|Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, announced today that he and 107 other Members of Congress have sent a bipartisan letter to Mr. Stephen Burke, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal, to express their serious concern about NBC’s decision to omit “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance twice during the June 19, 2011 broadcast of the U.S. Open. The video montage containing the omissions, intended to celebrate American patriotism, instead alienated millions of viewers who place great value on all of our nation’s proud history–including its religious heritage.Although NBC apologized for the omission, Congressman Forbes and 107 of his colleagues remain concerned that the back-to-back omissions were not inadvertent and are troubled that the altered Pledge of Allegiance was allowed to air in the first place. As a result, they have requested that NBC implement a policy to ensure that the Pledge of Allegiance is not altered in future broadcasts. A copy of the letter sent to Mr. Burke with a list of the cosigners and the text of the letter is below.|
|_______________________________________________________________________________Mr. Stephen B. BurkeChief Executive OfficerNBCUniversal, LLC30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Dear Mr. Burke,
We are writing to express our serious concern about NBC’s decision to omit “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance twice during the June 19, 2011 broadcast of the U.S. Open. The video montage containing the omissions, intended to celebrate American patriotism, instead alienated millions of viewers who place great value on all of our nation’s proud history- including its religious heritage.
After viewing the video montage, it seems clear that the back-to-back omissions of “under God, indivisible,” and “one nation under God, indivisible” from recitations of the Pledge were not inadvertent. Although we are aware that NBC has apologized for the omissions, we are concerned that the video was allowed to air with the altered Pledge of Allegiance in the first place. The video was undoubtedly approved by NBC officials prior to airing, and it is troubling that the network allowed these patently offensive omissions to proceed. The decision is even more offensive, given that in 1954, Congress amended the Pledge specifically to add “under God,” the very words that NBC excluded.
As Members of Congress, we are disturbed that the official Pledge of our nation was altered in this way. We live in a society where there are increasing efforts to remove all mention of religion from public life, and we remain dedicated to defending against such attempts. As a key player in shaping the national dialogue through various media outlets, we are interested to know what steps NBC has taken to prevent America’s religious heritage from being obscured in this manner. We request that you implement a policy to ensure that the Pledge of Allegiance is not altered in future broadcasts.
They received an immediate response.
The letter, signed by Kyle McSlarrow, president of NBC Universal, comes in response to a complaint by 107 members of Congress alleging that a montage shown during coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament obscured America’s religious heritage.
The montage featured video of schoolchildren saying the pledge alongside images of soldiers and American flags, but did not include the phrase “under God.” It also omitted “one nation” and “indivisible.”
McSlarrow expressed regret over the segment, saying “a serious error in judgment was made by a small group of people. To be absolutely clear, this was not an ideological decision by the company and was not discussed with or approved by any senior NBC official.”
The letter also stressed that action had been taken, noting, “The employees involved have been reprimanded. And we have already implemented a new checks and balances process for pre-produced pieces, ensuring that nothing will go on the air without senior-level approval.”
The letter was addressed to Reps. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and Mike McIntyre D-N.C., who co-chair the Congressional Prayer Caucus, but was also sent to more than 100 other members of Congress. (Huffington Post)