White House to NBC: Air Full Bush Interview

Bush Administration Claims Interview with Richard Engel Was ‘Deceptively Edited’

The White House asked NBC to air Richard Engel's interview with President Bush in its entirety, saying it was "deceptively edited" for Sunday's Nightly News and Monday's Today.

In a strongly-worded e-mail to NBC News president Steve Capus Monday, White House counselor Ed Gillespie said NBC edited the interview to make it look as though the president was agreeing with Engel when he was not.

The interview was about the country's Iraq policy and "appeasement" -- an issue that flared up after the president's remarks at a speech before the Israeli Knesset were interpreted as an attack on Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) views on diplomacy.

"This deceitful editing to further a media-manufactured story line is utterly misleading and irresponsible," Gillespie wrote, "and I hereby request in the interest of fairness and accuracy that the network air the president's responses to both initial questions in full on the two programs that used the excerpts."

Gillespie also took the opportunity to criticize NBC for once describing the Iraq war as a "civil war" and for reporting that government figures came just short of an official declaration of recession, then threw in a shot at MSNBC: "Mr. Capus, I'm sure you don't want people to conclude that there is really no distinction between the 'news' as reported on NBC and the 'opinion' as reported on MSNBC, despite the increasing blurring of those lines," he said. "I welcome your response to this letter and hope it is one that reassures your broadcast network's viewers that blatantly partisan talk show hosts like Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann at MSNBC don't hold editorial sway over the NBC network-news division.

NBC defended the interview in a statement Monday: "Richard Engel's interview with President Bush has been available, unedited, in its entirety, for the past day, on our Web site. Our reporting accurately reflects the interview. Just as the White House does not participate in the editorial process at The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal or USA Today, NBC News, as part of a free press in a free society, makes its own editorial decisions.”