ABC, NBC highlight release of “explosive” CIA report

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on December 10, 2014

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-Read the excerpt below from Matthew Balan's Dec. 8 post at the Media Research Center.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

NBC News Andrea MitchellOn Monday, ABC and NBC’s morning newscasts both touted the upcoming congressional report on the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation techniques as “explosive” and “damning.” However, neither network pointed out that it was Democratic members on the Senate Intelligence Committee that commissioned the document. [video below] By contrast, CBS This Morning reported that “Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are set to release a controversial report on the CIA.”

NBC’s Matt Lauer first used the “explosive” label on the Today show, as he previewed correspondent Andrea Mitchell’s report by saying: “U.S. embassies around the world bracing for the release of an explosive Senate report on torture techniques used by the CIA. Will the findings spark deadly terror attacks?” Moments later, the anchor led into the segment by highlighting “the imminent release of a damning report on harsh CIA interrogations in the wake of 9/11.”

Mitchell also used Lauer’s superlative during her report: “The U.S. embassy in Egypt is one of many on alert today as Washington braces for the release of an explosive Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture, ordered by President Bush after 9/11.” After noting that “the report is expected to accuse the CIA of lying repeatedly to Congress, the White House, and the American people,” the liberal journalist hyped how “Senate investigators view…[a] call from Secretary of State Kerry to intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein as an attempt to intimidate them. So far, they are undeterred – saying the report will not be buried.”

On Good Morning America, ABC’s Amy Robach adopted NBC’s labeling of the upcoming report: “U.S. embassies around the world are on alert this morning, bracing for the release of a potentially explosive so-called torture report on CIA interrogations after 9/11. The Senate report outlined CIA tactics in graphic and disturbing details.” Nearly an hour earlier, correspondent Martha Raddatz used her own term to described the Democratic document:

MARTHA RADDATZ: There is great concern this morning about the potential for violence, in reaction to this shocking report – especially in the Mideast and North Africa. Cables have been sent to all diplomatic and military facilities, urging them to review all security procedures.

The CIA and the Bush administration have already faced extensive investigation and criticism for interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. That was stopped years ago, of course, but this report coming out of the Senate Intelligence Committee provides far more detail – never heard before – which is described to ABC News as very graphic…and very disturbing.

At the same time Raddatz’s segment aired, anchor Charlie Rose pointed out on CBS This Morning that “Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are expected to release the report tomorrow.” Rose turned to CBS national security analyst Juan Zarate, a former Bush deputy national security advisor, for his take on the upcoming report. Rose gave a similar line just under an hour later as he introduced a segment with Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill: “Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are set to release a controversial report on the CIA tomorrow. It claims agents used torture on al Qaeda suspects.”  (from mrc.org)

ABC/NBC reporting:

CBS reporting: (video fixed Dec 10, 8am EST)


The transcript of Andrea Mitchell’s report from Monday’s Today on NBC:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let’s get right to Today’s Top Story.

MATT LAUER: That’s right. That is the imminent release of a damning report on harsh CIA interrogations in the wake of 9/11. One official now warning it will lead to violence and deaths in some troubled spots around the world.

Andrea Mitchell is NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent. Andrea, good morning to you.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Matt. U.S. embassies and military posts around the world are, indeed, on heightened alert today, after a classified intelligence assessment that the torture report from the Senate Intelligence Committee could trigger a violent response.

The U.S. embassy in Egypt is one of many on alert today as Washington braces for the release of an explosive Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture, ordered by President Bush after 9/11. One of those briefed, the House Intelligence Committee chairman.

REP. MIKE ROGERS [R-MI]: Foreign leaders have approached the government and said, “You do this, this will cause violence and deaths.” Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.

MITCHELL: The report is expected to accuse the CIA of lying repeatedly to Congress, the White House, and the American people. It concludes that torture – notably waterboarding, used on three detainees, including Khalid Shaik Mohammed – did not produce results.

Former CIA leaders are already firing back.

MICHAEL HAYDEN [FORMER NSA AND CIA DIRECTOR]: To say that we relentlessly over an expanded period of time lied to everyone about a program that wasn’t doing any good, that beggars the imagination.

MITCHELL: Agency defenders say the program did help find Osama Bin Laden, and also prevented other attacks. Defenders also claim CIA officials briefed Congress repeatedly and they say the Senate never interviewed any of the officials named.

President Obama acknowledged the torture program last August.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.

MITCHELL: As for that classified intelligence warning of potential violence around the world, Senate investigators viewed it and the follow-up call from Secretary of State Kerry to intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein as an attempt to intimidate them. So far, they are undeterred – saying the report will not be buried. Matt and Savannah?

LAUER: All right. Andrea Mitchell, on this story from Washington – Andrea, thanks very much.

Questions

1.  What types of bias do ABC and NBC display by not letting viewers know that only Democratic Senators pushed for the release of a controversial, contested report about CIA treatment of terrorists?

2.  Watch the CBS News report below the post, as well as the NBC/ABC news reports.  Which do you think uses spin to affect viewers outlook on this story?


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1.  ABC and NBC display bias by spin and omission.

2.  Opinion question. Answers vary.