NBC News’ standards department sent an email to staffers on Tuesday instructing them not to directly refer to Rep. Steve King’s recent comments defending white supremacy as “racist.” “Be careful to avoid characterizing [King’s] remarks as racist,” reads the email, which two NBC News staffers leaked to HuffPost. “It is ok to attribute to others as in ‘what many are calling racist’ or something like that.” In NBC’s ensuing report regarding King’s statements, the outlet wrote that “the comments were widely condemned as being racist.” After reports emerged about the email, NBC News standards sent another email to staffers revising their previous guidance. “It is fair to characterize King’s comments as ‘racist,’and point out that he has a history of racist comments, and the context can be shared that others hold that view as well,” reads the second email. The emails were sent to employees by Susan Sullivan, a senior official in the standards division at NBC News. Standards departments offer guidance and issue rules to newsrooms about what is legal and ethical to report.
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