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Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

NBC's Chuck Todd claimed in an interview with Rolling Stone that "the right" has "an incentive structure" to spread misinformation, specifically with respect to the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

The big picture: Todd's popular show "Meet the Press" has consistently led its Sunday competitors in total viewers in 2019. Todd has had a number of combative interviews with Republicans and members of the Trump administration, and will host a special edition of MTP on Dec. 29 centered on the weaponization of disinformation.

  • In January 2017, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway famously used the phrase "alternative facts" on MTP while defending a false statement by then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer, just two days into the administration.
  • In August 2018, Rudy Giuliani said on MTP that "truth isn't truth" while debating whether President Trump should testify in the Mueller investigation.

More recently, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) became the third Republican senator to promote the Ukrainian interference theory on MTP, creating a viral moment when Todd accused him of helping spread Russian disinformation.

  • "I started to think, he wants the confrontation. He wants to use this for some sort of appeasement of the right," Todd told Rolling Stone, adding that he had not expected Cruz — who has traditionally been hawkish on Russia — to repeat the conspiracy theory.
  • "People that are the loudest chanters of fake news and accusatory of us are the ones who, under a lie detector, would probably take our word over any word they’ve heard from the other side on whether something was poisonous or not," Todd said.

The bottom line: Todd claimed that he was "naive" when he believed that the Trump administration wouldn't willfully mislead the public, and that the Ukraine story has helped "crystallize" the reality of the situation. "Donald Trump’s entire life has been spent using misinformation," Todd told Rolling Stone. "His entire life."

Go deeper:

Editor’s note: NBC is an investor in Axios and Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, is a member of the Axios board. MSNBC & Axios engage in a weekday sponsored television appearance at 5:55am ET.

Go deeper

Democrats release full text of Biden's $3.5T reconciliation package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday unveiled the full text of President Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending package.

Why it matters: Democrats are racing to finish negotiations and get the bill on the floor as soon as possible so Pelosi can fulfill her promises to both House centrists and progressives about the timing and sequencing of passing the party's dual infrastructure packages.

Biden pushes massive economic plan despite "stalemate"

President Biden speaking from the White House on Sept. 24. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Friday urged congressional Democrats to overcome differences surrounding his multi-trillion-dollar economic proposal but said he's still confident it will pass.

Why it matters: It's currently unclear how the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package will move forward with moderate and progressive Democrats in disagreement over critical portions of the legislation.

"An embarrassment": Biden condemns Border Patrol for using horses to deter Haitian migrants

President Biden speaking from the White House on Sept. 24. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Friday condemned Border Patrol officers for using horses to deter Haitian immigrants from an encampment under the international bridge earlier this week but took responsibility for the actions and said an investigation is underway.

Why it matters: Photos of patrol officers charging their horses at immigrants prompted criticism of the Biden administration's handling of the crisis at the border.