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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?

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