MEDIA

NBC News Issues Correction Over Trump's Robert E. Lee Comments

Hours earlier, the president tweeted that NBC News had "totally and purposely changed" the meaning of his remarks at Friday's rally in Ohio.

NBC News has issued a correction to its coverage of President Donald Trump’s speech at a rally in Ohio on Friday, in which the president discussed Ulysses S. Grant’s victory over Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee during the Civil War.

The correction, noted in a tweet Sunday afternoon, came hours after Trump bashed NBC News for “totally and purposely” changing the meaning of his remarks.

“As usual, dishonest reporting,” Trump tweeted. “Even mainstream media embarrassed!”

NBC News on Friday incorrectly tweeted that Trump had called Lee “incredible” during his speech. The tweet included a clip of the president referring to Lee as a “great general,” but failed to provide additional, much-needed context.

Ohio has given “you a general who was incredible,” Trump told the crowd. “You know who I’m talking about, right? So Robert E. Lee was a great general. And Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia. He couldn’t beat Robert E. Lee.”

What NBC failed to include were Trump’s comments about Grant, in which it becomes clear he was referring to the Union general as “incredible” ― not Lee.

“One day, it was looking really bad,” Trump said later in his speech. “And Lincoln just said, ‘You’ ― hardly knew his name ― and they said, ‘Don’t take him. He’s got a drinking problem.’ And Lincoln said, ‘I don’t care what problem he has, you guys aren’t winning.’ And his name was Grant. General Grant. And he went in and he knocked the hell out of everyone.” 

NBC News met with swift backlash online following its misleading framing of Trump’s comments. Though Trump has supported preserving statues commemorating Confederate leaders, including Lee, Twitter users were quick to point out that the president’s speech Friday focused on Grant’s victory over Lee.

CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski tweeted, “It seems clear watching this clip, Trump is praising Lee only in skill as a general, and is actually using it to praise Ulysses S. Grant.”

Nearly two days later, following Trump’s tweet condemning NBC News, the outlet tweeted its correction, which included the full clip of his Lee-Grant story. The original, incorrect tweet was left intact.

“CORRECTION: An earlier tweet misidentified the general President Trump described as ‘incredible’ at a rally in Ohio,” NBC News tweeted. “It was Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, not Gen. Robert E. Lee. An attached video clip lacked the full context for Trump’s remark.”

The president thanked the outlet on Twitter later Sunday afternoon.

Trump on Friday did praise Lee as “a true great fighter and a great general,” which drew criticism from some viewers, including Robert Lee IV, a descendent of the Confederate general.

“Last night I was disheartened to hear Donald Trump, our president, make comments about Robert E. Lee as a great general,” Lee IV, the general’s great-great-great-great nephew, tweeted Saturday. “Robert E. Lee fought for the continued enslavement of black bodies. It was for state’s rights, yes, but it was for state’s rights to own slaves.”

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