NBC Information is stepping up the Ablelist’s Republican smear in opposition to John Fetterman
NBC News harmed the disability community by conducting an interview with Senate candidate John Fetterman that promoted a Republican smear.
Here is a video clip of the interview conducted by Dasha Burns, based on the premise that Fetterman required the use of closed captioning technology due to an auditory processing problem caused by a stroke:
Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor and Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman sat down with @DashaBurns in an exclusive, captioned interview.
Fetterman spoke about his recovery from a stroke in the primary and his race against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz. pic.twitter.com/0fee1cKXgY
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) October 11, 2022
NBC Nightly News based their entire interview on how John Fetterman’s disability and need for assistive technology makes him unfit for the job. NBC attempted to portray Fetterman’s disability as a disqualifying factor or a concern for Pennsylvania voters.
An ADA, Pennsylvania, and political science expert responds to NBC News
Readers may already know that I have cerebral palsy. I am also a political scientist by training, specializing in industrial and industrial relations with specific training in the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have even developed and conducted a Disability Workplaces course on the ADA, accessibility and hiring practices.
The NBC News interview was discriminatory towards John Fetterman and the disability community. Dascha Burns, the interviewer, was not interested in Fetterman’s political positions, instead wanting to talk about the candidate’s temporary disability and use it as a factor to worry voters.
The interview was based on the discriminatory premise that people with disabilities are less able to work.
NBC Nightly News might also be surprised to find out that a deaf person wouldn’t be able to hear their questions without hearing aids. They would also be shocked that a person with mobility issues might need a wheelchair, or that a person with an invisible disability might need assistance in some way.
Fetterman uses assistive technologies, at least temporarily. Governor Greg Abbott is also using assistive technology, as are Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Madison Cawthorn. Any congressman over the age of 80 who needs visual or auditory assistance is in the same situation as Fetterman.
The difference is that Fetterman’s problem is temporary. He is expected to make a full recovery and his auditory processing issue resolved.
NBC Nightly News propagated a stereotype about people with disabilities that if they needed help in any way, they were somehow less qualified. The network has done harm and harm to the disability community.
NBC News should apologize for the interview and send everyone involved to ableist training
Apologizing for the interview is not enough. Mainstream media lacks representation of the disability community, and as a result, every NBC News employee must attend training to understand and resolve their disabilityism.
The media allowed Donald Trump to get away with mocking a disabled reporter in 2016, and the mainstream press perpetuates cultural stereotypes about people with disabilities that create barriers to employment and full participation in society.
John Fetterman should demand an apology, but NBC News should also apologize for smearing the entire American disability community with the most flagrant example of media ableism and discrimination I have ever seen.
The 61 million American adults who live with a disability deserve to be respected and heard.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House press pool and congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a bachelor’s degree in political science. His thesis focused on public policy with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and professional memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Political Science Association