CBS Skips Over Russian Fighter Harassing U.S. Reconnaissance Jet

High in the sky over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, a United States Air Force spy plane was subjected to extremely dangerous maneuvers by a Russian fighter pilot. According to reports, at one point the Russian jet was roughly five feet away from the wing tip of the U.S. plane. The provocative encounter was reported by both ABC and NBC during their evening news broadcasts later that evening. But on CBS Evening News, not a word was spoken about the incident.

“Turning to an alarming confrontation in the sky between the U.S. and Russia,” announced Anchor Lester Holt during NBC Nightly News. “With tensions escalating between the two countries, U.S. officials say a Russian fighter jet intercepted an American spy plane over international waters.”

Pentagon Correspondent Hans Nichols started off his report on the buzzing by giving a play-by-play of the Russian fighter’s actions with a detailed digital recreation:

The dramatic incident happening between a U.S. spy plane like this one and an armed Russia jet over the Baltic Sea. The Russian fighter jet approaching at high speed, tracking along the American reconnaissance plane’s right wing at a close distance, then passing under it only to emerge off the other wing. At one point, coming within five feet of the American aircraft.

On ABC’s World News Tonight, Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz noted that “Russian aircraft have buzzed and intercepted not only U.S. aircraft but U.S. warships in the last year.” She also recalled how she once flew with U.S. Air Force pilots and described the great care they took when flying close to each other.

Nichols also mentioned the previous harassment by Russian pilots. “Just two weeks ago, the Russians intercepted this B-52 training over the Baltic,” He added. “And Russian fighters have also buzzed American destroyers in the Black Sea.”

“While the U.S. intercepts Russian planes as well, it has been within the safety norms,” Raddatz added.

The Russian intercept occurred on the same day the U.S. apparently shot down an armed drone that was menacing U.S. forces in the region. “In southern Syria, a U.S. F-15 intercepted an armed Iranian-made drone heading towards a U.S. Special Forces training base,” Nichols stated. “Within minutes, and without warning, the Russians on a military hotline, the American pilot shot it down.”

The action by the Russia fighter was both shocking and disturbing. The dangerous maneuvers came after a recent warning by Russia that they would track U.S. planes as potential targets over the western part of Syria as retaliation for shooting down a Syrian fighter. That being said, it’s surprising that CBS News thought that it wasn’t worth reporting. Instead, they chose to report on grizzly bears testing the sturdiness of garbage cans and coolers.

In addition, neither Spanish-language networks (Univision and Telemundo) reported on the Russian fighter.

Transcript below:

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ABC
World News Tonight
June 20, 2017
6:41:33 PM Eastern

DAVID MUIR: Next tonight to the U.S. and Russia. A Russian fighter jet flying within just a few feet of a U.S. reconnaissance plane today. And it comes after a plane was shot down a Syrian plane, saying. Syria of course supported by Russia. ABC’s Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Marsha Raddatz tonight.

[Cuts to video]

MARTHA RADDATZ: The jets were flying high over the Baltic Sea. A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane suddenly intercepted by a Russian fighter approaching from behind, coming just five feet from the wingtip of the U.S. jet. An encounter the Americans called unsafe.

STEPHEN GANTARD: It came in at such a high rate of speed, and was seemingly out of control, that it really concerned the U.S. aircraft pilots.

RADDATZ: Russian aircraft have buzzed and intercepted not only U.S. aircraft but U.S. warships in the last year. Last summer, during a training exercise in the Baltics with the U.S air force, our fighter jet which flew wing tip to wing tip safely with US jets, was warned by nearby Russian pilots we were getting too close to their border. We're flying over Estonia now, but just over to the east, to the right is Russia. The Americans said the Russians were just being provocative and continued the exercise.

FIGHTER PILOT: There we go. Roll in left.

RADDATZ: While the U.S. intercepts Russian planes as well, it has been within the safety norms.

[Cuts back to live]

MUIR: And Martha Raddatz joins us from Washington tonight. Martha, this comes in a tense time between the U.S. and Russia. And tonight, we’ve learned the U.S., just today, shot down a drone used by forces loyal to the Russian-backed Syrian government?

RADDATZ: That's right. The drone was threatening U.S. advisers on the ground. And it comes, or course, just a few days after the U.S. shot down that Syrian jet. The Russians now warning they are tracking U.S. jets as targets west of the Euphrates, David.

...

NBC Nightly News
June 20, 2017
7:12:54 PM Eastern

LESTER HOLT: Turning to an alarming confrontation in the sky between the U.S. and Russia. With tensions escalating between the two countries, U.S. officials say a Russian fighter jet intercepted an American spy plane over international waters. As NBC Pentagon correspondent Hans Nichols explains, the aircraft came within feet of each other.

[Cuts to video]

HAN NICHOLS: The dramatic incident happening between a U.S. spy plane like this one and an armed Russia jet over the Baltic Sea. The Russian fighter jet approaching at high speed, tracking along the American reconnaissance plane’s right wing at a close distance, then passing under it only to emerge off the other wing. At one point, coming within five feet of the American aircraft.

These kinds of moves known as intercepts can be common, but unsafe ones like this are rare. Just two weeks ago, the Russians intercepted this B-52 training over the Baltic. And Russian fighters have also buzzed American destroyers in the Black Sea.

Barry MCCAFFREY: Sounds to me like a hot-dogging Russian pilot. This doesn't make any sense. It's dangerous air maneuvers.

NICHOLS: The latest intercept coming on the same day that Russia's defense ministry warned that any U.S. planes fighting ISIS in Syria would be considered targets when they fly west of the Euphrates River.

And today, the U.S. testing Russia's warning. In southern Syria, a U.S. F-15 intercepted an armed Iranian-made drone heading towards a U.S. Special Forces training base. Within minutes, and without warning, the Russians on a military hotline, the American pilot shot it down.

[Cuts back to live]

U.S. Military officials claim that the hotline is open, but refuse to say whether or not the Russians are answering it on their end. Lester?

NB Daily Foreign Policy Russia Syria Bias by Omission Military ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video Hans Nichols Martha Raddatz David Muir Lester Holt

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