ABC Downplays Censorship of Terrorist’s 911 Call

June 21st, 2016 4:28 PM

In the aftermath of the most devastating mass shooting in US history, another controversy loomed as the transcripts from the 911 phone call between Orlando shooter Omar Mateen and emergency dispatchers were initially redacted, only to later be released in full after pressure from Republican leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan and eventually some journalists. The redactions included any mention of Mateen’s connections and pledges to the Islamic State. Starting Monday evening and continuing into Tuesday morning, NBC and CBS noticed the brewing scandal and the Obama administration’s reversal on the issue. However, ABC only referred to the contentious topic with vague single-sentence mentions.

CBS This Morning went into the most depth out of the three networks:

DAVID BEGNAUD: Earlier on Monday the FBI was criticized by Republican leaders for releasing a transcript with the shooter's pledge to ISIS redacted. Speaker Paul Ryan said selectively editing this transcript is preposterous and the public should be clear-eyed about who did this. Investigators back tracked releasing the transcript without redactions. By releasing it with redactions at first the justice department says they didn't want to create a platform for propaganda but, Norah, after being pummeled by reporters and asked why they weren't being transparent, the Justice Department within four hours said here is the script un-redacted. You guys are creating an unnecessary distraction

NBC's Today even took time during their related segment to dive into the topic of the redaction:

GABE GUTIERREZ: Hi, Matt, good morning. For the first time since the shooting south Orange avenue is now back open and investigators are still processing the scene. The FBI reiterating today that authorities have found no evidence to suggest that the gunman was directed by any foreign terror group, but instead radicalized domestically. This morning, the words of Omar Mateen to a 911 dispatcher sinking in, “I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.” More than a half hour after the first gun shots in Arabic Mateen says “praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God.” He admits, “I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings.” 

RON HOPPER: He did so in a chilling, calm and deliberate manner. 

GABE GUTIERREZ: But the initial transcript omitted any reference to ISIS. 

RON HOPPER: We're not going to propagate violent rhetoric. 

GABE GUTIERREZ: Critics like Paul Ryan pounced arguing the administration was minimizing the threat “selectively editing this transcript is preposterous” he said The FBI released an un-redacted calling the controversy an “unnecessary distraction…”

Reports on ABC's World News Tonight on Monday and Good Morning America on Tuesday both downplayed the controversy, with correspondent Linzie Janis briefly remarking: "When asked his name, the gunman responds, 'My name is I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi of the Islamic State.' Authorities initially redacting that pledge, but later releasing it caving into criticism." There was no mention of Republicans calling out the administration nor any use of the word "controversy."