News and Commentary

NBC News Still Hasn’t Deleted Tweet Claiming Trump Didn’t Visit Troops At Christmas

On Christmas day, NBC News published a piece by Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner titled, “Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmastime.”

In the piece, the journalist wrote that while Presidents Obama and Bush both made a habit of visiting troops at Kaneohe Bay and Walter Reed every year of their respective presidencies since 2002, Trump had not visited American troops on December 25, making him “the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel at Christmastime.”

It was later reported that President Trump had indeed visited American forces in Iraq on December 26. According to the Associated Press: “Trump’s trip was shrouded in secrecy. Air Force One flew overnight from Washington, landing at an airbase west of Baghdad under the cover of darkness Wednesday evening.”

NBC subsequently altered the title of the piece and posted an “editor’s note” above the original article, stating:

On Wednesday, NBC News compiled a list of every Christmastime visit to active troops by a president since 2001. That list, as detailed in the article below, showed that former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama visited troops on or before Christmas every year since 2003, and President Donald Trump did so in 2017. As of the end of Christmas Day 2018, Trump had not visited troops during the holiday season, and had announced no plans to do so.

The article was correct, but on Dec. 26, the situation changed. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, made an unannounced visit to troops in Iraq. As a result, the thrust of this article is no longer correct, even if it was at the time. In the interest of transparency, we are keeping the article on so that the record will reflect the situation on the day the article was published, and are directing readers to the article about Trump’s Iraq visit here. We are also altering one line in the article, as well as the headline, to be more specific and to note that Trump was the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel on or before Christmas, rather than at Christmastime.

The title now reads, “Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops on or before Christmas.” However, the tweet posted by NBC News’ Twitter account still shows the original title:

Twitter doesn’t have an edit feature, so tweets that feature misspellings or inaccurate information must be deleted and retweeted in order to be corrected. As of publication, NBC News has not deleted their initial tweet.

Other news outlets have failed to delete their inaccurate tweets as well:

As have high-profile individuals with large social media followings:

NBC News has an obligation to delete the tweet in which it promotes the original article by Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner. It is incumbent on The Hill, Newsweek, Talking Points Memo, and other outlets to do the same.

There are a great many people who don’t probe much further than a headline or a tweet — especially when it comes from a trusted organization. Moreover, the original headline has been retweeted thousands of times thanks in part to high-profile individuals.

If NBC News fails to delete its original tweet, it will be complicit in the further spread of false information regarding President Trump’s visit to Iraq.

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