How the Media Covered the Syrian Airstrike

On the evening of March 6, President Trump authorized an unprecedented military strike on a Syrian airbase – just 63 hours after a chemical weapons attack killed dozens and injured hundreds of Syrian civilians in Idlib Province.

In the immediate aftermath of the strike, different news outlets chose to focus on different aspects of the complex issue of Syria – looking at it through political, domestic and international lenses.

The Washington Post immediately began connecting the strike to possible Russian consequences – stating that with Russian troops currently on the ground, any military intervention in Syria could have serious ramifications with Vladimir Putin.

Since then, the Post and other news outlets like ABC News have focused on the international community’s response to the President’s strike, as well as the broader world issues that stem from the first direct American attack in Syria.

ABC posted statements from both the Syrian government and the Russian foreign ministry, slamming the US strike. The Post has published several Associated Press stories on the reaction of international leaders – such as the UK’s Boris Johnson, Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano and even Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

On the other hand, some outlets turned inward and focused on the domestic consequences of the airstrike.

Politico was quick to criticize Trump. One of their first articles after the strike discussed the president’s change of position on Syria. The story not only referenced the Trump’s 2013 tweets that called on President Obama to stay out of Syria, but also campaign interviews. The then-candidate Trump said that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, would be the one to intervene and bring the United States into WWIII.

Later, Politico took a swipe at the president, noting his “maintained pageantry” during the airstrikes – but they weren’t the only outlet to criticize the president.

The New York Times took aim at the president even before the airstrike itself. After Trump’s official statement on the chemical attack, the Times noted that Trump contradicted his previous sentiments on Syria and seemed to be changing his position. Progressive magazine Mother Jones took this point further, calling Trump’s shift on Syria hypocritical.

Outlets like The Blaze did not mention the president’s previous tweets and changing position – but chose to focus on a story that claimed former President Obama knew and lied about chemical weapons in Syria during his administration. Fox News also criticized Obama for his inaction in Syria.

Obama’s inaction was also a talking point and target for outlets beyond the conservative lean. CNN criticized the former president’s move as well, calling Obama’s inaction a “gross miscalculation.”

While these outlets focused on the Obama’s failures, others looked to the deeper political issue and implications of a Syrian attack during the Obama Administration. ABC wrote about former Obama aides claiming that while many were pushing for action under the previous administration, Obama could not act because of the republican Congress. The Times noted both the partisan divide and Obama’s failure paired together to produce inaction.

The intricacies of the Syrian Civil War and western involvement have provoked diverse focuses across the media. The web of domestic and international ramifications that are tied to Syria have forced news outlets to cover a wide range of issues and possible outcomes based on one airstrike.

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