News concerning the mass kidnapping of Christians by ISIS in Syria worsened on Thursday with reports from multiple human rights groups that raised the initial number of those taken from 150 to now at least 220. If you watched the network evening newscasts, though, you would not have known that if you had tuned into CBS or NBC. This latest case of network bias by omission comes as NBC has yet to cover this story on either Today or NBC Nightly News.
At the Associated Press late Thursday morning, Ken Dilanian, the wire service's intelligence writer, did a marvelous job of covering up the essence of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's Worldwide Threat Assessment testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The trouble is that if he were doing his job as our Founders anticipated he would when they gave the nation's press extraordinary and then unheard-of freedoms, he would have covered the story instead of covering it up.
As of Wednesday morning, NBC's morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover ISIS's kidnapping of up to 150 Christians from northeastern Syria on Monday. On Wednesday, Today yawned at this latest example of the Islamic extremist group's persecution of Christians. Instead, they devoted 1 minute and 13 seconds to a Slate writer's advice to parents on giving their children allowances.
Apropos of President Obama’s refusal to use the terms “Islamic extremism” or “radical Islam,” Saletan opines, “If we’re going to start calling out religious and political groups for extremism, we could start at home with Republicans. Too many of them spew animus. Too many foment sectarianism. Too many sit by, or make excuses, as others appeal to tribalism. If Obama were to treat them the way they say he should treat Islam—holding the entire faith accountable for its ugliest followers—they’d squeal nonstop about slander and demagogy. They’re lucky that’s not his style.”
Early Tuesday morning, the terrorist group ISIS entered a village in northeastern Syrian and kidnapped droves of Christians with estimates ranging from 70 to as many as 150 people. For viewers that tuned into English-language network NBC and Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Univision for their Tuesday evening newscasts, however, they were left completely in the dark on this story as it received not a single mention.
Friday's NBC Nightly News surprisingly (and perhaps, unwittingly) contradicted President Obama and his administration's talking point on combating extremism – that providing "job opportunities for these people" will discourage Muslims from joining terrorist groups. Correspondent Katy Tur's report on three British teenagers who may have traveled to Syria to join ISIS featured a counterterrorism expert who underlined that "they're not the disaffected. They're not necessarily unemployed youth. Instead, we're seeing educated young women who are engaged in politics."
Vox writer Max Fisher argues that Obama “has veered so far into downplaying Islamist extremism that he appears at times to refuse to acknowledge its existence at all, or has referred to it as violent extremism. While he has correctly identified economic and political factors that give rise to extremism, he has appeared to downplay or outright deny an awkward but important fact: religion plays an important role as well.”
Anderson Cooper spotlighted The Atlantic's Graeme Wood's thorough article on ISIS on his Wednesday program. Cooper wondered, "President Obama...said we're at war with people who have perverted Islam. The question, though, is: is that really true?" The anchor asked Wood about Mr. Obama's statement, and he gave a blunt reply: "Well, you know, he doesn't really have the authority to say that. I don't think any non-Muslim, really, has the authority to say that, or to convince others that that's the case."
On Friday's NBC Nightly News, Richard Engel zeroed in on an ISIS atrocity that hasn't gotten enough media attention – its sexual enslavement of women from Iraqi minority groups, especially the Yazidis. Engel interviewed two Yazidi women who escaped from their Islamist captors, and spotlighted that "ISIS is reviving the barbaric tradition of the slave trade." He later bluntly added, "There's a word we don't use a lot in the news media, but it fits here. This is evil. It was absolute evil by design."
The question that came to mind while listening to President Obama's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast -- where have I heard this before? Conservative columnist and author Charles Krauthammer provided a helpful reminder when he appeared on Hugh Hewitt's radio show yesterday.
For Obama to compared the current-day atrocities committed by radical Muslims on a daily basis around the world with the crimes of people centuries ago in the name of Christianity is simultaneously "banal" and "repulsive," Krauthammer told Hewitt, and what you'd expect to hear in a specific setting -- and from people of a certain age.
In an interview aired on Monday's NBC Today, President Obama discovered that speaking to an actual journalist was a bit tougher than having YouTube celebrities lob softballs at him. In the exchange – conducted prior to the Super Bowl on Sunday – co-host Savannah Guthrie grilled the President over his handling of the war on terrorism: "You said in your State of the Union that American leadership is helping to stop the advance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. But your critics say that is delusional, that in fact they've gained more territory since the air strikes have begun."
While NBC News was up to its usual business in praising and defending President Obama both before and after his State of the Union speech, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel emerged as a rare voice that instead took to the liberal network’s airwaves to condemn the President’s rhetoric on foreign policy as both unrealistic and, in many cases, simply not true.
After being asked by anchor Brian Williams for his thoughts, Engel began dissecting the President’s perceived world outlook: “Well, it sounded like the President was outlining a world that he wishes we were all living in but which is very different than the world that you just described with terror raids taking place across Europe, ISIS very much on the move.”