Over 72-hours. It has been over 72-hours since ABC’s World News Tonight first falsely claimed a special event at a gun range in Kentucky was footage of a Turkish attack on civilian Kurds in northern Syria. And in that 72-hours, the network had rejected all calls for an on-air correction, apology, and explanation to their viewers as to how the misinformation made it through their supposedly rigorous vetting process.
The network went so far as to cut out the soundbite of President Trump roasting chief White House correspondent Jon Karl on the topic, in the midst of a nationally televised joint press conference with the president of Italy, during Wednesday’s World News Tonight.
Trump called out ABC after Karl stood up and accused the President of giving the “greenlight” for Turkey to invade Syria and create a humanitarian disaster there. “[I]t was never given a greenlight,” Trump declared before bringing up ABC’s recent blunder:
And when you ask a question like that, it is very deceptive, John. It's almost as deceptive as you showing all of the bombings taking place in Syria, and it turns out the bombing you showed on television took place in Kentucky. So, you know. I'm not even sure that ABC apologized for that.
“I'm looking at this, I say, ‘Wow, that's pretty bad.’ And it was in Kentucky, it wasn’t in Syria. So I don't think we will do about that, but I think ABC owes an apology,” Trump added.
Karl, who’s also the current president of the White House Correspondents Association, didn’t address the President’s comments. He instead shot back by chiding Trump with a quote from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) claiming he was bringing about “a disaster worse than Obama's decision to leave Iraq.”
During his report for that evening’s World News Tonight, Karl used a more hyperbolic quote from Graham and cut out Trump’s excoriation of ABC:
JON KARL: On Syria, Democrats and Republicans in Congress are largely united in opposition to the President.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He will have American blood on his hands if he abandons Kurds, because ISIS will come back.
KARL: Lindsey Graham just said of your remarks that you made in the Oval Office, that if you keep talking like that, quote, “this will be a disaster worse than Obama's decision to leave Iraq.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No. Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years, with thousands of soldiers, and fighting other people's wars.
ABC was not handling its responsibly to report accurately throughout the whole situation. It’s become clear that they’re hoping to sweep the incident under the rug and ride out the storm. The closest the network had come to admitting wrongdoing was a pair of copy-and-paste apology tweets from the World News Tonight and Good Morning America Twitter accounts, which reaches far fewer people than their nationwide newscasts.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
Fox News Channel
Joint press conference, President Trump and Italian president
October 16, 2019
1:29:11 p.m. Eastern
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Jon, go ahead.
JON KARL: I wanted to pick up on what you -- your comments on Turkey and Syria.
KARL: Even after all you have seen, ISIS prisoners freed, all the humanitarian disaster, you don’t have any regret for giving Erdogan the greenlight to invade.
TRUMP: I didn't give him a greenlight.
KARL: Well, did you tell him—did he defy?
TRUMP: That is the same thing as you just—You know, when you make a statement like that, it is so deceptive. Just the opposite of a greenlight. First of all, we have virtually no soldiers there. They are mostly gone. Just a tiny little group. They would have been in harm's way. You have a massive army on the underside of the border. But more importantly, I didn't give him a greenlight. If anybody saw the letter, which can be released or easily, if you like. I can certainly release it.
But I wrote a letter after that conversation, very powerful letter, and it was never given a greenlight. They’ve been wanting to do that for years. And frankly, they've been fighting for many, many years.
And when you ask a question like that, it is very deceptive, John. It's almost as deceptive as you showing all of the bombings taking place in Syria, and it turns out the bombing you showed on television took place in Kentucky. So, you know. I'm not even sure that ABC apologized for that. But certainly, it was a terrible thing.
I'm looking at this, I say, "Wow, that's pretty bad." And it was in Kentucky, it wasn’t in Syria. So I don't think we will do about that, but I think ABC owes an apology.
KARL: Did you see Lindsey Graham just said, of your remarks that you made in the oval office, that if you keep talking like that, quote, "This will be a disaster worse than Obama's decision to leave Iraq?"
TRUMP: No. Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years with thousands of soldiers and fighting other people's wars.