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Media Attacks Nikki Haley After Viral Misinterpreted Confederate Flag Comments

Shelby Talcott on December 7, 2019

  • Members of the media attacked former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley after a viral tweet falsely suggested she felt the Confederate flag was a symbol of “service” and “sacrifice.”
  • The tweet, shared by Media Matters for America researcher Jason Campbell, actually shows Haley noting that some people viewed that flag this way, not that she personally did.
  • Multiple outlets and individual journalists went after Haley for the clip, although Campbell’s interpretation was misleading.

Media outlets and journalists attacked former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley after a viral tweet misinterpreted comments she made about the confederate flag Friday.

The clip, shared by Media Matters for America researcher Jason Campbell, showed Haley saying that some people viewed the Confederate flag as a symbol of “service” and “sacrifice.” She also suggested mass shooter Dylann Roof “hijacked” the Confederate flag during the 2015 South Carolina massacre.

Campbell incorrectly interpreted the clip and said Haley herself “says the Confederate flag was about ‘service, and sacrifice, and heritage’ until Dylan Roof ‘hijacked’ it.” The tweet went viral and sparked an attack on the former South Carolina governor, who called for the removal of the flag from statehouse grounds in 2015 following the mass shooting.

The Hill originally included Campbell’s tweet in its article titled “Haley: Dylann Roof ‘hijacked’ Confederate flag seen by South Carolinians as representing ‘sacrifice and service’” Friday. The tweet was deleted from the article and The Hill wrote that there had been an update.

There was no correction or clarification issued noting the tweet previously included was misleading. The article is now headlined “Haley: Dylann Roof ‘hijacked’ Confederate flag.’”

The Hill did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation asking for an explanation on the editorial decision not to issue any correction or clarification.

The Daily Beast also used Campbell’s tweet in its article titled “Nikki Haley Suggests Confederate Flag Meant ‘Sacrifice and Heritage’ Until Dylann Roof ‘Hijacked’ It.’”

“Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley seemed to suggest on Friday that the Confederate flag did not have racist overtones until Dylann Roof ‘hijacked’ it with his 2015 murder of nine black churchgoers,” the article currently reads.

The Daily Beast did not note that Haley called for the flag’s removal following Roof’s 2015 mass murder spree, which was race-related. The outlet did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF on whether it would keep Campbell’s misleading tweet in the article or issue a clarification noting the tweet misinterpreted what Haley said.

Axios also incorrectly wrote about Haley’s comments. The outlet deleted a tweet Friday and issued a new one. This tweet noted that the story and tweet was updated to reflect what the former ambassador actually said.

The article includes an “editors note” that stated the story was updated with “additional information.” Campbell’s tweet is included in the article.

Journalists went after Haley too, with MSNBC host Joy Reid tweeting that “history would like a word.” The tweet had not been deleted at the time of this article’s publication.

Conservative commentator Meghan McCain also criticized Haley in a now-deleted tweet. It is not clear if the tweet was deleted following pushback on Campbell’s misinterpretation.

“This is a deeply insensitive and ignorant thing to say Nikki. There is no room for any defense of the confederate flag,” McCain tweeted Friday.

The Atlantic’s staff writer Jemele Hill tweeted that “this women is not fit to lead” in response to Campbell’s interpretation of what Haley said. The tweet is still live.

Journalist Jonathan Capehart also tweeted at Haley, writing, “Hey, Nikki Haley…. Confederate flag is no better than a Swastika (2013).” Capehart included a picture of the flag along with his comments.

“Nikki Haley going full MAGA and racist leading up to 2024. Told ya,” The New York Times contributing op-ed writer Wajahat “Abu Khadija” Ali tweeted. “This is the only way for a candidate to be appreciated by the Republican Party now. No country for moderates, adults or Never Trumpers. Also the Confederate flag was for treasonous criminals who enslaved people.”

Haley appeared to defend herself on Twitter following the clip, which was from an interview with The Blaze’s Glenn Beck. She retweeted a comment from Republican Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who noted that “outrage culture” had struck again.

The former governor also tweeted out a comment with a link to a previous article noting that she had called “for the removal of the Confederate flag.”

“And here is this guy that comes out with this manifesto, holding the Confederate flag, and had just hijacked everything that people thought of,” is what Haley actually said, according to the clip.

“We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina, there’s always the small minority that’s always gonna be there, but, you know, people saw it as service, and sacrifice, and heritage, but once he did that there was no way to overcome it, and the national media came in in droves.”

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