(CNSNews.com) – Conservative leaders are calling out NBC for the network's apparent attempt to “time” the release of an 11-year old videotape of a lewd conversation between Donald Trump and former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in order to inflict maximum damage on Trump’s presidential campaign.
TMZ reported that according to sources at NBC, network executives had planned to “roll out the tape 48 hours before the [second] presidential debate so it would dominate the news cycle,” but decided that extensive coverage of Hurricane Matthew “would mess up the plan to dominate the news with the Trump tape, so they were going to hold it until Monday.”
That decision “didn’t sit well with some staffers who wanted it out pre-debate, so it was leaked to The Washington Post,” according to TMZ.
Last Saturday, one day before the second presidential debate, The Washington Post ran a story about the tape in which Trump “bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone…with Billy Bush, then of Access Hollywood.” The popular TV show is owned by NBC.
Less than a week later, the newspaper officially endorsed Hillary Clinton for president “without hesitation”.
TMZ also reported that NBC's "plan was to edit the tape to keep the focus on Trump and not Billy,” but it was leaked before it could be “’sanitized’ to protect Billy as much as possible.”
NBC suspended Bush from the Today show after he was shown on the archived 2005 video laughing with Trump.
NBC News spokesman Mark Kornblau denied allegations that the network tried to "time" its release, tweeting on Tuesday that "nobody at @NBCNews sat on a tape. We reported it quickly and responsibly."
In another tweet, Kornblau stated that there was "no chance that tape would ever have been edited by @NBCNews. Period."
But many conservatives, including those who support and don't support Trump, remained unconvinced.
“What NBC has done is a direct threat to the democratic process and evidence of what conservatives have been saying all along. A network that purports to hold itself up as an objective news source while at the same time attempts to throw an election has lost all credibility,” Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, said in a statement on Thursday.
“NBC must take responsibility, apologize to Donald Trump, and fire whoever was behind the strategic release of this tape. If the rest of the media does not call out NBC for their actions, they are complicit in a cover-up.
“Until then, I call on fellow conservative leaders to join me in denouncing this network for its hypocrisy and deliberate abandonment of journalistic integrity,” Bozell added.
Other prominent conservatives did just that.
“I think it was the media typically playing to be part of the story and shape the story instead of just reporting facts as learned. It is another example of media protecting and helping Hillary Clinton,” Erick Erickson, talk show host and editor of The Resurgent, told CNSNews.com.
“But it does not make the story any less true. Numerous people predicted in February and March that this and its related stories would arrive in October,” he said.
Erickson also pointed out that the timing of new stories coming out about Donald Trump allegedly groping women in the past is also suspicious.
In a Wednesday post entitled Of Course the Timing Is Suspect, Erickson – who is not a Trump supporter – wrote: “Yes, Donald Trump’s supporters have a legitimate gripe….I have a hard time believing that all these women only now are coming forward as opposed to the Clinton camp or some other group waiting to get their stories to the press.
“In some cases it could be the press just held the stories close until the most opportune time to do maximum damage to Donald Trump.
“Absolutely, it is a damning indictment of the political press, particularly a political press that gave Donald Trump hundreds of millions of dollars of free, uncritical coverage. They ran his speeches live and to completion. They covered his plane landings. They stocked up on paid surrogates. Only after his nomination did the press turn on him.
“It is a legitimate grievance. But what the Trump partisans miss is that even if the press waited to spring this on Trump, the timing does not negate the veracity of the stories,” Erickson emphasized.
“There’s no question that there was media bias,” agreed Tony Perkins, president of The Family Research Council. Trump’s refusal to bow to media pressure “scares them and they want to stop him,” he told CNSNews.com.
“The outrage is somewhat manufactured, intended to drive a wedge between Trump and his key supporters,” Perkins, who has endorsed Trump, added, noting that recently released emails also reportedly “show the Clinton campaign communicating [with media outlets] more than you think would be appropriate.”
The content of the Trump tape is “disgusting. This issue has put a lot of Donald Trump’s evangelical and Christian supporters in a moral quandary, and we now see some of the same people trying to discourage Christians from voting for Donald Trump,” Perkins continued.
“This is a reflection of what our culture has become. We have two potential leaders, one of whom is extremely deceitful and will do anything for power and another who engages in behavior that is despicable,” he pointed out.
However, “Christians who have not been engaged in the political process” are partially to blame for the coarseness of the current presidential election campaign, Perkins told CNSNews.
“This election didn’t shape our culture. Our culture shaped this election,” he pointed out.
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