Accuracy in Media

In its post-Democratic debate analysis this week, NBC News made the dubious claim that the debate’s “candidates avoided personal attacks.”

The claim overlooked the personal attacks between one candidate, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on whether Sanders told Warren that a woman could not become president.

But audio of the senators’ conversation after the debate demonstrated that both had an ax to grind and that the attacks were personal.

NBC News published an article on the audio clip, where Warren told Sanders, “I think you called me a liar on national TV.” Sanders responded, “What?” and followed up with, “Let’s not do it right now.  You want to have that discussion; we’ll have that discussion.” Warren said, “Any time,” to which Sanders replied, “You called me a liar. You told me – all right, let’s not do it now.”

As background, during the debate, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip asked both Warren and Sanders about the alleged remark, during which Warren doubled down on the allegation while Sanders denied it ever was said.

Yet NBC News did not admit that one of its political analyses was incorrect in claiming that the candidates did not lob personal attacks at each other during the debate. It appeared that NBC News would prefer to ignore its dubious claim.

Photo by AFGE

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