Newspaper Accuses NBC News of Asking ‘Highly Inappropriate Questions’ For Report on Their Trump Coverage
The Epoch Times, a multi-language newspaper founded by a group of Chinese-Americans associated with the “spiritual group” Falun Gong, printed an open letter to NBC News on Thursday, objecting questions being asked by their reporters.
Characterizing NBC’s questions as “inappropriate” and unduly focused on the religious practices of Epoch employees, the letter has garnered some attention on social media.
The story NBC is writing, according to this public statement from The Epoch Times, is about the way in which Epoch covers President Donald Trump. As they characterize it, NBC is trying to “discredit” the website because it is insufficiently critical of the president.
“The plain truth is that because The Epoch Times’ coverage of Trump differs from that of NBC, two reporters have sought to hunt for an agenda that would discredit us,” wrote publisher Stephen Gregory on Thursday.
The public complaint begins with the explanation that NBC’s reporters have been inquiring about Epoch’s coverage in the last week.
Last week, we were contacted by two NBC reporters who posed a series of highly inappropriate questions.
The NBC reporters questioned the religious beliefs of some of our staff members, sought to discredit their beliefs, attacked our journalism based on personal opinion rather than objective analysis, and even sought out information on the personal lives of our staff.
They state that the purpose of the letter is to defend not only their newspaper, but “also journalism itself, freedom of the press, and freedom of belief” from attack.
The letter suggests NBC’s coverage of Trump as unduly critical, and draws a line from there to the motivation for writing about Epoch, in that they are alleging NBC News is doing a “hit” piece because Epoch isn’t equally as critical of Trump.
“NBC’s questions seek to dig out what they assume is our agenda by asking about our coverage of President Donald Trump and our relationship with the spiritual practice of Falun Gong,” it reads, and it prints some of the questions in full.
NBC asked directly about our having an agenda with this question: Much of the Epoch Times’ recent coverage has focused on the promotion of President Trump’s policies, interviews with surrogates, and a “deep state” conspiracy to “spy” on his campaign during the 2016 election. Do you feel like this is a fair characterization and do you consider the Epoch Times to be pro-Trump?
Other questions want to draw conclusions from the private lives of our staff, as in this offering: Is the Epoch Times predominantly staffed by volunteers? Do some Epoch Times interns, volunteers, or employees live in a shared home?
This is simply inappropriate. What bearing do individuals’ living arrangements have on the journalism of The Epoch Times? Would NBC ask New York Times journalists if they shack up or share an apartment? This digging into private lives can have only one motivation: to find something that can be used to discredit The Epoch Times.
And then there are questions about the spiritual practice Falun Gong.
It seems that all or most of the Epoch Times reporters and editors and executives are also Falun Gong practitioners. How does the practice of Falun Gong inform or influence the Epoch Times’ coverage?
The question assumes that individuals’ personal beliefs are a fit subject of inquiry. Would NBC ask about the role of the faith in the work of a New York Times reporter who happened to be Jewish?
There were others printed in the letter.
The site is popular with many conservatives and the Trump-right, and the letter received supportive tweets from a number of people, including Rep. Devin Nunes and conservative journalists Mark Hemingway and Andrew Follet to name a few.
— Devin Nunes (@DevinNunes) June 20, 2019
Whatever effort NBC is investing in investigating Falun Gong would be far better focused on doing critical reporting on human rights in China. https://t.co/4uWW8qjoqD
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) June 20, 2019
Attacking a paper because it allegedly is sympathetic to Falun Gong…the most persecuted minority in the world…
Thats the PRECISE opposite of “comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable” that these hacks espouse.
— Andrew Follett (@AndrewCFollett) June 20, 2019
At the time of this posting there has been no public response from NBC News regarding their investigative reporting or the particular characterizations of it in the letter from The Epoch Times. NBC did not respond to Mediaite’s requests for comment.
[Image via The Epoch Times]
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