Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reporters Say Networks Have Put Iraq on the Back Burner

Why is that?

According the NYT, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, Andrew Tyndall, has compiled data that demonstrates that coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Tyndall discloses that in all of 2007, the big three devoted 1,157 minutes to Iraq. But, halfway into 2008, the coverage of Iraq is a miniscule 181 weekday minutes:
  • The “CBS Evening News” - 51 minutes
  • ABC’s “World News” - 55 minutes
  • “NBC Nightly News” - 74 minutes
Keep in mind that the average evening newscast is 22 minutes long.

CBS News no longer stations a single full-time correspondent in Iraq, where some 150,000 United States troops are deployed. CBS cutbacks are the most extensive to date in Baghdad. However many journalists have shared varying levels of frustration about placing war stories onto newscasts.

On “The Daily Show,” chief foreign correspondent for CBS News, Lara Logan echoed the comments of other journalists when she said that many Americans seem uninterested 'in the war' now. Terry McCarthy, an ABC News correspondent in Baghdad. said that when he is in the United States, bringing up Baghdad at a dinner party “is like a conversation killer.”

Why is that?

It shouldn't be such a big mystery. The late George Carlin said that America loves war:The big problem is, obviously, is that we are no longer at war in Iraq. We are occupying Iraq. And Americans hate being the occupying power. It reminds them of the reason for which America's armed forces were originally formed: to wage an insurrection and defeat British occupation of our colonies.

It's a national embarrassment to be caught in the headlights of major network exposure as an unwelcomed occupier of foreign lands. The less we see of the devastation we have caused in Iraq, the better we can follow the fake news. Every one at every dinner party much rather talk about the price of gas, which is a unifying complaint. Or, we can agreeably agree to disagree about our politics - not so with Iraq's politics about which we know next to nothing. Frank Rich, writing Now That We've 'Won,' Let's Come Home, says,
If you follow the nation's op-ed pages and the presidential campaign, Iraq seems as contentious an issue as Vietnam was in 1968. But in the country itself, Cindy vs. Michelle, not Shiites vs. Sunnis, is the hotter battle. This isn't the press's fault, and it isn't the public's fault. It's merely the way things are.
Like I said, my fellow Americans love a war, but hate an occupation. If you won't take it from me, take it from George Carlin.