ABC Ignores Growing Bipartisan Criticism of Obama's ISIS Indecision

While both NBC's Today and CBS This Morning on Thursday highlighted Republicans and Democrats in Congress taking President Obama to task for failing to have a strategy to combat the ISIS terror network, ABC's Good Morning America skipped any mention of the growing bipartisan frustration with the White House.

On This Morning, correspondent Nancy Cordes reported: "Lawmakers from both sides tell us they believe the President has the authority to act right away....they want to see signs that he is crafting a plan and they want the White House to share that plan with them as soon as possible....[they] want more than just promises. They want evidence that a strategy is taking shape."

Soundbites were featured of Republican Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf, Democratic Florida Senator Bill Nelson, and Republican House Speaker John Boehner all calling on the President to take action against ISIS. Though Nelson sympathized with "the poor President" having to deal with so many international crises.

On Today, White House correspondent Chris Jansing noted "members of Congress on both sides losing patience," adding: "The President hasn't indicated he's ready to launch those strikes yet or that he's formulated a specific strategy as pressure builds."

Soundbites ran of Democratic New York Congressman Eliot Engel and California Republican Congressman Ed Royce both pushing for air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. Another clip followed from former U.S. ambassador Marc Ginsberg scolding Obama: "This train left the station months ago and the President is running after a train that is escaping him. And the fact of the matter is, is that he should have had a strategy to deal with ISIS months ago."

On GMA, co-host George Stephanopoulos described Obama attending a NATO summit and declared: "...the President rallies our allies to join the fight." White House correspondent Jon Karl touted:

British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken a much tougher line in recent weeks against ISIS than President Obama but this morning they are both on the same page, literally here, in the Times of London, co-writing an op-ed, calling ISIS "a barbaric threat" and saying that they will not be cowed.

Despite covering the President's congressional critics, Today co-host Matt Lauer emphasized the administration "talking tough" on ISIS while Jansing asserted that Obama "left no doubt about American resolve" in her report.

Introducing the report from Cordes on This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose proclaimed: "[Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel and others in the cabinet say President Obama's determined to destroy any ISIS threat to the United States."

On Wednesday, all three morning shows portrayed Obama as "tough" leader who offered "fighting words" to ISIS.

On NBC Nightly News Wednesday evening, anchor Brian Williams bizarrely claimed that Obama had been "clear and unambiguous" while sending mixed messages about the U.S. response to ISIS.


Here are transcripts of the September 4 network morning show coverage:

Good Morning America
7:00 AM TEASE

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Worldwide manhunt.

JOE BIDEN: We will follow them to the gates of Hell!

STEPHANOPOULOS: U.S. satellites and spy planes circling over Syria right now searching for these ISIS terrorists, including this American. Prime targets for the U.S. at this hour as the President rallies our allies to join the fight.

7:04 AM SEGMENT [7:04:36 - 7:05:58, 1 min 22 sec]

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get more on this now from ABC's Jon Karl, traveling with President Obama at the NATO summit in Wales this morning. And, Jon, the leaders there stitching a coalition together to take on ISIS.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama Takes On Terror Group; Calls for World to Fight ISIS]

JON KARL: That's right, George. And ISIS was not even originally on the agenda, but now it is front and center. More than 50 heads of state here seeking a united front against the terror threat.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken a much tougher line in recent weeks against ISIS than President Obama but this morning they are both on the same page, literally here, in the Times of London, co-writing an op-ed, calling ISIS "a barbaric threat" and saying that they will not be cowed.

Now Cameron this morning also said, quote, that "ISIS will be destroyed, squeezed out of existence." But, George, it's unclear what they are going to actually do here. What the strategy is beyond the current campaign of U.S. air strikes in Iraq.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, and Cameron didn't rule out further air strikes. Cameron and Obama also in that op-ed taking on Vladimir Putin, saying he's trying to change the course of Ukraine from the barrel of a gun. And that's at the top of the agenda this morning, perhaps more military and economic aid to Ukraine?

KARL: That's right. The prime minister of Ukraine was here meeting with the top NATO leaders. They are talking – he's requested, you know, more military assistance, more financial assistance, unclear exactly what NATO is going to provide, but that is front and center here this morning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Jon Karl, thanks very much.


Today
7:00 AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Talking tough. President Obama arrives for a key NATO summit as he pushes for help in the fight against ISIS militants. The Vice President issuing a sharp warning of his own.

JOE BIDEN: We will follow them to the Gates of Hell until they are brought to justice. Because Hell is where they will reside!

LAUER: While NBC News uncovers an American on a quest to join that militant group.

7:04 AM ET SEGMENT:

NATALIE MORALES: President Obama's in great Britain this morning for the start of a NATO summit that is being closely watched around the world. Front and center on his agenda, the rising threat from ISIS militants. NBC's senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing is traveling with the President. Chris, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Tough Talk on ISIS; Obama Addresses Allies as Biden Vows Revenge]

CHRIS JANSING: Good morning, Natalie. Well, the pressure is building here, too, with the late addition of meetings over what to do about ISIS. Already this morning we saw a meeting between President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who together penned an op-ed for a British newspaper, saying, "We will not be cowed by barbaric killers."

President Obama is determined not to go it alone, arriving at the NATO summit in Wales with a goal of forming a coalition to fight ISIS. Back home, Vice President Joe Biden was defiant.

JOE BIDEN: We will follow them to the Gates of Hell until they are brought to justice. Because Hell is where they will reside! Hell is where they will reside!

JANSING: A determination fueled by the horror of the murders and the grief felt by the family of Steven Sotloff, the second American brutally murdered at the hands of ISIS.

JUSTIN COHEN [STEVEN SOTLOFF'S FRIEND]: He was the most generous, caring individual. All he thought about was doing for others.

JANSING: Just over a day after President Obama arrived in Europe filled with photo-worthy statecraft, he left no doubt about American resolve.

BARACK OBAMA: We will not be intimidated. And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.

JANSING: But now the tough decisions about how and when to strike back, with members of Congress on both sides losing patience.

REP. ELIOT ENGEL [D-NY]: I for years have been calling to aid the Free Syria Army.

REP. ED ROYCE [R-CA]: Target them and target the terrorist training camp.

JANSING: The President hasn't indicated he's ready to launch those strikes yet or that he's formulated a specific strategy as pressure builds.

MARC GINSBERG [FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO]: This train left the station months ago and the President is running after a train that is escaping him. And the fact of the matter is, is that he should have had a strategy to deal with ISIS months ago.

JANSING: And Secretary of State John Kerry has been here as well, working to form that coalition, looking for humanitarian, military aid from countries as diverse as Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Natalie.

MORALES: Chris Jansing in Cardiff, Wales. Thank you, Chris.


CBS This Morning
7:00 AM TEASE

CHARLIE ROSE: President Obama tries to rally global support to fight the terror group ISIS.

7:04 AM SEGMENT [2 mins 40 secs]  

ROSE: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed on Wednesday that more than 100 Americans are fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Hagel and others in the cabinet say President Obama's determined to destroy any ISIS threat to the United States. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill where lawmakers are still waiting for plan of action. Nancy, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Plan of Attack?; Congress Calls On White House for ISIS Strategy]

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. And lawmakers from both sides tell us they believe the President has the authority to act right away, to launch air strikes without their approval, at least at first. Still they want to see signs that he is crafting a plan and they want the White House to share that plan with them as soon as possible. In the strongest terms possible, Vice President Joe Biden vowed to go after ISIS.

JOE BIDEN: They should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice because hell is where they will reside.

CORDES: Secretary of State John Kerry echoed that certainty.

JOHN KERRY: We have taken the fight to this kind of savagery and evil before, and believe me, we will take it again.

CORDES: But on Capitol Hill lawmakers want more than just promises. They want evidence that a strategy is taking shape.

FRANK WOLF: Should not the Congress be part of it?

CORDES: Republican Frank Wolf of Virginia says he plans to introduce two bills when Congress returns next week. One granting the president authority to strike ISIS in Syria another making it a crime for Americans to fight alongside ISIS.

WOLF: They are a violent group. You cannot negotiate with them. You cannot sit down and reason with them.

CORDES: Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, also wanted air strikes but says he's willing to given the White House some time.

SEN. BILL NELSON [D-FL]: The poor President, what all he's got on his plate everything from the Iran nuclear program to the Middle East, now with Putin and Ukraine, we need to come together as Americans and go after these people that are trying to harm the United States.

CORDES: In a radio interview House Speaker John Boehner said until the President lays out a plan, there's little Congress can do.

JOHN BOEHNER: The President is the Commander In Chief. It's his responsibility as the chief executive to outline a plan that will protect American interests, protect American lives both at home and abroad.

CORDES: The President tried to get Congressional authority last year to strike the Syrian regime but he didn't get it. Lawmakers tell us they think this situation is different, they see a clear threat to national security, and they think the U.S. needs to act fast before ISIS gets even bolder. Charlie.

ROSE: Nancy, thanks.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC