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Iraq

ABC, BBC, NHK Poll Iraqi People

ABC News’ sixth installment of their “Iraq: Where Things Stand” series includes a poll of Iraqi citizens commissioned by ABC News and their international partners the BBC and Japan’s NHK. The poll and the reports are timed to coincide with this week’s testimony by Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker on Capitol Hill.

Reports began airing this weekend on GMA, This Week with George Stephanopoulos and World News Sunday and will continue on air and on ABCNEWS.com.

The press release is after the jump…

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Protesters & Problems Mar Start of Petraeus Hearing

The highly anticipated testimony of Gen. David Petraeus was put on hold for several minutes this afternoon because of a faulty microphone. After opening statements from the committee Chairman and then the ranking Republican, Gen. Petraeus was given the floor. But his microphone didn’t work. Brian Williams anchoring on MSNBC said “the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, apparently powerless over the audio system in the hearing room.” After a 14-minute delay, Gen. Petraeus began his testimony at 1:29pmET.

Also, FNC reports two protesters were ejected from the hearing while three others were refused entry.

Can You Keep A Secret?

Brian Williams began tonight’s NBC Nightly News telling viewers, “the reporters covering President Bush were told they could only tell their spouses and their boss who, in turn, weren’t allowed to tell anyone else that the President of the United States was leaving for a secret trip to Iraq.”

Couric_9.03.jpgAnd so from Washington to Baghdad, a secret it remained. CBS Evening News executive producer Rick Kaplan who, along with anchor Katie Couric, has been in the region since last Thursday, reveals to TVNewser how he learned of the President’s visit. “A General told us to be at his chopper at a certain time to travel to an undisclosed location…he had a big surprise…we didn’t know until the very last minute what was going on.”

Kaplan, Couric and their cameraman flew from Baghdad to the al Anbar province to cover the president’s visit with the troops and meetings with Iraqi leaders. Couric’s interview with the president (which had audio problems during the east coast feed) led the Evening News tonight.

ABC’s chief White House correspondent Martha Raddatz, on her 14th reporting trip to Iraq, also got a one-on-one with the President at al Asad Air Base. In addition to Raddatz’s reporting, ABC’s Jonathan Karl, traveling with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, got an exclusive interview with Gates who was on hand for the president’s meetings at al Asad.

NBC’s John Yang was the pool reporter for the White House, and led off Nightly News. On the secrecy of the trip, Yang reported “Mr. Bush was spirited out of the White House on Sunday evening and driven to Andrews Air Force Base where he boarded Air Force One, while it was still in the hanger. White House officials won’t tell us how they did it. They tell us it worked so well, they just might want to try to do it again.”

CBS Translator Abducted, Murdered

CBS News has announced the murder of one of their translators in Iraq. Anwar Abbas Lafta had been working with CBS News for 10 months. He was abducted from his home last Monday. In a release, CBS writes “during the week, two ransom calls were received by Mr. Abbas’ family. On Saturday, Aug. 25, a cousin, who, along with Mr. Abbas’ brother, had been searching police stations and morgues for the body, received a call from the local police saying they had found a body on the north side of Sadr City. The cousin identified the body that evening.”

“This is not the first time the CBS News family has suffered the worst loss possible — the life of a colleague. We certainly hope it is the last,” said Sean McManus, CBS News and Sports President.

“War News Is Depressing. Lindsay Lohan Is Hot”

Lohan_826.jpgOn this morning’s Reliable Sources on CNN, Howard Kurtz talked about last week’s PEJ study which showed how much (or little) the cable news channels covered the Iraq war in the second quarter.

Kurtz chose last Thursday night on FNC to prove his point.

Kurtz: “On Thursday, the day that [Sen.] John Warner late in the day made his call for at least a partial, symbolic withdrawal from Iraq, big news in most places. It got exactly one mention in primetime on FOX News during a news cut-in.”

After a Fox News montage that ended on news of Lindsay Lohan going to jail, Kurtz’s guest Michelle Cottle said, “a lot of this has to do with the political battle, was what was so hot about the war going up to the election. And the Republicans took a beating, and so now what you’re seeing is — you know, it’s depressing war. War news is depressing. Lindsay Lohan is hot. It’s sexy.”

Boy’s Story Drives Record Number To CNN.com

It began as any feature on cable news might, but the result has even surprised CNN’s top executive. This week, CNN and CNN.com featured the story of five-year-old Youssif, an Iraqi boy who was doused with gasoline and set on fire by masked gunmen. It is part of CNN’s Impact Your World initiative. And what happened in a few short days, will truly make an impact on the life of Youssif.

Yousif_8.24.jpgCNN correspondent Arwa Damon‘s report on Youssif first aired on Wednesday. The corresponding story on CNN.com has gotten approximately 2.3 million page views. Combined with a follow-up story and a donation link, this has become CNN.com’s most-visited non-breaking news story in history.

CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton sent a memo to the staff today writing, “the reaction was swift and emphatic.”

So swift, that The Children’s Burn Foundation — a non-profit organization in Sherman Oaks, CA — has agreed to pay all expenses for Youssif and his father to come to the United States so Youssif can receive treatment. They’ve also established a fund so viewers can donate. “Through an act of breath-taking callousness we have had a chance to see the very best of CNN,” writes Walton. Impactful, indeed.

Click continued to read Jim Walton’s internal memo…

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The Toll of War

IraqWarCoverage-FNC.jpgMore than four years after the start of the Iraq War, Broadcasting & Cable’s Marisa Guthrie addresses the emotional, human, and economic toll on television news organizations. The networks, she writes, “have awakened to their own grim reality: They’re spending millions of dollars a year to operate in a country where security costs them thousands of dollars a day. Even with extreme security measures, photographers and correspondents are in constant danger of getting maimed and killed – even in their own bureaus.”

The financial aspect of coverage is daunting, with Guthrie estimating costs ranging from “$3 million a year for cable networks to $10 million for broadcast (networks).” One news executive, she says, calls Iraq “a financial ‘black hole’.”

All in all, Guthrie concludes, Iraq coverage is “a game of diminishing returns: The more dangerous the country becomes, the more money (news organizations) must spend to keep their people safe and the harder it becomes for correspondents.”

O’Reilly Says CNN & MSNBC’s Iraq “Is More Political Than Informational”

Last night on the Factor, Bill O’Reilly responded to Jon Klein‘s comments about the PEJ study showing Fox News covered the Iraq war less than CNN or MSNBC:

“In my opinion, CNN, and especially MSNBC, delight in showing Iraqi violence because they want Americans to think badly of President Bush. And that strategy has succeeded,” O’Reilly said. “So their Iraqi coverage is more political than informational, again in my opinion. Could be wrong about CNN. I’m not wrong about the committed left wing crew over at NBC.”

Later, O’Reilly added: “There’s little news value in broadcasting daily bombings. By the way, FOX News continues to crush CNN and MSNBC in the ratings, as the folks know news when they see it.”

PEJ’s First Quarterly News Report

PEJ has released its first quarterly News Coverage Index report.

The Swamp sums it up: “The war in Iraq has ‘dwarfed’ all other subjects reported by American news media in the early months of this year, a new study shows, but most of the coverage — 55 percent of it — has centered on the political debate in Washington. Less than one third of the coverage — 32 percent — has focused on events in Iraq.”

Iraq: “Not Ready For Primetime” War?

“This week’s programming barrage marking the fourth anniversary of the U.S. adventure in Iraq provides an inadvertent referendum on broadcast news, reflecting what has become the ‘not ready for primetime’ war,” Variety’s Brian Lowry writes.

“President Bush has said Americans pay a price for the war ‘when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night,’ but the truth is such images are easily avoided by anybody tuning in after 7 p.m. Indeed, many wouldn’t see them unless they were emblazoned on Simon Cowell’s forehead.” Here’s the full column…

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