News & Politics

TV Networks Bury News of Trump's Historic Middle East Peace Deals

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

This month, two Arab Muslim states — Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — normalized relations with the Jewish State of Israel, an earth-shattering diplomatic breakthrough long considered utterly unthinkable. Shortly before that, two Balkan countries put aside their historic enmity and normalized relations — and promised to open embassies in Jerusalem, recognizing the City of David as the capital of Israel. Each of these separate deals would be enough to get Trump in the history books — if not a Nobel Prize — but left-leaning news outlets downplayed the historic successes.

According to an analysis from the Media Research Center (MRC), the network news outlets effectively buried these earth-shattering stories, dedicating a paltry 9 minutes and 8 seconds to the historic peace deals over the course of 33 days.

MRC analysts scrutinized 33 days of ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News programs from August 13, when Israel and the UAE announced they were establishing diplomatic relations, to September 15, the date of the joint signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain at the White House, and found “brief hiccups of coverage” about this historic news.

CBS Evening News spent a grand total of 144 seconds, just over two minutes, on the Middle East deals. NBC Nightly News dedicated 155 seconds, not quite three minutes, to the agreements. ABC’s World News Tonight squeezed out 249 seconds on the peace deals.

After all, peace in our time is just a minor local news story. Nothing to see here. Ohmygosh, can you believe Trump tweeted “LAW & ORDER” in all caps?!

Trump Celebrates the ‘Dawn of a New Middle East’ With Historic Peace Deal

Even when the networks covered the deals, however, correspondents sought to belittle and undermine the historic agreements.

As NewsBusters’ Nicholas Fondacaro noted, CBS White House Correspondent Paula Reid characterized the UAE deal as “more of a business deal than the peace accord. The three countries are not engaged in armed conflict.” No, not “armed conflict,” per se, just a decades-long religiously-based enmity driven by anti-Semitism and the hostility of the Palestinians and Iran to Israel.

CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell suggested the peace deal was already a failure. “But before the ink was dry, there were already signs that Israel still has enemies in the region and they aren’t celebrating,” she said. Sure, Israel still has bitter enemies in the Middle East — have you ever heard of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei? He’s not exactly a fan — but that doesn’t mean the peace deals mean less. In fact, the remaining hostility only accentuates the fact that Trump achieved these peace deals in such a hostile context.

NBC anchor Lester Holt noted that “a broader Middle East peace is still an elusive goal,” while Andrea Mitchell insisted that “Left out, the Palestinians, abandoned by their Arab neighbors, [are] powerless to do anything but protest.”

Yet that, exactly, is the point. For decades, countries like the UAE and Bahrain refused to recognize the Jewish state, standing in solidarity with the Palestinians and likely terrified of nearby Iran and its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which had a massive presence in the Middle East before the death of Qasem Soleimani.

Trump shook up the Middle East by moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, abandoning the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, and assassinating the terrorist Soleimani. Experts warned that these moves would spark a war, perhaps even a world war. Yet these historic events laid the groundwork for a massive transformation in Middle East diplomacy — a previously unimaginable transformation.

Indeed, it is difficult for Americans to realize just how monumental this diplomatic shift is. Before the signing of the Abraham Accords, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia announced they would open their skies to Israeli flights to the UAE. As part of its rapprochement with Israel, the UAE agreed to order hotels to serve Kosher foods in Abu Dhabi, delivering a powerful symbol of Jewish acceptance in a notoriously anti-Semitic part of the world.

In Europe, the Balkans are a notoriously fiery region, with centuries-long animosities sparking multiple wars, including World War I. The dueling Muslim and Christian empires of Turkey and Austria-Hungary wrestled to rule over ethnic groups that hated one another and religious minorities that proved a thorn in any ruler’s side. Yet Trump brought Muslim-majority Kosovo and Christian-majority Serbia together for a historic agreement that included promises to set up embassies in Jerusalem.

These successes are mind-boggling and they deserve a great deal of coverage, if not a Nobel Prize.

Indeed, one Norwegian parliamentarian and one Swedish parliamentarian each nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian, Christian Tybring-Gjedde, highlighted the historic UAE peace deal while the Swede, Magnus Jacobsson, focused on the Serbia-Kosovo deal.

President Barack Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen diplomacy and cooperation between people.” President Donald Trump should receive a Nobel Peace Prize for his extraordinary results at establishing historic diplomacy in the Middle East. Even so, it seems these nominations are likely to go nowhere. The Nobel committee is likely to get too stuck on “Orange Man Bad” to reward the orange man’s historic results in the same way it honored Obama’s efforts.

It is utterly shameful that American news networks essentially buried these tremendously important stories. News networks don’t have to like Trump, but they should at least give this news the air time it deserves.

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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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