Only CBS This Morning on Tuesday bothered to cover the heartbreaking video of Iraqi refugees rushing a helicopter in a desperate attempt to escape the violence of the terrorist group ISIS. NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America ignored the gripping video.
CBS reporter David Martin narrated the CNN-supplied footage: "Iraqi Army helicopters fly in at 100 feet in broad daylight to push pallets of food and water out the door. When one found a piece of ground level enough to land on, it was immediately rushed by men, women and children, desperate to escape the Sinjar Mountains." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Twenty five Iraqis were rescued, hundreds more were left behind. Unlike the other networks, which showed no interest in the footage, co-host Norah O'Donnell admitted the video made her cry, sadly noting, "...One helicopter comes in and people are shoving their children on board, thinking that's the only chance they've got."
What did ABC and NBC cover instead? All three morning shows offered tributes to Robin Williams in the wake of his apparent suicide. But Today hosts still managed to devote three minutes to discussing the best type of oven-roasted chicken.
Over on GMA, the journalists featured three minutes and 46 seconds on the new trend of wealthy people buying small houses.
In total, the three morning programs have a combined eight hours of programming. Today allowed only a minute to the overall crisis in Iraq. Reporter Keir Simmons explained that ousted prime minister Nouri al Maliki is refusing to leave. He only briefly mentioned, "Meanwhile, thousands of civilians are still homeless, caught in the middle in this evermore divided country."
GMA allowed a scant 27 seconds to Iraq. Co-host Amy Robach sped through the important details:
AMY ROBACH: Also breaking overnight, militants in Iraq have issued a new threat to America, vowing to plunge Iraq into further crisis despite U.S. air strikes saying, quote, "This is not a game." The U.S. is promising significant new aid for Iraq if the new prime minister forms an inclusive government. But Iraq's current prime minister right now is refusing to leave office.
ISIS is threatening the United States? ABC's got more important things to cover.
A transcript of the August 12 segment, which aired at 8:10, is below:
JANE PAULEY: The Obama administration says it supports the man chosen to replace longtime Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. But al Maliki refuses to step down after being ousted by Iraq's president. He calls the move a coup against the constitution. Thousands remain trapped in northwest Iraq by the terror group Isis. A CNN crew was aboard an Iraqi military helicopter that became a lifeline. David Martin takes a closer look at the struggle for survival.
DAVID MARTIN: Iraqi Army helicopters fly in at 100 feet in broad daylight to push pallets of food and water out the door. When one found a piece of ground level enough to land on, it was immediately rushed by men, women and children, desperate to escape the Sinjar Mountains. While the crew pushed the last boxes of aid out the door, children were nearly crushed in the melee to get aboard. The helicopter could only hold 25 passengers and there were hundreds fighting for those spaces. For the lucky ones that made it, the ordeal was not yet over. The helicopter came under fire from ISIS fighters on the ground. It was one more terror to be endured by people who had already been driven from their homes and who almost certainly had left family members behind on the mountain, not knowing when the next chance for rescue might come. For CBS This Morning, David Martin at the Pentagon.
CHARLIE ROSE: Incredible scenes.
NORAH O'DONNELL: You know, that video made me tear up this morning because the thought of being stranded like that, and when one helicopter comes in and people are shoving their children on board, thinking that's the only chance they've got. And then that helicopter taking off.
ROSE: It reminded me of all of those scenes of the last days of Vietnam. Trying to get aboard helicopters and not enough helicopters.
PAULEY: And it reminded me of the danger of being, of the humanitarian work, which is not like the welcome wagon. Lives on the line.
O'DONNELL: Such a crisis.