STUDY: ABC, CBS, and NBC Are Shielding Pro-Hamas Democrats from the Public

October 24th, 2023 11:46 AM

Since the October 7 Hamas massacre of Israeli civilians, House Democratic members of the “Squad” have drawn harsh criticism from even members of their own party for their rabidly anti-Israel posturing. But rather than shining a spotlight on the controversy, the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) instead dutifully sheltered them from public scrutiny; in fact, since the attack, they have not received even a second of airtime on the evening newscasts.

MRC analysts combed through all of ABC, CBS, and NBC’s evening newscasts from October 7 through October 22 for any mention of the House Democrats colloquially known as “the Squad.” Despite dedicating a whopping 525 minutes (nearly 9 hours) of airtime to the ongoing tumult in Gaza, none of these three networks gave even a second to any member of the progressive cadre.

That’s not for a lack of action on the part of the Congresswomen (and one man). We compiled a list of eight anti-Israel actions and remarks by Squad members which one might reasonably expect serious journalistic outlets to mention in their Gaza coverage.

For the purpose of this study, the Squad refers to an informal group of seven House Democrats. In addition to the four original members — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-OH), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — other common recipients of the label include Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Summer Lee (D-PA). Some lists also include Gregorio Casar (D-TX), but as he did not engage in any of the behavior included in the table above (nor was he mentioned in any of the newscasts), he was not included in the study.

On October 17, Congresswoman Haley M. Stevens (D-MI) introduced a resolution condemning Hamas “for its brutal attack on Israel” and demanding they immediately release all their hostages. Tlaib distinguished herself from her colleagues by being the only Squad member not to sign onto the resolution. As of this piece’s publication, Tlaib has yet to directly condemn Hamas.

Evening newscast coverage: 0 seconds.

The following day, Tlaib was joined by Rep. Cori Bush at a pro-Palestine protest on the National Mall. The demonstration eventually moved to the House Cannon Office building, where a number of protestors were arrested after assaulting police. Despite covering this incident, none of the three broadcast networks bothered to mention that these two Congresswomen were in attendance.

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In the immediate aftermath of the October 7 attack, Representative Omar joined Bush and Tlaib in calling on Congress to cease military aid for Israel. These three women were also the only Squad members to publicly repeat the now-disproven claim by Hamas that the al-Ahri Arab Hospital in Gaza had been destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. Even after evidence emerged showing that the blast was the result of a misfired Hamas rocket, and that the blast had occurred in a parking lot rather than the hospital itself, all three Congresswomen refused to delete tweets on their official accounts blaming Israel for the explosion.

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Back in May of 2022, Bush submitted a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken accusing Israel of “war crimes.” Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib were among the Democrats who co-signed the missive. Representative Ocasio-Cortez repeated that claim on the October 22 edition of MSNBC’s The Mehdi Hasan Show:

War crimes do not constitute, and are not an appropriate response for other war crimes. Hamas’s hostage-taking, their hostage-taking of children, of the disabled, elderly, civilians, are a war crime. But when we are talking about the blockading of water, food, electricity, to a population of 2.2 million Palestinians, when we are talking about dropping what we are seeing from Human Rights Watch — reports and confirmation from organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights watch — the dropping and deployment of white phosphorus, which also a war crime.

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These same five Squad members also voted against funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system back in 2021. All three broadcast networks have run at least one full-length report on the Iron Dome since October 7, which would have been a reasonable opportunity to mention which members of Congress had opposed its continued operation.

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On October 11, Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced H.Res. 771, which condemned Hamas’s “barbaric” attack and affirmed continued support of Israel. While the resolution received vast bipartisan support, with 203 Democrats and 222 Republicans cosponsoring, not one Squad member was among the 425 cosigners, save Congressman Casar.

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Those members were also among only nine Representatives in 2021 who would not vote for a Resolution declaring that Israel was not a racist or apartheid state. They were joined by Reps. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Delia Ramirez (D-IL). While a handful of journalists began predictably bandying about apartheid in Gaza over the past two weeks, none of them have mentioned that some members of Congress appear to share that view.

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Instead, the those seven Squad members signed onto their own Resolution which called for an immediate ceasefire. Ocasio-Cortez even acknowledged during her October 22 interview with Hasan that such an arrangement would necessarily mean allowing Hamas to remain in control of Gaza:

MEHDI HASAN: You would accept that a ceasefire, though, would leave Hamas in place? You would accept that’s a cost of saving civilian lives in Gaza?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I think in the immediate sense, we have to have a pause in what is going on.

On the October 21 edition of Good Morning America, ABC News White House correspondent Maryalice Parks suggested that support for a ceasefire was actually a mainstream view among Democrats in Washington, despite the fact that only a handful of Representatives had cosigned that legislation:

We’re hearing Human Rights Watch speak out, we’re hearing old Obama administrations speak out, we have progressive members of Congress calling for a ceasefire. This is tough for the President to navigate.

That vague reference to “progressive members” was the closest any broadcast reporter came to actually mentioning the Squad’s approach to Israel.

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Recent polling indicates that support for Israel remains popular among both Democratic and Republican voters. According to an NPR/Marist survey, nearly three-quarters (69%) of Democrats felt the government ought to publicly support Israel, while only 10 percent said it should criticize Israel.

It’s no wonder, then, that the broadcast networks have been tight-lipped about the anti-Israel wing of the Democratic Party. Thanks to this careful pruning, millions of nightly newswatchers have been sold the image of a unified Congress, united along bipartisan lines in support of an American ally. That image may be false, but a little mendacity is a small price to pay for a news media whose primary concern is PR for their favorite political party.