Chuck Todd Trends on Twitter After Saying Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Concentration Camps Comparison Distracts From Migrants' Plight

NBC News's Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd has taken flak on social media over a segment criticizing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He took issue with New York Democrat's use of the term "concentration camps" to describe detention centers at America's southern border.

Ocasio-Cortez made the controversial remarks on Instagram when talking about the undocumented migrant issue. The Trump administration is accused of human rights abuses at its detention centers for undocumented migrants, including very young children.

"You can call our government's detention of migrants many things, depending on how you see it. It's a stain on our nation, maybe. A necessary evil to others to deal with an untenable situation, perhaps. But do you know what you can't call it?" Todd said on Wednesday night.

He then rolled a clip of Ocasio-Cortez's Instagram Live stream during which she says: "The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border. And that is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps."

Todd pointed out that Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, later made a distinction between concentration camps and Nazi death camps used to murder millions of Jews and others during the Holocaust.

"Fair enough. But congresswoman, tens of thousands were also brutalized, tortured, and ultimately starved in concentration camps. Camps like Dachau," Todd said.

"If you want to criticize the shameful treatment of people at our southern border, fine. You'll have plenty of company. But be careful comparing them to Nazi concentration camps because they're not at all comparable in the slightest."

He concluded his segment by saying: "I've no doubt Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cares deeply about what's happening at the border. But she just did the people there a tremendous disservice by distracting from their plight. She said she didn't use those words lightly. Well, neither did I."

Ocasio-Cortez's comparison of ICE detentions to concentration camps did border detainees "a tremendous disservice" #MTPDaily

"She said she didn't use those words lightly," Chuck Todd said. "Well, neither did I."

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 19, 2019

Todd faced a backlash on Twitter over the segment, with some users expressing nostalgia for Tim Russert, the late long-serving former moderator of Meet the Press.

"This makes no sense - in one breath, Chuck Todd concedes that @AOC herself says she wasn't referring to Nazi death camps, but in the next breath he condemns her for invoking 'Nazi concentration camps' - which she didn't," wrote Mehdi Hasan, a columnist for The Intercept and host of Al Jazeera's UpFront and Head to Head shows. "As he himself conceded only seconds earlier. Sigh."

The user @nycsouthpaw tweeted: "To AOC's claim that the US is running concentration camps, albeit not death camps, Chuck Todd observes that, aha, the Nazis had concentration camps too. And ours aren't comparable to theirs 'in the slightest.' Did AOC suggest they were? Why can't they be compared? He doesn't say.

"Chuck Todd is outraged that we're having 'this debate' instead of helping the people concentrated in the camps, whose conditions are—he agrees—quite miserable and shameful."

Sean Kent, a stand-up comedian, tweeted: "I wish Chuck Todd was more upset about the actual concentration camps on our border as he is at @AOC for calling them concentration camps."

Vox journalist Carlos Maza wrote on Twitter: "Genuinely one of the most shameful @chucktodd segments I've ever seen.

"This is what happens when you treat 'neutrality' as a virtue — you end up with journalists who lack the moral courage to name evil when they see it, and who care more about semantics than humanity."

Crooked Media's Brian Beutler wrote: "It's fine if @chucktodd didn't know concentration camps predated the Holocaust and have been used in other atrocities since, but he *chose* not to look it up, and thus to misinform his viewers, so he could make a #bothsides point and burnish cred with @AOC critics. Really bad."

Ocasio-Cortez also responded directly to Todd's comments on Meet the Press.

"Well, @chucktodd - the fact that you slipped in 'Nazi' when I never said that is pretty unfortunate," she tweeted. "Almost as unfortunate as the fact that you spent this whole time w/o discussing DHS freezers, 'dog pounds,' missing children, & human rights abuses that uphold use of this term.

"My heroes are the ones who stood up when it wasn't easy. Kids are dying in cages on our border. Families are being put in 'freezers' & 'dog pounds.' Years from now, people will look for the journalists, officials, & everyday people who stood up for what was right in real-time.

"We are calling these camps what they are because they fit squarely in an academic consensus and definition. History will be kind to those who stood up to this injustice. So say what you will. Kids are dying and I'm not here to make people feel comfortable about that."

NBC News did not respond immediately to Newsweek's request for comment.

Chuck Todd NBC News Meet the Press
Chuck Todd criticized Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during his NBC News show "Meet the Press" over her comments calling migrant detention centers concentration camps. Twitter/Meet the Press