The American news media have been catching a lot of flack for uncritically quoting Hamas as a source for much of their on-the-ground coverage in Gaza. In the month following the terror organization’s horrific October 7 attack on Israeli civilians, exactly two thirds of the evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, and NBC cited either Hamas itself or Hamas-controlled entities when reporting on the conflict.
MRC analysts examined all evening newscasts from October 9 through November 9 on ABC, CBS, and NBC, taking note of every instance in which a reporter or anchor used Hamas as a source in their coverage. Of the 81 total broadcasts that were not preempted, 54 or exactly 66.7 percent contained at least one instance in which a journalist cited Hamas as a source.
There was near-exact parity among these networks in the frequency of their Hamas-sourced reports. All three cited the terrorist organization in 18 of their evening newscasts.
Those 18 newscasts represented 69 percent of all non-preempted editions of the CBS Evening News and CBS Weekend News, meaning only eight of CBS’s weeknight broadcasts did not include a statistic or factoid attributed to Hamas. The other two networks weren’t far behind; there were just nine editions of NBC Nightly News (exactly one third, or 33.3%) and ten of ABC’s World News Tonight that were devoid of Hamas-sourced reporting.
The slavish gullibility of these journalists is not only endemic to the broadcast networks. See the compilation below for a sampling of this same kind of behavior from liberal cable networks CNN and MSNBC:
The dubious death tallies put out by the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry comprised the bulk of broadcast journalists’ attributions. However, some more brazen reporters cited Hamas directly. For example, CBS foreign correspondent Holly Williams on October 25 reported: “Hamas officials say the death toll in the Gaza Strip is now over 6,000.”
While Williams would later note that President Biden and his administration had “no confidence” in those numbers, she and her colleagues have since continued to report death tolls published by these same “Hamas officials.”
Some talking heads instead obfuscated the fact that they were directly citing Hamas. On such case occurred during an opening teaser on NBC Nightly News, in which anchor Lester Holt quoted a casualty statistic provided by “Gaza officials.”
The most devious reporters simply omitted the source entirely. In mid October, multiple reports on both ABC and CBS included death tallies with no attribution whatsoever. In these cases, viewers would have had no way of knowing that reporters were citing Hamas, unless they bothered to compare the death tolls being reported to those put by the Palestinian Health Ministry on the same day.
Despite repeatedly being rebuked by the Biden administration, the three biggest news shows on television have spent the last month treating a terrorist organization as a reputable source. If being admonished by the very President whom they worked tirelessly to elect in 2020 isn’t enough to make them shake this alarming habit, viewers shouldn’t expect them to change their tune anytime soon.