GOP Chief Alleges NBC Media Bias on ISIS Defeat, but News Crew Was Hit by Explosive

The explosion happened in a house used as a command post by the SDF and a media center for reporters

An Islamic State militant flag lies in a tent encampment after U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters took control of Baghouz, Syria on Saturday, March 23, 2019
AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

A driver working with NBC News reporters in Syria was killed Saturday by an explosive device in eastern Syria, where several media outlets are covering the liberation of the last sliver of territory held by the Islamic State group.

Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, said in a statement that NBC employees escaped unharmed, and expressed “deepest sympathies” to the driver’s family and loved ones.

“We are still gathering information from today’s events, and are in touch with the driver’s family to support them however we can,” he said.

Several media outlets are in Syria to cover the military defeat of the Islamic State group in the small eastern village of Baghouz. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces declared victory over IS on Saturday after clearing the militants from their last position in the village following weeks of heavy fighting.

ISIS left behind booby-traps and explosive devices, and there may be unexploded munitions in the area following U.S.-led airstrikes.

The explosion happened in a house used as a command post by the SDF and a media center for reporters. The SDF was storing munitions inside the building.

The victory announced Saturday marks the end of the extremist group’s self-styled caliphate, which once sprawled across a third of Syria and Iraq. However, unknown numbers of fighters and supporters are believed to have gone underground, and the group continues to carry out insurgent attacks in both countries.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was criticized for tweeting on Saturday a claim that MSNBC was biased in not providing coverage of ISIS's defeat in Syria.

McDaniel tweeted, "Media bias alert: On Friday, when the Mueller report was completed, ISIS’ last stronghold in Syria was also eliminated. Since then, MSNBC has not covered ISIS’s defeat for a single minute, refusing to acknowledge this huge win for @realDonaldTrump and the world." 

Fox New's foreign correspondent based in Jerusalem, Trey Yingst, quickly responded, offering a possible explanation for the alleged limited coverage. Yingst wrote, "An IED exploded next to the NBC crew in Syria today, killing their local driver. So yes, they may have filed less reports today than on Friday."