CBS’s Couric to Petraeus: ‘How Frustrated Are You?’

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterOn Thursday’s CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric teased an upcoming interview with General David Petraues: "Also tonight, General David Petraeus on the slow progress in Iraq." Couric later began the interview by asking Petraeus: "How frustrated are you?"

Prior to asking about Iranian influence in Iraq, Couric offered this pessimistic observation: "There's been a spike in attacks against Americans recently. Sixteen combat deaths this month. April is on track to be the deadliest month since September." Couric went on to describe the latest effort by Iraqi security forces to combat militias in Basra: "Last month the Iraqi army surprised the United States by attacking militant strongholds in the southern city of Basra. The operation was poorly planned. Some Iraqi troops stopped fighting, and ultimately US air power had to be sent in to back the Iraqis."

Couric then concluded the interview by citing the latest poll numbers: "Finally, general, in our latest poll, 54 percent of Americans think the war is going badly -- more than half, obviously. How can you sustain this effort without more popular support here at home?"

This interview was not the first time Couric wondered about the "frustrations" of leaders with regard to Iraq. In June of 2005, while still a co-host of NBC’s "Today," Couric asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "It must be very frustrating at times to see things unraveling so." One wonders if Couric herself is ever frustrated about her lack of ratings. From the latest news that she may soon be leaving the "Evening News" it appears that CBS is quite frustrated.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

6:30PM TEASER:

KATIE COURIC: Also tonight, General David Petraeus on the slow progress in Iraq. How frustrated are you?

DAVID PETRAEUS: Well, we are frustrated. But we have enormous national interest in trying to get this as right as we can.

6:37PM SEGMENT:

KATIE COURIC: Meanwhile, General Petraeus insists the US effort in Iraq is moving in the right direction. I spoke with him today at the Newseum, a high-tech museum of journalism in Washington, DC, that opens to the public tomorrow, this following his two grueling days of testimony on Capitol Hill about the pace of progress in Iraq. How frustrated are you?

DAVID PETRAEUS: Well, we are frustrated. But we have enormous national interests in trying to get this as right as we can, and that's what keeps us pushing forward, obviously.

COURIC: There's been a spike in attacks against Americans recently. Sixteen combat deaths this month. April is on track to be the deadliest month since September. You told Congress yesterday that you had evidence ready to show that Iran is supporting the recent violence. What role specifically are they playing and where is the evidence?

PETRAEUS: Well, the evidence is in the videotapes of interrogation of detainees who were trained, equipped, paid by the Iranian Quds Force and, in some cases, directed by them as well. The evidence is in the form of rocket fragments, in some cases; in some cases entire rockets that we have captured in weapons cashes or interdicted. So there is -- this is not about intelligence. This is about evidence.

COURIC: Last month the Iraqi army surprised the United States by attacking militant strongholds in the southern city of Basra. The operation was poorly planned. Some Iraqi troops stopped fighting, and ultimately US air power had to be sent in to back the Iraqis. But to Petraeus, the important thing is that Iraq's prime minister decided to fight.

PETRAEUS: Look, this was a sovereign prime minister of a sovereign country. We have been after him to make tough decisions for years. He made a tough decision. He moved out. There clearly are areas in which this could have been done better. We're not bashful, any of us, nor is he.

COURIC: Finally, general, in our latest poll, 54 percent of Americans think the war is going badly -- more than half, obviously. How can you sustain this effort without more popular support here at home?

PETRAEUS: The fact that there has been progress, that the trajectory, which was down really 15, 18 months ago, maybe even nine or 10 months ago, in our view, has been one that has been in an upward slope. It's never as fast as we would like, but ultimately you have to leave that to the American people who have to be the judge ultimately, who have to weigh all the different consequences along with, of course, our leaders.

COURIC: And General Petraeus also revealed for the first time today that he's been engaged in secret diplomatic efforts. In recent months, he's quietly visited several Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey, hoping to convince those governments to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC