By:
October 23, 2020

On his TV show Wednesday night, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson went after an NBC News reporter for doing her job. On Thursday, NBC News struck back at Carlson and Fox News.

Carlson did a segment with Darren Beattie from Revolver News about Brandy Zadrozny, an investigative reporter who has been reporting on QAnon conspiracy theories and other misinformation typically found on social media. The way Carlson described it on his show was, “Her job is personally seeking out and identifying information about anonymous Trump supporters online.”

That is not what her job is. Her job is reporting on dangerous groups that pass along harmful misinformation. And yet Carlson seemed to add to that danger. Carlson went after Zadrozny with the help of Beattie, who said she was doing everything she could to “unearth anonymous Trump supporters basically so she can ruin their lives.”

Carlson asked, “Why would NBC News be doing something like this?”

NBC News fired back on Thursday, putting out this statement:

“Over the past several years, journalists from news organizations around the world have put themselves at risk in order to shine a light in the dark corners of society and the Internet — specifically in the realm of conspiracy theories and online extremism.

“Last night on Fox News Channel, Tucker Carlson dangerously and dishonestly targeted one of those journalists — Brandy Zadrozny. Brandy represents the best of investigative journalism and of NBC News. She is relentlessly well-researched and sophisticated in her understanding of disinformation and conspiracy theories on the Internet and within some social media communities. She’s written definitive stories on extremism, QAnon, the profiteers behind rising anti-vaccination and COVID denial movements — among many other topics. Her work is widely respected and has contributed greatly to the public’s awareness and understanding of the dangers of this alt-universe that breeds online but has very tangible real-world impacts.

“Fox News has chosen to smear Brandy. In so doing they have shamefully encouraged harassment and worse. Fortunately, any effort to intimidate Brandy is doomed to failure. NBC News couldn’t be prouder of Brandy, and we will continue to vigorously support her work.”

Just as strong of a rebuke came from Zadrozny’s colleague Ben Collins, who tweeted, “Tucker Carlson is devoting an entire segment to attacking my colleague, Brandy Zadrozny, for doing actual reporting, like using public records to confirm identities of people who create harassment campaigns. It’s disgraceful. She’s the best reporter I know. I’m with her 1000%.”

He added, “Had Tucker looked into this, his guest was emailed by Brandy the day before about a story she’s doing about his website. He spent the day tweeting retributively at her. That wasn’t mentioned. Seems pretty important to include.”

Collins was just one of many NBC journalists who spoke out in support of Zadrozny.

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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