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Archives: January 2006

‘Signs of Improvement’

Statement this morning from ABC News President David Westin: “The families and our colleagues have met with the doctors who have examined Bob and Doug at Landstuhl. Both have shown some signs of improvement. As we have known, Doug is in somewhat better condition than Bob. But the doctors are pleased with how they came through the transfer. They will continue to monitor their condition closely. They may be brought to the United States for further treatment as soon as tomorrow. Both Bob and Doug continue to need our thoughts and prayers. We have a long way to go. But it appears that we may have also come some distance from yesterday.”

Is the Woodruff/Vogt Attack a ‘Cronkite Moment’ for Iraq?

In all that has been and will be said in the coming days about the attack yesterday that injured ABC’s Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt, this sentence in the New York Times might be the most insightful: “Bob Woodruff was in Baghdad for ABC reporting the good news that the Bush administration complains is ignored by the news media, and he ended up as a glaring illustration of the bad news.”

For the Bush administration, one wonders whether this moment will be seen in the future as the “Cronkite moment” of the Iraq War. The one where, despite all the big and little moments and grand statements like the “Plan for Victory” and tomorrow night’s State of the Union address, the American people lost hope in the war. This serious attack on Woodruff’s and Vogt’s convoy is similar to one that happens hundreds of times a week in Iraq, but it rarely makes the wall-to-wall coverage that yesterday’s attack garnered–and it will likely change how every American news organization covers the war.

The fact that it was too dangerous to travel unguarded (as Jill Carroll‘s situation shows) pushed U.S. correspondents into military embedded units. Now, though, that’s looking like a higher risk than most correspondents–and news organizations–will want to cover. Once the reporters can’t see or hear, they can’t report any good news, just the bad.

As Jonathan Finer reports, here’s what else happened in Iraq yesterday: “The incident was one of several attacks that killed more than a dozen people Sunday across Iraq, including at least three in a series of apparently coordinated bombings targeting churches in the northern city of Kirkuk. Nearly simultaneous explosions at two churches in Baghdad and at the Vatican Embassy in the Iraqi capital caused only minor injuries.

“In Kirkuk, insurgents detonated a car bomb near the city’s Orthodox Church during a Sunday afternoon Mass, according to Gen. Burhan Tayyib of the Iraqi police. The explosion killed one civilian and wounded five. Ten minutes later, a second explosion targeted the Virgin Mary Church for the Chaldeans, killing two and wounding seven.”

That’s a run of the mill day, but yesterday the war came home to millions of living rooms in a way that it hasn’t before. As Alessandra Stanley writes, “Woodruff’s plight underscored at a whole new level that Americans there feel like sitting ducks, picked off by a faceless enemy.”

What will the lasting impact of that attack be?

It’s Official: NJ & WETA To Partner

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We first reported the partnership last week, and now it’s official: National Journal will partner with WETA on the long-running public affairs show “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.”

The two “sober chroniclers” will announce the partnership today, which will bring National Journal staff a bigger soapbox and bring WETA lots more money.

John Fox Sullivan, National Journal’s group publisher and chief executive, said that the magazine and the TV program have a ‘natural editorial fit’ as outlets ‘for people who have brains and actually exercise their brains and people who have power and influence and exercise their power and influence.’
In turn, Ms. Ifill, the show’s moderator, called the magazine an ‘ideologically compatible partner,’” the New York Times said today.

The “Washington Week” crew will retain full editorial control, and two of NJ’s big advertisers, Boeing and Chevron, have already signed up to back the new venture.

“The venture came about when Dalton Delan, the executive vice president and chief programming officer at WETA, the Washington public TV station that produces the show, approached National Journal over the summer,” according to the Times.

Woodruff/Vogt: Overnight Report

Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt are safely at a military hospital in Germany after an insurgent attack in Iraq yesterday left them both seriously wounded. They are in serious but stable condition.

“Bob and Doug were in Iraq doing what reporters do, trying to find out what’s happening there up-close and first-hand. All of us are mindful of the risks and the dangers,” his co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas said yesterday.

The attack on the newly named co-anchor of “World News Tonight” is only the latest blow to hit a network that last year saw its longtime anchor Peter Jennings felled by lung cancer and its “Nightline” host Ted Koppel depart under less-than-happy circumstances.

Our cousin TVNewser is tracking all the details.

Elizabeth Vargas’ Closing Note on WNT

From Elizabeth Vargas, who anchored “World News Tonight Sunday”:

“Finally tonight, another note about my co-anchor and good friends Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt–two of the very best in this business. Bob and Doug were in Iraq doing what reporters do, trying to find out what’s happening there up-close and first-hand. All of us are mindful of the risks and the dangers.

“Bob and Doug always take care to balance those risks with the need to report the story. We are all very concerned about our friends tonight and their wives, and their children.

“And we are reminded once again in a very personal way, of what so many families of American servicemen and women endure so often, when they receive news of their loved one being hurt. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families as well.”

Woodruff and Vogt out of Surgery, Stable

TVNewser has the following updates:

  • Both Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt are out of surgery and in stable condition.

  • They are being flown to facilities in Landstuhl, Germany. Both have serious injuries to their head and Woodruff has additional injuries to his upper body.

Martha Raddatz Reports on Woodruff/Vogt

Here’s the transcript from this morning’s “This Week” where George Stephanopoulos talked with former Pentagon reporter Martha Raddatz about today’s attack on a convoy carrying anchor Bob Woodruff:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone. We have to begin today with some news that has hit close to home for all of us here at ABC. Our World News Tonight co-anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt were reporting today from Taji, Iraq when their convoy was hit by an IED.

Both are in serious condition, and they’ve been medevaced to a U.S. military hospital in Iraq, where they are now receiving treatment. I’m now joined here in the studio by our White House correspondent, Martha Raddatz, who, of course, has also covered the Pentagon for years. And you’ve been talking to the military this morning. What more do we know?

RADDATZ: Bob and Doug were in a convoy, and they were with U.S. military as well from the 4th Infantry Division, but they were with Iraqi security forces. As you know, the U.S. military is training Iraqi security forces. Bob and Doug were apparently with the 4th Infantry Division in an up-armored humvee and wanted instead to go in a vehicle with the Iraqi military forces.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Much softer target.

RADDATZ: Much softer target. It was a mechanized vehicle. At least it wasn’t one of the pickup trucks which they usually drive around in. They were in the lead vehicle and they were up in the hatch, so they were exposed. They did have all of their body armor on. They had helmets on. They had eye protection. But the IED went off, the improvised explosive device.

They were both immediately injured, taken away. They have shrapnel wounds. Both apparently have shrapnel wounds to the head. They were first transferred to the green zone, the international zone. Their medical condition — they were stabilized. Then they were flown by helicopter to Balad. Balad is north of Baghdad.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is the best military hospital in Iraq.

RADDATZ: That’s a very good military hospital in Iraq, and Bob is currently undergoing surgery. This happened several hours ago. Immediately medevac’d, again, both stabilized. Bob is in surgery. I’m not sure Doug is in surgery at this point.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the initial reports, at least this morning, were that after the IED went off, there was also some gunfire.

RADDATZ: Again, some of the reports I’ve gotten from people over there, as you know, these things change. Initial reports are sometimes wrong. But the initial reports were that they hit an improvised explosive device, and then that was followed up by small arms fire. This is very common over there now. These attacks are planned, and this is a secondary attack. Sometimes when medical personnel come in, they’ll have small arms fire following up on that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Training these Iraqi forces is the heart of the U.S. strategy right now, so there’s really no way to cover this story without going out there.

RADDATZ: There’s no way. And I’ve been, in fact, with Doug and others when we have to go with the Iraqi military forces. If you’re going to cover the Iraqi military forces, you have to be with them. You have to see how they live. I will tell you one thing, a few months ago when I was there and we wanted to get into an Iraqi pickup truck, one of the American soldiers said, you can’t do that. It’s way too dangerous.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because — and we’ve actually seen. The insurgents know this as well, so in recent weeks and in recent months, that’s been their target.

RADDATZ: It’s become a primary target. It’s a softer target, as you know, but it is a primary target to attack these forces. There have been hundreds and hundreds — thousands, probably, of Iraqi security forces killed. Sometimes they’re attacked by suicide bombers, but they have become a primary target. It is very dangerous business, training these troops for that reason alone.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And both Bob and Doug understood this. And as you pointed out, they’re not being hot dogs here. They were wearing heavy…

RADDATZ: Not in any way. I have worked with Doug Vogt so many times. He is no hot dog. Bob Woodruff would not take risks that were — without his body armor or anything else. They are both very careful. Doug, as a matter of fact, when he was with Terry Moran a few months ago, they hit a very small IED, and one of the Iraqi forces was killed. Doug was also in that convoy, but he was in an armored humvee at that time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Martha, I know you’ll be following this all morning. Obviously, this is very tough news for all of us here at ABC. It gives us a taste of what so many military families are going through every day. Our hearts and our prayers go to Bob, his wife, Lee, and their four kids, Doug’s wife, Vivian, and their three daughters. We’re going to be praying for them. We hope you will too. We’ll be right back.

BREAKING: Woodruff Injured in Iraq

CNN reports this morning that ABC’s Bob Woodruff has been seriously injured by an IED in Iraq. More to come…and keep your eyes on cousin TVNewser all day for updates.

UPDATE: ABC News has posted this on their website:

    ABC News’ Bob Woodruff Hurt in Iraq

    Bob Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt were injured in an IED attack near Taji, Iraq today. They were embedded with the 4th Infantry Division, traveling with an Iraqi Army unit in an Iraqi mechanized vehicle.

Milbank = Bimbo

…And he’s not afraid to admit it.

    Anonymous: FYI: From Peggy Noonan’s Jan 20 column: The other day, Dana Milbank, an important reporter for The Washington Post, the most important newspaper in the capital, wrote a piece deriding Judge Alito. Once such a piece would have been important. Men in the White House would have fretted over its implications. But within hours of filing, Mr. Milbank found his thinking analyzed and dismissed on the Internet; National Review Online called him a “policy bimbo.”

    I didn’t know there were any bimbos in policy. Is there like a calendar I can buy? They are accusing you of being a tool for the left. Some on the left would disagree, but hey, freakin Peggy Noonan thinks your important. That’s so awesome!

    Dana Milbank: I was very pleased to be named a “policy bimbo” in Peggy’s column. (Hopefully the savvy washingtonpost.com people can get the link put in here.) But in truth, Noonan was just repeating what the ever-angry John Podhoretz had written on a blog on National Review. He called me a policy bimbo for making a joke, in a Style story, about a 1935 Supreme Court case (don’t ask), but I was more grateful for his description of me as “one of the most obnoxious writers who has ever lived.” I am hoping to use this as a blurb for my book.

Who Doesn’t Love Duran Duran?

Hotline profiles Newsweek’s White House reporter Holly Bailey today in their Friday Feature, and they discover all sorts of goodies, such as Holly’s…

…recently acquired love for her hometown, Oklahoma City. (“Two things got people through: OU football (Go Sooners!) and an unshakable belief that life in Oklahoma would eventually get better.”)
…her childhood angst (“I was the kid who was bitter that everything cool seemed to pass us by. Cool stuff, as in Duran Duran concerts.”)
…her time at the tanning salon.
…her token story (don’t we all have one?) about Wolf Blitzer. (“I once had to drive Wolf Blitzer to the mall so he could do some shopping. How cool is that?”)
…her personal victories. (“I’m proud to say the Tribune was, I think, the only paper in the country to report that Clinton wasn’t drunk.”)

Full profile after the jump…

Read more

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