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Nicholas Fondacaro

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NBC, CBS censor, downplay Alex Trebek crediting prayer for his cancer recovery

Nicholas Fondacaro

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June 3, 2019 (NewsBusters) — In an interview with People magazine out Wednesday, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek credited the prayers of millions of his fans for helping him in his fight against stage-four pancreatic cancer, now in "near remission." Yet, while ABC's World News Tonight touted Trebek's praise, the CBS Evening News ignored that part of Trebek's comments and NBC Nightly News edited it out of the quotes read and video clips they aired.

Before we can examine what was missing, let's look at what should have been reported.

ABC anchor David Muir recalled how Trebek "vowed to fight it" by playing a soundbite of the gameshow host telling fans back in March: "With the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease."

Muir read sizable quotes from the magazine article where Trebek credits prayer:

Trebek telling People magazine: "The doctors said that they hadn't seen this kind of positive result in their memory. Some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent." He adds, "it's kind of mind-boggling. I've already gone from where I was to this. The doctors are so excited, just beside themselves with joy."

And Trebek again thanked the millions who have sent good wishes. "I told the doctors, this has to be more than just chemo. I've had a couple million people out there who expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy and their prayers. The doctors said it could very well be an important part of this."

"No doubt it is," Muir agreed.

Now let's look at NBC's edits. Correspondent Joe Fryer played the same soundbite of Trebek's vow. But in this one, the NBC reporter spoke over the prayer part so it sounded like this: "I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease." And so the edit stood out.

Next came the part where Fryer skipped over Trebek's credits in the People magazine piece: "He tells People"I've got a couple million people out there who have expressed good thoughts... I told the doctors this has to be more than just the chemo." For Trebek, that support is part of the answer." Compare that to what Muir said and what People magazine wrote.

As for CBS, fill-in anchor and Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan only had a news brief on the story in which the only quote from the magazine was that Trebek thought the turnaround was "mindboggling":

There was some encouraging news today from Alex Trebek. The host of Jeopardy! says his doctors tell him that his stage-four pancreatic cancer is in, quote, "near remission." In an interview with People magazine, Trebek calls the prognosis "mind-boggling" but says he has several more rounds of chemotherapy to go before he's declared to be in full remission.

It's disturbing that NBC News would go to such lengths to avoid saying prayer helped someone through a tough time in his life.

The transcripts are below.

ABC's World News Tonight
May 29, 2019
6:57:41 p.m. Eastern

(…)

DAVID MUIR: Tonight, Alex Trebek, three months after revealing his battle with stage-four pancreatic cancer, now saying doctors believe he is in "near remission". We remember he vowed to fight it.

ALEX TREBEK: With the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.

MUIR: Trebek telling People magazine: "The doctors said that they hadn't seen this kind of positive result in their memory. Some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent." He adds, "it's kind of mind-boggling. I've already gone from where I was to this. The doctors are so excited, just beside themselves with joy."

And Trebek again thanked the millions who have sent good wishes. "I told the doctors, this has to be more than just chemo. I've had a couple million people out there who expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy and their prayers. The doctors said it could very well be an important part of this."

[Cuts back to live]

No doubt it is, and we're always rooting for Alex here.

CBS Evening News
May 29, 2019
6:53:07 p.m. Eastern

MARGARET BRENNAN: There was some encouraging news today from Alex Trebek. The host of Jeopardy! says his doctors tell him that his stage-four pancreatic cancer is in, quote, "near remission." In an interview with People magazine, Trebek calls the prognosis "mind-boggling" but says he has several more rounds of chemotherapy to go before he's declared to be in full remission.

NBC Nightly News
May 29, 2019
7:23:19 p.m. Eastern

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We are back the encouraging health update from Alex Trebek. The news from doctors that the Jeopardy! host says is "kind of mindboggling". Here's Joe Fryer.

[Cuts to video]

JOE FRYER: For the man who wants answers in the form of a question.

ALEX TREBEK: What are is a metal kettle. That rhymes.

FRYER: This is a positive response. Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek updated People magazine on his aggressive treatment for pancreatic cancer.

"It's kind of mindboggling," Trebek says. "The doctors said they hadn't seen this kind of positive result in their memory. Some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent." He adds that according to doctors, he is in "near remission".

Trebek announced his diagnosis in March.

TREBEK: I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.

FRYER: The five-year survival rate for stage-four pancreatic cancer is less than three percent. The 78-year-old has continued to work while undergoing chemo.

TREBEK: Thank you for your continuing messages of encouragement and support.

FRYER: He tells People, "I've got a couple million people out there who have expressed good thoughts… I told the doctors this has to be more than just the chemo." For Trebek, that support is part of the answer. Joe Fryer, NBC News.

Published with permission from NewsBusters.

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