Unfortunately and completely predictably, the Big Three news networks have ignored Catherine Herridge’s Tuesday morning scoop at Fox News that President Obama was briefed on the growing threat of ISIS for over a year, going back to at least several months, if not much longer, before his “jayvee team” taunt in a January New Yorker Magazine interview. Curtis Houck and Jeffrey Meyer at NewsBusters have noted the omissions from the nets’ Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning news shows, respectively.
Let’s take a closer look at how NBC’s Nightly News handled their broadcast. Obama’s reported failure to take ISIS seriously and his failure to seize opportunities to strike before their influence became so threatening would have fit perfectly into the show’s theme, uttered twice by anchor Brian Williams, namely that the world seems to be “falling apart.”
Here is how Williams opened the substance of the network’s Tuesday broadcast:
Good evening. As the last days of summer wore down, wherever Americans gathered over this past holiday weekend — on beaches, on boats, blankets, front porches — if and when the conversation turned serious, it was about the sensation right about now that our world is falling apart.
The number of hotspots around the world right now is bracing. Some but not all in the Middle East, A lot of them but not all have to do with radical Islam. And tonight, the U.S. is forced to react to the execution of yet another American.
Actually, Brian, eight of the nine hot spots flagged on your own map, i.e., almost all, “have to do with radical Islam.” His use of the passive voice (“is forced”) in connection with journalist Steven Sotloff’s is also annoying, given that the administration has sometimes not reacted, and at other times not reacted in a sufficiently timely manner, in other situations.
Williams’ intro would have been an ideal opportunity to get pro-and-con pull quotes from experts concerning whether the Obama administration’s failure to lead, aka “leading from behind,” has been a factor in the “falling apart” phenomenon Williams cited. I can tell you that the matter was a popular weekend discussion topic when, as he mentioned, “the conversation turned serious.”
Apparently, it was far more important to get in an obviously gratuitious dig at Republican Eric Cantor, who has taken a position with a Wall Street firm after telling his constituents when he lost his primary election that “I look forward to continuing to fight with all of you for the things we believe in and our conservative cause.” For heaven’s sake, Brian, almost every losing politician says something similar in his or her concession speech on election night. Cantor’s choice of future employment is nowhere near as important as several developments in the “hot spots” Williams cited in his opening, and the broadcast’s inclusion of a story about him was obviously agenda-driven.
In introducing the broadcast’s final segment on a remarkable autistic high school boy who has run a 4:07 mile, Williams seemed to give the impression that he was relieved to be going into a positive story which would enable him to not have to talk about the bad news which affects everyone or has the potential to:
Finally here tonight, we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, considering the world is falling apart, or seems to be these days, let’s and on a terrific success story here tonight.
It was a fabulous story, and I’m sure Mike Brannigan’s friends and relatives and all who are raising kids with autism are thrilled and grateful for it. But I wonder how they feel about have MIke’s story deliberately positioned as a way to avoid confronting ugly worldwide reality otherwise inadequately addressed?
Let’s end this post by saying that NBC had generally “terrific success” in keeping Barack Obama’s name out of the stories associated with how the world is “falling apart.” Obama’s name came up twice: first, when it was uttered by Sotloff’s executioner, and second, to show him acting to reassure the world that health organizations are striving mightily to contain the ebola epidemic.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.