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Cable News Notes: Covering the Final Combat Brigade as it Leaves Iraq

Engel_8.19.jpg• MSNBC remained in rolling coverage all night of the final U.S. military convoy as it made its way out of Iraq and in to Kuwait. For much of the night it was a tri-anchor situation with Keith Olbermann in New York, Chris Matthews in Boston and Rachel Maddow in Baghdad. Incoming primetime anchor Lawrence O’Donnell shared the New York set with Olbermann. The network had, in Olbermann’s words, “a world exclusive” with NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his cameraman Craig White, live, embedded with the final convoy to leave Iraq. White was David Bloom‘s cameraman in April, 2003, when the NBC News anchor died during the U.S.-led invasion. Seven years later, Engel and White used the so-called Bloom mobile to report the final troop departure.

Said Maddow at the top of the 9pmET hour, “The reason no one else in all of TV and all the world is able to bring you the image that we’ve been able to broadcast … and no one else can show you footage like this is because NBC has technology to do this like no one else has.”

This was the Bloom mobile’s first trip to Iraq since the 2003 invasion. It’s been used in the U.S. for everything from hurricane coverage to following political candidates. In the 10pmET hour Engel interviewed a sergeant who’d served two tours in Iraq: the first was during the invasion. Iraq “is a lot better place for the people,” said the sergeant from the 1st Infantry division. “I’m glad that we were able to do something good for them and come around and close it out on a good note.”

• On CNN, John King‘s 7pmET show was in and out of coverage of the convoy departing. Coverage accelerated during Rick Sanchez‘s 8pmET hour, slowed down during “Larry King Live” and picked up again during AC360 with John Roberts filling in. The anchors checked in with CNN correspondents Arwa Damon in Mosul and Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon.

• Fox News first mentioned the troop movements during “Special Report” at 6:10pmET, led with the story and reported it extensively during FOX Report at 7pmET. No mention was made during “The O’Reilly Factor” which is pre-taped earlier in the evening. Shepard Smith anchored a live update at 8:12pmET during “The Factor.” Coverage was sporadic during “Hannity” at 9pmET and “On the Record” at 10pmET.

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