Accuracy in Media

NBC reporter Tom Costello called a church fire in D.C. “some vandalism” when he was on-air discussing D.C. protests.

“Yeah, it’s dead quiet at the moment,” Costello said, “Let me just give you the lay of the land. Across the street here is St. John’s Church.” He added, “As you know, that’s the church that had some vandalism and President Trump stood in front of with the Bible a few nights ago.”

Costello made the erroneous comment on MSNBC’s “Live with Stephanie Ruhle,” and Ruhle did not correct Costello either.

For the record, “some vandalism” is a vague statement and could mean a variety of vandalism acts, such as defacing surfaces with graffiti or the destruction of property by smashing windows. However, protesters lit the basement of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. on fire, which should hardly count as “some vandalism.”

Fires require the services of firefighters, which veer into serious vandalism and can be considered a safety threat. Compared to active fires, other acts of vandalism sometimes do not require public safety professionals to intervene to preserve property or life.

Costello, so far, has not apologized for his comment.


Photo via Flickr user NCinDC.

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