What's more important? The ongoing slaughter of refugees in a rapidly deteriorating Iraq or the December 2015 Star Wars film? According to the journalists at Good Morning America, the answer is Star Wars. The ABC program on Wednesday devoted 55 seconds to discussing a film that is 16 months away from being released, but only 33 seconds to the desperate situation in Iraq.
News reader Amy Robach quickly mentioned that more U.S. troops are arriving in the troubled country, adding, "The 130 military advisers are working to help rescue thousands of religious minorities who are stranded by Islamic militants." [MP3 audio here.] She sped through this story: "Thousands of refugees are stranded after militants took over their villages. Heartbreaking images show the refugees desperately trying to hang on to rescue helicopters."
GMA's journalists arrived at this "heartbreaking" story 24 hours late. Tuesday's CBS This Morning offered a full report on refugees rushing a helicopter that landed in the Sinjar Mountains. Hundreds tried to fit on a chopper that could fit only 25 people.
However, GMA on Tuesday skipped the story. It wasn't until that night's World News that ABC arrived on the subject. Then, guest anchor David Muir updated the doubly tragic story about the helicopter efforts:
DAVID MUIR: We're also learning more about a tragic helicopter crash in Iraq. The same chopper seen here, just yesterday dropping precious food and water and rescuing desperate refugees on that mountain. Tonight, the pilot killed and a New York Times journalist on board among the injured. So many refugees clinging onto the chopper. Authorities say, apparently, it could not handle the weight.
Instead of focusing on the bloodshed in Iraq, GMA on Wednesday devoted 55 seconds to the December 18, 2015 Star Wars movie. Pop news host Lara Spencer enthused, "The cast and crew of Star Wars: Episode VII are due back on set after a brief hiatus."
An onscreen graphic informed viewers of ABC's financial connection: "'Star Wars: Episode VII' is produced by a division of Disney, ABC's parent company."
The GMA hosts also devoted 19 seconds to cute animal footage. Cat videos, apparently, are almost as important as Iraq. Star Wars is more important, according to ABC.
A transcript of the brief August 13 GMA coverage of Iraq is below:
AMY ROBACH: We begin with the U.S. military stepping up its involvement in Iraq. This morning, 130 additional troops have arrived in the northern city of Erbil to assess the humanitarian crisis. Thousands of refugees are stranded after militants took over their villages. Heartbreaking images show the refugees desperately trying to hang on to rescue helicopters. One chopper crashed, killing the pilot. The White House is now reportedly considering a larger military rescue mission.
ROBACH: Well, more U.S. troops have arrived in Iraq this morning. The 130 military advisers are working to help rescue thousands of religious minorities who are stranded by Islamic militants. Just this morning, France also announcing it is sending weapons to Iraq.