NBC Ignores NY Times Scoop on Chemical Weapons in Iraq

As of Thursday morning, NBC's morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover the New York Times's front-page article on Wednesday about Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons stockpiles in Iraq, which were discovered by U.S. forces after the Iraq War. NBC was quick to cast doubt on the existence of these WMD's during the immediate aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion. Ann Curry asked a wounded soldier in April 2003, "Are you angry that what you were on a mission to protect America against weapons of mass destruction [which] may never have existed?"

The network's Big Three competitors did cover the liberal newspaper's scoop on their Wednesday morning show. ABC's Good Morning America gave the story a minimal amount of air time – 25 seconds: [video below]

AMY ROBACH: Well, a new revelation about deadly chemical weapons in Iraq left over from the Saddam Hussein era – American troops were reportedly exposed to them as recently as 2011. The New York Times saying U.S. forces found thousands of chemical warheads since the 2003 invasion, but the Pentagon reportedly kept that discovery secret. It comes amid growing concerns that ISIS fighters may have recently used chemical weapons, like mustard gas.

CBS This Morning devoted four times the amount of time – 1 minute and 40 seconds. Correspondent David Martin summarized the findings of the New York Times report:

CHARLIE ROSE: The United States government is accused this morning of withholding knowledge about chemical weapons inside Iraq. A New York Times investigation finds American troops were wounded by chemical weapons during the Iraq War. The weapons were hidden or abandoned.

David Martin is at the Pentagon with the report raising new questions. David, good morning.

DAVID MARTIN: Good morning. This has to be one of the bitterest ironies of the Iraq War: chemical weapons were discovered by American troops inside Iraq. These are not the chemical weapons the U.S. went to war over – but old, discarded weapons that Iraq had manufactured, with help from western countries – including the U.S. – during its war with Iran in the 1980s. The Pentagon has previously acknowledged that some caches of these old weapons were found. But the New York Times has identified 17 soldiers who were exposed to the weapons. They consisted of the nerve agent, sarin; and the burning agent, mustard gas.

The soldiers are quoted by the Times as saying they were told to keep their discovery secret; and, as a result, did not receive proper medical care; and did not receive the Purple Heart, which goes to soldiers who are wounded on the battlefield. One former sergeant is quoted by the Times as saying, 'I felt more like a Guinea pig than a wounded soldier.' And to add insult to injury, some of the shells were discovered in territory now controlled by the terrorist group, ISIS – although it's not clear whether they could actually still use those weapons in this latest battle for Iraq. Norah?

NORAH O'DONNELL: That is also one of the concerning things in this report. David, thank you so much.

It should be pointed out that ABC and CBS's evening newscasts have yet to cover the new development.

CNN also aired a 21-second news brief to the revelation about the weapons of mass destruction on Wednesday's New Day:

MICHAELA PEREIRA: At least 17 American soldiers were exposed to nerve or mustard gas after the invasion of Iraq. Now, that is according to the New York Times, which also says the U.S. government withheld that information from troops and military doctors. The report suggests the government's secrecy prevented soldiers from receiving proper medical care, and official recognition of their illnesses.

PBS's NewsHour actually set aside nearly nine and a half minutes to the New York Times story, and interviewed correspondent C.J. Chivers, who wrote the story for the paper.

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.