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Haitian Orphans at Center of for News Networks

From the first full day of coverage following the earthquake in Haiti, orphaned children have been a central topic for TV news organizations.

Monday, Fox News’ Jonathan Hunt delivered an extended report on orphaned children in Port-au-Prince, many of whom have already been adopted by U.S. families, and the need to get them out of the country quickly. Hunt highlighted two children, whose adoptive parents in New York were simultaneously interviewed by Shepard Smith. Later in the day, Hunt was able to report that the State Department had adjusted its policies to make the process of extracting adopted orphans easier.

But the orphan issue has not been without some controversy.

On CNN last night, Anderson Cooper wondered if healthy orphans leaving the country are taking a priority over planes with relief supplies coming in. “Orphans in need is important,” Cooper said, “But, you know, could they be cared for for an extra week with a few more supplies here?” Cooper admitted he’d probably get some angry emails for expressing that position.

TVNewser has learned that the removal of orphans was the source of a confrontation yesterday between the director of a Port-au-Prince orphanage and the crew from ABC’s “Nightline.” Robin Roberts has been reporting the story of Maya Esther, an orphan whom the network has been helping to reunite with her adoptive parents, the Poulter family of Iowa, who had been just weeks away from bringing her home when the earthquake struck. With the help of ABC News, the Poulters arrived in Haiti yesterday and were trying to bring Esther — and several other children — back to the U.S.

While the children’s visas had been approved by the State Department, the director of this particular orphanage, who had been out of the country during the earthquake, became concerned amid the chaos and attempted to intervene as the children were trying to leave the country, resulting in a heated argument with a producer from ABC News.

We hear that the producer has spoken to the orphanage director today and the director’s concerns have been worked out, but it led to this announcement by anchor Martin Bashir at the end of last night’s “Nightline” segment:

As we came on air, we learned that the director of their orphanage has raised questions about whether any of the children should be permitted to leave the country before their adoptions are formally completed. But today, the department of homeland security announced a temporary plan to allow orphans from Haiti already in the process of adoption by American citizens to enter the United States.

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