NBC News came under severe criticism yesterday following its second on-air apology in recent weeks for presenting misleading stories.
Tom Brokaw apologized Wednesday on the "NBC Nightly News" for a Jan. 4 story on federal forest management in Idaho's Clearwater National Forest. Earlier this month, the network admitted it faked a flaming crash of a General Motors pickup truck on its new magazine series "Dateline NBC."
In the apology, Mr. Brokaw said NBC News "inadvertently used dead fish from another forest farther south, not Clearwater." The apology, which followed complaints, also admitted some fish in Clearwater that appeared to be dead "were not. They had been stunned for testing purposes."
As reports swirled that the job of NBC News President Michael Gartner might be in jeopardy, the network said that too much focus was being placed on the latest incident.
"I hate to feel we're being criticized for coming forward and doing the right thing," said Katherine McQuay, manager of media relations for the news division. "To correct a mistake like this is standard practice for all news organizations. Newspapers have the luxury of burying their corrections on page six. We have to come out right in front."
She admitted timing of the error was "extremely unfortunate." But she added that linking the nightly news video footage with the "Dateline NBC" incident was unfair: "People are trying to link these two situations together, and they're not remotely connected," said Ms. McQuay.
ABC, CBS and CNN declined official comment.
NBC made the admissions hours after Sen. Larry Craig, RIdaho, compared the nightly news segment with the "Dateline NBC" story.
Responding to the apology, the senator said he was generally pleased.