Congressmen Mike McIntyre and Randy Forbes, Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, recently joined with 107 Members of Congress in sending a letter to NBC Universal expressing disapproval over the network twice-editing the words "under God" out of a video montage that aired during the U.S. Open.
Congressman McIntyre stated, "It is important that we remain vigilant in ensuring that references to religion remain in the public discourse, and that our nation's Pledge of Allegiance is honored with every word and reference to our nation's great religious heritage."
The letter asked what steps NBC has taken to prevent America's religious heritage from being obscured in that manner again, and it requested that NBC implement a policy to ensure that the Pledge of Allegiance is not altered in future broadcasts.
We recently received a response to our letter, and that letter is below:
Dear Representatives Forbes and McIntyre:
Steve Burke has asked me to respond to your letter of June 24, 2011, expressing your concerns regarding the opening of our U.S. Open coverage on June 19, 2011, concerns we fully understand and share.
Our intent for the opening feature of the final round of the U.S. Open was to produce a patriotic piece keyed off the fact that our national golf championship was being played in our nation's capital. Unfortunately, a serious error in judgment was made by a small group of people. To be absolutely clear, this was not an ideological decision by the company and it was not discussed with or approved by any senior NBCUniversal official.
We have made quite clear -- internally and externally -- that the employees who made this decision were wrong. Not only were countless citizens justifiably upset, but also the actions of this small group cast a negative light on NBCUniversal, NBC, and NBC Sports, as well as our partners at the United States Golf Association. It was an inexcusable mistake in judgment and it will not be repeated.
As you noted in your letter, once senior management became aware of the issue, we immediately acknowledged our mistake on the air to a national audience and apologized -- long before this became a well known incident. We also prepared a written apology and have made every effort to respond to every letter, email, and phone call reiterating our regret.
We are taking steps to prevent similar mistakes in the future. The employees involved have been reprimanded. And we have already implemented a new checks and balances process for preproduced pieces, ensuring that nothing will go on the air without senior-level approval, including and up to the executive in charge of production at any event.
We are confident that taking these steps will prevent further incidents and we are hopeful that our apologies will be accepted.
President, Comcast and NBCUniversal, Washington, DC