ABC World News Tonight SUPPRESSED Biden’s ‘Very Fine People’ Moment

News & Politics

All three major broadcast networks covered the ongoing violent antisemitic campus protests during their evening newscasts. Only one, ABC, omitted President Joe Biden’s statements granting moral equivalency both to the antisemitic protesters and to those who oppose them- his own “very fine people” moment.

Here are the remarks in question, as aired on the CBS Evening News- the only network to actually air them:

MEG OLIVER: Late this afternoon, President Biden denounced antisemitism.

JOE BIDEN: I condemn the antisemitic protests, that’s why I’ve set up a program to deal with that. I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians. 

NBC Nightly News, for their part, did not directly air Biden’s remarks but ended their otherwise very balanced report with a recitation of Biden’s statements by correspondent Erin McLaughlin:

HOLT: And Erin, tonight the White House is weighing in on all this.

MCLAUGHLIN: That’s right, Lester. Tonight, President Biden saying he condemns both antisemitic protests and those who, quote, don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.

NBC’s report was the most extensive in featuring the concerns of Jewish students, a welcome correction from their weekend reporting. CBS, after not reporting on the protests at all during the weekend, corrected the course. 

This brings us back to ABC. Not only was their report on the protests the most ambiguous, but offered one glaring factual inaccuracy. The protests, contrary to what anchor David Muir said in his lead-in to Stephanie Ramos’ report, are NOT about the war in Gaza but about forcing Columbia and other universities to divest from Israel. It’s BDS on steroids.

And, here again, ABC emerges as the network likeliest to air a story in a light most favorable to President Joe Biden- He Who Must Be Protected. By condemning “those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians”, Biden granted moral equivalency to the antisemitic protesters. 

In a bizarro way, Biden gave a “very fine people on both sides” statement. This is all the more ironic given Biden’s performative condemnations of statements issued by former President Donald Trump in the wake of Charlottesville- which was also the caucus belli for Biden’s 2020 candidacy. In the coming days, expect the media to settle on ye olde “Republicans Pounce” or some variant thereof as they try to help Biden spin out of this. Contrary to media reports, Biden didn’t just condemn antisemitism. He bothsidesed it with terrorist sympathy. 

Click “expand” to view transcripts of the aforementioned reports as aired on their respective evening newscasts on Monday, April 22nd, 2024:

ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT:

DAVID MUIR: Tonight, here in New York City, Columbia University increasing security as pro-Palestinian demonstrators rally against the Israel-Hamas war. The school switching to remote classes, and tonight, protests now spreading to campuses across the U.S. ABC’s Stephanie Ramos at Columbia tonight.

STEPHANIE RAMOS: Tonight, college campuses scrambling to handle a growing pro-Palestinian protest movement. Columbia University is stepping up campus security and moving classes online. The school’s president saying, “We need a reset to de-escalate the rancor.” But today, fresh arrests and tensions boiling over on the first night of Passover. This Israeli assistant professor confronting university officials over being denied access to the main lawn, as school officials tried to separate protesters.

SHAI DAVIDAI: I am a professor here. I have every right to be everywhere on campus. You cannot let people that support Hamas on campus and me, a professor, not go on campus. Let me in now.

RAMOS: It comes after a campus rabbi urged students to stay home, saying the school and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety. New York Mayor Eric Adams saying he is horrified and disgusted with antisemitism spewed at and around Columbia’s campus. Pointing to videos circulating online, showing a woman in front of pro-Israel protesters with a sign reading: “Al-Qasam’s next targets,” a reference to Hamas’ military wing.

SHIRA: Made me sick hearing the things they were saying and doing. So, over this holiday, I kind of just want to try to avoid it as best as I can, for my own safety.

RAMOS: Many pro-Palestinian protesters insist their movement is peaceful.

MOHAMMAD KHALIL: Violence has no place on this movement. And we regret some of the incidents that has happened that were actually unassociated with this movement.

RAMOS: The protests calling for colleges to divest from companies with ties to Israel now spreading to other campuses. Today, at least 45 people arrested at Yale university. At NYU, a standoff with police, after protesters were told to vacate a campus plaza. 

Back here at Columbia University, students are still waiting to hear when they can return to in-person classes. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who visited the campus today, calling on people to find their humanity and have conversations so they can understand different points of view. David?

MUIR: Stephanie Ramos reporting from Columbia for us again tonight. Stephanie, thank you.

CBS EVENING NEWS:

MAURICE DUBOIS: Now to those escalating protests on college campuses across the country. The president of Columbia University in New York taking the extraordinary step of moving classes online due to safety concerns for Jewish students. The White House condemning the unrest, calling it blatantly antisemitic and dangerous. CBS’s Meg Oliver reports.

MEG OLIVER: Tension and concerns about safety continue to embroil Columbia University. With classes remote only, some Jewish students and faculty save the environment has only escalated.

STUDENT: The jewish students are petrified to go to campus.

OLIVER: For the past six days, hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators, including Jewish students, have occupied the school’s quad, demanding the school divest from companies funding Israel.

PROTESTER: Antisemitism is a huge problem in the United States, but anti-Zionism and antisemitism are two different things.

MEG OLIVER: Late this afternoon, President Biden denounced antisemitism.

JOE BIDEN: I condemn the antisemitic protests, that’s why I’ve set up a program to deal with that. I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians. 

OLIVER: The protests have spread to multiple universities including the University of Michigan, MIT, NYU, and Emerson College in Boston. About 60 people have been arrested at Yale since the start of the protest. Orthodox Jew Sahar Tartak, the editor-in-chief of the Yale Free Press, says demonstrators surrounded her on campus while she was reporting over the weekend.

SAHAR TARTAK: So they started taunting me and giving me their middle finger and yelling in my face, and until one of them waved his Palestinian flag in my face and then jabbed me with it in my left eye.

OLIVER: With Passover starting at sundown, Columbia has more than doubled its security presence. The NYPD has also stepped up controls outside and for the foreseeable future, only students and staff are allowed on campus after scanning their ids. Maurice.

DUBOIS: Okay. Meg Oliver, thank you.

NBC NIGHTLY NEWS:

LESTER HOLT: Pro-Palestinian protests spreading to more college campuses across America tonight, prompting new restrictions and more arrests. Classes moving online at one major campus amid rising concerns over safety. Erin McLaughlin has late developments.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN: Tonight, tension across major American college campuses.

NYPD: If you do not leave, you will be arrested.

MCLAUGHLIN: Students setting up encampments from the University of North Carolina to M.I.T. Harvard’s Yard closed until Friday. All of it as fury over the Israel-Hamas war boils over. Students expressing fear for their personal safety and concern for antisemitic hate speech. Raising new questions about the line between hate speech and the First Amendment.

STUDENT: We’re asking for the school to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

MCLAUGHLIN: This morning, police say at least 45 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested at Yale University for violating Yale’s policies and instructions. Police say they were later released. In a statement, the university adding that Yale does not tolerate behavior that threatened, harassed or intimidated others. Meanwhile, at Columbia today’s classes were online only, with the university’s president calling for a reset to de-escalate the rancor, while also adding more than 100 safety personnel to campus after more than 100 protesters were arrested last week. But with videos like this…

PROTESTER: WE ARE HAMAS!

MCLAUGHLIN: …emerging online, and another showing a young woman holding a sign pointing in the direction of Jewish students saying “Al Qassam’s next targets”, Hamas’s military wing, students Andrew Stein and Elisha Baker say they don’t feel safe.

ANDREW STEIN: It was the most terrified I’ve probably been in my entire life.

MCLAUGHLIN: On Saturday night, Stein says he was on campus for a pro-Israel counterprotest when this happened. You see him in the white sweatshirt filming as a group of pro-Palestinian protesters yell expletives against Israel.

STEIN: They started saying in Arabic, “Hamas, Hamas, our beloved, please bomb Tel Aviv” and then they started saying “we’re coming for you, those Zionists on this campus, like, get off campus”.

MCLAUGHLIN: Stein alleges the situation escalated.

STEIN: Me and my friend had water poured in our face. My friend was actually abused in the middle of campus.

MCLAUGHLIN: On campus Monday, faculty from Barnard and Columbia came out in support of the pro-Palestinian students who were arrested and suspended last week.

PROTESTER: We’re calling for divestment. We’re calling for a cease-fire.

MCLAUGHLIN: Students inside the encampment told NBC News they were unaware of any physical or verbal threats toward students on Saturday Night.

PROTESTER: Anyone who makes any threat to any Jewish student, we oppose you. We do not associate with you.

MCLAUGHLIN: Meanwhile, at Rutgers University, police announcing a man has been charged with a federal hate crime for breaking into the university’s center for Islamic life and destroying property earlier this month. Tonight, on college campuses across the country, students saying they don’t feel safe.

HOLT: And Erin, tonight the White House is weighing in on all this.

MCLAUGHLIN: That’s right, Lester. Tonight, President Biden saying he condemns both antisemitic protests and those who, quote, don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians. Lester?

HOLT: Erin Mclaughlin tonight, thank you.

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