WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama
landed in Israel
Wednesday, directly coinciding with America's morning shows, which gladly screened live shots from his warm reception at the Ben Gurion Airport.
The hugs with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and President Shimon Peres,
the fashionable removal of Obama's and Netanyahu's respective jackets, the pleasantries exchanged with Israeli politicians and dignitaries, and even Obama's claim that it is nice to be away from Congress - were all screened live on television sets across the US.
But the American networks were not satisfied with plain coverage of the ceremonial greeting. The three major cable news networks – Fox, CNN and MSNBC – all offered live video coverage of the joint press conference Netanyahu and Obama held in Jerusalem, as well as commentary and analysis.
NBC's senior correspondents, Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell, both Jewish, hosted their daily programs on MSNBC from Israel, interviewing a number of different journalists covering the visit, both locally and for foreign press, and covering the press conferences themselves.
New York Times
CBS claimed that Obama's visit was shadowed by the sudden escalation in Syria,
in which rebels and Assad's regime exchanged accusations of yet unconfirmed use of chemical weapons.
Nonetheless, the general opinion was that the presidential visit is more of a photo-op, with Obama focusing on charming the Israeli public, than an attempt at prompting real diplomatic content.
Obama, Peres. CNN
Some pundits have even gone as far as accusing the president of coming to Israel to travel, more than advance a viable peace agreement.
First Syria, Iran; peace later
The Wall Street Journal wrote that "Mr. Obama had said in the past that he didn't want to travel to Israel until he could accomplish something concrete on the peace process.
"But ahead of his arrival on Wednesday, White House officials tried to lower expectations. Israeli and US officials said peace issues were likely to take a back seat on this trip to discussion of Iran
The paper continued to claim that the trip's current agenda is more symbolic than substantial.
The prominent New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times all sang a similar tune, claiming the main purpose of the visit was to quell Israeli unease and to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the two countries.
After the joint press conference, the networks shifted to analyzing the statements made by Obama and Netanyahu.
Fox focused on the threat the US president leveled against the Syrian régime, warning them that the use of chemical weapons would be a "game changer" and rejecting claims that use of such weapons could have been undertaken by the Western-backed rebels; coincidentally while the US Congress debated further sanctions that would close off Syrian air space.
CBS reported that the Syrian issue was the main topic discussed during the two leaders' meeting Wednesday, while NBC claimed that it was the Iranian topic that actually occupied the two's face time.
According to them, the press conference's main goal was the Israeli prime minister's public alignment with the White House's position, according to which the real red line in regards to Iran was the actual construction of a nuclear bomb.
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