As the so-called “caliphate” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria rose to prominence and expanded their territory across vast swathes of the two Middle Eastern nations from 2014 to 2016, the mainstream media provided ample coverage of the disturbing development, though most often from the angle of it not really being former President Barack Obama’s problem.
When then-candidate Donald Trump was running for office, he promised explicitly — “I would bomb the s–t out of them” — that he would make the defeat of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, a top priority of his administration if he won. That was a promise made that he has most certainly kept, as the putative caliphate is virtually gone and the once-fearsome terrorist group has been all but destroyed.
But if one were relying upon the broadcast network news to know that, one would likely be quite ignorant of Trump’s success against the Islamic State group, as the broadcast networks have spent hardly any time discussing that achievement in the 21 months that have elapsed since Trump took office, as per a damning report from Newsbusters.
Analysts for the Media Research Center scoured through more than 10,000 minutes of evening news coverage from the three broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — that have aired since January 21, 2017, and were related in some manner to President Trump. Of those 10,000+ minutes of Trump coverage on the broadcast evening news, a mere 33 minutes — or about one-third of 1 percent — was spent discussing how Trump’s administration was handling the struggle against the Islamic State group and the purported caliphate.
In total, the three networks spent a combined 157 minutes talking about various developments concerning the Islamic State group over the past 21 months, obviously with the bulk of that coverage making no mention whatsoever of Trump or the administration. Indeed, Trump was only mentioned in about 21 percent of the networks’ combined coverage of the Islamic State group.
Making that matter even worse is the fact that, of the broadcast network coverage of the Islamic State group that mentioned Trump, roughly 77 percent of that coverage was framed in a negative manner, meaning even when Trump has achieved something good that is decidedly nonpartisan, they still felt the need to portray it in a bad light.
A prime example of that is how the networks would focus in on key statements from the president which the media perceived as false or gaffes, such as a remark in March 2018 about how U.S. forces would be leaving Syria soon. That particular comment drew some ten minutes of negative media coverage, encompassing nearly one-third of all of the media’s Trump/ISIS coverage total.
By way of comparison, those same networks combined over the same time frame to provide more than 33 hours of coverage — or more than 1,980 minutes — to the supposed Russian collusion scandal and investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. It doesn’t take a genius to know that the overwhelming majority of that Russia coverage was also framed negatively toward Trump.
The MRC analysts dug a little deeper into the sparse coverage of Trump’s success against the Islamic State group and broke that time down as it related to a handful of major milestones in the ongoing fight against the brutal army of jihadists, with the scant coverage again being compared to other, arguably far less important issues that nevertheless received far more coverage from the media.
The liberation of the Iraqi city of Mosul, which came in July 2017 following months of hard fighting from street to street, earned a whopping 15 minutes and 50 seconds of coverage. Throughout that same month of July 2017, the three networks combined to provide some 140 minutes of coverage to the Russia investigation.
Just a few short months later, a major operation was launched in September to liberate the nominal capital of the caliphate, Raqqa, which was completed in October 2017 and served as a significant turning point in the war that also signaled the accelerated and impending doom of the remainder of Islamic State group territory.
From Sept. 1 through the middle of October, the three networks combined to provide a mere 13 minutes of coverage to the massive defeat of the terror army’s capital city. Meanwhile, over that same time period, the networks spent a combined 40 minutes discussing the feud between Trump and NFL players over the kneeling in protest to the national anthem issue.
One final example of the media’s biased coverage of Trump and the Islamic State group came May 2018, when U.S. and Iraqi intelligence operatives managed to capture alive five top-ranking Islamic State group leaders. Of the three networks, only CBS deemed such a win worthy of any coverage … a whole two minutes worth.
The same night that huge grab became public news, the three networks spent a combined five minutes and 17 seconds discussing a student at Yale who had called the police about a classmate sleeping in a common room. Seriously.
It is stuff like this that conservatives often have in mind when they rail against “fake news” and “media bias,” which isn’t just displayed in how the media covers a certain event or story, but also in what specific events or stories are even deemed worthy of any coverage in the first place.
The virtual defeat of the Islamic State group — who have seen their number of fighters and scope of territory dwindle in size to tiny fractions of what they once were — is a major news story that would have dominated discussions and headlines, were any other president beside Trump responsible for it. Yet, the veritable win is good news for Trump, so the media either ignores it or spins it to be framed negatively.
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