ABC Overlooks Russian Hacking as Tillerson Visits Moscow

The nightly news seemingly covers the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin every broadcast, but when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Moscow on April 12, ABC World News Tonight failed to mention the Russian connection.

Tillerson met with his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, and President Vladimir Putin to discuss the United States’ relationship with Russia.

The United States intelligence community had confirmed the Russian government engaged in cyber warfare during the 2016 election to elect one candidate and discredit the other.

Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO, said he and Lavrov touched on Russia’s interference “briefly.” But it was, at best, a secondary issue.

Syria was the dominant issue due to war crimes being committed by the Russian-backed Assad regime. The chemical attack was breaking news at that time, as were the stark and disturbing images of the attack’s toll on Syrian citizens.

The NBC Nightly News spent about 30 seconds relating the Moscow visit to Russian meddling in the U.S. election. The CBS Evening News spent less than 20 seconds discussing it. ABC World News Tonight didn’t even mention it.

Did the crisis in Syria cause the press to treat Russian intrusion in the U.S. election as an afterthought?

Former network executive producer Mark Nelson said he doesn’t believe that CBS or NBC’s approach diminished the importance of the Russian hacking story.

“Given the heinous crime that Assad committed and given that most nations have condemned this chemical attack, it should be the lead and may continue to be the lead or in the first block for sometime.” he said.

But Nelson said ABC’s lack of coverage of Russian intervention in the election surprised him. He said he would, at the very least, have mentioned it in the broadcast.

“The press should and will continue to focus on the Russian hacking story until all investigations have been resolved completed and the conclusions have been made public,” he said. “Those conclusions may lead to another phase of the story, especially if Trump campaign staffers are found to have committed crimes.”

Jacob Weinberger

Jacob Weinberger is a sophomore broadcast journalism and government and politics double major at the University of Maryland, College Park. Jacob has previously written for multiple sports websites such as Capitals Outsider, the Left Bench, and the Maryland Baseball Network. He has also co-hosted a radio talk show at WMUC Sports. Jacob discovered his passion for politics while volunteering for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. He would like to continue to work in politics following his graduation.

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