurdles to make it to air," McCall continued. "The public needs to know who all else might be accountable for this story. Included in that accountability chain would be the information sources from which Almaguer drew his initial report."


McCall ultimately feels that details surrounding the attack on Paul Pelosi were complicated and secretive to begin with but NBC’s "clumsy handling of it" has made it worse. 

"NBC has opened the door for conspiracy theorists to claim that NBC is running interference for powerful politicians, or at least, is afraid to report in a way that upsets the powerful," he said. 

University of North Carolina ethics and public relations professor Lois A. Boynton, a fellow in the University’s Parr Center for Ethics, noted that the Radio Television Digital News Association code of ethics allows for stories to be updated and amending archives if new information becomes available. 

"In this situation, the question may be whether NBC News took the story down as a result of new information becoming available," Boynton said, adding that NBC could be cautious if the new information revealed something about Almaguer.

Despite changes to reporting being allowed from an ethical standpoint, Boynton said NBC’s situation could directly relate to public trust in the media because of transparency issues. 

"That’s reinforced in RTDNA’s code: ‘Transparency provides the public with the means to assess credibility and to determine who deserves trust,’" Boynton said. "There can be value in transparency in high-profile stories."

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