NBC Only Evening Newscast To Cover Blocked U.S. Weapons Transfer To Israel

May 6th, 2024 11:08 PM

News broke yesterday of a blocked U.S. weapons transfer to Israel, as ceasefire negotiations appeared to be stalled and the invasion of Rafah appeared imminent. A full day later, no evening network newscast reported on this dramatic shift in U.S. policy towards Israel save for NBC Nightly News. 

Even then, the report was sparse: an addendum tacked on to the end of Richard Engel’s dispatch on Hamas’s acceptance of a ceasefire deal negotiated between Hamas and Hamas. Watch all 28 seconds of genre-leading coverage, as aired on NBC Nightly News on Monday, May 6th, 2024:

LESTER HOLT: Richard, meanwhile we've learned The White House has stopped a U.S. shipment of military aid to Israel.

RICHARD ENGEL: This is a rare move, Lester. The White House blocking a large shipment of offensive weapons including 2,000-pound bombs, just as Israel's intensifying military operations in Rafah. Two administration officials confirming it, but say that it does not reflect a shift in overall policy. The White House isn't commenting. Lester.

HOLT: Richard Engel, thank you.

That 28 seconds was more than ABC or CBS mustered on their respective evening newscasts, which is surprising given the magnitude of such a story breaking over the weekend, and especially so within the context of an impending (or ongoing, depending on who you ask) IDF invasion of Rafah.

As Axios reported:

The Biden administration last week put a hold on a shipment of U.S.-made ammunition to Israel, two Israeli officials told Axios.

Why it matters: It is the first time since the Oct. 7 attack that the U.S. has stopped a weapons shipment intended for the Israeli military.

  • The incident raised serious concerns inside the Israeli government and sent officials scrambling to understand why the shipment was held, Israeli officials said.
  • President Biden is facing sharp criticism among Americans who oppose his support of Israel. The administration in February asked Israel to provide assurances that U.S.-made weapons were being used by Israel Defense Forces in Gaza in accordance with international law. Israel provided a signed letter of assurances in March.

Axios goes on to report that the shipment was blocked last week. Perhaps this is what prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say the following as part of his statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day:

From here in Jerusalem, I am sending a very clear-cut message: you will not chain our hands and even if Israel has to stand alone, it will stand alone and will continue to fight our enemies until victory.

None of this was reported to the American people, who got all of 28 seconds across three network prime-time newscasts. It seems important, too, this shift in U.S. policy towards a significant ally. One is ultimately left wondering whether coverage of the war in Gaza is driven by facts on the ground of poll numbers coming out of Michigan. The handling of this story suggests the latter.