Accuracy in Media

There’s twisting words, and there is what Joy Reid did to David French on Wednesday.

Reid is an MSNBC personality; French is a columnist for the National Review who considered running for president during the 2016 cycle.

In the wake of the bomb threat false alarm in Hawaii, French wrote a piece saying it was worth preparing for a nuclear attack – as opposed to texting goodbye messages to loved ones and otherwise freaking out – because the odds were you could survive if you responded properly.

French wrote it was a “Hollywood myth that any individual strike would vaporize an entire American city, much less the suburbs and countryside.”

If the most powerful bomb North Korea has tested were to hit New York, most New Yorkers would survive, he wrote.

“A strike would devastate central Honolulu but leave many suburbs intact,” he wrote. “If the missile misses a city center even by a small amount, the number of initial casualties plunges dramatically.”

Two days later, Reid tweeted to her million followers: “And the magazine in question is the once-august National Review. We have truly entered the age of insanity when the conservative argument in favor of risking nuclear war is, ‘don’t worry, it will only kill Democrats and minorities.”

French was stunned.

“What the heck? I said nothing of the sort,” he wrote on NR. “Not only did I say nothing like that, I can’t imagine saying anything like that. It’s not only antithetical to my deepest beliefs, it’s directly contradicted by two long pieces I’ve written that were specifically intended to highlight the horrific risks of an all-out conflict with North Korea.”

According to French, Reid said she got her information from a “raw story reprint of a Newsweek piece that purports to summarize my post.”

The Raw Story piece begins:

“Amid heightened tensions with nuclear armed North Korea a conservative magazine is telling its readers not to worry about a potential nuclear strike because they live in America’s suburbs and countryside.

“An article published Monday in the National Review assures readers that nuclear war – and North Korea’s arsenal – shouldn’t cause them concern because a nuclear strike will mostly vaporize those in major cities while suburbanites will come out largely unscathed.”

The piece then said that Trump voters tend to live outside cities.

French said he is himself an “amateur prepper” and could have written thousands of words on preparing for nuclear strikes, storms or other major emergencies but limited himself to this message: It’s worth preparing because you will likely survive, and it’s not all that hard to take a few steps toward preparation.

His piece, which included tips such as “get in a basement; if you don’t have a basement, get in an interior room …” did not mention politics or downplay what would happen in such an attack.

“No person could read my post in good faith and conclude that I believed that nuclear war shouldn’t cause concern,” French wrote. “No person could read my post in good faith and think that I was making a political point. Republicans and Democrats alike should have survival plans for emergencies. They should maintain basic stocks of supplies. They should understand the simple things that make it more likely they’ll survive the worst.

“But whatever. There’s clickbait to write, and when there’s clickbait, then partisan smears aren’t far behind.”  

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