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NBC News Flip-Flops on “Racism”

Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King

The standards division at NBC News on Tuesday instructed its reporters not to characterize Iowa Representative Steve King’s recent remarks in defense of white supremacy as “racist”, but quickly changed course when the instruction became public.

In an email to reporters, senior standards division executive Susan Sullivan wrote, “Be careful to avoid characterizing [King’s] remarks as racist. It is ok to attribute to others as in ‘what many are calling racist’ or something like that.”

Two employees who received the email forwarded it to The Huffington Post, which posted the email and a story about it

About an hour later, NBC’s standards division had done a 180, and emailed to staff again: “We revised our guidance on Rep. Steve King’s comments. It is fair to characterize King’s comments as ‘racist,’ and point out that he has a history of racist comments, and the context can be shared that others hold that view as well.”

King, an Iowa Republican, has a long history of making racist remarks, most recently saying in an interview with The New York Times, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Most mainstream news outlet have not hesitated to call these remarks, and others King has made in the past, racist.