Media Ignores Ongoing Genocide of Christians in The Middle East

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Aug 16, 2016 2:45 PM
Media Ignores Ongoing Genocide of Christians in The Middle East

On March 17, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry officially declared the extermination of Christians and other minority religious groups in the Middle East a genocide. The move came after years of pressure from a number of human rights groups including the The Philos Project, The American Mesopotamian Organization, Open Doors, Knights of Columbus, In Defense of Christians, The Assyrian Aid Society of America, The Iraqi Christian Relief Council and others, whose activists presented evidence to the State Department proving genocide and ethnic cleansing. 

You'd think genocide would be a newsworthy topic worthy of coverage, but unfortunately the issue has been absent from most major American media outlet airwaves. The Media Research Center recently published a report detailing a lack of coverage.

The three broadcast networks are reluctant to report on it, let alone call the atrocity what it is (and what the Obama administration has admitted it is): genocide.

The concept of “Never again!” seems forgotten by network journalists. Groups such as Open Doors, the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians have documented the horrors in countries from Afghanistan to Yemen, the West Bank to Central Africa. It hasn’t helped. The media rarely tied the incidents together. Even when the pope, the European Union, the House of Representatives and finally the Obama administration all agreed that Christians were victims of genocide, the term was almost unused on ABC, CBS and NBC.

The networks have reported on the violence sporadically and often superficially. They mentioned the plight of Christians in Muslim countries in only 60 stories between January 2014 and June 2016 – an average of just one story every two weeks across all three networks. But they have essentially refused to connect their own dots and call it what it clearly is: genocide. 

MRC has also detailed the most egregious cases of ignoring the genocide in their report, which can be read in full here:

-What Genocide?: Between January 2014 and June 2016, the network evening news shows referred to persecution against Christians in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia just 60 times. Despite telling of murders, forced religious conversions and mass displacement, the networks refused to add up the thousands of atrocities to what they clearly amount to: genocide. Just six of the 60 reports used the word genocide. Put another way, over two years, they mentioned the Christian genocide on just four separate days. Even when Secretary of State John Kerry officially declared in March 2016 that ISIS was engaging in genocide, CBS didn’t report it.

-Media Kept Calling Darfur ‘Genocide’: During the George W. Bush administration, the networks had no problem calling the situation in Darfur genocide, even before the U.S. officially called it that. Once it did, they referred to the Darfur “genocide” 38 times in two years.

-Journalists Should Have Known: If network reporters had even connected the dots of their own reports, they should have known and reported on what was really happening to Christians. By their own reporting, hundreds of thousands of Christians are “on the run” from their homes, mass graves have been found, and Christians have been made to “convert or die.” In addition, network journalists could have watched their own news magazine shows. Both ABC’s Nightline and CBS’s Sixty Minutes have aired excellent long-form stories on the atrocities, though neither show used the word genocide.

-Downplaying The Slaughter: The six instances where the networks have used “genocide” or equivalent terms, they’ve tended to lump Christians in with Yazidis and Shia Muslims as victims, echoing the Obama administration’s reluctance to focus on the anti-Christian violence. During the two years MRC Culture analyzed, one source has recorded 226 Muslim- on-Christian attacks. At least 125 churches have been attacked. According to one Christian group, 7,000 Christians worldwide were killed because of their faith in 2015 alone. Yet even when the Obama administration has (officially and unofficially) called the Christian persecution in Iraq and Syria genocide, the networks almost never used the word.