As the Islamic terrorist group ISIS seized Ramadi earlier this week and now the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, the major broadcast networks have largely declined to even mention any criticism of President Obama and his so-called policy in dealing with ISIS and Thursday night was no exception as ABC and CBS declined to raise that point of view.
On the CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley only chose to note the fact that the “Syrian government forces and the Iraqi army are both in retreat” as “ISIS is on the offense” with “[i]ts momentum unbroken by the U.S.-led campaign of airstrikes.”
Pentagon correspondent David Martin later added in a report where he interviewed a U.S. veteran who fought to secure Ramadi during the Iraq War that their “hard-won gains have been wiped away by the inability of the Iraqi troops, backed by American air strikes, to stand up to ISIS, the successor to al-Qaeda in Iraq.”
ABC’s World News Tonight also continued its streak of ignoring criticism of the President’s foreign policy as anchor David Muir introduced Thursday’s segment on ISIS with “a major new concern” and “troubling development” in the form of Palmyra’s seizure.
ABC’s chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz picked up from there and began by rightly highlighting the fears that the ancient ruins in Palmyra will be destroyed by ISIS. When it came to talking about the rise of ISIS, however, Raddatz placed zero blame on the current White House strategy in stating that Palymra was “[o]ne more win for ISIS in what has been a terrible week” that has “sent Iraqi forces into retreat.”
Wrapping up her report, Raddatz finally brought up the President in saying that he “acknowledged” that the Iraqi army “need[s] more help.”
While it was brief, NBC Nightly News did make time for criticism of the administration in a segment by chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Engel reported that the situation in Iraq and Syria is “not getting better” as the land that ISIS holds “is now larger than a small European country.”
Concerning Obama, Engel referenced an interview published Thursday by The Atlantic in making his latest evaluation of the President’s ISIS policy.
In an interview published today, the President said he does not think the U.S. is losing the war on ISIS and described the recent loss of Ramadi as, quote, “a tactical setback” but, frankly, Lester, military analysts I’ve been speaking to and military officials say the current U.S. strategy just isn't working.
On the issue of Obama’s foreign policy, Engel’s critique comes as little surprise as he’s gone after the President on a number of occasions in the last year. Earlier on Thursday, Engel appeared on MSNBC’s The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart and slammed Obama’s decision-making in Iraq as “the definition of stupidity.”
The transcript of the segment from ABC's World News Tonight with David Muir on May 22 can be found below.
ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir
May 21, 2015
6:39 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Reign of Terror]
DAVID MUIR: Overseas tonight and a major new concern involving ISIS. First, we saw those Iraqi soldiers fleeing, leaving American weapons and American equipment in the hands of ISIS. Tonight, from Syria, a troubling development. ISIS now seizing the ancient city of Palmyra, home to ancient ruins, 2,000 years old. International concern now: Will ISIS destroy them? We've seen what has happened before. ISIS destroying antiquities in Mosul and it comes just days after the Ramadi in Iraq. Iraqi forces air lifted out. ABC's chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz tonight with the new concern.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Ancient City Falls; ISIS Controls 50% of Syria]
MARTHA RADDATZ: Tonight, fears that this will happen again – ISIS fighters toppling ancient statues in northern Iraq. Now, ISIS seizing control of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra, with its spectacular ruins. The new concern – those irreplaceable treasures will be destroyed, or artifacts sold off to fund the ISIS war chest. One more win for ISIS in what has been a terrible week. Estimates that half of Syrian territory – mostly desert – now under its control, and the key Iraqi city of Ramadi, where some 30 vehicle bombs leveled entire blocks, and sent Iraqi forces into retreat. David, we were with those Iraqi forces in the same province as Ramadi a few months ago and they vowed to defeat the ISIS terrorists, but today, even President Obama acknowledged, they need more help. David?
MUIR: Martha Raddatz live in Washington. Martha, thank you.