Fifty-three-year-old Steven Eckel isn’t buying HLN’s official response for its suppression of his T-shirt speech. “I don’t know how they call it an error,” he told the Erik Wemple Blog last night.
On Monday, Eckel made big news, helping to rescue a 4-month-old girl from a car in the parking lot of a New Jersey shopping center. Among the many outlets that wanted to interview him was HLN. For the occasion, Eckel wore a blue T-shirt with “Trump 2016” on the front in big letters. Viewers got a good look at the shirt in Eckel’s initial interview with host Christi Paul, but then a subsequent report used the footage with blurring over the money part of the T-shirt. No “Trump 2016.”
After news outlets cited the censorship, HLN provided this statement yesterday: “We blurred the logo and shouldn’t have; it was done in error,” said the network. Upshot: Though Donald Trump has made a great number of hollow complaints about media bias, here’s a bona fide, astounding example. To pick up on Eckel’s logic, the blurring of the “Trump 2016” lettering appears to have been a quite deliberate measure, requiring an act of assertion by some producer.
“I think everybody’s horrified by it,” says the retired police officer, who has heard from some anti-Trump folks offended by the editing.
Despite the outrage, Eckel said he’d received no apology directly from HLN. After he saw the blurring, he let the network know his feelings. “I texted [an HLN employee] a picture of the blur-out and said, ‘Thanks a lot, pal,'” said Eckel, who doesn’t sound too surprised that political considerations had worked their way into a cable outlet’s coverage of an infant rescue. “I haven’t found one [news organization] that’s completely down the middle,” he tells this blog. “I just can’t believe the media goes to this length to be one-sided.”