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Israel's 'full scale' war, US gas crisis take backseat to media's Cheney obsession

Israel's 'full scale' war, US gas crisis take backseat to media's Cheney obsession
© Greg Nash

Wednesday, May 12, 6:00 a.m. ET: The morning shows, stretching from ABC to CNN to MSNBC, led the unofficial start to their news day by going head-first into a story that has curiously dominated discussion since the beginning of the month — a Republican congresswoman from Wyoming being removed from a party leadership post. 

"Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney House Democrats to Schumer: Vote again on Jan. 6 probe Cheney compares Trump claims to Chinese Communist Party: 'It's very dangerous' Stefanik pregnant with her first child MORE defiant. Rebukes GOP's Embrace of Trump and His Lies," blared the unbiased CNN chyron.  

"Cheney's Last Stand: Blasts Trump Ahead of Vote to Oust Her from Leadership," read an ABC headline. 

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During a slow news period, such attention might be somewhat justified. But "slow news" is about the last thing that comes to mind given what's happening domestically and abroad. For starters, a gas crisis is hitting the U.S. East Coast and warfare is escalating between Israel and Hamas. 

No matter. In the eyes of some executive producers and the network leadership they report to, Cheney must be the focus. Because if anything can be attached to Donald Trump while allowing the narrative of a hopeless GOP civil war to continue being pushed, then it absolutely will lead, without question. 

The American viewer may feel differently about the priorities in their lives, of course, particularly those who can't buy gas thanks to a cyberattack that knocked a crucial U.S. pipeline offline. Result: More than 1,000 gas stations reportedly have run out of fuel, spurring price increases and hoarding wherever gas can be found. According to the app GasBuddy, 16 percent of stations in North Carolina have run dry; 10 percent are running on empty in Georgia and Virginia.

On Monday, despite reports of long gas lines emerging, the White House claimed there is no shortage. “Right now, there is not a supply shortage,” Homeland Security adviser Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall told reporters in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. 

"At this point in time, I would just reiterate: We don’t see a supply issue," White House press secretary Jen Psaki later insisted.

On cue, the New York Times ran cover for the Biden administration, reassuring its readers that "there have been no long lines or major price hikes for gas."  

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Fortunately for the truth, anyone can be a citizen journalist these days thanks to smartphones, which in this case provided ample evidence to the contrary of the Times's report.

 

 

 

Psaki later circled back on her original claim, releasing a statement Monday night that said the administration was "monitoring supply shortages in parts of the Southeast."

Add it all up, and Americans haven't seen gas lines and shortages like this since the Carter administration. It's a big story that should be at the top of every newspaper and every news show as the lead. 

But, amazingly, it's not. Because, you know, Liz Cheney is losing her position as chair of the House Republican Conference.

A very strong case for the No. 2 – or even No. 1 – story of the day is the escalating conflict in the Middle East. The United Nations now fears that a "full-scale war" has broken out between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli military. According to Israeli officials, "more than 1,000 rockets have now been fired by Palestinian militants over 38 hours, most at Tel Aviv." Israel is retaliating with hundreds of air strikes over Gaza. The initial death toll was at least six Israelis and 43 Palestinians.

"Stop the fire immediately. We're escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation," U.N. Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland tweeted. "The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now." 

This could end up being as bad or worse than the 2014 conflict that resulted in 2,100 Gazans and 73 Israelis being killed. 

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As for President BidenJoe BidenPutin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting How the infrastructure bill can help close the digital divide Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE's response to all of this, it's been non-existent. In fact, former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE issued a statement before the sitting U.S. president did.  

"Israel's adversaries knew that the United States stood strongly with Israel and there would be swift retribution if Israel was attacked. Under Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden's weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies," Trump wrote, as the 46th president continued his "stand back" approach. 

Gas shortages and long lines at the pump. Rockets raining down on Israel and Gaza. 

These stories should be front and center — and certainly above a congresswoman losing a leadership post as the third most-powerful member of a minority party. 

But it won't. Cheney involves Trump, which trumps everything else — even stories that matter much, much more. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.