Did CNN edit out a bit about the Jews from Martin Luther King’s last speech?

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Malgorzata called my attention to a post on a pro-Israel website, FirstOne Through, which claims that CNN edited Martin Luther King's famous "I've been to the Mountaintop" speech, given on April 3, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. And they edited it, as the site avers, to remove an approving reference to the Jews' trek to the promised land during the Exodus (a journey that, while Biblical, is also fictional).

King's speech was delivered to support the strike of Memphis sanitation workers for equity, decent pay, and other rights, and it also called for peaceful protest. The speech ends with these famous and prophetic words (listen at 41:48):

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

What an orator that man was! He starts off low key and finishes with a full-on stemwinder of a sermon. The ending was indeed prophetic, for King was assassinated the very next day by James Earl Ray.

Here's the full audio of that speech, 43 minutes long. There's also a full transcript on American Rhetoric, labeled "authenticity certified", and I can't find any errors in it, though I haven't compared it to every word with the recording below. (The site also has the full audio.)

FirstOne Through highlights these words near the beginning: 1 minute and 19 seconds in. If you listen to the audio, you'll see they're accurate. I've bolded the words at issue.

Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God's children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there.

The site then notes that CNN, in its transcript of the speech published in 2018, seems to have edited it. As FirstOne Through notes:

Just after the one minute mark of his speech in the third paragraph, King set the stage to compare the journey of African Americans from a life of racism to one of liberty, much as the biblical Jews left slavery in Egypt to their promised land. It served as a foreshadow to the end of the speech in which King compared himself to the Jewish prophet Moses who went “up to the mountaintop” to look over to the “promised land” in which he could not enter, even as the Children of Israel succeeded in their trek.

The actual words King said, and you can hear them at :

Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there.”

But CNN removed the words in red [JAC: bold] above “and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt” which described the Jews as “God’s children” who left slavery towards their promised land in Israel. Instead, the CNN text reads like a general travelogue, stripped of any significance. The promised land is sanitized of its Jewish essence, and applicable to any and all.

The site suspects there was an anti-Israel or anti-Zionist motive for the editing:

CNN edited one of the greatest speeches in modern history which continues to be read to this day, and removed the plight of the Jews and their three thousand year old-Zionism, presumably to make a political point. And a very noxious one at that.

In case CNN changes its two-year-old post, I took a screenshot of its transcript so you can see where the phrase has been cut.

Now I don't know if CNN removed the phrase deliberately, or it was simply a slip-up. I put both speeches in different Word documents and compared them, and I couldn't find any omissions like the one above, though there are some minor differences of wording.

You can draw your own conclusions. Although I find it hard to believe that CNN would remove that phrase as a criticism of Israel or the Jews, well, the phrase is gone and we have no idea why. A bit of Googling shows some allegations that CNN has an anti-Israel bias (e.g., here and here), but I haven't followed up on these.

You be the judge.

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