Following news on Wednesday that the Obama administration will send 450 additional U.S. troops back to Iraq to help train the Iraqi military against ISIS, ABC’s World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News chose to exclude any criticism of the Obama administration’s ISIS policy while NBC Nightly News made multiple critical points about the administration as Richard Engel declared: “It’s hard to see how a few hundred non-combat troops are going to make much of a difference.”
In May, as ISIS terrorists captured the cities of Ramadi and Palmyra, and with FBI warnings of hundreds of radicalized sympathizers here in the U.S., ABC, CBS and NBC devoted a combined 84.5 evening news minutes to ISIS. Despite the dour news, viewers heard virtually no criticism of President Obama’s handling of the terror group — just 43 seconds in a pair of NBC Nightly News stories, or less than one percent of the coverage.
As the Islamic terrorist group ISIS seized Ramadi earlier this week and now the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, the major broadcast networks have largely declined to even mention any criticism of President Obama and his so-called policy in dealing with ISIS and Thursday night was no exception as ABC and CBS declined to raise that point of view. While it was brief, NBC Nightly News did make time for criticism of the administration in a segment by chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel: "Military officials say the current U.S. strategy just isn't working."
Following an announcement that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl would be formally charged with desertion and endangering his fellow soldiers, on Thursday morning, ABC and CBS continued to omit the fact that at least one member of Bergdahl’s military unit died while searching for him in Afghanistan. In addition, the “big three” (ABC, CBS, and NBC) networks once again ignored a June 2014 clip of National Security Advisor Susan Rice praising Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl as “serving with honor and distinction.”
In their coverage of desertion charges filed against U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the major broadcast networks on Wednesday night failed to mention that National Security Advisor Susan Rice had praised Bergdahl for serving “with honor and distinction.” Standing in sharp contrast to this glaring omission by the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC, the clip of Rice’s claim on the June 1, 2014 broadcast of ABC’s This Week was shown on CNN and FNC newscasts.
ABC, CBS, and NBC's evening newscasts on Wednesday glossed over the radical left-wing ideology of the Turkish protesters who assaulted three U.S. sailors in Istanbul earlier in the day. ABC's Martha Raddatz reported that the "the attackers [are] members of an ultra-nationalist group called the Turkish Youth Union, angry at what it calls 'American imperialism.'" NBC's Brian Williams underlined that "these were apparently the actions of a fringe group."
As of Thursday morning, NBC's morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover the New York Times's front-page article on Wednesday about Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons stockpiles in Iraq, which were discovered by U.S. forces after the Iraq War. NBC was quick to cast doubt on the existence of these WMD's during the immediate aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion.
On Tuesday night, the major broadcast networks worked to quickly remind viewers that President Barack Obama has promised that no United States combat troops will be on the ground in the Middle East to fight the Islamic terrorist group ISIS despite congressional testimony by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, on Tuesday that U.S. troops returning to Iraq could still be a possibility.
ABC, CBS, and NBC each offered reports on Dempsey’s statements and included ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir asking ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl to “keep us honest” on the question of “[b]oots on the ground in Iraq” and lamented: “That's not what the President said last week.”
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.]
The Big Three networks steered clear of labeling the Islamist group ISIS "terrorists" on their evening newscasts on Friday. Instead, ABC's World News and CBS Evening News labeled the genocidal radicals "militants." NBC Nightly News used the more benign "rebels" in their coverage of the group's latest attacks on the Kurdish part of Iraq.
The closest that a journalist at ABC, CBS, or NBC got to using the "terrorist" label was Scott Pelley's teaser at the very top of CBS Evening News: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Tuesday, all three broadcast network evening newscasts devoted full reports to President Obama honoring 24 members of the military – only three still living – with the Medal of Honor. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley trumpeted how the President "righted a historic wrong. He presented the nation's highest military award to 24 Americans, after a review determined that they had been passed over because they were Hispanic or African-American or Jewish." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
However, during the fifth year of former President George W. Bush's presidency, the Big Three channels furiously covered the allegations against several U.S. Marines, who were accused of killing civilians in Iraq in November 2005. Between May 17 and June 7, 2006 – a three week period – ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted three and a half hours of air time to the accusations of misconduct. These same networks aired only 52 minutes of reporting on 20 military heroes from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during a five-year period between September 2001 and June 2006.
Late Thursday, news broke of the State Department ordering numerous U.S. embassies across the Middle East closed on Sunday, August 4 due to terror threats from Al Qaeda. While the Big Three network evening newscasts all covered the important development that night, not one of them made any mention of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi, the perpetrators of which remain at large.
By Friday morning, the networks managed to add brief mentions of Benghazi to their reporting. On NBC's Today, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell noted: "... in the aftermath of Benghazi, the State Department is not taking any chances....Amidst ongoing turmoil across the Middle East, from Cairo's Tahrir Square to the civil war in Syria, and past attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts, from Benghazi, Libya last year..."