ABC and CBS Omit Obama Backpedaling on ISIS Strategy, Disconnect with Joint Chiefs Chairman

On Tuesday night, ABC and CBS refused to acknowledge a pair of points in its respective stories concerning news that additional U.S. special forces will be stationed inside Iraq to fight ISIS and will engage in combat roles. 

Along with not mentioning that the move represented the latest example of backpedaling by President Obama on a pledge to not put U.S. troops on the ground, the two networks skipped the admission by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that ISIS is not “contained” in a rebuke to the President’s recent claims.

Surprisingly, NBC Nightly News and chief foreign affairs correspondent/MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell worked in both of these important facts into the newscast’s report on the new development concerning the U.S. strategy for fighting the Islamic terror group.

Anchor Lester Holt set the scene by mentioning that the revelation by Defense Secretary Ash Carter happened “despite assurances President Obama has made about the scope of the U.S. mission in the region.”

Mitchell went onto describe the decision as “a significant U.S. escalation” that will involve “[u]p to 150 special operations forces, three times the 50 troops the President announced in October, conducting combat raids against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria from bases in Iraq.”

Not long afterward, Mitchell used one of many instances in which the President flatly declared that the U.S. would not send ground troops into lead the ISIS fight:

MITCHELL: Just last month, President Obama told Lester [Holt] — 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA [on 11/02/15]: We are not putting U.S. troops on the front lines fighting firefights with ISIL. 

Mitchell continued this random act of journalism by adding the admission by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a member of Congress that ran counter to the Commander-in-Chief:

MITCHELL: Today, the President's flatly disputed by his own commanders. 

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN RANDY FORBES (Va.) [TO DUNFORD]: Have we currently contained ISIL? 

JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN GENERAL JOSEPH DUNFORD: We have not contained ISIL.

Over on CBS, anchor Scott Pelley and Pentagon-based correspondent David Martin made no allusion to this backpedaling by the Obama administration while ABC’s World News Tonight featured anchor David Muir lamenting to chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl that it’s been “a real challenge for this administration” to convince “other countries to join the fight” and “share the burden here.”

The transcript of the segment from December 1's NBC Nightly News can be found below.

NBC Nightly News
December 1, 2015
7:04 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: More Combat Troops]

LESTER HOLT: Now to a major shift announced today in the U.S. strategy to fight ISIS. Defense Secretary Ash Carter telling Congress that even more American special operations forces will be deployed in Iraq and Syria and their mission will include a combat role. This despite assurances President Obama has made about the scope of the U.S. mission in the region. We get more from NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: With overwhelming evidence that air strikes alone won't stop ISIS, a significant U.S. escalation on the ground. 

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASHTON CARTER: We’re at war. 

MITCHELL: Up to 150 special operations forces, three times the 50 troops the President announced in October, conducting combat raids against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria from bases in Iraq. 

CARTER: These special operators will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIL leaders. 

MITCHELL: Just last month, President Obama told Lester — 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA [on 11/02/15]: We are not putting U.S. troops on the front lines fighting firefights with ISIL. 

MITCHELL: Today, the President's flatly disputed by his own commanders. 

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN RANDY FORBES (Va.) [TO DUNFORD]: Have we currently contained ISIL? 

JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN GENERAL JOSEPH DUNFORD: We have not contained ISIL.

MITCHELL: This as the President in Paris spent much of his time defending a military strategy that hasn't stopped ISIS or ended the killing fields in Syria . 

OBAMA: It's not going to be easy. Too much blood has been shed, too much infrastructure has been destroyed. 

MITCHELL: It's a military and diplomatic Rubik's cube. You can't stop ISIS without ending the civil war in Syria, the conflict that spawned the terror group. But standing in the way? Russia's Vladimir Putin. 

OBAMA: I don't expect that you're going to see a 180 turn on their strategy over the next several weeks. They have invested for years now in keeping Assad in power. 

MITCHELL: Today, Germany promised 1,200 more troops. Britain votes tomorrow to begin air strikes over Syria. Assad does not seem worried by any of this. 

BASHAR AL-ASSAD [on Czech TV]: Nobody is taking the western officials seriously anymore. 

MITCHELL: The administration's next goal? Cease-fires in parts of Syria by January 1st and peace talks for a transitional government now to include Assad, a big concession to the Russians for President Obama, who all along said Assad must go. Lester? 

HOLT: Andrea, thank you.

NB Daily Foreign Policy Iraq Middle East Syria Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission War on Terrorism Liberals & Democrats ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video Government & Press Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS President Obama President Barack Obama Lester Holt Andrea Mitchell David Muir Scott Pelley David Martin Barack Obama
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