NBC Deceptively Edits Rabbi on Sexual Abuse, Does An O’Keefe [UPDATE: NBC Issues A Correction]
The prosecution in George Zimmerman’s trial may claim that Zimmerman was motivated by racism. This narrative reached a pinnacle last December, when NBC edited audio of George Zimmerman’s 911 call in a deceptive manner that made him appear racist. Though Zimmerman only mentioned race after being asked by the dispatcher if Trayvon Martin was, “black, white or Hispanic,” NBC’s edits left the impression that Zimmerman brought up Martin’s race unprompted. During the 2012 Republican primary, NBC falsely portrayed Texas Governor Rick Perry’s ‘Black Cloud’ metaphor as a racist reference to President Obama when he was actually referring to the national debt. NBC later admitting to selective editing.
But NBC’s malicious editing is not limited to portraying a one-sided view of politics and race but also religion. This past weekend NBC Rock Center aired an interview of Avraham Berkowitz, a bearded Orthodox rabbi who defied their preconceived narrative that Hasidic communities advise sexual abuse victims to turn to rabbis instead of police. Rather than modify their narrative, NBC edited the interview and used the rabbi’s words in a context that grossly distorted his views. Though the rabbi advocates reporting sexual abuse to the police, NBC’s selective editing left the opposite impression.
Unlike the more insular Hasidic movements represented in the segment, Berkowitz is a member of Chabad-Lubavitch, a Hasidic group that encourages interacting with the broader society, does not generally believe in censorship, and advocates sexual abuse awareness. But NBC apparently did not care about accurately reporting distinctions between Hasidic groups so amid the stories of several youth transcending restrictive upbringings, censorship of textbooks, and combating sexual abuse in the most insular Hasidic enclaves, was the gross misportrayal of Berkowitz, a Chabad rabbi.
NBC edited Berkowitz’s interview for the segment, all to fit the false narrative that Berkowitz was advocating handling sexual abuse allegations internally.
Toward the end of the segment, NBC correspondent, Dr. Nancy Snyderman begins with a voice-over narration:
But last year, the Hasidic community could no longer deny its own problems, a young women came forward to tell police her rabbi, Nechamya Weberman, had sexually abused her for years. It was a rare instance of a Hasid going to outside authorities to report a crime.
The frame then cuts to Berkowitz saying:
The community leaders within are dealing with this.
Dr. Snyderman continues with her voice-over narration:
Avraham Berkowitz is a local rabbi in the community and he says people are now acknowledging that sexual abuse is happening and insists that they can handle the problem themselves.
A particularly egregious and sickening example of media bias, but it’s even more enraging because the young man whose words were twisted out of all context happens to be my son.
NBC totally did a James O’Keefe here.
Editor’s note: We want to clarify a quote from Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz that was included in our web story about sexual abuse in the Hasidic community. In our story, we reported that Rabbi Berkowitz insists the community can handle the problem itself…
He said: “Whatever these type of crimes are have to be eradicated. And in order to eradicate them, we have to do it within the way the community knows how to solve its problems. ‘Cause sometimes when you come banging with drums from the outside, the community becomes more insular.”
Rabbi Berkowitz says that when he referred to the community knowing how to solve its problems, he was referring to efforts to prevent sexual abuse – not whether to report sexual abuse to police. He says he has always advocated reporting suspected abuse to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and that “rabbis work together hand in hand with the authorities.” He added that “these deviants must be punished.” We regret any misunderstanding.