Accuracy in Media

The mainstream media covered Trump’s order to execute a lethal airstrike against Iranian general Qassam Soleimani, and outrage ensued among Trump’s potential presidential opponents in the Democratic Party, in addition to significant criticism.

Here is what the 2020 presidential candidates and what they said about the lethal airstrike:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden: “[Trump] tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox” with the targeted killing of Iran’s top general, and said it could leave the U.S. “on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East.”
  • Bernie Sanders: “Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.”
  • Elizabeth Warren: “[Trump’s] “reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict.”
  • Andrew Yang, on Twitter, said, “War with Iran is the last thing we need and is not the will of the American people. We should be acting to deescalate tensions and protect our people in the region.”
  • Michael Bloomberg hoped Trump “has carefully thought through the national security implications of this attack for our country,” adding that the administration should now work to “de-escalate this crisis in order to prevent wider conflicts and protect American lives.”
  • Amy Klobuchar: “[The] timing, manner, and potential consequences of the administration’s actions raise serious questions and concerns about an escalating conflict.”
  • Cory Booker: “[W]e also have to look at the larger strategic situation in that area. We have a president who has had really a failure in his Iranian policy, who had no larger strategic plan and has made that region less stable and less safe.”
  • Michael Bennet: “[It was] terribly reckless and provocative…I think you couldn’t be more naive to believe that this was going to result somehow in Iran coming to the negotiating table, rather than creating the potential for another war — which is the last thing we need in the Middle East.”
  • Pete Buttigieg: “But there are serious questions about how this decision was made and whether we are prepared for the consequences…The lawful, constitutional role of Congress in matters of war and peace must be respected.”
  • Deval Patrick: “…a difficult situation is becoming more dangerous because of a lack of leadership […] Our priorities must now be de-escalation, protecting our country and our allies, the American people, and innocents everywhere[.]”

By contrast, none of the aforementioned candidates appeared to oppose or condemn the Obama administration’s use of airstrikes via drones during the Obama years. Joe Biden, who was Obama’s vice president, once claimed that the Obama administration did not have a single scandal in its two terms. One could strongly disagree with his claim solely based on Obama’s prolific use of drone strikes to eliminate targets.

For example, the Obama administration carried out at least seven lethal airstrikes that killed seven American citizens. Of the seven, one was the specific target of the airstrike and did not receive due process, as is usually afforded to American citizens.

The media’s silence and lack of reporting on the candidates’ statements about Trump’s action against Obama’s was stark and jarring. Also, it appeared that the media has not asked the 2020 candidates about how Trump’s policy compared to Obama’s, which would be a fair comparison. There was little mention of Obama’s policy in much of the media coverage about the Iraq airstrike, which is hypocritical. Obama’s policies, as mentioned above, killed seven American citizens (intended or not), which was much different and much more illegal than Trump’s single use of an airstrike to kill an Iranian general.

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