In the wake of Donald Trump’s use of the word “shithole” to describe Haiti and countries in Africa, news organizations weighed whether to report the incident using the exact word as Trump used it in a meeting at the White House Thursday. At least two prominent anchors on two news outlets made the decision to say the word on air, and NBC and CNN became the targets of complaints to the FCC.
The FCC reported only that it had received a “handful” of complaints and would look into the matter. The word was used several times by anchors and commentators including CNN’s Don Lemon. Lester Holt of NBC said it in his nightly newscast though he warned viewers in advance. While the FCC has jurisdiction over broadcast networks, it does not have any control of content included in cable channel programming.
Trump used the term in describing immigration policy regarding Haiti and El Salvador, specifically, as well as African nations in general, that according to at least two senators in the room at the time. Though Trump later would state he had not used the word, both Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin confirmed that he had. In a Tweet Friday morning, Trump wrote, “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems.”