Nets Downplay Criticism of Obama from Father of North Korea Hostage

Americans were appalled Thursday to learn the medical condition North Korea left American Otto Warmbier in while he was in their custody. The American college student suffered severe brain damage that left Otto in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness,” according to his doctors. In a press conference, his father, Fred Warmbier, had stark criticism for the Obama administration. “Do I think the past administration could have done more? I think the results speak for themselves,” he said. And during their evening broadcasts, ABC and CBS ignored his comments while NBC downplayed them.

NBC Correspondent Ron Mott was the only journalist to mention Fred’s comment during his report. “Last night President Trump called Fred Warmbier, who suggested a change at the White House helped free his son,” he said on NBC Nightly News. But Fred did more than just “suggest” President Trump was to thank for getting his son back.

During the press conference, Fred told his family’s story about dealing with a less than helpful Obama administration. “When Otto was first taken, we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release. We did so without result,” he said. And he made it abundantly clear that Trump’s State Department went to work for him:

Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience was over and we made a few media appearances and traveled to Washington to meet with Ambassador Joe Yun at the State Department. It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team at the direction of the President aggressively pursued resolution of the situation. The question is, do I think the past administration could have done more? I think the results speak for themselves.

In a sharp contrast to the Big Three Networks, CNN’s Jake Tapper was not afraid to give credit to the Trump administration during his show The Lead. “Otto's father, very critical of the Obama administration's handling of his son's detention and he praised President Trump,” he told his panel. “And I have to say, this is not the first time we have heard that from the family of a hostage when it comes to criticism of how the Obama administration handled these issues.”

Even Trump critic Susan Page of USA Today noted Obama’s sore history with getting Americans home safely. “You know, first of all, there were a lot of complaints about the Obama administration not seeing their interests, the United States' interests, as being totally aligned with the interests of families [of hostages],” she said. “And [Fred Warmbier] not only criticized President Obama, he praised President Trump.”

Commentator Mary Katherine Ham recalled how Trump’s administration also managed to recently retrieve an American who was imprisoned in Egypt. She then complimented Trump by saying: “And Obama was very quiet on those things and I don't think it's very controversial to say he put a lower priority on that type of thing than President Trump seems to be doing with some pretty good results.”

The omission of Fred Warmbier’s complete thoughts about Obama and Trump did a disservice to the viewers and the Warmbiers because it censored their story. But they would prefer to preserve Obama’s legacy than report anything negative about him.

Transcripts below:

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NBC Nightly News
June 15, 2017
7:09:13 PM Eastern

(…)

RON MOTT: The U.S. sent a team to North Korea to negotiate the release of Otto and three other Americans still held there. Last night President Trump called Fred Warmbier, who suggested a change at the White House helped free his son.

FRED WARMBIER: Question is: Do I think the past administration could have done more? I think the results speak for themselves.

MOTT: Warmbier said the ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman's recent trip to North Korea played no role in his son’s release. What was supposed to be an adventure with other students, seen here in North Korea, has ended in a tragic mystery. Ron Mott, NBC News, Cincinnati.

...

CNN
The Lead
June 15, 2017
4:44:23 PM Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: I want to turn to an issue that's pretty significant about the family of former North Korea detainee and U.S. college student, Otto Warmbier. Tragic story. He's finally out of North Korea, but appears to have serious neurological problems. He spoke today, his father-- Otto's father, very critical of the Obama administration's handling of his son's detention and he praised President Trump. Do we have that sound?

FRED WARMBIER: When Otto was first taken, we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release. We did so without result. Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience was over and we made a few media appearances and traveled to Washington to meet with Ambassador Joe Yun at the State Department. It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team at the direction of the President aggressively pursued resolution of the situation. The question is, do I think the past administration could have done more? I think the results speak for themselves.

TAPPER: And I have to say, this is not the first time we have heard that from the family of a hostage when it comes to criticism of how the Obama administration handled these issues. Susan.

SUSAN PAGE: Yes, I think that's right. First of all, no parent -- every parent's heart breaks when you see the father of Otto talking there and wearing the jacket that his son wore during his show trial in North Korea. So, first of all, our thoughts are with the family. But, absolutely.

You know, first of all, there were a lot of complaints about the Obama administration not seeing their interests, the United States' interests, as being totally aligned with the interests of families who had family members being held hostages in places like North Korea. That's happened with other administrations, as well, but I think it was pretty pronounced in the Obama administration and you certainly see the anguish. And he not only criticized President Obama, he praised President Trump.

MARY KATHERINE HAM: I think this is something that the Trump administration has actually done fairly well and sort of quietly and competently. There was an Egyptian-American aid worker that was in prison for three years in Egypt who was able to come home in April. He's done a public event, I remember, with Leopoldo Lopez's wife. Or had photos taken at the White House.

TAPPER: At Marco Rubio’s request.

HAM: With Marco Rubio to bring some light to that. And Obama was very quiet on those things and I don't think it's very controversial to say he put a lower priority on that type of thing than President Trump seems to be doing with some pretty good results.

(…)

CyberAlerts Foreign Policy North Korea Government Agencies Bias by Omission ABC World News CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video Ron Mott Donald Trump