Despite a combined six hours of available air time, ABC and NBC on Friday skipped Donald Trump’s dramatic intervention to free an American aid worker who has been detained in an Egyptian prison for three years. Only CBS This Morning bothered to cover the effort to get Aya Hijazi back to her home in Virginia.
Norah O’Donnell explained, “An American jailed in Egypt is back in the U.S. after an intervention by the Trump administration.” Margaret Brennan added, “Earlier this month, President Trump welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to the White House effectively resetting a strained relationship with the Middle Eastern ally.”
She added, “As part of that reset, the White House decided to no longer make human rights a point of public dispute with Egypt. But behind the scenes pressed for a release of American aid worker Aya Hijazi.”
Brennan concluded, “Now, Basel and his sister will meet President Trump and his daughter Ivanka here at the White House later today. Their lawyer sent a statement to CBS News saying he is thankful for the help from President Trump.”
ABC’s Good Morning America, a two hour program, and NBC’s Today, a four hour show, both ignored this foreign policy success. It’s not as though there wasn’t time. On GMA, the hosts spent almost two minutes discussing how to take your best profile picture online. On Today, the journalists looked at drive through marijuana store for three minutes and 41 seconds. Clearly, the priorities of these networks are askew.
Just this week, the Media Research Center released a study finding 89 percent of Trump’s coverage since becoming president has been negative. Here was a chance to highlight an important success, bringing home an American that the Obama administration could not. But the networks censored it.
And journalists wonder why Americans don’t trust them to be objective?
A transcript of the CBS segment is below:
CBS This Morning
2 minutes and 50 seconds
O’DONNELL: An American jailed in Egypt is back in the U.S. after an intervention by the Trump administration. Thirty-year-old aid worker Aya Hijazi was held in an Egyptian prison for nearly three years on charges of assault, torture, and trafficking. Human rights groups called all of those claims were unfounded. Margaret Brennan is at the White House with how the negotiations unfolded. Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning, Norah. Well, Aya Hijazi moved to Egypt from her Virginia hometown in order to help homeless children. But she ended up in jail as part of a widespread crackdown of activists by Egypt’s president.
DONALD TRUMP: President el-Sisi has been somebody that’s been very close to me from the first time I’ve met him.
BRENNAN: Earlier this month, President Trump welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to the White House effectively resetting a restrained relationship with the Middle Eastern ally.
DONALD TRUMP: I look forward to working with President.
BRENNAN: As part of that reset, the White House decided to no longer make human rights a point of public dispute with Egypt. But behind the scenes press for a release of American aid worker Aya Hijazi.
BASEL HIJAZI (Aya Hijazi’s brother): How can somebody so pure, so innocent trying to help, end up in jail for three years?
BRENNAN: Basel Hijazi is Aya’s brother. We spoke with him prior to her release. There has been a crackdown on a lot of civil society groups. Is that in any way related to what happened to your sister?
HIJAZI: There are numbers that say 40,000 people have been arrested. Why Aya and why this NGO, we still don't know, but the general atmosphere of Egypt allowed that to happen.
BRENNAN: Then General Sisi’s military seized power in 2013 and imprisoned tens of thousands of activists, journalists, and aid workers. That widespread crackdown prompted the Obama administration to suspend some of the more than one billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt. Last Sunday, a Cairo court dropped all charges against Hijazi. Also released was Hijazi’s husband, Egyptian national Mohamed Hassanein.
HIJAZI: There is no reason for anybody not to want her to be free. Because as a humanitarian, she did nothing but good.
BRENNAN: Now, Basel and his sister will meet President Trump and his daughter Ivanka here at the White House later today. Their lawyer sent a statement to CBS News saying he is thankful for the help from President Trump but also many lawmakers have intervened over the years. And Norah, what's interesting here is that President Sisi claimed his hands were long tied on this case and that it was up to Egypt’s courts and this morning Defense Secretary Mattis is ultimately the courts decision, not a negotiated release. It was up to the courts to free her.
O’DONNELL: Really interesting, Margaret. Thanks so much.