ABC uses short clips of CBS Ivanka interview, lacks context

On April 4 ABC and CBS looked at Ivanka Trump’s new role in the White House. They showed clips from an exclusive CBS This Morning interview with Trump, but ABC’s excerpt was minimal.

ABC anchor David Muir only paraphrased the question to Trump. Following this was a 15-second clip Trump’s answer, which was longer in the full interview.

Muir began: “Ivanka Trump, answering criticism about her involvement with her father’s administration. The first daughter now taking on an official role at the White House as an assistant to the president. In an interview with CBS News asked whether she is complicit with his policies, here’s what she said.”

ABC World News Tonight screenshot.

Interviewer Gayle King actually presented the question like this: “I’ve read articles saying you are complicit — that Jared and Ivanka are complicit in what is happening to the White House. Can you just weigh in on how you feel about that? There’ve been articles. There’ve been parodies. What do you think about that accusation?”

Former Chicago Tribune senior editor John Twohey said he was surprised to hear King use the word “complicit,” which he pointed out was the subject of a recent Saturday Night Live parody.

It was pretty strong stuff on SNL. I thought it was funny in that context, but I think for a newsperson to employ that word in a straightforward interview … was inappropriate,” Twohey said. “When you ask somebody if they’re complicit, it means ‘are you ready to admit that you’ve engaged in wrongdoing or criminal activity?’”

After Muir’s introduction, ABC showed Trump saying, “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit.”

However, in the full interview, she then said, “I don’t know that the critics who may say that of me, if they found themselves in this very unique and unprecedented situation that I am now in, would do any differently than I’m doing. So I hope to make a positive impact. I don’t know what it means to be complicit but, you know, I hope time will prove that I have done a good job and much more importantly, that my father’s administration is the success that I know it will be.”

CBS handled it differently, showing Trump talking about getting her voice heard, disagreeing with her father, and advising him on things they do agree on.

“I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence,” Trump said when King asked what she would say to critics.

CBS Evening News screenshot.

So, did Muir and ABC take this piece of the interview out of context? Does simply ending with her saying ‘I’m complicit’ leave an impression that is softened by Trump’s following words?

Twohey said ABC’s treatment of the interview “wasn’t very nourishing or satisfying” and that paraphrasing the original question may have shortchanged viewers.

Because this was a CBS exclusive interview that aired the next morning, it’s possible ABC did not have access to the full interview.

Without the full interview to compare that clip to, should ABC even show this piece at all?

Twohey said he thinks ABC would have had more than what it played on the air. However, if he didn’t have access to the full video, he wouldn’t have run the short clip.

“I think if all I had to go with was that brief video clip, I would’ve just had David Muir summarize what she said to King,” Twohey added. “Because then I think you have a little more leeway to be as complete as you can be in 30 seconds. I think you could’ve covered it as a newsworthy development without using that incomplete clip.”

Jacqueline Hyman

Jacqueline Hyman is a junior multi-platform journalism and English double major at the University of Maryland. She is the editor-in-chief of the Mitzpeh, the independent student-run publication catering to the campus Jewish community. This past summer, she was an intern at Washington Gardener Magazine. Previously, she was the opinion editor for Mitzpeh for two years and was a copy editor at both Unwind and the Writer’s Bloc on campus. Jacqueline hopes to go into editing professionally for several years before becoming an English (and maybe journalism) high school teacher. She can be contacted at or via Twitter @jacqbh58.

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