FACT CHECK: Did National Review Say That Nukes ‘Will Only Kill Democrats And Minorities’?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

MSNBC host Joy Reid claimed Wednesday that National Review, a conservative magazine, had assured its readers that a nuclear bomb would only kill urban Democrats and minorities.

Screenshot courtesy of Ryan Saavedra @RealSaavedra

“We have truly entered the age of insanity when the conservative argument in favor of risking nuclear war is, ‘don’t worry, it will only kill Democrats and minorities.’ Shame on you, @DavidAFrench,” Reid tweeted at the article’s author.

Other Twitter users echoed the claim.

Verdict: False

The National Review article in question drew readers’ attention to best safety practices in the event of a nuclear attack and emphasized emergency preparation. It did not rationalize nuclear war or argue that suburbanites and conservatives don’t need to worry about a nuclear attack.

Fact Check:

Reid cited a Newsweek article republished in RawStory that said National Review “is telling its readers not to worry too much about a potential nuclear strike.”

“An article published Monday in the National Review reassures readers that nuclear war—and North Korea’s arsenal—shouldn’t cause them concern because even if a nuclear strike were to impact Manhattan directly, ‘the vast majority of New Yorkers would survive the initial blast,'” said the Newsweek piece. The piece noted that liberals are more likely to prefer urban areas while conservatives often favor rural areas and small towns.

David French, the author of the National Review article, said Reid’s “fabricated quote” was a smear on his character.

“It’s not only antithetical to my deepest beliefs, it’s directly contradicted by two long pieces I’ve written that were specifically intended to highlight the horrific risks of an all-out conflict with North Korea,” wrote French in a National Review post following Reid’s tweet.

French’s original piece, which followed the false missile alert in Hawaii Sunday, told readers that the odds of surviving an initial nuclear blast are larger than they may think. It gave tips on how to survive a nuclear attack and emphasized emergency preparation. “Do you prepare to die, or do you prepare to live?” wrote French. “Prepare to live.”

It did not tell readers that conservatives and suburbanites should not be concerned, as Newsweek and Reid claimed.

“No person could read my post in good faith and conclude that I believed that nuclear war shouldn’t cause concern. No person could read my post in good faith and think that I was making a political point,” French wrote.

Reid later deleted her original tweet and retracted her statement.

“Taking back my take on this take – the @rawstory writeup doesn’t reflect @DavidAFrench’s intent and I think @Aunty__Em would probably agree. David and I disagree on almost everything, but my take on this was off track,” Reid tweeted.

Reid, RawStory and Newsweek did not respond to requests for comment.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter

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