The Big Three networks steered clear of labeling the Islamist group ISIS “terrorists” on their evening newscasts on Friday. Instead, ABC’s World News and CBS Evening News labeled the genocidal radicals “militants.” NBC Nightly News used the more benign “rebels” in their coverage of the group’s latest attacks on the Kurdish part of Iraq.
The closest that a journalist at ABC, CBS, or NBC got to using the “terrorist” label was Scott Pelley’s teaser at the very top of CBS Evening News:
SCOTT PELLEY (teaser): Tonight, back in battle: The President orders U.S. warplanes to attack Sunni Muslim extremists in northern Iraq to stop a campaign of terror. But he makes Americans this promise:
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.
Brian Williams introduced correspondent Jim Miklaszewski’s report on NBC Nightly News by noting that “a violent group called ISIS has swept across Iraq. They have civilians and religious minorities on the run, and threatened with death.” Miklaszewski twice referred to ISIS as “rebels” during the segment. He did include a clip of President Obama using the “terrorist” label in reference to the group:
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: …In his nationwide address Thursday night, President Obama said the airstrikes are necessary to protect American lives at the U.S. consulate in Erbil.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city.
MIKLASZEWSKI: The airstrikes are also aimed at supporting Kurdish Peshmerga fighters – U.S. allies overrun by ISIS rebels this week. President Obama cautioned, however, any U.S. airstrikes would be limited. Critics accuse the President of playing domestic politics, and that limited airstrikes will do little to stop the relentless advance of ISIS rebels.
The NBC journalist later underlined that “ISIS…has seized a large section of east and northern Iraq, with unspeakable brutality that includes mass executions and beheadings.”