My colleague, NBC analyst Geoff Dickens, earlier noted the Today show ruminating on the 2000 casualty-benchmark which may soon be reached in Iraq. CBS's Early Show also featured a story on this theme in their first half-hour. Unlike the Today show, however, the casualty story was not linked with unrelated political stories like the Plame investigation, indeed, the Early Show treatment of that came in the next half hour. Another difference: the Early Show's Syler did ask for positive news (see portion in bold below), from Baghdad-based correspondent Kimberly Dozier on the constitution referendum:
Rene Syler in New York Early Show studio @ 0708 EDT: "In Iraq, the US military approaches a painful milestone. Nearly 2000 American troops have been killed since the war began. Again, today, insurgents are on the attack. CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier is live in Baghdad. Good morning, Kim."
Dozier live from Baghdad: "Good morning, Rene. Well, the 2000 mark is a very sensitive subject for the US military. It raises that uncomfortable question, just how long are US soldiers going to be in the thick of this fight. The best American commanders can tell you, it is as long as it takes."
Dozier in taped segment: "More than 1600 American soldiers have died in combat since the original invasion. They're battling an often-on onslaught of suicide bombers, religious extremists, ex-Saddam loyalists, and common criminals that work for anyone that pays them. Nearly 300 more American troops died from non-combat acts and 48 took their own lives in the relentless pressure cooker of post-invasion Iraq."
Dozier: "The violence diminishes for days or weeks at a time, but it always seems to come back. A surge in the past couple of days has killed more than 40 Iraqis. And the Iraqi forces meant to take over from the Americans still get mixed reviews."
Brigadier General C. Donald Alston, Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategic Communications: "Some places in Iraq, we are closer to those times when we would be able to turn over areas to the Iraqi security forces, and in some provinces we are farther away."
Dozier: "And that means Americans are far from leaving this battleground behind."
Dozier, live in Baghdad: "Now, one American commander told me these long dangerous deployments are beginning to take a toll on his people. He says some of them are beginning to develop what he called, 'that thousand-yard stare.' Rene?"
Syler: "Hey, Kim, you know what, a week has passed now since the vote of that referendum. Is there any positive news to report in the wake of that?"
Dozier: "Well, even though we have had some violence in the past couple of days, there has been a marked decrease in the number of attacks in the past week and a half. And US commanders say they think this is because their crackdown on the insurgents is working. They just hope the success continues."