It took a bombing which killed 51 Iraqis for NBC anchor Brian Williams to acknowledge “there's been a letup in the violence of late in Iraq.” Unlike his ABC and CBS colleagues, two weeks and a day earlier Williams failed to report the death toll for Americans in Iraq in May was the lowest for any month since the war began. On Tuesday night, however, he announced:
Last night here we reported there were more Americans killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq in the month of May. It's generally believed there's been a letup in the violence of late in Iraq. That is until today.
From Baghdad, Jim Maceda reported on the deadly bombing in a shopping area, but then he contrasted the incident with improving Iraqi expectations:
Not only did the blast break the relative calm here, but it shattered a growing sense of security as well. After three to four months of relative low violence, people were starting to come out into streets, returning to schools, stores and banks were opening.
On ABC's World News on Tuesday night Charles Gibson read a short item on “the deadliest attack of its kind in over three months.” The CBS Evening News didn't air anything about it.
(Last week, on Monday, June 9, the NBC Nightly News did air a piece from Maceda on how U.S. soldiers in Dora are getting more information from Iraqis on how to locate weapons and that banks and clinics are open again in the community.)
My June 16 NewsBusters item, “Williams: Afghanistan Deadlier Than Iraq, As If Iraq Not Improving,” recounted:
NBC anchor Brian Williams on Monday evening rued that Afghanistan “is too often called the other war or perhaps even the forgotten war” when “in the month of May, for the first time ever, American and allied combat deaths were higher in Afghanistan than the monthly loss in Iraq.” But that's as much because of good news from Iraq, which Williams ignored, as bad news from Afghanistan. The number of U.S. service personnel killed in Iraq in May was the fewest in any month since the war began in 2003 -- a positive trend Williams, unlike his colleagues at ABC and CBS, failed to share with his viewers two weeks ago.
Back on Monday, June 2, the other networks noted how 19 died in May as a result of combat in Iraq. In the same month, total U.S. (15) and allied troop deaths in Afghanistan rose to 23, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
My Monday, June 2 NewsBusters posting, “NBC Nightly News Spikes News About Fewest Troop Deaths of War,” revealed:
As lead-ins to short reports on the posthumous presentation of a Medal of Honor, ABC and CBS on Monday night managed to squeeze in -- more than 20 minutes into their evening newscasts -- brief mentions of how in May the fewest number U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in any month since the war began five years ago. But not NBC Nightly News. (And Sunday's Today and Nightly News, as well as Monday's Today, also skipped the good news.) NBC anchor Brian Williams on Monday led with worries that “because it's been underfunded for decades, mass transit may not be ready for all the Americans leaving their cars behind,” and ran his short update, on the Medal of Honor going to Army Private First Class Ross McGinnis, without anything about the decline in troops killed.
The short story on the Tuesday, June 17 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Last night here we reported there were more Americans killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq in the month of May. It's generally believed there's been a letup in the violence of late in Iraq. That is until today. NBC's Jim Maceda is in Baghdad for us tonight with the story. Hey Jim, good evening.
JIM MACEDA: Hi, Brian. Well the car bomb ripped through the mostly Shiite area of North Baghdad called al-Hurriya, the car parked next to a bus stop at rush hour and near an outdoor market full of evening shoppers, but the blast also triggered fires in several nearby buildings, police saying most of the 51 killed were burned or suffocated to death.
There were also 75 injured. Not only did the blast break the relative calm here, but it shattered a growing sense of security as well. After three to four months of relative low violence, people were starting to come out into streets, returning to schools, stores and banks were opening. In fact, only today, Brian, the Iraqi government announced that starting in the fall parliament would meet outside that fortified Green Zone. This confidence building measure has taken a big hit. Back to you.
WILLIAMS: Jim Maceda on duty for us after a violent day in Baghdad. Jim, thanks.