CBS4, 7News added to misleading coverage of visits to Syria

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On April 4 broadcasts, KCNC CBS4 and KMGH 7News reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite the Bush administration's objections, but neither mentioned that a Republican-led delegation had met with Assad just before Pelosi's trip. The reports' omissions were similar to those by CBS4 and KDVR Fox 31 on previous broadcasts.

For the second consecutive day, KCNC CBS4 on April 4 reported on President Bush's criticism of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) before her meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad without mentioning that congressional Republicans met with Assad just days earlier. An April 4 KMGH 7News broadcast similarly reported that Pelosi met with Assad over White House objections, while failing to note the GOP delegation's trip.

According to the Associated Press, "U.S. House members ... includ[ing] Virginia Republican Frank Wolf, Pennsylvania Republican Joe Pitts and Alabama Republican Robert Aderholt" met with Assad on April 1, saying "they believed there was an opportunity for dialogue with the Syrian leadership."

The Iraq Study Group, in its December 2006 final report, recommended that the United States attempt to strengthen diplomatic relations with Syria and other nations neighboring Iraq.

As Media Matters for America noted, the White House initially chided Pelosi while remaining silent about the April 1 Republican-led delegation to the Syrian capital of Damascus, and only recently denounced these trips in general terms without singling out any Republican members of Congress who participated. Media Matters further noted that at an April 3 press conference, Bush stated, "We have made it clear to high-ranking officials, whether they be Republicans or Democrats, that going to Syria sends mixed signals."

On the April 4 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4 News at 6 p.m., co-anchor Molly Hughes reported that "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with the president of Syria today." Hughes further reported, "The White House has criticized that visit, saying Syria has not done enough to crack down on terrorists and prevent foreign fighters from entering into Iraq."

Similarly, KMGH's 7News at 5 p.m. reported, "Despite White House objections, Pelosi met today with the Syrian president, pressing him about his country's support for militant groups." Co-anchor Mike Landess made no mention of the Republican delegation, but stated that "Pelosi is trying to force the Bush administration to have an open dialogue with Syria."

Colorado Media Matters has noted (here and here) similar omissions by CBS4 and KDVR Fox 31 in previous reports about the Pelosi-led delegation's trip.

From the April 4 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4 News at 6 p.m.:

HUGHES: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with the president of Syria today. Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation in Syria. The White House has criticized that visit, saying Syria has not done enough to crack down on terrorists and prevent foreign fighters from entering into Iraq through the Syrian border. Pelosi says her visit does not interfere with anything President Bush is trying to do.

PELOSI [video clip]: While there may have been some question about the timing of our visit to Syria, there is absolutely no division between this delegation and the president of the United States on the issues of concern that we expressed to President Assad.

HUGHES: Pelosi says she has addressed the issue of Syria allowing fighters to cross into Iraq. She also says Syria appears ready to engage in peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

From the April 4 broadcast of KMGH's 7News at 5 p.m.:

LANDESS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to force the Bush administration to have an open dialogue with Syria. "Covering the World" on 7News. Despite White House objections, Pelosi met today with the Syrian president, pressing him about his country's support for militant groups. She also passed on a peace message from Israel. Syria's president told Pelosi he is ready to resume peace talks with Israel.

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