Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Barbie's Dream House trumps the deaths of US Soldiers on NBC's Today

Today the US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and two others wounded when an explosively-formed penetrator detonated on their patrol during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 4." And they announced: " A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and two others wounded during combat operations in a western section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 4." The announcements bring the total number of announced deaths of US service members in Iraq to 5 for the month thus far and to 3746 US service members killed in the illegal war since it started in March 2003.

Now if you caught the 'news' portion of Today (after the lead story about Barbie's Dream House), you were informed of the first announcement and you were informed the deaths took place today. Apparently it's really difficult for news readers to get their act together long enough to provide their five or so minutes each hour. Or maybe News Reader Natalie just was too caught up in the hardship of Barbie's Dream House being recalled?

Regardless, Today telegraphed the importance today: Barbie's Dream House matters, the death of US soldiers doesn't.

What else did Today avoid covering? The GAO report. If you get your news from Today, you know nothing about it. From Renee Schoof and Warren P. Strobel's "Report: Surge hasn't cut attacks on Iraqi civilians" (McClatchy Newspapers):

The surge of additional U.S. troops in Iraq has failed to curtail violence against Iraqi civilians, an independent government agency reported Tuesday.
Citing data from the Pentagon and other U.S. agencies, the Government Accountability Office found that daily attacks against civilians in Iraq have remained "about the same" since February, when the United States began sending nearly 30,000 additional troops to improve security in Iraq.
The GAO also found that the number of Iraqis fleeing violence in their neighborhoods is increasing, with as many as 100,000 Iraqis a month leaving their homes in search of safety.
The GAO's conclusions contradict repeated assertions by the White House and the Pentagon in advance of the coming congressional debate on whether to stay the course in Iraq or to begin some withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Now if you think Iraq matters, you should be offended that the death of US soldiers took a back seat not only to Australia (Bully Boy's there) but also to Barbie's Dream House. You should be offended that a news reader didn't think her job included getting the day of the deaths she briefly mentioned (finally) correct. But most of all, you should grasp that this Bash the Bitch game (the same one that allowed Michael Gordon to remain at the New York Times -- even though he was Judith Miller's writing partner) allows a lot of people to get off scott free. This obsession on the part of 'critics' with what Couric's going to do (as opposed to what she's done) sure does let a lot of highly paid people off the hook when they should be strongly and loudly criticized.

(No, I don't normally watch Today. A friend with Hillary's campaign asked me to watch today for Bill Clinton's appearance.)

In this morning's New York Times, we'll note this from David E. Sanger's "Bush Shifts Terms for Measuring Progress in Iraq:"

It was the White House and the Iraqi government, not Congress, that first proposed the benchmarks for Iraq that are now producing failing grades, a provenance that raises questions about why the administration is declaring now that the government’s performance is not the best measure of change.
The White House insists that Mr. Bush's fresh embrace of Sunni leaders simply augments his consistent support of Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
But some of Mr. Bush's critics regard the change as something far more significant, saying they believe it amounts to a grudging acknowledgment by the White House of something these critics themselves have long asserted -- that Iraq will never become the kind of cohesive, unified state that could be a democratic beacon for the Middle East.

What? Where is Barbie's Dream House!!! Doesn't the New York Times that is the most important story! They must not have caught Today this morning.

By the way, Sanger is correct about the White House proposing the 'benchmarks'. The Los Angeles Times also tends to get that detail right. (The same 'benchmarks' Bully Boy now tries to run from.) CNN doesn't have a clue in this story. We'll use that to jump over to a question in the public account from a visitor: Why is CNN ending their relationship with Reuters? It has nothing to do with High Def TV. It has everything to do with the changing media landscape and wanting to 'brand' via "CNN reports" as opposed to "Reuters reports." The change was coming and they've actually been testing it for several months now as staff was encouraged to parcipate in text. (No, I'm not referring to CNN's blog.) Just to focus on Iraq, a year ago this time you would have had, at the website, one report from Reuters after another. It's part of getting the name of the company out there. ("Producing content.")

Not everyone's thrilled with the new responsibilites (and some aren't suited, as even a casual reader should be able to pick up).

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