Nov
28
2011

Dead Afghan Kids Still Not Newsworthy

Back in March, we wondered when U.S. corporate news outlets would find U.S./NATO killing of Afghan kids newsworthy. Back then, it was nine children killed in a March 1 airstrike. This resulted in two network news stories on the evening or morning newscasts, and two brief references on the PBS NewsHour. On November 25, the New York Times reported–on page 12–that six children were killed in one attack in southern Afghanistan on November 23. This news was, as best I can tell, not reported on ABC, CBS, NBC or the PBS NewsHour. There were, on the other hand, several pieces […]

Oct
11
2011

Afghan War: NBC Lets the Generals Do the Talking

NBC Nightly News (10/7/11) marked the 10th anniversary of the Afghan War on October 7 with a segment that linked the war to the Occupy Wall Street protests. As anchor Brian Williams put it in the introduction: Tonight protesters remain in the streets of a dozen U.S. cities, angry over what's happened to their lives and our country; and a big part of that, over these last 10 years, the two wars we've been fighting, starting 10 years ago today. This is the anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan, longer now than World War II and the […]

Sep
14
2011

Bill O'Reilly Polices the 9/11 Boundaries

Fox host Bill O'Reilly knows a thing or two about boundaries. As he told his TV audience Monday night, some "far-left" radicals crossed the line on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote a blog post about how some Republican politicians turned the attacks into a "wedge issue," and referred to George W. Bush and Rudolph Giuliani as "fake heroes." O'Reilly's reaction: Krugman is "insulting his country on the anniversary of 9/11. That is truly despicable." O'Reilly had a little left in tank, so he went after former Times reporter Chris Hedges for […]

Sep
06
2011

Richard Cohen Is Sorry You and He Got It Wrong

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (9/5/11) takes the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 to say that he's sorry: I went home on September 11 with my shoes dusted with the detritus of the World Trade Center. I felt a hate that was entirely new to me. Soon after, the anthrax attacks began, and I was ready for war–against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, for sure, but against Saddam Hussein as well. I was wrong, and for that I blame myself, but I blame us all for going along with it and then rewarding incompetence with another term. Wait–we all […]

Aug
09
2011

'Deadliest Day' in Afghanistan? Not by a Long Shot

August 6, 2011, when 38 soldiers, including 30 U.S. troops, were killed when their helicopter was shot down, was the "deadliest day" of the Afghan War, several media outlets told us: David Muir (ABC World News Saturday, 8/6/11): "It was the deadliest day of the war in Afghanistan, 30 Americans, 22 Navy SEALs lost." David Gregory (NBC Meet the Press, 8/7/11): "This was the single deadliest day of the war." Chicago Tribune headline (8/7/11): "Taliban Says It Downed Copter in Deadliest Day of War in Afghanistan" ABC This Week graphic (8/7/11): "DEADLIEST DAY IN AFGHANISTAN" Terrell Brown, CBS Morning News […]

Jul
18
2011

Puffing Petraeus

Newsweek (7/17/11) begins a piece on David Petraeus becoming CIA director with an account of how he got the "short-term job done" after he was named commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan: Now, after 13 months, the 58-year-old Petraeus is coming home to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Since that day in the Oval Office, hopeful signs have begun appearing that he may have performed the seemingly impossible task of stabilizing the Afghan battlefield. The article, by reporter John Barry, doesn't provide much detail on what these "hopeful signs" are, but Afghan civilian deaths are up 15 percent in the […]

Jul
14
2011

The Strangeness of Afghan Culture

The end of a Wall Street Journal article (7/14/11) on a new report on Afghan deaths highlights the peculiarity of their culture: Of civilian casualties, 2 percent were caused by night raids, slightly down from last year, with 30 fatalities, the report says. Night raids have been a contentious issue between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. military officers and civilian leaders. The raids are sensitive in Afghanistan, because foreign soldiers burst into civilian homes, where strangers are unwelcome in the country's conservative Islamic traditions. What a strange place. I guess in a civilized society, when a foreign soldier bursts […]

Jun
23
2011

USAT: Anti-war movement applauds Obama speech?

An analysis in USA Today (6/23/11) by Richard Wolf claims: President Obama's decision to remove 10,000 troops from Afghanistan this year and a total of 33,000 by next September was deemed a step in the right direction Wednesday by a growing, and bipartisan, anti-war movement. Really? I'm not aware of many people in the "anti-war movement" who have expressed that sentiment. And neither is USA Today, judging by the quotes that are included in the article. The piece notes that "Many Democrats called for a faster drawdown" and "Many liberal Democrats demanded more troops home sooner"– naming Sen. Carl Levin, […]

Jun
22
2011

WaPo Defines Obama's Afghan War Mission

The headline in today's Post, previewing Obama's speech tonight: Obama's Challenge: Leaving, but Not Too Quickly Funny how it's not the other way around–leaving too slowly would seem to be a larger political problem, given the state of public opinion. The Post reports: President Obama will face a stiff political challenge Wednesday in presenting his plan for a gradual end to the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. His prime-time address must remind a skeptical electorate and a concerned Congress that the country's longest war remains worth fighting–and funding–for several more years. Why is it that Obama must "remind" the public […]

Jun
10
2011

Debating the Big Issues, NewsHour Style

One of the most common criticisms of the PBS NewsHour is that it too often mimics the elite bias of the commercial media. A recent broadcast of the NewsHour (6/8/11) had two segments about the debate over the Afghan War–the first a news report covering the Senate nomination hearings for Ryan Crocker, Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Afghanistan. Quoted in the piece were senators Jim Webb (D.-Va.) and Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Barack Obama. The discussion segment that accompanied it featured two more senators: Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez. […]

Jun
06
2011

ABC's Raddatz, Citing Her 'Combat Mission,' Says Bombs Must Go On

Afghan president Hamid Karzai denounced once again U.S./NATO airstrikes that killed civilians. In this recent incident, 14 were killed, including 11 children. This prompted ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer (5/31/11) to call in ABC reporters to sort things out, leading to this exchange with Pentagon reporter Martha Raddatz: SAWYER: He's talking to the Afghan people. But Martha, he put restrictions on what U.S. troops can do, what the NATO troops can do. How onerous are these? RADDATZ: Well, he's trying to put restrictions on. I mean they simply have to carry out air strikes over there. It's a very […]

May
05
2011

Did the WaPo Hire Sean Hannity?

OK, this isn't Sean Hannity's byline in the Post today, but it might as well be. The headline should stop you: In bin Laden Victory, Echoes of the Bush Years The piece–actually written by Scott Wilson and Anne Kornblut–lays out the argument: As President Obama celebrates the signature national-security success of his tenure, he has a long list of people to thank. On the list: George W. Bush. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, Bush waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have forged a military so skilled that it carried out a complicated covert raid with only a minor […]

May
02
2011

The Wrong Time to Talk About the Afghan War?

During an interview on CNN last night (5/1/11) with New York firefighter and 9/11 first responder Kenny Specht: BLITZER: Did you ever give up hope, Kenny, that the U.S. would kill bin Laden? SPECHT: No, but I'd be lying to you, Wolf, I'd be lying to you if I thought about it every night. No, I didn't give up hope. That's all we had. That's all we had. It's like anything else, though. It's just sometimes we think that when it's not spoken about anymore, we wonder really what's being done. I mean, we're in a quagmire, for lack of […]