Friday, August 20, 2010

Coverage of Iraq exit shows networks' differences

Coverage of Iraq exit shows networks' differences

NEW YORK — Nowhere was the difference between the cable news networks on starker display than in prime-time coverage on the night the last American combat brigade left Iraq following a war that started seven years and five months ago.

MSNBC devoted its entire prime-time footprint to the story, with Richard Engel riding with the troops in a specially equipped vehicle and host Rachel Maddow based in Baghdad. Keith Olbermann anchored the coverage from a New York studio.

Fox News Channel devoted just under 10 minutes to the story, much of it during Shepard Smith's 7 p.m. newscast. The network spent 45 minutes discussing the potential construction of an Islamic cultural center near ground zero, while that story wasn't mentioned on MSNBC at all. CNN, meanwhile, spent an hour on each story.

The news decisions led critics of Fox and MSNBC to suggest politics was at play in the coverage decisions.

Engel had been embedded with the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, the last combat brigade in Iraq. Since President Barack Obama had said combat units would leave by Aug. 31, Engel was closely tracking the exit time with an eye toward providing live coverage, said Phil Griffin, NBC News executive in charge of MSNBC.
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Coverage of Iraq exit shows networks differences

Also on this from CBS

Petraeus Talks about Challenges in Iraq
In Interview with Katie Couric, Gen. Petraeus Says, 'We Are Not Leaving'
By Katie Couric
(CBS) Today, 150 soldiers from the Fourth Stryker Brigade were welcomed home to Washington State. Last night, other members of the Fourth crossed into Kuwait - the last full combat brigade to leave.

For now, there are still 6,000 American combat troops in Iraq. But they'll leave by the end of the month. The U.S. will maintain a presence of 50,000 non-combat troops - to train Iraqi forces.

General David Petraeus was once the top U.S. Commander in Iraq; now he's the top commander in Afghanistan. CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric asked him about the changing mission there.

"Having been in Iraq with you, I have to ask you now that the combat troops are leaving Iraq, is this the right time?" Couric asked.

"I mean you have an uptick in violence - 61 recruits were killed - lots wounded. There's no clearly formed government. The head of Iraqi military says it won't be until 2020 until they can really provide security for the country. Is this a success?"

"Well, first of all we are not leaving," Gen. Petraeus replied. "There are 50,000 U.S. troops that are remaining in Iraq albeit in a support role rather than a leading combat role. But that's an enormous capability."
read more of this here
Petraeus Talks about Challenges in Iraq

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