NBC Spotlights American Yazidis' Anguish For Iraqi Kin Persecuted By ISIS; ABC, CBS Yawn

NBC Nightly News was the sole Big Three evening newscast on Friday to cover ISIS's ongoing rampage against non-Muslims in northern Iraq. Chris Jansing filed a full report on the heartbreak for a Yazidi community in Nebraska, who have lost family to the Islamist group's campaign of terror. By contrast, ABC's World News and CBS Evening News both found time to air news briefs on the historical gaffe in a photo promoting the new season of PBS's Downton Abbey.

Jansing interviewed several Yazidis for the segment, who detailed the atrocities that ISIS is inflicting on their minority community: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

CHRIS JANSING: ...Julia escaped a refugee camp during the first Gulf War, and is now a fourth grade teacher in Lincoln. Her uncle sent video of the school where he lives with 700 others who escaped off Mt. Sinjar. Food and water are still scarce. (audio recording of man speaking in foreign language) He tells her horrifying stories about a market run by ISIS.

JULIA: They're – they're selling Yazidi women in the Tal Afar market right now for about a couple of dollars.

Anchor Lester Holt led into the correspondent's report by highlighting the "claims tonight of another massacre by ISIS militants – reports that 80 members of the minority Yazidi community were killed in a village in that region. It was fears of such attacks that drove thousands of Yazidis onto a mountain in northern Iraq, and prompted this week's U.S. bombing campaign."

Jansing began and concluded the segment with footage of members of the Yazidi community in Lincoln, Nebraska congregating in a local park, who shared their deep sorrow and distress for their kin back in Iraq:

CHRIS JANSING (voice-over): At a bucolic park in Lincoln, Nebraska, the stories and the tears pour out.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It just – it breaks my heart to think what's happening to them.

JANSING: Everyone here is an American Yazidi.

JANSING (on-camera): How many of you have family back there?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2 (off-camera): Everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (off-camera): Everybody-

JANSING (voice-over): And everyone has had family members murdered by ISIS terrorists, or are still missing.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 3 (on-camera): They don't know if they're still alive or they killed them.

JANSING: Elias came to the U.S. eight months ago with his family. When he called his brother in Iraq, a member of ISIS answered.

JANSING (off-camera): They tell you who they are.


ELIAS: Yeah. If know it is – somebody's not coming to the – convert to the Muslims, we're going to kill them.

JANSING (voice-over): ISIS decapitated his brother. Julia escaped a refugee camp during the first Gulf War, and is now a fourth grade teacher in Lincoln. Her uncle sent video of the school where he lives with 700 others who escaped off Mt. Sinjar. Food and water are still scarce. (audio recording of man speaking in foreign language) He tells her horrifying stories about a market run by ISIS.

JULIA: They're – they're selling Yazidi women in the Tal Afar market right now for about a couple of dollars.

JANSING: Until now, most Americans had never heard of Yazidis – a small, ancient religion that draws from Christianity, Islam, and Persian traditions.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 4: We believe in God. We are not devil worshipers, like ISIS claim that we are.

JANSING: About 700 Yazidis now live in Nebraska – the largest population in the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: We are citizens. I got two boys – they born here.

JANSING: But family and faith tie them to the tragedy still unfolding more than 6,000 miles away.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 3: I talked to them last night. They're just crying-

JANSING: They are profoundly grateful the U.S. has intervened. But for these Americans in the heartland, a distant narrative hits painfully close to home. Chris Jansing, NBC News, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Besides their Downton Abbey coverage, CBS Evening News aired a slanted report on Sea World's move to enlarge the enclosures for their signature killer whales, in the wake of the controversy over the treatment of the sea creatures; while World News devoted a full segment to concert ticket scams. The ABC evening newscast also gave a news brief on the final concert in San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center