You Read It Here First: FNC Picks Up Spiking of Good News on Iraq

FNC's Brit Hume led his Wednesday night “Grapevine” segment by marveling that though “you might have thought it was big news Tuesday when the administration reported to Congress that Iraq had made satisfactory progress on 15 of 18 political benchmarks set by the U.S.,” up from progress on only eight a year earlier, “the Media Research Center says there was not a word about the report on the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News or ABC's World News Tonight.”

Hume added that “the New York Times also ignored the story, and the Washington Post relegated its coverage to page eight,” before he expressed astonishment at the AP's spin:

And this -- and I'm not making this up -- is how the Associated Press began its story on the report: “No matter who's elected President in November, his foreign policy team will have to deal with...the slow pace with which the government in Baghdad operates.”
Indeed, that is how the July 1 AP dispatch by Washington, DC-based reporter Anne Flaherty began, though it was headlined on Yahoo and elsewhere: “New Iraq report: 15 of 18 benchmarks satisfactory.”

Wednesday's Boston Globe, however, put a headline over Flaherty's article which better reflected her lead: “Baghdad makes progress at achingly slow pace.” The subhead for the AP story on page A-2 of the July 2 newspaper: “US declares efforts 'satisfactory' on 15 of 18 benchmarks.”

My Tuesday night NewsBusters/Wednesday MRC CyberAlert item, “Hume Correctly Predicts Only FNC Would Report Progress in Iraq,” recounted:
After leading Tuesday's Special Report with how "last year the administration reported satisfactory progress on only about eight of 18 benchmarks" while this year, in a report disclosed Tuesday, the administration determined "there has been satisfactory progress on 15 of the 18," FNC's Brit Hume doubted "word of this progress is going to get through" to the public as he predicted: "I suspect that this broadcast tonight -- and maybe some others on this channel -- are the only ones who are going to make a headline out of this. This is not going to be a big story elsewhere."

Indeed, neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned Iraq while on ABC's World News anchor Charles Gibson read a short update about "increasing dangers for U.S. troops in Afghanistan" since "in the month of June there were 28 American fatalities in Afghanistan, just one less than died in Iraq last month." CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 was also silent Tuesday night about the benchmarks....
I also held out hope the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts might catch up on Wednesday night: “The assessment of the benchmarks broke late Tuesday afternoon, so there's a chance others will catch up on Wednesday, particularly ABC's World News which was the only broadcast network evening newscast to notice benchmark achievements back in January and February.”

They all let me down. The MRC's Brad Wilmouth has informed me there was “nothing about the benchmarks tonight [Wednesday] on ABC, CBS or NBC.” (Brad's toiling at the MRC while I enjoy a few days by a lake in New Hampshire.)

Full transcript of Hume's lead “Grapevine” item on the Wednesday, July 2 Special Report with Brit Hume:
You might have thought it was big news Tuesday when the administration reported to Congress that Iraq had made satisfactory progress on 15 of 18 political benchmarks set by the U.S. Just last year, there was said to be progress on only eight of those benchmarks, and war critics have repeatedly cited the lack of political progress in their arguments against the troop surge. But the Media Research Center says there was not a word about the report on the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News or ABC's World News Tonight. The New York Times also ignored the story, and the Washington Post relegated its coverage to page eight.

And this -- and I'm not making this up -- is how the Associated Press began its story on the report: "No matter who's elected President in November, his foreign policy team will have to deal with...the slow pace with which the government in Baghdad operates."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center