ABC, CBS Won’t Explicitly Cite Hamas For Ending Cease-Fire; Labeled Merely 'Militants' Instead

During Friday morning’s coverage of the 72-hour cease-fire ending in Gaza, ABC and CBS refused to explicitly acknowledge Hamas as the party responsible for ending the cease-fire with Israel. Instead, those two networks referred to those responsible only as “militants” or “Palestinian militants” firing rockets at Israel.

NBC’s Today did cite Hamas as the side responsible for terminating the truce, but it came during a news brief in the 8:00 a.m. hour after a one-minute-and-17 second report aired during the 7:00 a.m. hour. News reader Natalie Morales stated during the news brief that: “The three-day truce between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza expired overnight. Israel says it responded to Hamas rocket fire with air strikes of its own. The new fighting has cast a shadow over negotiations being held in Egypt aimed at reaching a longer truce.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]

In terms of total coverage of the story on Friday morning, ABC’s Good Morning America devoted the least amount of time to the subject, with two news briefs from substitute news reader Dan Harris totaling only 30 seconds. NBC’s Today was next with one minute and 33 seconds of coverage with a live report from NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely in Gaza in addition to the aforementioned news brief. Just above Today was CBS This Morning, which had one minute and 40 seconds of coverage with one report from CBS News foreign correspondent Clarissa Ward in Gaza during the 7:00 a.m. hour and then a 17-second news brief from co-host Norah O’Donnell during the 8:00 a.m. hour.

After engaging in a 72-hour cease-fire and participating in peace talks in Cairo, Egypt, the fighting resumed when Hamas fired rockets into Israel one minute after the cease-fire officially ended. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) put the number of rockets fired from Gaza at 20 with two people being injured in those rocket attacks. Israel responded to these attacks with strikes of their own into Gaza where all three networks reported that a 10-year-old boy was killed.

On CBS This Morning, CBS News foreign correspondent Clarissa Ward reported from Gaza that despite Israel’s insistence that no peace talks would take place while rockets were being fired, “Hamas did warn last night that they are willing to drag Israel into a long and bloody war unless they get some real concessions.” 

Ward further projected the demands of Hamas by telling viewers that: 

There's a sense here, politically, that Hamas cannot afford to walk away from this latest conflict without some big concession or some major victory that would somehow begin to justify the enormous price that the people here in Gaza have paid over the last four weeks.

With the resuming of air strikes and the death of the 10-year-old boy in Gaza, Good Morning America’s Dan Harris characterized early Friday’s events as having “cast a shadow over negotiations being held in Egypt aimed at reaching a longer truce.”

As Dan Ganior of the Media Research Center reported on Thursday:

ABC, CBS, and NBC journalists referred to Hamas as “miliants,” “fighters,” or “soldier” 13 times more often than they called them “terrorists.” (65 stories to 5 stories). All three networks were almost equally as bad – ranging in coverage from 12-to-1 to 15-to-1, calling Hamas militants/fighters/soldiers vs. terrorists.


The transcripts from the coverage of the situation in Gaza on August 8 on Good Morning America are transcribed below.

ABC 

Good Morning America

August 8, 2014

7:11 a.m. Eastern

DAN HARRIS: We'll start with new fighting breaking out in the Middle East overnight. The cease-fire coming to a sudden and violent end with Palestinian militants firing at least 20 rockets into Israel and then Israel firing back. A young boy in Gaza was killed and talks for a long-term truce are now seriously in jeopardy. 

(....)

8:03 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking Now; Violence Erupts in Middle East; Rockets Fired Into Israel End Cease-Fire]

HARRIS: ...and new video this morning of air strikes in Gaza. The fragile cease-fire there ending violently overnight as Palestinian militants fired rockets into Israel and then Israeli fired back. A young boy was killed near a mosque in Gaza. 

The transcripts from the two segments reporting on the fighting in Gaza on CBS This Morning are transcribed below.

CBS 

CBS This Morning

August 8, 2014

7:13 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN GRAPHIC: Cease-Fire Expires]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Cease-Fire Expires; Mideast Violence Resumes After 3-Day Truce]

NORAH O’DONNELL: One minute. That's how long the sky remained free of rockets after the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas came to an end this morning and a child is among the victims in the latest outbreak of violence. Clarissa Ward is in Gaza City. Clarissa, good morning. 

CLARISSA WARD: Good morning. That cease-fire expired at 8:00 a.m. and by 8:01, we heard a barrage of rockets being fired from here in Gaza and there's been a steady stream ever since. Israel has responded with air strikes. One hit just near a mosque and killed a 10-year-old boy and Israel has also now pulled its delegation from Cairo, saying that there can be no negotiations and no talks while Hamas continues to fire these rockets, but Hamas did warn last night that they are willing to drag Israel into a long and bloody war unless they get some real concessions. There's a sense here, politically, that Hamas cannot afford to walk away from this latest conflict without some big concession or some major victory that would somehow begin to justify the enormous price that the people here in Gaza have paid over the last four weeks. So the situation here not looking good at all. Talks have stalled and the cycle of violence is starting again. For CBS This Morning, Clarissa Ward, Gaza. 

(....)

8:02 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Cease-Fire Expires; Mideast Violence Resumes After 3-Day Truce] 

NORAH O’DONNELL: In Gaza this morning, Israel and Hamas are shooting at each other again. The new fighting happened after a 72-hour cease-fire ran out. Eyewitnesses say militants in Gaza fired rockets as soon as the truce ended. Two people were injured. Israel responded with air strikes that killed a 10-year-old boy. 

The full transcripts of the report and news brief from Today on August 8 can be found below.

NBC 

Today

August 8, 2014

7:12 a.m. Eastern

CARSON DALY: Alright, Natalie’s following breaking news in the Middle East. We have a broken cease-fire.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: New This Morning; Rocket Fire Resumes; 3-Day Cease-Fire Between Israel and Hamas Expires]

NATALIE MORALES: That's right and once again, sounds of rocket fire this morning in Gaza just as that 72-hour cease-fire had expired between Israel and Hamas militants. They are exchanging gunfire again and Bill Neeley is in Gaza for us this morning with the very latest. Bill, good morning. 

BILL NEELY: Good morning, Natalie. Well, the truce lasted for three days, but not a minute more because just seconds after it expired, we heard a live explosion as militants fired into Israel. That was followed by at least 20 more rockets fired, according to the Israeli military. Some of those were intercepted, but at least two people on the ground were injured and then came the Israeli response. It was a full three hours after the truce expired, but there were several air strikes. Palestinian doctors say at least one 10-year-old boy was killed and there are Israeli warplanes overhead as I speak. So, the war appears to have resumed. Peace talks in Cairo were deadlocked; Israel says it will not talk under fire. Hamas says the truce expired because Israel didn't respond to its demands. If there's one hopeful sign, is that the two sides are not actually walking away from those peace talks and declaring them dead, Natalie.

MORALES: Bill Neely in Gaza this morning, thank you. 

(....)

8:03 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN GRAPHIC: Ceasefire]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking Overnight; Gaza Truce Expires; Renewed Fighting Overshadows Peace Talks]

MORALES: The three-day truce between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza expired overnight. Israel says it responded to Hamas rocket fire with air strikes of its own. The new fighting has cast a shadow over negotiations being held in Egypt aimed at reaching a longer truce. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is a news analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division