Attorney General William Barr announced new details in the terror attack that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland – but hyper-partisan CNN didn’t feel the event was newsworthy until reporters started asking about President Trump.
Monday marks 32 years since the terror attack, which left 270 people dead, including 190 Americans, among them students and service members. Barr’s remarks began at 10:34 a.m. ET when Fox News’ coverage began, but CNN waited until 11:01 during the Q&A portion of the event.
“It’s a dereliction of duty not to carry the Barr press conference,” The Hill media columnist and Fox News contributor Joe Concha said.
“The Pan Am terror attack was a horrific bombing that cost the lives of 270 on board. Given the months of attention the network gave to the missing Malaysian plane in the current CNN era, one would think carrying this announcement around new charges” was newsworthy, Concha continued. “But since it’s Bill Barr, who was involved with the initial charges early in his career more than 30 years ago, the network won’t show it live for whatever reason.”
CNN famously covered the missing Malaysian plane essentially nonstop until the network pivoted to its anti-Trump programming strategy. CNN viewers missed Barr’s update on Pan Am Flight 103 but the network suddenly found it newsworthy when the press conference shifted to Trump.
The liberal network finally cut to Barr when a reporter asked, “Does the president have the authority to order the seizure of voting machines around the country?”
CNN viewers missed Barr announcing the indictment of the suspected maker of the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. CNN viewers also missed Barr’s somber look back at details of the second deadliest terror attack in American history, after only the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Leave it to CNN to not actually cover the news until it involves something that fits their agenda and not something that’s continued to cause great pain to families for decades,” NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck told Fox News.
“They might argue there’s a pandemic going on that requires their attention, but I think this was yet another case of CNN refusing to subscribe to the notion of walking and chewing gum at the same time,” Houck continued.
“Perhaps they didn’t cover the actual presentation because they weren’t sure of ways to come up with a condescending, smug chyron to hurl at Attorney General Barr… but once the reporters used the Q&A to harp on something Trump-related, [CNN president Jeff] Zucker must have given them permission to dip in.”
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Barr announced charges against Abu Agila Masud, who allegedly built the bomb that was planted in a suitcase by Abdel Basset al-Megrahi that brought the Pan Am plane down over Scotland.
“Let there be no mistake: no amount of time or distance will stop the United States, and its partners in Scotland, from pursuing justice in this case,” Barr told reporters.
Barr credited the breakthrough to intelligence from the current Libyan government, which replaced the toppled Muammar Qaddafi regime. Masud was arrested in 2012 and interrogated over his involvement in the bombing of Flight 103.
A criminal complaint affidavit stated that Masud worked with Megrahi to carry out the plot, allegedly at the orders of Libyan intelligence at the time. The affidavit claimed that Qaddafi thanked Masud for the attack.
Additionally, Masud was tied to the 1986 bombing of the LaBelle Discotheque in Berlin, West Germany, which killed two American service members and a Turkish woman. Libyan authorities provided a copy of the interview to law enforcement.
Barr is hopeful that Masud will be tried in the United States.
Prior to the announcement, a top Libyan government official confirmed to Fox News the reputed bomber is in custody in Libya, has been interrogated, charged and found guilty of several “heinous crimes” involving explosives committed by the former Qaddafi regime.
Mohammed Ali Abdallah, adviser to the current US-recognized Tripoli-based Libyan government, described Masud during a Zoom interview as a “very, very evil man” – a “hit man” for Qaddafi who was “called on a lot regarding timed bombings.”
Fox News’ Greg Palkot contributed to this report.