On Wednesday, all three network morning shows were in full panic mode over President Trump’s upcoming decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In the midst of the collective freak-out, hosts and correspondents warned that the “dangerous” move could lead to a “new wave of violence” across the Middle East and even inspire “terrorist attacks in the west.”
Opening NBC’s Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie sounded the alarm: “Controversial Move. President Trump set to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel today. Israeli officials hailing the landmark decision, other world leaders outraged. Could it lead to a new wave of violence?” Minutes later, fellow co-host Hoda Kotb fretted: “It would up-end decades of U.S. policy and is already being met with warnings that could prompt new violence and disrupt the peace process.”
Reporting from Jerusalem, Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel warned: “There have already been some demonstrations, they are expected to intensify, with Palestinians calling for three days of rage if President Trump goes through with it.” He added: “Palestinians took to the streets to oppose what they say is a needless and provocative move by President Trump...”
Throughout the segment, the headline on screen blared: “Trump to Recognize Jerusalem as Capital; Controversial Decision Could Lead to Upheaval.”
<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>
“Breaking news, bracing for violence. The Middle East on edge this morning. Protests erupting as President Trump prepares to make that major announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel....World leaders call the decision dangerous,” co-host George Stephanopoulos proclaimed at the top of ABC’s Good Morning America.
Talking to Chief Global Affairs Anchor Martha Raddatz minutes later, he touted “a growing chorus of world leaders warning the President against this move.” Raddatz helpfully recited their objections:
Of course, indeed, George. The Turkish foreign minister is calling it a grave mistake that would bring chaos and instability to the region. Britain’s foreign minister is expressing concern. Jordan’s king saying it will provoke Muslims and Christians alike. And Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it unacceptable. I could go on and on, George, but the bottom line is no one else in the world has an embassy in Jerusalem.
“So it’s safe to say this has alarmed leaders around the globe, George,” she concluded. Stephanopoulos agreed: “It certainly has.”
Later in the discussion, Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega suggested that the President was simply trying to appeal to “evangelicals” in his base and Jewish “mega-donor” Sheldon Adelson.
Leading off CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King joined her network colleagues in the fearmongering: “President Trump will announce a high-stakes decision today to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. U.S. allies and leaders around the world say it’s a big mistake that will torpedo any chance of Middle East peace.”
Introducing the report minutes later, fellow co-host Norah O’Donnell breathlessly declared: “President Trump is set to reverse nearly seven decades of U.S./Middle East policy today.” After playing a clip of Trump promising to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, correspondent Margaret Brennan scolded: “That campaign pledge, popular with evangelicals and hard-line Israel supporters, is why President Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israeli territory against the advice of allies and his national security team.”
During a follow-up report early in the 8 a.m. ET hour, Brennan again let the political labels fly: “It’s going to be very, very popular with some of the evangelical voters who helped propel President Trump into this office. It’s also going to be popular with some of the harder, right-wing, pro-Israel supporters, many of whom supported the Trump campaign.”
In addition to Brennan’s reporting, fellow correspondent Seth Doane joined the broadcast from Jerusalem and predicted worldwide violence:
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is of course popular with the Israeli government because it strengthens their hold on the city. The Palestinians say it could damage the peace process and we’re already starting to see protests in Gaza City. There are concerns about violence not only here and across the Middle East, but this also could provide rationale for terrorist attacks in the west as well. We spoke with one senior Palestinian official who told us that there are plenty of extremists already in the world and this provides a ready-made excuse.
Rather than provide calm, reasoned coverage of the foreign policy decision, the liberal media instead decided to escalate tensions by employing incendiary rhetoric.
Here are excerpts of the December 6 coverage:
7:05 AM ET
HODA KOTB: Also breaking overnight, a controversial move by President Trump. Later today he is expected to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It would up-end decades of U.S. policy and is already being met with warnings that could prompt new violence and disrupt the peace process. NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel is in Jerusalem this morning. Good morning, Richard.
RICHARD ENGEL: Good morning. This would be a significant step, not just a symbolic step. And there is real tension in this city this morning. There have already been some demonstrations, they are expected to intensify, with Palestinians calling for three days of rage if President Trump goes through with it.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump to Recognize Jerusalem as Capital; Controversial Decision Could Lead to Upheaval]
Palestinians took to the streets to oppose what they say is a needless and provocative move by President Trump, giving Israel what it has long wanted, recognition of its claim to all of the city of Jerusalem. U.S. Government employees and their families have been ordered, for their safety, to stay out of Palestinian areas today, including the center of Jerusalem and the nearby city of Bethlehem. For Israelis, the U.S. is merely recognizing land they already control.
AMALIA BEHAL [JERUSALEM NATIVE]: This is our country, this is the promised land. This is the promised city. This is the capital of Israel.
ENGEL: For Palestinians, however, it’s a sign the peace process hasn’t worked for them.
DR. MOHAMMAD JAMAAL [JERUSALEM NATIVE]: We are the landowners of this land. We are the owners of this place. We were here before any other.
ENGEL: So, what’s the issue? Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem to be their capital. Israelis say the united city is the heart of the Jewish state reaching back thousands of years. Palestinians say east Jerusalem, home to Islam’s third-holiest mosque, should be the capital of their future state. This was never an easy dispute, sorting out who controls what in Jerusalem was the core of the U.S.-sponsored peace process. The subject of decades of talks. Talks now thrown into disarray.
White House officials say the President today will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and order the State Department to initiate the process of moving the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv. U.S. officials say a location in Jerusalem has yet to be chosen. And that the embassy move will take years. It’s a move opposed by many across the Muslim world, who wonder why President Trump’s first foray into Middle East diplomacy was to upend it.
Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, and a whole host of other countries, including just this morning, the Vatican City, with the Pope making the statement, have all expressed concern about what this statement, this anticipated statement from President Trump, could do. And several of the countries calling on the President not to make it. Hoda, Savannah, back to you.
HODA KOTB: Alright, Richard Engel in Jerusalem. Richard, thank you.
Good Morning America
7:09 AM ET
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to move on now to that major new move from President Trump. The Middle East on edge this morning as the President set to become the first American president to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He will also say he wants to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So let’s bring in our Chief Global Affairs Anchor Martha Raddatz, our Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega for the latest on all this. Martha, you’ve got this growing chorus of world leaders warning the President against this move.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump’s Major Middle East Announcement; President to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital]
MARTHA RADDATZ: Of course, indeed, George. The Turkish foreign minister is calling it a grave mistake that would bring chaos and instability to the region. Britain’s foreign minister is expressing concern. Jordan’s king saying it will provoke Muslims and Christians alike. And Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it unacceptable. I could go on and on, George, but the bottom line is no one else in the world has an embassy in Jerusalem. So it’s safe to say this has alarmed leaders around the globe, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It certainly has. But, Cecilia, the President been itching to do this for a long time and getting a lot of pressure behind the scenes.
CECILIA VEGA: Yeah, George, and I’m told that this really is about making good on that campaign promise. Sources here tell me that this is something the President actually wanted to do right after he took office but there was – we talk about regularly that learning curve, one source told me he basically realized you can’t snap your fingers and move an embassy.
There has been pressure, strong pressure behind the scenes from evangelicals and others like Sheldon Anderson [sic] that Las Vegas casino magnate who’s a mega-donor to Donald Trump. But I’m told today the White House has a conference call scheduled with evangelicals, with pro-Israeli groups to really talk about this plan.
But really it came down to the President not wanting to sign this waiver today to extend – to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, that extension waiver without making it look like he’s made some progress on this big campaign promise from him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he makes progress on the campaign promise, but, Martha, the big question going forward is what does this mean for the Middle East peace process. The President has dispatched his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to lead the U.S. effort there.
RADDATZ: You know, I don’t know how this possibly helps any peace initiative which, as you said, the President’s son-in-law, Kushner, has been charged with. And I think it says a lot about how little progress has been made.
As for violence there, George, Palestinians are calling for protests throughout the region, Americans have been warned not to go where crowds are gathered or into Jerusalem’s old city, and the U.S. is sending in additional Marines to embassies throughout the region. And even if there are not protests, nothing public, this is something that will simmer for a very long time, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, it could set off repercussions across the region.
CBS This Morning
7:06 AM ET
NORAH O’DONNELL: President Trump is set to reverse nearly seven decades of U.S./Middle East policy today. He's expected to announce that Washington will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The President plans to tell the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv. Seth Doane is in Jerusalem where Israel’s Prime Minister did not mention the issue this morning. But first, let’s go to Margaret Brennan at the White House for more on this. Margaret, good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning. No other country in the world has an embassy in Jerusalem, but today President Trump will make a major concession and recognize Jerusalem as the political capital of Israel. He’ll promise that in the future a U.S. embassy will be built there.
DONALD TRUMP: We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.
BRENNAN: That campaign pledge, popular with evangelicals and hard-line Israel supporters, is why President Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israeli territory against the advice of allies and his national security team.
TRUMP: If you can't produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.
BRENNAN: It also undermines the peace process launched by Jared Kushner as the status of Jerusalem is one of the most incendiary issues in the conflict. For nearly 70 years, U.S. policy has been to settle it through diplomacy.
TRUMP: My administration will always stand with Israel.
BRENNAN: Security alerts were sent to U.S. posts around the world to brace for violence ahead of Mr. Trump's declaration. President Trump has boasted about his chance at peace, but four of the five world leaders he spoke with Tuesday said this would be a setback. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cautioned it would have, quote, “detrimental consequences on the peace process.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders downplayed it.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: He spoke with five leaders. That’s hardly indicative of everybody across the globe.
BRENNAN: As for that peace plan, the Trump administration has yet to present any proposal, saying Jared Kushner's team is still figuring it out. For now, the U.S. embassy stays in Tel Aviv. The White House says that building a new one will take at least four years through the end of Mr. Trump's first term. Gayle?
7:08 AM ET
SETH DOANE: Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is of course popular with the Israeli government because it strengthens their hold on the city. The Palestinians say it could damage the peace process and we’re already starting to see protests in Gaza City. There are concerns about violence not only here and across the Middle East, but this also could provide rationale for terrorist attacks in the west as well. We spoke with one senior Palestinian official who told us that there are plenty of extremists already in the world and this provides a ready-made excuse.